It is in part because of his tell-all book that revealed both his flaws and his character. It is in part because of the road he has traveled – full of potholes – to get to 20 wins. It is in part because of his exuberance. It is in part because of his honesty.
Maybe, above hall it was the way he hustled down the line after hitting that dribbler down the line – against his manager’s orders. That’s the competitor in R.A. Dickey and why he’s related this year to Mets fans the way few have.
As he came to the plate that final time, the crowd responded by chanting his name. Dickey heard it and it moved him.
“I would hear this kind of growing surge,” he said. “And it was really neat. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced that before, and maybe I never will again.”
Neat? Who but a kid at heart would say that? That relates to us on so many levels, greatest of all is the thrill of playing the game we’ve all played in our youth and dreamed of playing at the highest level and hearing in our imagination the chants Dickey heard.
It was why he swung.
“How can you not be motivated to go out there and give the fans and your teammates and yourself all that you have?” Dickey asked.
Dickey said he was gassed after six innings, but at Collins urging – who told him ride with the moment – that he kept going.
“I wanted to give them that gift,” Dickey said of the fans and why he staying in the game.
He wanted to give us a gift? What athlete has said that lately?
The Mets asked him and David Wright to record thank-you messages to the fans. They represent the heart and soul of the Mets and relate to us in a special way.
It is fitting Wright reached the club’s career hit milestone and Dickey won 20 games in this final homestand before the coldness of winter and the snows bury Citi Field and another poor season.
I wrote yesterday how it would have been good theatre for the Mets to announce extensions for them both prior to the finale. It would have generated an incredible buzz and sense of optimism for the future.
After this homestand, and seeing how the fans related to Wright Wednesday and Dickey yesterday, it is now imperative the Mets find a way to sign them both this winter and not drag this out into next season the way they did Jose Reyes.
Don’t play with the heart and soul of your team.