If you looked at RA Dickey, the last thing you would expect him to be is a Major League pitcher. His grizzly beard, average physique and peculiar attraction to Star Wars make him appear more like a nerd than a ballplayer, but a professional athlete is just what he is.
Back in college, though, RA Dickey wreaked of professional athlete. With a fastball in the 90's and a stellar career at the University of Tennessee, Dickey was all set to be drafted and enter the MLB. That dream came true, at least temporarily, when the Texas Rangers drafted him in the first round.
After a basic physical, that dream became a nightmare.
Dickey was missing his UCL ligament, and his signing bonus was the next thing to disappear. After failing as a power pitcher, Dickey began toying around with the knuckleball, a pitch many players like to goof around with in the outfield during batting practice but few ever attempt to make a career off of. Of those that do try, even fewer make it.
But Dickey did. And although his career got off to an unremarkable start, he and his cartoon-esque pitch have potentially danced their way to this year's All-Star game.
With a record of 8-1 and an incredible ERA of 2.69, RA Dickey's statistics make him one of the best pitchers in baseball, yet few people take him seriously.
Maybe it's his dancing knuckleball and low 80's fastball. Or it could be that in his first start with the pitch, Dickey surrendered six home runs. Additionally, Dickey has the MLB record for wild pitches in an inning with four.
But for whatever reason, Dickey is having the best season of his life at 37-years-old. And regardless of his nerdy image, old age or goofy pitch, RA is a force that can no longer be ignored.
And the fact that he is anything but worshiped is a travesty. America prides itself on the love of the underdog, yet one of the biggest in years, Dickey, is as underappreciated as they come.
He doesn't showboat. He doesn't get involved in off the field drama. He's never been arrested and never said a bad word about any of his teammates or organization.
So it's time to stop judging him for everything he's not and start appreciating him for everything he is. He's a great person, a great teammate and a great pitcher. If you don't appreciate a guy like Dickey, who wins when everything our public perceptions say about athletes points to him losing, then you're not a sports fan.