RA Dickey's pitching style may be unconvential, but it made him the NL's best pitcher
Once again, Major League Baseball chooses brawn over brains. The young gun gets the nod over the wily old veteran. The flamethrower surpasses the junk-baller. Apparently 44.2 straight innings without allowing an earned run just is not enough.
In a shocking and disappointing decision, Tony La Russa chose Matt Cain to be the National League starter over the more deserving candidate, R.A. Dickey. While there is no denying that Cain is a definite All-Star and Cy Young candidate, Dickey has performed at a level unmatched by any other pitcher in baseball this season.
So while both men will undoubtedly get an opportunity to throw during the game, there is a certain prestige that goes with being named the starter. R.A. Dickey deserved that moment.
Other than R.A. Dickey, only one man in baseball has 12 wins. If you guessed Matt Cain, you're not even close.
At baseball's halfway point, R.A. Dickey has an incredible record of 12-1. Cain, while still impressive, is far behind Dickey (and eight other NL pitchers) with a 9-3 record.
Did La Russa even consider this? Dickey leads baseball in wins and has ONE loss. At this rate, Dickey will finish with a 24-2 record which is just unheard of. Love him or hate him, Dickey is the National League's best chance to win.
Without R.A. Dickey, the Mets would be nowhere near contention for the NL East. Though Johan Santana has pleasantly surprised fans with his return, he is far from the Cy Young winner he was years ago with the Minnesota Twins.
Matt Cain, however, represents only one part of the San Francisco Giants' four-headed monster consisting of him, Lincecum, Vogelsong and Bumgarner. If Cain goes down with an injury, the Giants live to see another day.
But if Dickey were to miss the second half, Mets fans might as well give up hope and wait for 2013.
Dickey faces studs such as Strasburg, Lee and Halladay all the time
Both the Mets and the Giants stand at 46-40, yet the Mets are 4.5 games back of first place, while the Giants are only 0.5 games out. So in a more competitive division, R.A. Dickey still manages to outperform Matt Cain.
On a weekly basis, Dickey has to compete against loaded lineups such as the NL-best Nationals, the perennial powerhouse Braves, the upcoming underdog Marlins, and the star-studded Phillies, who finally have Howard and Utley back in the lineup.
At 37 years old, R.A. Dickey is appearing in his first All-Star game. At 27 years old, Matt Cain is appearing in his third.
So why not let Dickey enjoy the experience? Matt Cain has been there before and will almost certainly be there again, but there is no guaranteeing that Dickey will ever have a second chance. Near the end of his career, the journeyman right-hander deserves the chance.
Sure R.A. Dickey has more wins, but that is more of a statistic that has multiple factors like defense and run support. For statistics like ERA and strikeouts, the only one that can influence it is the pitcher himself.
With an ERA of 2.40 and 123 strikeouts, R.A. Dickey is 0.23 points lower than Cain and has five more strikeouts. While the two are close, Dickey still has the slight edge and that difference should show on the mound at the All-Star game.
Matt Cain is an incredible talent, but he's by no means a rare specimen. He's a tall, built right-hander with a God-given cannon of an arm. Dickey, however, is the only knuckleballer in the Major Leagues.
Not since Tim Wakefield has a knuckleballer succeeded in the Bigs, but never in his career did he have a stretch like R.A. Dickey is having. The point of the All-Star game is to see special things happen. What could be more unique than a junkballer dizzying the best hitters that baseball has to offer.
By now you've probably heard R.A. Dickey's story, but if you haven't here is a summary. Dickey was sexually abused as a child. He made it to Tennessee to pitch for the Volunteers and enjoyed a wonderful career there. He was the first-round pick of the Texas Rangers, but after a routine physical, it was discovered that Dickey had no UCL and was therefore seen as a tremendous risk.
Afterwards, the Rangers cut Dickey's signing bonus by 90 percent. He bounced around the Minors and learned a knuckleball that was effective but inconsistent. It was only after joining the Mets well into his thirties when he finally honed his unique skills.
So now, at 37, Dickey is getting his first shot in the All-Star game. Beat that, Matt Cain.
A great coach made a terrible decision choosing Matt Cain
In an era of baseball that has seen the best players skip the All-Star game to rest or recover for the second half (yes that's you, Derek Jeter), R.A. Dickey made a point to voice his opinion about his desire to start the game for the National League.
When asked during an on-field interview, Dickey answered, "Look, I want to start the game. Of course I do. I think any competitor would like to". His desire to make the most of his All-Star opportunity is a welcomed surprise compared to other selfish players in the game.
And although Tony La Russa has made some tremendous coaching moves, he made an enormous error in his last game as a manager.
Granted that Matt Cain threw one of the most incredible perfect games in the history of baseball, it seems like Tony La Russa is forgetting that it was only one game.
That one game does not determine a season or career, it is merely a shining moment. What defines a season is overall consistency, something that R.A. Dickey has much more of. Cain's team has lost his last three starts while the Mets have only lost one of Dickey's starts since April 30th (he got a no-decision).
Dickey has come a long way since his days in Texas
Many great players have come to New York as superstars and left the city as failures, but R.A. Dickey's story is quite the opposite.
After fluttering around the minors and helplessly struggling in the Majors, R.A. Dickey has never thrown better than during the time he has spent in New York. A career 53-51 pitcher, Dickey is a much improved 31-23 in the Big Apple.
Between his sexual abuse struggles, his ridiculous pitch and his love of Star Wars, Dickey seems like a target of hatred in New York, but instead he has thrived in the spotlight and changed the hearts of many during the process.