The New York Mets as a whole have been plagued by inconsistency this season. From the batting order to the bullpen to the front office, there has been an element of change that has caused the team's record to fall from 46-39 on July 7 to 59-69 after Sunday's win.
One thing that has not wavered since opening day is the brilliance of R.A. Dickey.
Aside from the occasional hiccup, Dickey has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He has compiled a record of 16-4, owns a minuscule ERA of 2.76 and is tied atop the National League strikeout list with Clayton Kershaw and Stephen Strasburg.
Obviously, Dickey has been so solid for Terry Collins because of his mastering of the knuckleball.
There have been so few dominant knuckleballers throughout the course of baseball because it is such an unpredictable pitch. Phil Niekro, is known as one of the best pitchers of his era, but led the league in walks three times.
Dickey has found a way to constantly throw strikes and has walked just 41 batters in 182.1 innings. His skill baffles hitters, and it has been the highlight of the Mets' season.
Flushing faithful haven't had much to cheer about since the All-Star break, but Dickey is unequivocally the shining star on the 2012 roster.
His excellence hasn't been enough to keep the Mets afloat, but it might be enough to win the Cy Young Award. Aside from leading the league in punchouts, Dickey is third in innings pitched and fourth in ERA and WHIP.
Only time will tell whether Dickey's career season will be enough to beat out the likes of Kershaw and Johnny Cueto. If Dickey does indeed garner the award after the votes have been counted, it would be the perfect way to mask an otherwise abysmal year.
Nobody expected the Mets to do anything this season. They were pegged as the worst team in their division, and one of the worst in the NL. Although the team did shatter expectations over the first three months, it would have been foolish to expect anything more than a slightly below mediocre performance.
Now that Dickey has taken the Mets and the fans on an unforgettable ride, the Cy Young Award would be the cherry on top of the sundae.
Dickey electrified the Mets crowd in a way that hasn't been done since Doc Gooden's meteoric rise to stardom. That alone is enough to hold Mets fans over for another offseason of question marks and questionable decisions.
We have had the honor of witnessing 14 starts of seven-inning one-run baseball from Dickey this season. Johan Santana was supposed to return from injury and be the stopper for this team, but Dickey emerged as the man who could be counted on to keep the team in the game every fifth day.
If Dickey were to win the Cy Young Award, the inexcusable futility of this season won't be forgotten, but the blow would be softened. It has been a few years since Mets fans have had anything at all to cheer about, so the sheer excitement of having the best pitcher in baseball on the team would be a nice start.
The Mets have been fielding a lineup that looks much like a Triple-A club. They can't hit, are slightly below average in the field and can't come up in the clutch, but that hasn't stopped Dickey from putting together an exceptional year.
It's not like Mets fans aren't used to terrible seasons. That has been happening for a substantial chunk of the franchise's 50 years of existence.
This situation is very similar to Jose Reyes winning the batting title last season.
The team wound up finishing eight games under .500 and in fourth place in the division, but Reyes' hit a scorching .385 in June to distract the fans from a painful season just like Dickey's string of greatness has done.
Of course, the pride of having Reyes win the batting in an otherwise forgettable season was torn down when he signed with the Miami Marlins in the offseason, but that has been talked about more than enough.
We don't have to worry about that with Dickey, though, as the Mets have a team option on the 37-year-old's contract for 2013.
The Mets haven't given their fans much to brag about this summer, but Dickey has covered up that problem. Just the fact that a forgotten pitcher has run roughshod on nearly every lineup he has come up against and placed himself in the Cy Young discussion fills that need.
Dickey doesn't have the flair that the other top pitchers in the NL have. He doesn't mow hitters down with 100 mph fastballs or snap off any 12-6 curveballs, but he is a master of his craft.
A Cy Young Award won't completely take away the agonizing last few months of this embarrassing Mets season, but it will save fans from throwing their time away on a wasted season.
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