This past season, R. A. Dickey provided the best story for the New York Mets--and possibly for all of Major League Baseball. At the age of 37, the journeyman pitcher led the National League in strikeouts and complete games, finished second in the ERA race, won 20 games (for a team that won only 74), and, finally, was awarded the National League Cy Young Award.
So naturally the Mets traded him.
From a business perspective, the Mets probably did the right thing. As dominant as Dickey was this past year, there's no guarantee he will repeat this type of performance. Dickey is a knuckleballer--the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young--and while he seems to have mastered this pitch, the pitch itself is notoriously "unmasterable." What makes the knuckleball so hard to hit--its utter unpredictability--is also what makes it hard to catch and, indeed, to throw: Even the pitcher has only a rough idea where the ball is actually going to end up. Dickey could easily be a dominating pitcher for the next several years, but he could also easily lose control of the pitch. So, yes, the Mets made the right choice, trading him at the height of his value and receiving some solid prospects from the Toronto Blue Jays.
The trade still sucks, though. In an otherwise dismal season, R. A. Dickey gave Mets fans something to cheer. And he's the kind of athlete you can't help but root for. Unlike some freak of nature with a 100-mile-an-hour fastball or other God-given talent, Dickey struggled to stay in the game by mastering a pitch that very few before him had mastered. Perhaps more importantly, in this day of ever-falling sports idols, he provides the kind of role model we all wish our celebrities to be. He works hard, speaks softly, and was even willing to give the Mets a "discount" for them to re-sign him. And he writes! Not just about baseball, either: He wrote a series of articles for the New York Times about a mountain-climbing expedition to Kilimanjaro! WHY DID THEY TRADE THIS GUY?!?!
I know, I know: The nature of the business. Still disappointing.
Anyway, I wish R. A. Dickey the best of luck. I hope if/when he comes back to New York, he pitches a no-hitter. Preferably against the Yankees, but if against the Mets, it'll serve 'em right.