9:35 am Nov. 15, 2012
For much of the 2012 season, particularly during that post-June period when the New York Mets couldn't win at home, when David Wright slumped and Johan Santana fell apart, it was left to R.A. Dickey to provide the small supply of pleasure available to Mets fans.
He was rewarded on Wednesday night, when the team's first 20-game winner since Frank Viola in 1990 also became their first Cy Young Award winner since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
All that remains now is for the Mets to determine if they're willing to keep their best pitcher, and best argument for fans to attend Citi Field, in 2013.
Dickey won the award easily, capturing 27 of 32 first place votes, putting him far ahead of the other contenders, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals.
In truth, Kershaw had a nearly identical case to Dickey; the chasm between their Cy Young tallies can only be explained by the incredible story that has been Dickey's life, from overcoming the lack of an ulnar collateral ligament, to learning the knuckleball in desperation, to becoming a dominant pitcher, for the first time, in his late 30s. Kershaw, by contrast, is simply a pitching phenom who made good. We've seen that plenty.
It is the peculiar circumstances of Dickey's stardom, along with the regrettable state of the team's finances, that make a continued marriage uncertain. Dickey is 38, and owed $5 million in 2013, after which he will be a free agent. The Mets, meanwhile, appear to be a good distance from contention, and need to spend money judiciously, to the extent they can spend at all. Whether they should bet on the upcoming seasons of a 38-year-old pitcher is far from an easy answer, though if the Daily News is right that a two-year extension would be enough for Dickey, it is hard to understand, from a baseball perspective alone, why they wouldn't take such an opportunity.
Despite all the uncertainty, seeing Dickey win the award was a sweet experience for the reporters who have come to value his quotes, and the fans who adore his story and talent. And, for a night, most of them banished talk of an eventual trade, and what the Mets could expect to get in return for their new Cy Young winner.
The night served as a final moment of summer romance, before Dickey heads to greener pastures, and Mets fans move on to... whatever 2013 promises to be.
"I feel good about being a Met," Dickey said in a conference call following the announcement that he'd won the award. "I can certainly say that I believe the Mets are going to be a lot better, and I want to be part of the solution. Hopefully we're be able to work something out where I can stay here, and I wouldn't mind finishing my career here. I want to be loyal to an organization that has given me a real opportunity. That being said, you never want to be taken advantage of either. I've been on that side of the coin as well as a player. So hopefully we're going to be able to reach some mutually beneficial agreement."
If not, Mets fans at least got the chance to celebrate briefly in what promises to be an otherwise bleak winter. Once again, and maybe for the final time, R.A. Dickey came through for them.
Elsewhere in New York sports:
The Knicks face their toughest test so far when they take on the San Antonio Spurs on the road Thursday night.
The Nets can prove they are division contenders in Thursday night's game against the Boston Celtics.
The Yankees might be interested in Ricky Nolasco of the Miami Marlins, and the Marlins are certainly interested ih shedding Nolasco's salary.