I’ve been waiting for someone in the New York press to suck up to the Mets front office by building an anti-R.A. Dickey case. I found it in Saturday’s New York Post in a column by Ken Davidoff.
Apparently at last week’s holiday party for young victims of Hurricane Sandy Dickey showed “his true character all about himself again. Dickey issued the laughable threat that if the Mets don’t extend his contract, he’d bolt the organization after 2013.”
First of all, what does Davidoff mean by Dickey’s “true character”? And when has Dickey’s attitude been “all about himself” except during salary negotiations with the Mets, where of course his focus would be on himself? Whose self should it be about?
And what is “laughable” about the idea that if the Mets don’t extend Dickey’s contract he’s leave the following season? I’d say that’s would be likely to happen if the Mets don’t deal him to Toronto.
Which may have happened by the time you read this. The-player-to-be-named-later is probably a minor league catcher named Travis d’Arnaud. The closer the Mets and Jays have gotten to a deal, the more d’Arnaud is being referred to as “a hot catching prospect.” d’Arnaud is 23 and will be 24 in February. He’s had one season of Triple-A experience, last year, or actually less than half a season’s experience when he caught just 67games for Las Vegas, hitting .333 and showing a flash of power with 16 home runs. In 6 seasons of minor league ball, he has batted .289. Decide for yourself whether or not that makes him a “hot prospect.”
Whether he is or not, why have the Mets acted so abominably in their dealings with Dickey? Even Davidoff concedes that “requests for two years and $26 million, beyond the $5 million due to him next season, is eminently reasonable,” though Davidoff does not seem to understand that Dickey’s reasonableness in these negotiations undermines all the rest of his own arguments.
Davidoff writes that “His gift for self-promotion and his love of attention don’t endear himself to most teammates. Instead, his durability and outstanding results lead him to be appreciated but far from beloved.”
Whenever a sportswriter wants to put a cheap shot on an athlete, he quoted from anonymous sources. Dickey is 38 years old, has written a best-selling memoir, and appeared in a documentary movie about knuckleball pitchers, all during a season in which he won the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in his league. Now, how exactly does this constitute “self-promotion?” Is he not supposed to go on David Letterman or other talk shows when he’s not working to discuss his book and movie? And is it really possible that one of the worst teams in baseball – and that’s what the Mets are when Dickey isn’t pitching – really resent him for pitching into the late innings and saving the bullpen and even going out to pitch relief himself upon occasion when asked.
The Mets last season were 74-88 for a .457 Won-Loss%. Dickey was 20-6 for .769%. When Dickey didn’t figure in the decision, the Mets were a horrific 54-82 or .397%. This means that the Mets very nearly had twice the chance to win when Dickey was on the mound.
And now, in what sounds very much like the kind of gruel front offices feed to writers when they want to sting a player during salary negotiations Davidoff says, “If Dickey can’t control his verbiage at a holiday party” – this reference to dickey talking to reporters about his negotiations with the Mets at the Hurricane Sandy party – “then how would a full season of uncertainty feel? How many times would Dickey spout off publicly or work behind the scenes to make the Mets look bad and boost his own brands?”
This is nonsense, and Davidoff knows it. When has Dickey ever been anything but a team player and a fairly quiet one when it came to himself? Has anyone all season long even hinted that Dickey’s teammates don’t like him or appreciate the fact he was the only thing that stood between them and rock bottom?
If everyone in this scenario is in agreement that Dickey’s salary requests are reasonable, then why don’t the Mets simply pay and end this ugliness? As rabid Mets fan Jon Stewart told Dickey back on December 4 on The Daily Show, “The Mets seem to want you to do good but not too good or they’ll trade you.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 16, 2012