Appreciating R.A. Dickey One Last Time

Dickey was the brightest thing about another dismal Mets season

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    At least one Met can walk out of this season with his head held high.

    The 2012 Mets season will end with a whimper at some point on Wednesday evening and few people are going to be sad to see it go. 

    Another year of false hope in the first half was eroded by a second half meltdown that offered little evidence that things are going to be appreciably better in 2013. All of the same problems that existed at the start of the season were still in evidence at the end of the year, leaving a big job ahead of Sandy Alderson this offseason. 

    All in all, it isn't a year that figures to take up much residence in the annals of Mets history. That doesn't mean that there isn't one guy worthy of extra praise, however. 

    R.A. Dickey's year deserved a better team around it so that his 20-6 record, 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts is 233.2 innings could have been in service of something more than avoiding fifth place in the NL East. Dickey couldn't pick up one last win to gild the lily on Tuesday night, his six innings of three-run ball resulted in a no-decision in the 4-3 Marlins win in 11 innings, but that doesn't do much to change the remarkable nature of his season. 

    We learned Tuesday that the season was even more remarkable than originally thought. Dickey needs to have surgery later this month to repair a partially torn abdominal muscle that he suffered in the second week of the season, which stands as a testament to how much he gave the Mets in a season when they gave him very little in return. 

    That makes his performance all the more impressive and adds one extra layer to his case for the NL Cy Young Award. You could make a strong case for Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw and Gio Gonzalez as well, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the narrative of a 37-year-old knuckleballer pitching through injury on an awful team win over the hearts and minds of the voters. 

    It doesn't hurt that Dickey's also one of the more erudite and interesting players in baseball right now, a point he drove home when asked about Adam Greenberg's at-bat on Tuesday night. Greenberg got hit in the head with a pitch during his first major league plate appearance with the Cubs in 2005 and spent the last seven years trying to get another one despite lingering issues caused by the blow to the brain. 

    The Marlins gave him that appearance as a publicity stunt -- even well earned publicity stunts are publicity stunts -- against Dickey on Tuesday night. Dickey struck him out on three pitches, which erased neither Greenberg's smile nor Dickey's ability to appreciate that the moment wasn't really about one more strikeout for his ledger.

    "I think the story far transcends the result of the at-bat," Dickey said after the game. 

    Dickey should know. His story far transcends the results of this Mets season. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.