Friday, November 16, 2012

Crazy Like a Fox

Among my favorite "guilty pleasure" movies from the 1980's is Michael J. Fox's "The Secret of My Success".  For the love of all things just and fair, do not press me for a reason.  I know not why.  One of the songs from that film was Pat Benatar's "Sometimes the Good Guys Finish First".  Not the high-water mark of Ms. Benatar's contributions to the late 20th Century music scene perhaps but yet somehow relevant still today. 

On Wednesday evening, a genuinely good human being - who happened to have an extraordinary season as a starting pitcher for a decidedly ordinary baseball team - won the National League Cy Young Award.  R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets who this past season went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA while leading the National League in innings pitched (233 2/3), complete games (5), shutouts (3) and strikeouts (230), became the first genuine knuckleball pitcher to capture the Cy Young.  And, having just turned 38 last month, Dickey is the oldest first-time winner ever.  

A few years back when the Mets' then-General Manager Omar Minaya signed Dickey to a minor-league free agent contract, the carping on talk radio in New York was that only the Mets could sign a pitcher who lacks the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm.  Minaya made some less than bright front-office moves while he worked for the Mets (it comes with the territory - ask Brian Cashman) but I suspect that when he heard Dickey's name announced Wednesday night, he smiled too.  For while Dickey might lack a particular ligament, he makes up for it with more than normal-sized portions of guts, guile and heart. 

R.A. Dickey is an athlete who is - for my money and from my vantage point as a fan of the OTHER New York baseball team - simply impossible to root against.  His accomplishments on the field, including but not limited to this past season, are impressive.  However, they pale in comparison to the manner in which he conducts his "off the field" life.  He is a living testament to the power of true grit and determination - an athlete long ago left for forgotten on the scrap heap of his profession who picked himself up and worked damn hard to get himself another opportunity.  And once he earned it, he made the most out of it. 

A first-place finish for a genuinely good guy.  Cue the music and fade to black.  Talk about one hell of an ending.

-AK

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