The Mets' 2012 season is as dead as a doornail. Despite winning 3 out of 4 from the Diamondbacks and a favorable series in San Francisco, they remain 8 games out of the wildcard hunt. For all intents and purposes, the team is looking to next year and to the core of promising young pitching studs that are quietly developing in the farm system.
So why bother watching them for the last stretch of the year?
The answer is simple: R.A. Dickey.
After reading his book, I was amazed to find out just how tough a road this man has traveled in a quest to achieve his big league dream. Over the past 3 seasons, R.A. has steadily improved. 2012 has been his breakout year. After being the best pitcher in the National League for the first 3 and 1/2 months of the season, R.A. faltered a bit in July, his All-Star game snub notwithstanding. That's when the questions came in earnest: Was the first half an aberration? Did the league catch up to him? Was the bloom off the rose?
No. No. And No.
Knuckleballers are streaky and knuckleballs are mercurial. It takes a gritty competitor with a bulletproof confidence and tenacity to work through the slumps and give his team a chance to win. Even in his downturn, R.A. ate up innings, which gave the miserable bullpen a brief spell.
Now, as the calendar turns to August, Dickey has strung together, 2 great starts and remains at the forefront of the wide-open National League Cy Young Race. He is in the top 10 in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched, and in the coolness factor, and is first in wins and winning percentage. If the season were to end today, I don't see a reason why he couldn't win.
Thus, as we head towards October, a compelling reason to watch the Mets is to see the fairy tale story of R.A. Dickey unfold before our eyes. If he continues to do what he has done all year, we may all be pleasantly surprised if he becomes the most unlikeliest Cy Young Award winner --that is, of course, if Tony La Russa is not on the voting committee.