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Friday, November 16, 2012

Subway Squawkers interview with R.A. Dickey, Mets Cy Young Award winner

I was very excited to have the opportunity to speak with 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey earlier today. Dickey is one of the stars of "Knuckleball!," which is now available through video on demand. The DVD is available for pre-order at knuckleballmovie.com. Squawker Lisa and I were able to see the movie last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival and we highly recommend it, particularly if you are a Met fan or a Red Sox fan, since Tim Wakefield is also featured. But overall, it's a compelling story for baseball fans in general.  

Subway Squawkers: First of all, congratulations!

R.A. Dickey: Thank you.

Subway Squawkers: In the age of Moneyball, do you think there is going to be more of an effort to develop knuckleballers as another way for teams to get an edge?

R.A. Dickey:  Well, I think at the very least, it's as logical as trying to teach a hitter to switch-hit – that happens all the time. If you can teach a guy who would otherwise be released, who has good makeup and good arm strength, how to throw a knuckleball, you may have stumbled on something that could really be a benefit to your organization.

The problem is, people still have this bias against the pitch. They think it's a gimmick, they think it's a trick pitch, illegitimate, whatever adjective you want to try and put there you can. It takes a little while to get people past that.

Subway Squawkers: I do the blog with a Yankee fan and we've seen many pitchers have trouble pitching in New York. You’ve had such success here. Tim Wakefield was very successful in Boston. Do you think it's harder to pitch in New York, or is there something about being a knuckleballer that might have made it easier?

R.A. Dickey: As a knuckleballer, you pay attention to climate from time to time, and the Northeast has always been a good place to pitch from a climate standpoint. The humidity's nice, and the field - I love pitching at Citi Field.

And also, I have interests that lie outside the game of baseball, and New York is a great platform to try and invest in some of the things that might transcend the game. And I’m thankful that that's been a place where I can kind of be myself. It’s a real cathartic place for me because I can get away from the field and do some things that I really feel like have a lasting effect. So it’s a good place for me.

Subway Squawkers: Trying to think of a good Kilimanjaro analogy – it was such a struggle for you to get to the top of your profession. Do you think it will be a struggle to stay at the top?

R.A. Dickey: Why, sure! I don't think there’s anything about me that says the hard part is not getting to the top, it’s staying there.  I’m gonna tell you, it is hard getting to the top. (laughs) It’s not easy.  The only thing I can do is try to be responsible for the moments that I've given, regardless of what I've done in the past or what I hope to do in the future.  I have to really be invested in the moment. That’s what works for me.

Next year, I'm not going to try to be a Cy Young award winner, I'm just going to try to be me. And hopefully, at the end of the year, it will be a similar stat line. You just try to do the best you can.  

Subway Squawkers: After you left Texas, when you were signing with other teams, were they signing you strictly as a knuckleballer or did anybody suggest you go back to being a more conventional pitcher or maybe do both?

R.A. Dickey: No, I was 100% knuckleball. That’s what I was known as. From the moment that I announced that's what I’m going to become in 2005, that’s what teams knew me as.

Subway Squawkers: My cowriter on the blog has read your book and I’m looking forward to reading it. We were wondering, are you going to do an updated version of it or are you going to do a sequel  since so much has happened since the book came out? 

R.A. Dickey: I’m in the process right now of writing an epilogue, a close to 4,000-word epilogue, kind of chronicling the 2012 season, including Kilimanjaro and the Cy Young experience.  

Subway Squawkers: There’s been a lot of talk about the other knuckleballers, and I know you called Phil Niekro back as soon as you won the Cy Young and I’m wondering are there other people in baseball, like say, Buck Showalter, that have also been important in getting you to this point? 

R.A. Dickey: There’s a lot of people I want to celebrate this with who impacted me. I am not a self-made man (laughs). I've had a lot of people who really care about me and I'm glad to be able to share this with them. This is an award meant to be shared.  It's not an individual award for me. It's one that people should celebrate because they had something to do with it. Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough, Tim Wakefield, Buck Showalter, Orel Hershiser. The list is as long as Santa's naughty and nice list. It's long.

Subway Squawkers: You mention that you enjoy pitching at Citi Field. The Mets are traditionally a team that has been built around pitching, so that much be exciting that you're now part of this great pitching tradition the team has had, dating back to Tom Seaver.  

R.A. Dickey: You know, to be considered with Doc Gooden, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, the New York Mets pedigree of pitchers, the stable is deep, to be able to say I’m considered among those is a real honor.

Subway Squawkers: Well, I certainly hope you'll be back with the Mets next year. We look forward to rooting for you.

R.A. Dickey: Thanks a lot. I appreciate it.

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