R.A. Dickey’s Born-Again Career As a Knuckleball Pitcher: “The old me died. But it was a good death…”

RA Dickey with the BravesSo says always-quotable R.A. Dickey to MDJ Online’s Nubyjas Wilborn, whose article on R.A. is brief but jam-packed. On Dickey’s giving up six homers with his first start as a knuckleball pitcher:

“I still have nightmares about that game. I learned a lot…. [W]hen it’s on, it doesn’t matter if the ’27 Yankees are up there. I’m going to get guys out.”

On whether the game is starting to pall:

“I’m still as excited for each game as I was 15 years ago. I still love it.”

On what it was like to be told, before making the switch to specializing in the knuckleball, that the choice was that or giving up pro baseball:

“I was very humbled. It was also a relief. I was thankful that they loved me enough to be honest with me. It hurt because I knew I was going to be a different guy. The old me died. But it was a good death because I’m still here, and I wouldn’t be otherwise.”

Dickey’s prospects for continuing with the Atlanta Braves—this has been his first season with them—are good, as Kit Anderson sees it. “The Atlanta Braves have an interesting decision to make this off-season as to whether or not to keep R.A. Dickey next season,” writes Anderson for Atlanta All Day. “With a team option and the knuckle-baller being the Braves’ most consistent starter, the move would make sense.”

Atlanta has already traded two of three veteran starters added this season, and the rumor was that Dickey would be sent off next. But more recent rumors “suggest the Braves may not trade Dickey after all and may even look to add Dickey back to the team last season. Dickey’s contract has an $8.0 million dollar team option with a team buyout at $500K.”

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Adam Wainwright pictureFriend Karl, we have a bone to pick with you. At Fansided, Larry Levin says that after the “recent slowball outing” of Adam Wainwright (pictured)…

…my friend Karl, only half-jokingly, said that the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher should consider becoming a knuckleballer.  I think he has nailed it….

Whether from injury…or age, Waino’s velocity has slipped enormously, and his consistency has failed him, the result being huge swings in results.

But one thing we know is…he’s a “baseball player.” He knows the game; he’s otherwise in fine shape; he is a master strategist on the mound; and, as anyone who’s been a Cards fan for any length of time knows, he can handle the bat with aplomb.

So with virtually every attribute in his favor but the ability of his arm to bring it like he used to, what would he have to lose in trying to go the knuckle route?

As we know, knucklers can pitch virtually forever….

He’s in tremendous shape, he runs well, fields his position smartly, and as noted, hits with the best of hurlers. There would be nothing at all stopping him from pitching into his forties….

[T]he longevity of those who master the pitch is undeniable. R.A. Dickey reimagined and extended his career as a result of it.  The immortal Phil Niekro lasted until age 48.

Waino’s been written off before and he has proven his doubters wrong with strong stretches, even this year.

All good, especially the stress on how, for the knuckleball pitcher, a weakened arm doesn’t kill the value of being in good physical and mental shape otherwise, or of having aplomb and strategic sensibility. And then there’s the determination and ability to prove doubters wrong, the confidence in self that stands any knuckleballer in good stead.

Everything Larry says is fine. But friend Karl, the guy who made the suggestion about the knuckleball “half-jokingly”?

Come on! That suggestion should not have been uttered even 5% jokingly. The real opportunity to revivify your career provided by acquiring a capable knuckleball is no joke when we all know that talent and dedication can make it happen.

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