Will R.A. Dickey Retire This Year?

RA Dickey Braves baseball cardThe question is raised by Dickey himself, who also mulled it last year. He’s ambivalent.

Dickey’s latest musings came after last Thursday’s win against the Nationals, where, according to CBS Sports writer Mike Axisa, Dickey “twirled a gem…holding them to two runs in eight innings.”

The Braves held on to win the series finale against Washington (ATL 3, WAS 2).

The win improved Dickey to 10-10 with a 4.32 ERA in 183 1/3 innings this season. And, after the game, he hinted at retirement after the season while speaking to reporters. Here’s what Dickey told the Associated Press:

“I’d be lying to say I didn’t have some emotions about it,” Dickey said. “This could be my last start ever at a home venue. But we’re going to make that decision at the end of the season and see how I feel and what goes on there…

“If I did not continue to play, it would be because our family decided it wasn’t the best thing. I’ve dragged my kids all over the world playing baseball for 21 years. You know, there comes a time they deserve their dad to be around.”

Dickey, who turns 43 in October, wants to spend more time with his family and to spend it more comfortably. On the other hand, he enjoys and is good at what he’s doing. And one of the main perks of being a knuckleballer is that you tend to last longer physically and professionally than you do with more arm-wrenching pitches.

Axisa concludes that Dickey has been “solid in the five seasons since being named the 2012 NL Cy Young award winner, when he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA with the Mets, and because he’s a knuckleballer, he can basically pitch forever…. If this is indeed the end of the line for Dickey, he’s had one heck of a productive (and fascinating) career.”

Dickey told David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it’s

“an absolute privilege to put on this uniform every time, and I will get emotional if I keep talking. But you never want to take a single day for granted. When you put on a uniform that you grew up loving and knowing intimately, it’s a special thing. I never wanted to take that for granted as long as I play the game.

“Tonight was a special night because I got to win a special game as an Atlanta Brave. It was cool.”

According to Braves manager Brian Snitker, Dickey “pitched his rear off. He was really good, efficient, it was working…. After the seventh inning I asked him how he felt. He said ‘I’m good, I’m not going to give you a reason to come get me.’ That was good enough for me.”

“There were only two pitches out of 94 I would have wanted back,” Dickey told Guy Curtright of The Sports Xchange (“Dickey Dazzles in Braves Win”).

Whatever Dickey does next, he has earned fans within his own team this season, including Snitker, who says Dickey’s positive influence extends beyond his contribution on the mound.

“[H]e’s been a great influence on these [players]. We see him in the dugout, and he’s on the top step pulling for these young guys, and he’s available for them and enjoys doing that. I think he enjoys imparting the knowledge that he has to those young guys. He’s been just a true pro. I’ve enjoyed being around him. He’s a great guy to talk to, he’s got a real good take on things, a professional take on things. I’ve really enjoyed the year with him.”

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The Washington Post’s story of the Braves v. Nationals game includes a weird coda from Nationals Manager Dusty Baker: “Tonight doesn’t really count,” he suggests. “The knuckleball doesn’t count,” apparently vis-à-vis his ball players’ general ability and prospects. Well, sure, nobody is defeated forever by one evening of swings and misses. But it all counts, especially while it’s happening. Every moment counts and every knuckleball counts. That is the whole secret of life.

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