Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Met is my hero

Tonight, yet another tired "Subway Series" game will take place, weather permitting. This one is being billed as a pitcher's duel between the Mets' R.A. Dickey and the Yankees' CC Sabathia.

You know how that goes. It'll probably end up being a 13-12 fiasco, lasting five hours, and I'll be cursing the TV screen as I wait for a game story to put in the paper. This is why I never pay attention to talk radio and treat 90 percent of what passes for programming on ESPN as filler. All it is is blather promoted as "insight" by "experts," when in fact only about 5 percent of the talking heads have something to say that is both insightful and interesting.

So, pitcher's duel, no pitcher's duel, it doesn't matter. I'll be paying attention -- as much as I can anyway -- and actually rooting for a Met.

This doesn't happen a lot, but it is happening more often.

R.A. Dickey can take most of the credit.

There are a lot of reasons to like Dickey (yes, I really just wrote that), but there is one that is much more important to me than all of the others combined.

But let's list the other positive points first.

He is a pitcher. You know how much I like pitchers. Shame he's not left-handed.

He is a knuckle ball pitcher. Everyone loves knuckleball pitchers, don't they?

He is a reclamation project. He learned to throw the knuckleball out of desperation. Everyone loves a good reclamation project story, too, don't they?

He is on a success streak that no one has ever seen. A dominant knuckleball pitcher? I don't even think Phil Niekro had the kind of streak that Dickey has produced lately. Ralph Kiner recently called him the most dominant knuckleball pitcher he's ever seen.

He is well-spoken and well-read. Speaking as a journalist, we love players that are both. They could fill a notebook any day of the week.

He is a writer and an author. You know I like that.

He climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. We're getting closer to why he is my hero.

He believes there's something more to life than this wretched earth. Think of that what you may, but because he does, because he is a born-again Christian, he has achieved great things, and this is the direction in which this post is headed.

Many, many ballplayers donate their money and time to great causes. They create charities in their name, they offer up millions of dollars. Anyone who raises money to fight disease, help the desperately ill, care for the homeless, help the poor, or takes the time to visit sick children in the hospital, operate fund-raisers, promote their cause publicly, is to be commended. They don't have to do this, but they do.

But Dickey, in my opinion, has done something even more touching.

Through his mountain climb, Dickey raised money for an organization called Bombay Teen Challenge, an India-based operation that tends to victims of human trafficking and helps those suffering horrible, unspeakable injustice in the red light districts of that area. (So as to not overlook the contributions of others, I have to mention that Dickey was accompanied on his mountain climb by pitcher Kevin Slowey and Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello).

Now, I know one cause isn't greater than another. I shouldn't look at things that way. But there are certain causes that speak to one's heart more than others, based on personal experience or simply on how someone is made.

To me, there is no greater injustice, nothing that makes me more upset, than people who victimize other people, particularly in such an offensive, grotesque way. Preying on other people is about the worst thing that I can think of, and much more horrifying to me than any flood, earthquake or disease -- and you know how horrifying those things are.

But you hardly hear about sports figures raising money for causes like these. These poor people -- women and girls mostly -- desperately need help and are being ignored. They are sold into prostitution and victimized over and over. Life is not their own. Thanks to another "human" being.

The real heroes are those people in the red light districts caring for these victims. I know they will be rewarded. But major praise for Dickey and his wife, Anne, for drawing attention to this cause and these people's plight. It's not the only charity in which he invests his time. He is involved in another organization that battles sexual slavery, as well as another one that helps the poor in Latin America.

I'm not going to tell you to donate to the Bombay Challenge or anything like that. You can find the website easily enough. It took me two clicks. But I can't think of a greater cause.

Dickey documented in his book about sexual abuse he suffered as a child. And now that he has two daughters, I'm sure this cause has even greater importance to him. I know it does to me as a father with a daughter.

I don't have any personal experience to relay here. I don't know why I seem to find this crime so much more offensive than others or am so puzzled by why people don't publicize it as much as the many other worthy causes out there. I just have always believed in personal dignity -- dignity that doesn't infringe on anyone else -- quiet personal dignity.

Everyone should have that.

Thanks to a baseball player, a few more people know this.


  1. Someone very close to me suffered a similar experience as a child and I find it incomprehensible that anyone would hurt a child in that way. The fact that it happens on a large scale basis to defenseless women in children in any country is unreal. Bless R.A. and everyone who is doing something to stop it.

  2. Here, here. Thanks for sharing that about Dickey. My mom retired from Child Protective Services, and these sorts of things are all too common.

  3. Great article. I will certainly cheer for him now and if I see him out, I'd refill his Dos Equis.

  4. Was going to giggle about the recent Mets/Nats matchup that pitted Dickey against Chen Ming Wang, but then you got all serious and deep...

  5. Man, such an insightful and well written post completely prevents me from making any sort of Dickey jokes.