R. A. Dickey pitched a rough outing vs the Boston Red Sox this past Sunday, allowing 10 hits and 7 ER in the 4 2/3 innings he threw.
He displayed an uncharacteristic lack of control. Success in throwing a knuckleball is all about control.
It was revealed today that Dickey suffered a broken nail on his throwing hand during the first inning of the game. Anthopoulos stated that Dickey didn’t mention it, as he didn’t want to make a big deal of it. That is very characteristic of Dickey, not wanting to make excuses. But it is a big deal. And it has nothing to do with pain. It’s all about pitch control (or in this case a lack of). It’s also not the first time this has happened to Dickey.
In R A’s autobiography Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball Dickey describes when he broke the nail on his right index finger during the Mets home opener in 2011: “The pressure of the nail against the horsehide causes the nail to split. This is not a good thing to happen to a knuckleball pitcher. It is, in fact, a horrible thing to happen to a knuckleball pitcher. Everything I do starts with the nails that grip the ball. If the nails aren’t right, I can’t grip the ball right, and bad things ensue.” He goes on to describe that throwing a knuckleball without the nail on his index finger is like “a quarterback trying to throw a pass without his pinkie“. Two days before Dickey’s next scheduled start, he busted the nail again in a bullpen session, spurting blood all over his hand and cracking the nail right down to the nail bed. What followed belonged in a movie. In full uniform, Dickey gets escorted by Theresa (one of the Mets cooks) to a local nail joint (Pink Nails, run by some lovely Korean ladies) to get some acrylic applied to the busted nail. Before you start making jokes about R A not being tough, remember that this man throws a knuckleball over 80 mph without an ucl (a ligament that stabilizes the elbow joint).
While these may sound like excuses to some, remember that baseball truly is a game of inches. Especially for a pitcher. Being able to control pitches to hit the corners of the plate often enough, makes you a success. Do it a high percentage of the time, you’ve got a decent career. Making a mistake and missing by three or four inches results in a ball over the middle of the plate. Make this mistake to the wrong hitter and they’ll take you deep. Make this mistake often enough, and you don’t stay at the big league level for long. Just ask Jeremy Jeffress and David Bush.
R A Dickey isn’t the first Jays pitcher to suffer from issues with the fingers on his throwing hand. Al Leiter spent many years of his Blue Jays career battling a blister issue on the fingers of his throwing hand. He finally solved the problem by soaking his hand in pickle brine to toughen up the skin. Leiter had other injury issues, but was able to overcome them enough to contribute to the Jays 1993 World Series Title (collecting a win in relief in Game 1, and even hit a double in Game 3).
Hopefully Dickey’s broken nail isn’t too serious this time around, and heals before his next start. Perhaps the Jays should make note of the local nail salons in the event it happens again. Or even hire a team aesthetician. But all joking aside, this can’t be more frustrating for anyone than Dickey. Read his book, and you will learn about the countless hours and effort he put into developing his knuckleball, to the point where he keeps a spare baseball in his car so he can practice his grip while he’s driving. His dedication to his craft is unmatchable, which obviously contributed to him winning the NL Cy Young award last year. If the Blue Jays can get through this season with nothing more than a rib-cage strain to Brett Lawrie, a twisted ankle for Jose Bautista, and a broken nail for R A Dickey, then they’ll be miles ahead of where they were last year.
Sunday April 7th, 2013 was not a good day to be starting pitcher, R.A. Dickey. Since acquiring the knuckleballer in the off-season, Jays fans have been itching to see what the hype is all about. We’re going to have to wait a bit longer to see, as Dickey got roughed up for 10 hits, 7 earned runs, and 2 HR to Will Middlebrooks (who was red-hot and hit 3 on the day) in 4 2/3 innings.
It however, is not a cause for concern, as fans have to realize that this type of horrible outing can happen to any pitcher, even the Ace of the team.
It in fact happened to several notable starters this very same day!
Other MLB Aces who had rough starts:
- David Price: gave up 10 hits (2 HR) and 8 earned runs in 5 innings in the Rays 13-0 loss to the Tribe
- Cole Hamels: gave up 9 hits and 8 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 9-4 Phillies loss to the Royals
- Stephen Strasburg: 9 hits and 6 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, losing 6-3 to the Big Red Machine
- Matt Cain: only went 3 2/3 innings, giving up 7 hits and 9 earned runs to the Cards
- Justin Verlander: Not a horrific outing going 7 1/3 innings, but gave up 7 hits and 3 earned runs in a Detroit 7-0 loss to the Yanks
So if you were at the Jays game and were one of the disrespectful “fans” booing Dickey, I hope you can recognize that the one thing that all of these pitchers have in common (aside from all having bad starts on the same day) is that they are also HUMAN. We all have bad days, regardless of the line of work. These men all happened to have bad outings. But they will all bounce back. That’s why they’re “aces”.
Sometimes you win.
Sometimes you lose.
Sometimes, it rains.
Click Here to Listen to: The Dugout Show #1 – R.A. Dickey Toronto Blue Jays
Brock discusses the moves made in the off-season by Alex Anthopoulos to put together a Championship calibre team.
R. A. Dickey was the centre-piece of those deals, and Brock discusses why he thinks Dickey should be a mentor and hero to all young baseball fans.