It has been quite a memorable year already in Major League Baseball, what with a slew of no-hitters and perfect games and the Yankees overcoming the dreadful loss of Mariano Rivera, the team's superstar closer. But let's turn the page.
For my two cents, the story of the year — and the Athlete of the Year — is already cast in stone: R.A. Dickey, the most unlikely success story in sports.
Dickey is the knuckleball-throwing pitcher for the New York Mets. He is unlike any player you've watched this year. We all love to watch behemoth pitchers strike a batter out with a 178-mph fastball. Not R.A. Dickey, though.
Dickey sports an 11-1 record and accomplished something no pitcher since Dave Stieb pulled off in 1988: back-to-back starts with one-hitters. That is an impressive piece of sports history.
Forget that he had a poor outing on Sunday night against the crosstown rival New York Yankees. He didn't cost the Mets the game and, as he always does, Dickey held his head high.
Besides being a dominant pitcher, Dickey is a refreshing change from the provocative, me-first gang of sports stars who are so prominent today. We see those people all the time, accused of steroids or battery or any other antisocial behavior.
Dickey is quiet, professional, self-effacing, and seems to care as much about the welfare of the team as he does about his image and personal statistics. It's certainly nice to see. I wish more professional athletes had the kind of reputation as R.A. Dickey.
It's not clear whether Dickey can keep up this breakneck pace. It is a lot to ask of any pitcher, particularly someone who throws a knuckleball. It is the quirkiest pitch in baseball. Nobody seems to know where it will go, whether it will be a ball or a strike or a passed ball or a wild pitch or if the batter will smack in 450 feet for a home run. It's that hard to predict. Poor Mets catchers!
The catchers, however, are the only people you can feel sorry for here. The rest of us can enjoy the best sports story of the year. Go, R.A.!
Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution," which Penguin will publish in August. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.
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