MetsBlog Q&A: with RA Dickey, on connecting with fans

Rich Coutinho:  You seemed to have embraced New York.  What has it been like for you playing here this season?

RA Dickey:  I have real empathy for these fans.  I understand they just want to win, and you have to respect that.  I think the fans can really sense when someone is playing their heart out, and I try to do that every time out.  That’s the one thing I can consistently bring every day, no matter how good my knuckleball is, I can play hard and fight to the very end.  I think they can relate to that, and they respect that, and I respect the fact that they want a winner around here, and who can blame them.

Rich Coutinho:  What was the whole ride like for you this season?

RA Dickey:  It was fairly tumultuous in the beginning.  To be one of the first guys out of spring training, but still try to maintain the vision that I still had something very viable to offer, and going down there and being a professional and trying to do what I needed to do to get my work done so I would be prepared when they did need something, was a hurdle that needed to be leaped over.  I was fortune enough that i got time to prepare my body on the minor league side for what would ultimately become a 238-inning season.  So, from there, to be called up May 19, to starting in Washington, I’ve just had so many incredible moments this year… the fans have been great.  It’s been a real nice experience and I’ve been humbled by it.

Rich Coutinho: You’re a guy who kind of had to reinvent himself a little bit… the mental part, and the mental toughness of that, can you talk a little bit about that?

RA Dickey:  Yeah, I think the mental part is what has allowed me to have the success that I’ve had.  You know, I can’t remember who gets credit for the platitude, but, one person once told me the mental to the physical is 5 to 1, and that’s true.  Especially in this case, because I had to leave who I used to be a conventional pitcher behind so I could step in to who I was trying to become.  That’s a really hard thing to do, especially when it’s something you had success at but now it’s not good enough.  To leave that completely behind and try to adopt a new identity has taken some time.  But, I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve had a great support system in my family and friends that have really encouraged and not allowed me to quit… and I think that’s been contributing factor to the consistent with which you’ve seen from me on the field.

Rich Coutinho: I’ve talked to a lot of hitters about facing you, especially in this ballpark.  One of the things they’ve said to me is that the knuckleball is hard enough to lift, but Dickey’s is really hard to lift because you see other pitches too.  Is that part of the game you play with hitters?

RA Dickey:  It is.  The more bullets that I have the better.  You know, fortunately enough for me, I came in to the knuckleball process as a decent, albeit mediocre, conventional pitcher, I still had some weapons I could use as part of my repertoire to get that hitter out.  That’s something I haven’t shied away from in an effort to have my own identity with a pitch that is something I try to introduce… so, I might throw an 85-mph sinker, or another cutter, but for the most part my knuckleball has been pretty good and I haven’t had to stray too far from the path.