Is R.A. Dickey a Superhero?

Warning: If you haven’t seen the movie Unbreakable, just skip this post. There will be spoilers and you probably won’t understand half of it anyway. Or you can brush up on the film’s plot by reading Wikipedia.

Like most of you, I’ve enjoyed watching R.A. Dickey all season. Dickey’s emergence seems like a great “feel good” story – a nice little anecdote with an expiration date. We all love to ride the wave of an unexpected hero’s story, but the magic ultimately fades and we’re on to the next storyline (see also: Fernando Tatis, Daniel Murphy, Aaron Heilman, Nelson Figueroa, etc.)

But somehow, Dickey’s story always seemed more compelling than all that. During last night’s game, the skies opened up and it started pouring. Suddenly, it all made sense… Dickey’s emergence isn’t a “feel good” story at all. It’s a classic superhero story.

R.A. Dickey, Unbreakable and Weakness

In the movie Unbreakable, Bruce Willis plays David Dunn – a nice guy with some flaws and no direction in his life. His life is not unlike a journeyman pitcher.

Through a series of events, Dunn discovers he possesses super powers. He starts to put his powers to good use, but he quickly learns that he has one glaring weakness – he’s basically allergic to water. And by allergic, I mean, the guy could drown in a puddle.

Last night’s game was a typical R.A. Dickey affair, until it started raining. As soon as the skies opened up, Dickey couldn’t get a grip on his knuckleball. He managed to come out of it, like all superheroes do, but it got pretty scary.

Weakness is what ties a superhero’s journey to the common man. With a weakness, we are suddenly sympathetic to the hero because he is just like us – vulnerable and powerless – albeit for a moment. Without a weakness, the superhero is all powerful and cannot lose. It would be like rooting for Albert Pujols to hit a home run on the moon. Where’s the fun in that?

Unbreakable basically takes the standard superhero mythos and updates it for current times. Most superheroes have a split identity and a glaring weakness – Superman is probably the best known example (Clark Kent/Kryptonite).

R.A. Dickey and The Superhero Mythos

So R.A. Dickey possesses a magical knuckleball, but he loses his superpower in the presence of water. Just like David Dunn in Unbreakable.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at Wikipedia’s common traits for a good superhero story:

  • Extraordinary powers (knuckleball)
  • Secret Identity (R.A. Dickey is short for Robert Alan Dickey. Not too creative, but it still works )
  • Distinctive costume (Mets uniform)
  • Supporting cast of recurring characters (Frenchy, Jose, David “Boy Wonder” Wright, Angel Pagan, K-Rod, The Animal)
  • A number of enemies that he fights repeatedly (opposing teams)
  • Headquarters (Citi Field)
  • A backstory that explains the circumstances that led to the acquisition or discovery of his special powers. (Let’s see, he was born without a ulnar collateral ligament and he was a journeyman pitcher until he discovered the knuckleball.)

So there you have it. R.A. Dickey is a superhero.

  1. wohjr August 4, 2010 at 2:44 pm
    He’d be fourth in the league for ERA if he had enough innings to qualify… which I believe should be after the next start. My favorite new Met in a while.

    I really hope he’s not Aaron Small 2.0… I don’t think he is

  2. loge mezzanine August 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm
    I think the difference with Dickey from guys like Small or even other knuckleballers is that he changes speeds with his knuckleball and he throws it pretty hard to begin with. There just seems to be less that can go wrong since it isn’t dancing all over the place (relatively speaking). So I agree – I think he’s here to stay.
  3. loge mezzanine August 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm
    By the way, I just took another look at my Photoshop job. Wow. I made his neck look giraffe-like. Hooray for rushed Photoshop jobs!
  4. Mic August 4, 2010 at 5:01 pm
    wohjr,
    Nice comment. Indeed I think RA has been a boost to Omar, and the franchise. Like Wakefield for the Soxx.

    On another note lm Metsmerized comes this gem:

    On Monday, Manuel said the reintroduction of Beltran and Luis Castillo to the lineup following their injuries had changed the dynamic of the team. He went on to further say that the team was suffering with wins and losses partly because of the transition of the new players. I believe that comments like this only serve to widen the chasm that already exists between Beltran and many Mets fans. It was uncalled for and displayed very poor judgment by Manuel. ‘

    actually I think this should be Manuel’s last comment.

    • John Fitzgerald August 4, 2010 at 5:19 pm
      Interesting. I stopped reading after the author posited that Backman was fired from Joliet because of a losing season. Incorrect. He was losing, but he was fired because the former CEO of the defunct South Coast League took over. He and Wally never saw eye to eye – he fired Wally the year before too.

      Maybe I’ll dust off my MetsToday password and write something about the Top 10 Misconceptions About Wally Backman. Although I think Joe already did that. Joe? Can you link us? I’m too lazy to Google it at the moment.

      • Joe Janish August 4, 2010 at 10:00 pm
        Yeah I think I wrote something to that effect about a year ago … maybe it’s time to re-publish it, now that the WallyWagon is gaining momentum.
  5. Tom Greenhalgh August 4, 2010 at 8:00 pm
    great article and great movie
    • Joe Janish August 4, 2010 at 10:04 pm
      agreed 100% on both counts