Last night, some of the biggest names in rock music gathered at Madison Square Garden to perform and raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. Communities in New Jersey, specifically the devastated shore area, and Long Island suffered the worst of Sandy’s wrath. Many are still without power and homeless, living in shelters or other locations not of their own.
I bring this up today as a matter of perspective. The Mets have offered R.A. Dickey a twenty million dollar extension for years 2014 and 2015. With five million owed for next season, Dickey will make 25 million over the next three seasons with possibly an option in 2016 for 10 more million.
At the Mets holiday party at Citi Field earlier in the week, Dickey vented his frustration with management that the process was going too slow and they were far apart on the money. For most of Dickey’s short career with the Mets, he has been the perfect role model. A soulful person with many life anecdotes, Dickey is an interview you don’t want to miss. But on this particular Tuesday, it was hard for me to listen to R.A. complaining about being offered upwards of 35 million dollars to play a kids game.
Look, I get it. Americans overvalue very unimportant things. Athletes and movie stars have not cured cancer, haven’t figured out how to close the ridiculous income disparity in this country, and they certainly have not come up with a way to fight global climate change to hopefully prevent another storm like Sandy. But for us working class stiffs who use baseball as a means of escape, we tend to honor and side with these athletes more that we should.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a huge supporter of owners. For the most part, they are greedy robber barrens who are more of the problem than the solution. But given the current situation, having suffered Sandy’s destructive force and trying to make ends meet even if the storm did not effect some of us too badly, Dickey made a calculated risk and for me, it backfired, at least in terms of perception.
I don’t blame Dickey for the posturing. Every athlete and their agent have the right to try and get every last dollar they can. After all, he was the National League Cy Young award winner and certainly deserves a nice pay day. So while I do not fault him for his complaints, I think his timing was poor. And let’s not forget, Dickey is not a free agent. He has one year left on his contract for five million dollars. The Mets are under no obligation to pay him a penny more. The fact that the Mets want to sign him to an extension speaks volumes and criticism levied against the team is unfair.
I have heard the counter argument. What do you expect when he (Dickey) is at Citi Field and reporters are shoving their recording devices in his face asking about the contract?
What I expected is what I have come to love and respect about R.A. Dickey. He’s a renaissance man. He’s very well read, is a writer, and has a keen understanding of the human condition, rare for an athlete that’s for sure. What I hoped was restraint and for him to express the situation elegantly has he has done with everything else that has come his way. But on this particular Tuesday he sounded like all the other garden variety athletes who are always trying to get the most they can. Again, it’s hard to blame him but for me it was disappointing.
The truth of the matter is simple. While Dickey wants the best contract he can get, Sandy Alderson’s job is to make the Mets a better team. All that has happened so far this off season is some of the Mets players have been non tendered and David Wright was resigned. The Mets at the moment are no better off than they were when they won their 74th game on the final day of the 2012 season. That is not to say that signing Dickey does not make them better. But Dickey being used in a trade that could return one or two impact hitting outfielders could definitely make the Mets better.
With Zack Greinke off the market having signed with the Yankees west…err the Dodgers, and with the Royals getting the pitchers they wanted from Tampa Bay, Alderson suddenly finds himself holding a commodity few other teams have to offer. The Mets want the top two hitting prospects for any team who wants Dickey. While that my be a good poker bluff, the Mets would be just as glad to hold on to Dickey and are comfortable giving him the extension they have offered. Alderson being patient only increases the odds of a team blinking first. If that happens, I’m sure Alderson will pounce on the opportunity unless Dickey has accepted the offer first.
The incident at Citi on Tuesday really is no harm, no foul. It was just disappointing for this particular fan because of the perception that Dickey fostered. In the end all I want is for the Mets to be better. A player’s feelings or how the GM is perceived is really unimportant.