Yesterday, I listened as R.A. Dickey talked about throwing a knuckleball. I attended the Forehand & Friends Luncheon at Lipscomb University where Dickey talked about the last year or so of his life – winning the 2012 NL Cy Young Award, his climb up Mt. Kilamanjaro, his book, and the recently released documentary Knuckleball.
Dickey is a Christian. And, he has transformed the recent success and attention into a platform to unashamedly share his faith. That, in itself, can be a difficult thing to do, especially as a member of the Mets…in New York City.
The fascination with Dickey is that he has mastered the knuckleball…in a fastball world. A knuckleball is an extremely difficult pitch to throw, and Dickey sets himself apart from his community of knuckleballers – Neikro, Hough, and Wakefield – in that he throws it hard. Where other knucklers float towards the plate at 60, maybe 70 mph, Dickey’s comes flitting in towards batters in the low 80’s.
The problem with a knuckleball, though, is when it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, it’s really bad, usually leaving the park. Yet, the thing I found most interesting about Dickey’s comments was how the environment affects his pitch. The humidity, the temperature, the altitude – all have a significant affect on his pitch.
Think about that for a minute. Your success depends on the humidity.
Baseball is a difficult game. I’ve often said that baseball is the most “cerebral” of sports. While some may see baseball as a slow game, others see it for the fascinating complexities it possesses on so many different levels. On any given pitch, there are any number of things that can happen, both defensively and offensively. If you don’t see that, then there’s no need for me to continue that debate.
What is not up for debate, though, is that hitting a pitched baseball is the #1 most difficult thing to do in sports. And, Dickey just made it that much more difficult. The list below is from a USA Today survey. You can read about the survey here.