They Traded My Favorite Player! First Thoughts on the R.A. Dickey Trade

Reports are everywhere that the Mets are going to trade R.A. Dickey later today to the Toronto Blue Jays, as a major piece of a blockbuster deal. They didn’t give him away and this trade could very well end up being good for the Mets. I’ve always understood that a trade of R.A. could possibly be the right, smart, move. Jimmy and I are going to discuss that for sure, just like everyone else, as the Blogosphere and Twitterverse are exploding with real-time analysis. I just couldn’t do that first though. I needed a few moments to reflect on the fact that R.A. Dickey will no longer be a Met. R.A. Dickey was my favorite player on the 2012 Mets. No matter how long you root it is always painful to lose a favorite. We’ve known that in my family for a long time. So in honor of R.A., I wanted to talk about that, about losing a favorite player. And in honor of children, the most wonderful gift of all, I wanted to talk about it from a child’s perspective. Because out there today is an eight year old somewhere who does not care what the Mets are getting back. They only know that, just like that, R.A. is gone.

Ron Hunt was my first favorite player. He had come up as a rookie in 1963 and came in second to Pete Rose in the balloting for Rookie of the Year (he was robbed). The next year he was the starting second baseman in the All Star Game, the only Met starter at the game, which was played at shiny new Shea Stadium. Hunt was hardnosed and tough (he still owns many hit by pitch records) qualities that rang true with a kid living in a tiny apartment in Astoria, Queens. I didn’t like Ron Hunt, I loved Ron Hunt. And then in November 1966, when I was eight years old, it happened.

I remember being in my living room watching TV when my dad came in from work. The first thing he said to my mom was not hello, but “Did you hear about Ron Hunt?”

My ears caught that right away, and the rest of his sentence too.

“They traded him to the Dodgers.”

Well I guess there was some more but I didn’t hear the rest because I was too busy freaking out. Known for my temper to begin with back then, this was the tantrum to end them all. Yelling, screaming,

“How could they trade Ron Hunt!

He is our best player!

Are they crazy?”

And on, and on, and on.

My mom tried to calm me down for a minute but couldn’t, I was having none of anything she said. After a few minutes she was getting sick of me, hell, she loved Hunt too, and she looked at me and yelled firmly,

“Enough!”

Now if you didn’t live in Astoria back then with us you will have to believe me, but if my Mom said “enough” well that was that. But I was beyond rational thinking and continued to go nuts. A dangerous situation was now at hand.

Thankfully at just that time my father walked back into the room. He was holding the telephone and dialing it. It was an old rotary phone so the process was taking time.

“Michael, don’t tell us. Tell them. I’m calling the Mets. You are right, tell them.”

He handed me the phone and sure enough someone on the other end said, “New York Mets,” and before they could say another word I unloaded, yelled for three minutes straight. When I finally took a breath, the voice on the other end (some poor soul from the ticket office I guess) said, gently,

“I’m sorry,” and hung up.

My dad asked me if I felt better and I said no, but I did, just a little bit anyway. But better, 100%, no, I still haven’t gotten over it.

Thirty years later, in 1996, Rico Brogna was my daughter Kelly’s favorite player. Kelly was eight. Rico Brogna could hit home runs, he played first base, Kelly’s favorite position, AND his name rhymed with the character Miko from the movie Pocahontas. Kelly loved Rico Brogna. Well in November 1996, I came home from work and happened to ask if anyone had heard that Rico Brogna had been traded. Before I finished the sentence Kelly was running up to her room, sobbing hysterically. Her mom, ALWAYS the sensitive one of the two of us, started up with me, slightly angry with her. I mean, c’mon, what is the big deal? But for once I understood, and I went upstairs to talk to Kelly. I put my arms around my daughter the way a father does, trying somehow to hug her and console her in a way to make her hurt go away. If only it was that simple. And I told her I understood and about Ron Hunt and how unfair it can be and how dumb your team can be sometimes. I asked her if she felt better and she said no, but I hope she was a little bit anyway. 100%, of course not.

Being a fan of a team is an investment of emotions. We root, root, root for the home team. Although I suppose in the end Jerry Seinfeld is right, we root for the laundry, we also root for the players inside. You get attached to these players. When you are young, when you are still wonderfully naïve, you are very attached to some players for whatever reasons are important to a seven- or eight- or nine-year-old. Since you are young and naïve, you think nothing can ever happen to break that bond you have with your favorite player. Only it can, and probably will, and it is awful. Because you are only young once and you get a little older and cynical on that day. And you will never forget it, because one small piece of being a fan will never be the same. This was a story about R.A. Dickey, Ron Hunt, Rico Brogna, and never forgetting how you feel when you are young.

Goodbye R.A., you will be missed!

 

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8 comments

  1. FL Met Fan Rich says:

    Let face it the Mets have already packed it in for the 2013 season, and it hasn’t even started. They are going to finish in 4th or last place with or with out him. From a business sense and for 2014 this makes sense.

    It makes you wonder why they signed David Wright, other then Met fans had to know who one player was on the field. It going to be a long year for N.Y Met fans again.

    I always go to the Mets winter sale in PSL at the ballpark (Dont know the stadium name this year as sponsor last year went bankrupt), I did not go yesterday as I am just not feeling it for the Mets.

    Spring training tickets are going on sale soon and I will not be buying them early or in advance. I wish you could just ignore the Mets for the year and come back as an avid fan in 2014!

    • Michael Geus says:

      Believe me, I understand your frustration. Just don’t ignore our blog, we love having avid Met fans here!

      • Rich, I second Mike’s comment. Our hope for this blog is to create a place — a space — where we can build a small community of fans to think and talk and disagree and root together. This trade has actually made me more hopeful for the future of the Mets, and that hope should take some of the pain of ’13 away. I think we’ll see D’Arnaud, and Wheeler. Email us at talkingmets@aol.com if you ever want to write anything about your experiences at PSL — a day at the park, whatever. We’d be curious to read and share that fan’s perspective.

  2. Alan K says:

    I understand your feelings about Dickey but this trade could be major step on the way back. D’Arnaud is a catcher they can build around and Noah Syndergaard, is a highly regarded pitching prospect. Fans were were unhappy n 1982 when Mazzilli was traded to Texas for Darling and Terrell but that was an important building block move. Dickey was a chip that the Mets needed to cash in when his stock was high and it looks like they got significant talent back. The Mets did the right thing.

  3. I love this piece and, again, I’m so glad that we now have a platform to share this kind of writing. The truth is, Mike wrote this more than a month ago and I said, “Not yet, wait for it.” Because I knew that a moment would come when the timing was right. This post goes to the essence of being a fan, which is a pocket of innocence we carry around with us, such a silly thing, really, to root so passionately for a team. And yet we do, we take it all to heart. We love certain players. It’s crazy. So I kept saying to Mike, “Just wait, there will be a trade, a moment when these thoughts are exactly right.” I’m glad that our first step is not analysis. Our first step is to appreciate R.A. — he’s been such a great Met — and to acknowledge that fact. Great job, Mike. We’ll miss you, R.A. Dickey, and wish you the very best. Beat those Yanks!

  4. Kelly G says:

    This was a good day to post this article. I am JUST as upset about the potential Dickey trade as I was about Rico. He’s an amazing pitcher (and has the Cy Young award to prove it). Plus he’s a huge Star Wars fan! So he gets bonus points for that. So I’ll be over here in my “Keep Dickey” corner, not sobbing hysterically, but trust me, I’m just as upset.

  5. [...] That certainly makes two of us, actually three. John is a big favorite in our house. It started on July 3, 2006, when Maine, who was acquired as the other guy in the Kris and Anna Benson for Jorge Julio trade, was called up from the minors to pitch against the Pirates. If you look up the boxscore from that game you will be confused as the Mets got pummeled, 11-1. Maine’s linescore does not totally jump out at you either. We had great field level seats that night. Right from the first inning my daughter and I both saw it…that fastball. Now I’m not Clint Eastwood, and Kelly is not Amy Adams, but we do know a big league fastball when we see one. And Maine had it. When the game got out of hand, we wore out my wife and son with all our talk about Maine and that fastball. But as 2006 continued, Maine proved us correct in our optimism and Kelly had a new favorite player. [...]

  6. [...] in 2002, Edgardo Alfonzo was named the Mets All-Time second baseman. Although Ron Hunt was once my favorite player, and Wally Backman conjures up memories of our last World Championship, Edgardo easily deserves this [...]

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