Ian Hunter of BlueJayHunter.com published an interesting article the other day regarding R.A. Dickey’s teammate-ability which stemmed from Jeff Blair’s interview with Blue Jays’ play by play voice Jerry Howarth. In it, Blair noted how he thinks Dickey has a “benign influence” – that is zero influence on his team. While it’s absolutely a plausible statement to make – many of us can very simply see on the broadcasts how the Blue Jays’ young guns clearly gravitated around Mark Buehrle – at the same time, I’ve also observed Dickey usually conversing with teammates on a one-on-one basis in a more intimate and private setting. So to say zero influence may be a bit much.
As far as Dickey’s “hermit-like personality” goes, I definitely get that. He’s been through many life-altering events as was detailed in his book, Wherever I Wind Up, and in my view, perhaps has evolved enough in his life where he’s sufficiently confident in himself to be his own man. In other words, he could have a solidly formed identity of self where he knows what he is (an instrument of God as he details in said book) and as such doesn’t need to be well-liked or to fraternalize to feel like he’s a part of the team. Furthermore, the guy cheated on his wife and still managed to salvage the relationship. That speaks to a devotion and level of commitment to make things right with his family, and perhaps he realizes what is more important; after all, baseball is just a game.
Howarth goes on to say that Dickey’s been very “difficult to get to know”, a “man unto himself on an island”, which isn’t the first time he’s mentioned this idea to his radio audience. This anti-social behaviour towards Howarth is certainly more baffling and therefore more difficult to defend because in my mind who wouldn’t want to establish a relationship with your own team’s radio voice – someone who is more likely to sing your praises to the home town faithful.
In the Blair interview, Howarth also commented on Buehrle, saying “It’s not about him”, which implies that he’s there for his teammates as a supporter, a listener, and someone who takes younger players under the proverbial wing. Ego isn’t involved with Buehrle and therefore, he puts the team ahead of himself. Howarth can’t say the same about Dickey. Still, is it right to bemoan a person that you don’t yet know?