In 2005, R.A. Dickey was coming off his second consecutive poor season for the Texas Rangers. As a result, Dickey was asked by the Rangers to consult knuckleball guru (and former Ranger pitcher) Charlie Hough so he could learn the nuances of the nomadic pitch. In discussing Hough's influence on Dickey's career-saving pitch, the Mets' righty professed:
"Charlie taught me the rudiments of the knuckleball. He changed my grip to help with the consistency and make it mechanically more compact."
Later on, Dickey discussed how he went to Atlanta a few years after studying under Charlie Hough. There he met the Pai Mei of knuckleball instructors, Phil Niekro. After some time in the film room, Niekro made some minor changes to Dickey's delivery, evolving the pitch into what it has become.
Dickey came out of the meeting with Niekro as a new man with a devastating new pitch. So overjoyed was Dickey that he let his extensive vocabulary describe the feeling:
"Only a few people have the knuckleball vernacular. But as Phil told me, the one design of the pitch is to get people out."
R.A. Dickey learned how to throw the knuckleball so he could get people out. However, his penchant for spitting out SAT words as if they were sunflower seeds has gotten people's dictionaries out as well.
For those who only got credit on their SAT for spelling their names correctly, here are the definitions for the words "rudiments" and "vernacular":
- 1. the elements or first principles of a subject.
- 2. a mere beginning, first slight appearance, or undeveloped or imperfect form of something.
- 1. the native speech or language of a place.
- 2. the language or vocabulary particular to a class or profession.
R.A. Dickey showed us the proper way to use those words in sentences. To show you how NOT to use these words properly, we decided to contact former Met closer (and receiver of fan wrath) Armando Benitez to give us his input. In less time than he used to take to blow a crucial save, Benitez came up with these wild pitches of wisdom.
"I don't understand why Mets fans were always booing me. I always went out there and gave 100%. If that's not good enough, then tough. I won't be disrespected, so they better not be rudiments to me."
If that isn't enough for you, Benitez decided to reflect on one "disrespectful" moment in his Mets career. You might remember it as the ninth inning, game-tying, three-run homer he gave up to San Francisco's J.T. Snow in the second game of the 2000 NLDS.
"After that game, I was confronted by a Mets fan who was at the game, but couldn't get tickets. He decided to watch the game from across McCovey Cove. He told me that from where he was, he didn't even need vernaculars to see that I had just served up a meaty pitch for Snow to hit."
If only Armando Benitez had consulted Dickeypedia first, he might not have made a fool of himself when talking about Mets fans who weren't happy with his version of 100%. Then again, we are talking about the guy who put the "BS" in Blown Save...
That's all for this edition of "Dickeypedia Word of the Week". Be here next time as we proceed with your education while former Mets continue to suffer their humiliation.