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R.A. Dickey’s Mt. Kilimanjaro trip has the Mets nervous

Dec 27, 2011, 9:22 AM EDT

RA Dickey pitch

We’ve mentioned before that R.A. Dickey is going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro next month. Why? Because he’s awesome. And he has always wanted to. And because he’s going to promote a charity that helps victims of sex trafficking in India, which in turn makes him awesome again, and that’s before we even get to the fact that he’s a knuckleballer.

There’s a good story about Dickey’s quest in the Wall Street Journal today. Complete with a picture of him jogging in an oxygen deprivation mask to train, which is scary/wonderful.  And complete with “the Mets brass is really worried about it and have sent him a letter threatening to void his contract if he hurts himself on the mountain” goodness:

“If we thought it was a good idea, we wouldn’t have sent the letter,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “Beyond that, have we tried to dissuade him from going? It seems to me that the letter is enough of an effort to dissuade him, and he intends to go on nonetheless.”

You can understand the Mets’ position — there are details in the article about the small but real risks Dickey faces on his trek — but I can’t help but think that, when he is an old man, Dickey will remember being on top of Kilimanjaro more fondly than he will remember hitting the treadmill in his Nashville home while counting the days to spring training.

  1. acheron2112 - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    So two of the Mets’ pitchers are going to climb the twin peaks of Mt Kilimanjaro?

    • protius - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:59 AM

      There are three peaks, actually.

    • sdelmonte - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:12 AM

      I would kill for two Mets pitchers like him.

      Heck, I would to see two pitchers like him in all of baseball.

    • daisycutter1 - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:15 PM

      And now for something completely different – a man with a tape recorder up his brother’s nose.

  2. Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Whereas I love R. A. Dickey for a lot of the same reasons Craig does, and although I find the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro delightful, Dickey is playing fast and loose with his professional obligations to the Mutts. He is, to put it mildly, behaving unprofessionally. It’s fine to support charities, to make comments the blanderized masses might find idiosyncratic, and it’s even fine – if rare – to be a professional athlete and be literate at the same time. But this isn’t the same order or magnitude of weird as quoting James Joyce in response to a sportswriter’s questions about his las bad outing. If his contract – which no one forced him to sign – recognizes the investment the team has made in him and prohibits him from incurring unnecessary physical risks, and he wants to take them anyway “because he wants to,” that’s irresponsible to the point of juvenile. It’s also contemptuous of both his employers and his fans. There are two honorable courses of action: wait until his contract runs out and then climb the mountain, or retire from baseball and then do whatever he pleases. Kilimanjaro, its snows and its freeze-dried leopard carcass will wait for him.

    • protius - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:01 AM


      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:11 PM


    • kiwicricket - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:09 AM

      I tend to agree with you Gator. If my employer literally paid me millions of dollars to be adequately mobile, and toss a baseball slowly….not sure I would do anything to bugger that situation up.

    • kiwicricket - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:14 AM

      I sway my decision!
      Dickey climbing to the top of a mythical peak in Africa, so close to the equator and the birthplace of modern man….will only INCREASE his powers.

      Mets should do their due diligence and have him perform a series of beneficial rituals. Compromise is the main food-group of a healthy relationship.

    • djpostl - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:21 AM

      If he hurts himself they can void his contract. It’s not like they are going to actually compete anyways so in the end it is only about the money he is getting paid.

      • kiwicricket - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM

        No, it’s about harnessing mythical powers dam-it!

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:51 AM

        DJ: it’s not about whether they’re going to compete or not. It’s about honoring an agreement he made. Implicit in that contract is not only the “if-then” aspect of injuring himself, but that he agreed not to do anything dangerous or stupid while under contract to the team. Bottom line: it’s about being a man of his word. Or not.

        And anyway, he has always been a great competitor, even when those around him were choking and quitting on their team and themselves. The level of disingenuousness he’s displaying by mystifying the point to making this ascent, to my mind, relegates him back to the ethical status of his n’er-do-well teammates. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he’s been eating fried chicken in the clubhouse all along.

      • paperlions - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        Yeah, because climbing Mt. K is more dangerous than so many other mundane tasks that expose ballplayers to danger but that are performed unannounced, like drinking and driving or driving while talking on a cell phone or pick-up basketball games or whatever else….people are hurt everyday doing mundane tasks that are always dangerous but whose dangers people ignore.

        Players, like all people that sign contracts, are not signing over their entire lives to their teams. What a wasted life it would be to live it in slavery to one’s contract….when opportunities abound to enjoy life more fully.

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM

        On the contrary. If they willingly sign an agreement not to perform dangerous tasks – and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, or serious, highly technical mountain climbing in general, is such a task, it isn’t slavery at all. It’s a business agreement, plain and simple. Dickey was always free to turn down the contract but chose to sign it. Anyone who wants to go enrich their lives ought to do so – but they shouldn’t agree not to do certain things at the same time. Whether climbing mountains is or is not more dangerous than driving like an idiot is irrelevant. The point is that Dickey gave his word to the team not to take such risks when he signed his contract.

      • kiwicricket - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:26 AM

        If I sign a contract of employment with a company, it is generally regarded that I should not undertake something which might inhibit my ability to do that job effectively at a high level. Drinking a bottle of Vodka per day for example?

        Opening a pack of frozen meat with a sharp knife=mundane,slightly stupid.
        Climbing the highest peak in disease ridden Africa= Not a mundane daily task.

        I was paid a couple hundred bucks for a game of cricket. It was generally frowned upon if I turned up hung-over. If they paid me millions, I can only assume they wouldn’t want me to climb a mountain on another continent?

        His intentions are highly commendable, but his actions are definitely reckless.

      • jwbiii - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:31 PM

        In the Uniform Player’s Contract, a player does not agree not to engage in any dangerous activities. The player and the team agree that the team can suspend or terminate the contract if the player is disabled due to reasons not related to fulfilling the contract. The Mets are just reminding Dickey of that clause and that they are not going to pay him $4.5M to sit on the 60 day DL and heal his broken neck if he falls off a mountain. The Mets have the right to do this. Dickey has the right to go climb a mountain.

    • cur68 - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      Gentlemen, gentlemen: the RA Dickey Armageddon is upon us and you waste your typing with contract details? With shades of distinction? Nay, lads, there are bigger issues. Click through and have a look at RA with his “Mask” on. Look closely. Can you see it? That’s not a “mask”. Its his real face.

      Clearly what will happen is he’ll climb the mountain, his forces will meet him there and he will begin his quest to conquer the Earth from the cradle of humanity itself. I have seen this future and modeled it mashed potatoes. Now I’m off to stock up my basement bunker with supplies and contact Jessica Alba, Mila Kunis & Minka Kelley and offer them a place at my side to face the dark and troubling times ahead. I’m sure once their lawyers are made aware of the gravity of the situation they will desist with their “restraining orders” and “police surveillance” and allow the ladies to do what their hearts tell them is right…

      If you guys had a shred of sense you’d do the same (but hands off Alba, Kunis & Kelley! Mine, I tell you…).

      ps: If I worked for Wilpon, I’d climb Mt. K and the contract be dammed. Not like Fred is living up to his obligations to the City of New York.

      • kiwicricket - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:13 PM

        VISA issues…only Canadian alternatives- Celine Dion, Alanis Morissette and K D Lang are available.

      • cur68 - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        VISA issues? In Dickey’s Armageddon? Well…dang it all then. Fine. I’ll take Morissette (she can hum a tune at least) and I’ll knock back Dion (she’s in Vegas anyways: that place has a gravity all its own and nothing, not even Dion, can escape it) and Lang would demure (its about free will, y’know. I wouldn’t want her to do anything she’d be morally opposed to) so that leaves 2 available slots. I shall get on with reviewing the starting lineup of the Toronto Triumph, Lingerie League Football Team. Using all scientific thought and objective measure available I’m sure I shall be able to come to decision by the time RA begins His Ascent.

      • spudchukar - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:33 PM

        Here let me help. Avril Lavigne and Anne Murray, with Justin Bieber as a sub.

      • jwbiii - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:35 PM

        kiwi, You are forgetting Caroline Dhavernas!

      • cur68 - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:09 PM

        Looks like I’m forgetting Caroline Dhavernas, too. Right. So that’s Morrisette, Dhavernas, & I can deal with Lavigne providing she doesn’t try to “sing” or do anything else that requires her to have any musical talent. Cool. Now, when RA begins to crush the forces of Earth under his cleated feet I shall be prepared in my basement lair to withstand the ravages. Or something.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      Gator – my guess is that this is not a difficult “technical” climb – as in belays, ropes and swinging over gorges. Dickey seems like a real guy – more like a hockey player than a baseball robot. Good for him. I remember being happy for him when he signed that contract he’s willing to jeopardize. I’m happy for him now, also.

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        From what I’ve read, there’s a couple of “tourist climbs” that don’t go to the summit. Anything beyond that is indeed – dear Buddha, I love this word – “technical.” Here’s a typical tourist brochure for the climb:

        Apparently those last three and a half hours are a killer. Look, I hope the guy makes it up and back. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is still, for me, living up to your commitments.

        I once climbed Mt. Fuji. I was young and trying to impress a female of the species – one of the very few reasons I could think of to do it in the first place. It’s pretty tame, just grueling. The Japanese have a saying: “Everyone ought to climb Fuji-san once. Only an idiot would do it twice.” Just thought I’d mention that. No reason.

      • kiwicricket - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:19 PM

        Well…did it work?

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:47 PM

        No, it didn’t. She read somewhere that there was another Japanese saying that anyone who climbed Fuji even once was an idiot. I wish she woulda told me before I busted my kiesters and laid the groundwork for my late middle aged sciatica.

    • sdelmonte - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      You should see the reactions to this on ESPNNewYork. It’s like the Mets are Simon LeGree and RA is Moses. Or something like that.

      Reason #2899 I prefer to get my baseball discussion here instead of anywhere else.

    • Jonny 5 - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:31 PM

      Think of the Knuckler he’ll be able to throw with the loss of some finger tips. True knuckle baller….

      I tend to agree with Gator here. Do you know how many toes, fingers, earlobes, and nose tips have been lost to that mountain? Two of which are literally ESSENTIAL to pitching.

    • mondogarage - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:40 PM

      ” Dickey is playing fast and loose with his professional obligations to the Mutts”

      Ascribing unprofessionalism in this instance rings hollow when referring to a team owned by the Wilpons and financed with Madoff money. The Mutts’ ownership has long failed in their professional obligations to manage their resources.

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        I agree, but I never got the sense that Dickey was the impressionable type.

    • tseekins - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:49 PM

      well, THAT being true, why does ANY Major League Team allow their pitchers to throw in Philly?
      What with batteries and godknowswhat being chucked at the players.
      I guess they figure no one can reach the mound, huh?

    • danrizzle - Dec 28, 2011 at 6:51 AM

      There is no spirit of the contract, and there are no implicit terms in the contract, where the party on the other side is the New York Mets. If the Mets didn’t want him to climb mountains, they should have put something in the contract to that effect. If they wanted to make his salary voidable in the event that he gets hurt climbing mountains, then they should have done that, and for all I know, they have done that.

      I’m waiting for the headline: “R.A. Dickey asks Mets not to sign Jason Bay to a long-term deal or to invest team money in Ponzi schemes.”

    • edog623 - Dec 28, 2011 at 1:58 PM

      As an experienced rock climber, I would like to say that climbing Kilimanjaro is NOT “highly technical mountain climbing.” It is a very manageable multi-day trek which depending on sources, 10 to 16 thousand people summit every year with a success rate around 60%. It is completely non-technical. The dangers posed are primarily due to altitude sickness. A good athlete who will train, and then take the time needed to adjust to altitude should not be in any serious danger. If you start to get sick, you turn around and descend. Better yet, a true professional guide can help you make those choices.

      • Old Gator - Dec 28, 2011 at 5:12 PM

        edog623 – thanks for the clarification. All of the brochures I read in response to this teapot tempest seemed to warn inexperienced climbers about that last segment to the peak.

  3. mondogarage - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    The amount of win that climbing Mt Kilimanjaro to raise money is worth, equates to roughly five years of Mets’ regular season wins, according to WARMs (Wins Above Replacement Mets), taking continental averages into account.

  4. aec4 - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Maybe he wants his contract voided since hr figures they can’t afford to pay anyway?

    • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      It had occurred to me that this is a clever way to get out of a contract with a cellar team, but how badly (or mildly) can he hurt himself to incur Wilponian wrath (and doesn’t “Wilponian” sound like an alien race from a Heinlein novel)?

      Anyway, if he does slightly hurt himself just enough to escape from Flushing, or incurs sufficient Wilponian wrath to get himself traded to the Feesh for something less than the untouchable Tweeter, I would welcome his slightly injured and/or dishonorable knuckleball to Macondo Banana Massacre Field with a garland of carrion flowers (knowing that Dickey would appreciate them). Look at it this way: the first peetch thrown by a Feesh was a knuckleball (the immortal Charlie Hough). Why not have the first peetch in Macondo Banana Massacre Field thrown by a knuckleballer – and a dishonorable one at that, which would suit Scrooge McLoria and the Chihuahua in so many ways?

  5. kiwicricket - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    I’m a simple man. The sheer wording in the title is enough to amuse me.

  6. test2402 - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    Tim Tebow already climbed that mountain.

    • kiwicricket - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:18 AM

      Please continue to wedge Tebow remarks into a baseball blog comments section. It’s proving enormously popular.

    • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      Tim Tebow is a superstitious ass.

      • paperlions - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:09 AM

        He is superstitious (by definition) and naive (by action and word), but I have a hard time labeling him an ass.

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:05 PM

        You haven’t listened to enough of his interviews yet, is all.

      • florida727 - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:26 PM

        Normally I wouldn’t waste my time responding to comments like the ones “oldgator” and “paperlions” made, but I’ll make an exception just to show to everyone reading these posts exactly how much of an @$$hole and idiot these two clowns actually are… — definition of “superstition”: a belief or notion NOT based on reason or knowledge; irrational FEAR of what is unknown or mysterious, especially in connection with religion

        Okay, you hate Tebow, I get that. But before you call someone out as being superstitious or an @$$ or both, try learning the meaning of such multi-syllabic words. That way you don’t come off as being a one-word descriptive character yourself… the one word being “idiot”. Look up the definition of that one yourself if you’re having trouble figuring it out.

      • firedude7160 - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:28 PM

        Even though I disagree with most of Paper’s comments, you referring to him and Old gator as idiots is laughable. They are 2 of the more educated commenters around

      • Kevin S. - Dec 27, 2011 at 4:42 PM

        There is no reason or knowledge that forms the basis of belief in any deity, much less the particular variety of Christianity Tebow subscribes to. Religious folks don’t like hearing it, but their beliefs fit that definition of superstition to a tee.

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:02 PM

        Eeeyup. One excellent working definition of superstition is “the other guy’s religion.” But it’s not the belief that rankles. It’s the obnoxious proclivity of evangelicals to rub everyone else’s noses in their particular cult fairytales as loudly and as theatrically as possible – which is what makes them “asses.” You’d think they never read Isaiah 30:15: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

      • cur68 - Dec 27, 2011 at 7:20 PM

        Wow, well florida727 really told you guys off, Gator & ‘lions. Betcha don’t dare sneak another comment on here that might exposes what a calamitous waste those multiple graduate degrees you guys have are. Mind you, having read that definition of ‘superstition’ provided & the associated rant (I tried to duck the metaphorical spittle but I fear some got on my suit: yucky) I can’t see where you fellas erred. I confess that I hold all mythologies in equal regard, be they christian, voodoo, or orthodox rooster worship so maybe I’m just a jaded fool with a limited grasp of the world outside my basement redoubt. Anyhow, you’ve been told. Or something.

      • Old Gator - Dec 28, 2011 at 6:41 PM

        florida727 has stated before that he admires Tebow and I have no issues with that. I think of Tebow as one of the greatest college quarterbacks of all time, but I am reserving judgment until his NFL career pans out one way or another as far as what kind of professional he will be. I think there’s a good possibility that he will prove a lot of naysayers wrong and be an interesting and successful departure from the usual style of pro QBs. For all I know he may be a stand-up guy who is wholly admirable in most other personal respects. However, I find his constant evangelizing and gratuitous witnessing utterly obnoxious. I know a lot of sportswriters and bloggers are hoping he implodes out of resentment or ridicule of his religiosity. I’m not one of them; what he believes, as I indicated above, is his business and only mine because he insists on making it mine through his persistent onfield theatrics and interjection of his “faith” into all sorts of otherwise unrelated interviews or answers to game questions that he gives. So, as long as he insists on laying it out there for my commentary, I feel free to respond that I don’t want it. I just wish he’d save his preaching for off the playing field, play football and keep his infantile religiosity to himself.

    • crisisjunky - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:35 AM

      Tebow never climbed a mountain, he simply rose above it.

      • cur68 - Dec 27, 2011 at 11:45 AM

        I think Melville summed up Tebow best when he wrote in Moby Dick:
        And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. And so, I pulled out my 12 gauge and blasted the arse off that flippin’ bird for he was eyin’ up my chickens.

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 12:07 PM

        I don’t have my copy of Moby-Dick handy at the moment – Captain Kirk hasn’t returned it yet – but I rather think the “Cassock” chapter, wherein some lucky salt gets dressed up in a sperm whale’s foreskin, is somehow more appropriate.

      • mondogarage - Dec 27, 2011 at 1:39 PM

        Every time Tebow tried to throw one between the mountains, one of the peaks intercepted it. In fact, twice, the peaks ran them back for scores (a “peak six by K2!”), which is how the Rockies crossed the Pacific.

      • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:49 PM

        That’s a more reasonable explanation than plate tectonics, which has so far failed to explain how you can ride around on a vortex of magma without burning your ass all to hell.

  7. spudchukar - Dec 27, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    While the wisdom of trekking Kilimanjaro is certainly debatable, the Mets should be careful. Somehow voiding a contract with them doesn’t seem particularly threatening.

  8. kevinf003 - Dec 27, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    lol baseball players doing something to to help out call girls……….

  9. Reggie's Bush - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    I expected the comments to rip the Mets but I forgot people are sane here.

    This is no big deal, just a cool headline/way to mention what Dickey is doing. No difference from not paying someone who gets an injury playing basketball or in a motorcycle accident. No different than the Tigers telling Zumaya to stop playing Guitar Hero lol

    • jwbiii - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:29 PM

      Joel Zumaya has stopped playing Guitar Hero. He now plays drums on Rock Band.

  10. jwbiii - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    As Margot killed Francis Macomber, Sandy Alderson will have to kill Dickey before he returns to New York. He will just be too awesome.

    • Old Gator - Dec 27, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      Hemingway. Melville. Dickey would love this entire conversation.

  11. foreverchipper10 - Dec 27, 2011 at 6:10 PM

    With that war face this man will climb the mountain in record time.

  12. jimeejohnson - Dec 27, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    Take it easy, folks. Kilimanjaro is the lowest of all the highest mountain peaks in the world, even lower than the one down under (Australia). I would damn him to you-know-where if he attempted to climb Mt. McKinley or Mt. Everest. Now that would be arrogant!
    Seriously, though, he signed the contract, signifying his priority. If he gets hurt his contract is void.

    Let’s hope he makes it.

  13. crisisjunky - Dec 28, 2011 at 3:09 AM

    He could play a little catch at base camp. If his knuckleball enjoys the rarified air, perhaps he
    feigns injury up on the mountain and later sign a deal with the Rox.

  14. notsofast10 - Dec 28, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    The Mets should be more concerned with his throwing motion! He is TJ waiting to happen in that picture!

    • cur68 - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:13 AM

      notsofast: astutely observed. Others have noted the same thing. Then they examined RA’s arm. Guess what they found out? RA Dickey will never have TJ surgery. He is a mutant. He was born without an Ulnar Collateral Ligament: this is the offending ligament that needs reconstruction in TJS. Get it? He doesn’t have an ulnar collateral ligament to tear!!!!

      When I tell you he will climb Kilimanjaro and claim his place as the ruler of all Earth, I tell you this because RA Dickey is a Superior Being among lesser creatures. Prepare yourself for the coming RA Dicky Armageddon….

      • notsofast10 - Dec 29, 2011 at 12:27 AM

        Are you kidding me or are you serious?????? Guess he just has a rubber arm

      • cur68 - Dec 29, 2011 at 3:15 AM

        Ok, I might be kidding a little about RA taking over the world, but its because i enjoy hyperbole and the notion that a guy born without the principle ligament involved in pitching is a damn good pitcher. I am not kidding about the UCL thing, though. Read this,

        Neat, eh?

  15. luckywi - Dec 28, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    You can understand the Mets’ position — there are details in the article about the small but real risks Dickey faces on his trek — but I can’t help but think that, when he is an old man, Dickey will remember being on top of Kilimanjaro more fondly than he will remember hitting the treadmill in his Nashville home while counting the days to spring training.

    Or his time playing for the Met’s for tht matter….

  16. hiyamaya00 - Dec 28, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    There is a much greater chance that he gets injured by one of the Mets doctors than he does on the mountain!

  17. mrznyc - Dec 29, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    Look at the bright side Mets fans – This is about the only thing anyone is going to write about the Mets this off season – At least until the “Blessed Event” we all so anxiously await – The Wilpons sale of the team.

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