Originally written on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 11/15/14

As much as I hate to admit it, Tony La Russa’s decision not to start R.A. Dickey in Tuesday’s All-Star Game turned out to be a good one. Good for Fox. Good for Baseball.

I might have cursed La Russa for not starting Dickey. I might have questioned Buster Posey’s manhood for his ability (or lack there of) to catch a knuckleball. Nonetheless, ratings for the All-Star telecast peaked at a 9.0 between 10 p.m.-10:15 p.m. EST. That was when the Mets knuckler entered the game in the sixth inning. An entire inning after La Russa originally claimed he would use Dickey, but who’s keeping track? If you would like to keep track, follow my angry tweets starting from the top of the 5th (@trishvignola).

R.A. Dickey, a 37-year-old baseball lifer, apparently knows better than me that the National Pastime has no sense of urgency. (Ever watch a Yankees/Red Sox game?) So, when the pressure of starting the game was off for Dickey and my disappointment set in, Dickey did his best to keep things simple on the day of his first major league All-Star Game. I’m sure having four kids under 10 in a hotel room helped.

“Everybody came in first thing in the morning, climbing on the bed, like a normal day,” Dickey told The New York Daily News.

Looking down at the nails he uses to throw baseball’s only knuckleball, Dickey is now a star (and a bit feared) amongst All-Stars. He knew that morning he would shortly be standing on the Kauffman Stadium mound throwing his knuckleball against four American Leaguers. 

“Maybe that’s when he’ll be able to appreciate where he is, and how far he’s come,” said Leslie Wheeler, R.A. Dickey’s mother, to the Daily News. I sure hope he did. Most are now pointing to Dickey, for Fox’s ratings boon. The network recorded an 8.1 overnight All-Star Game rating. That was 2.5% better than the 7.9 overnight rating in 2011.

Viewers apparently stayed with the blowout, which was won by the National League 8-0, to watch Dickey. Opting to not make a strong comment regarding La Russa’s decision to start San Francisco’s Matt Cain instead of Dickey (for that, friend me on Facebook), Joe Buck and Tim McCarver pushed Dickey’s story beginning in the first inning. By the 4th, the anticipation for Dickey was event television.

“R.A. Dickey’s story is one of the best in the game, one of the best you’ll hear about anywhere,” Terry Collins told the News.

Dickey was finally summoned by Tony La Russa to start the bottom of the sixth, which is five innings later than I thought he should’ve pitched. The score by then was 8-0. Although the drama was low, Dickey ran in from the bullpen to the sounds of triumphant cheers. (Trust me, Royals fans don’t throw their cheers around lightly. Ask Robinson Cano.)

“I felt like I was on stage at a Broadway musical,” Dickey said outside the National League clubhouse after a clean, 15-pitch inning. “It was well worth the wait.” Hello! That performance was Book of Mormon worth the wait.

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