R.A. Dickey and (secular) baseball "redemption"

Let's face it. When the principalities and powers of Major League Baseball dreamed up the whole idea of regular interleague play, one of the main products they were trying to sell was the Subway Series in New York City. This time around, the most amazing element of the latest showdown between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets is the next act in the amazing drama that is the life and times of knuckleball pitcher and bestselling author R.A. Dickey.

If you have been following the coverage of this story (click here for a recent GetReligion offering) this brings us to a very important word in the Dicky story -- redemption.

Last time I checked, this word means:

re·demp·tion ...


* The action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil: "God's plans for the redemption of his world."

* A thing that saves someone from error or evil: "his marginalization from the Hollywood jungle proved to be his redemption."

That first definition is pretty basic and, according to Dickey himself, this kind of redemption is what turned around his troubled and even crashed life, marriage and career. He would, of course, link that kind of "redemption" to his born-again faith.

However, reporters keep trying to tell this story of Dickey's redemption while redefining the whole redemption thing. Here's a recent example of this lingo, care of The Baltimore Sun:

We all know about the redemptive nature of baseball.

If you didn’t, you got a major dose of it yesterday.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is a poster boy for baseball’s second chances.

What kind of second chance in this case? You see, Showalter was one of the people who urged Dickey -- an aging pitcher with a flawed arm and no fastball -- to learn the mysteries of the knuckleball. The knuckleball, you see, was the key to his baseball redemption.

But is that all there is to this story? It's hard to tell in the Sun.

But parse the final paragraphs for clues, especially when Dickey has a chance to speak for himself:

The last time Showalter was managing and Dickey was pitching in the same game it was April 2006 and Dickey allowed six homers in 3 1/3 innings against Detroit. It was two years before Dickey would pitch in the majors again. And now this: a complete-game one hitter -- his second consecutive one-hitter following last week’s gem versus the Tampa Bay Rays -- against the Orioles.

“It was fairly poetic, I thought,” Dickey said. “The last game he saw me pitch live, I gave up six home runs and tied a modern-day major league record. Only God could script a narrative like this. It’s really incredible.”

That’s redemption. And deep down I’m sure no one is happier for Dickey than Showalter. He just wishes that masterpiece didn’t come against his team.

Well, that is one form of redemption.

The question that keeps bugging me is this one: Dickey constantly stresses the role that his religious faith has played in this story. Why do so many journalists hesitate to include this theme as one element of his complex and fascinating story?

I don't know. Check out this offering from the folks at The New York Times. It appears that truly skilled scribes can edit faith completely out of the script, when describing this remarkable athlete's quest for truth, authenticity and, yes, redemption.

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