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Greatest Trade Ever Hits a Snag

In case you hadn’t heard, the Mets made a trade [1] in December 2012. Nobody ever mentions it every five minutes, so it might be unfamiliar to you.

The Mets sent R.A. Dickey, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, plus two catchers with very large mitts, to the Toronto Blue Jays. Here is who the Mets received in return, either directly or eventually, as a result of this trade:

Travis d’Arnaud
Noah Syndergaard
Wuilmer Becerra
John Buck
Dilson Herrera
Vic Black

Milt Pappas
Ernie Broglio
Danny Heep
Leroy Stanton
Francisco Estrada
Don Rose
Brian Rose
Howie Rose

Saul Katz
Saul Bellow
Dr. Alfred Bellows
Saul Goodman
Jimmy McGill

Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Logan Verrett
Jeff Tam
Frank Lary
Harry Chiti

Harry M. Stevens
Harry S Truman
Harry Morgan
Henry Morgan
Morgan Ensberg

Marvin Webster
Webster Long
Wes Westrum
Wes Parker
Salty Parker
Harry Parker

Art Fern
Danny Kaye
Turhan Bey
Martha Raye
Faye Wray
Marvin Gaye
and Pellets the Nervous Rabbit [2]

Yes, it was that productive a trade for the Mets. It is celebrated often, especially when d’Arnaud, Syndergaard and Herrera do something spectacular. The swap looks better and better with every passing second. The Mets sent a 38-year-old knuckleballer who was never going to be as amazing as he had just been to the Jays for everybody in their minor league system plus Buck. And Buck they paired with Marlon Byrd to turn into everybody in the Bucs’ minor league system.

Genius, absolute genius. Truly the stuff of mavericks. Sure, we had to surrender the most fascinating, complex and articulate [3] 20-game winner since John Locke (who won 23 for the English Enlightenments twice), but how much more extensive was R.A. going to make our vocabulary? We learned to use words like “propensity,” “inconsequential” and “nuances” in a baseball context thanks to Dickey, but we also had to speak in phrases like, “Oy, who’s catching tonight — Thole or the other one?” Whatever we had to give up in syllables we’d make up for behind the plate.

Plus Syndergaard’s a pretty substantial mouthful himself.

Dickey in Toronto hasn’t been Dickey in New York and not just because of having to pass through customs. R.A. requires optimal circumstances to succeed. Everything clicked perfectly in Flushing in 2012. What were the odds they’d keep clicking with such precision, especially considering everything would have to be converted into metric? Still, it wasn’t necessarily a bad bet to go out and get him at hefty costs, even if the deal looks awfully lopsided now. It was a win-now trade for the Jays.

They haven’t won yet. They’re in the thick of the American League East race despite being no more than North American, but they’re still waiting for their first postseason appearance since Joe Carter touched ’em all in 1993, when Syndergaard was one and Herrera was not at all. Maybe Dickey will help get them where they long to go. Or maybe all Dickey will leave them with is a dog-eared Thesaurus, allowing the Ontario fans to look up synonyms for “frustrating” in the years ahead while they watch Noah and Travis lead the Mets to October after October.

In the interim, perhaps the one game that will wind up telling the respective final-standings tales of the 2015 Mets (36-32) and Jays (36-32) took place Thursday night at Rogers Centre, when R.A. Dickey thoroughly extinguished his former club to help his current club to a 7-1 victory [4] that couldn’t have been any easier to attain had the hosts opted to play it in Barcaloungers. Dickey was his old self (despite dealing with some very fresh, very tough personal hurt [5]). We know what that can be. He threw seven-and-a-third innings. He didn’t give up a hit until the fifth or a run until the eighth. He did walk the bases loaded in the second, setting up the perfect opportunity for Curtis Granderson, but R.A. struck him out. It was one of seven K’s for Dickey on the night — and one of 4,000 for Curtis on the year. After the game, R.A. even rolled out one of his favorite terms for his performance; he deemed it “trustworthy”.

He used both his pitching skills and his language skills to remind the Mets what they gave up when they sent him packing. If that’s not an R.A. Dickey “in your face!” I don’t know what is.

One loss by no means invalidates the greatest trade ever made. The Mets gave up something and got a lot of good things in return. Sometimes, though, something can come back to briefly bite you — as well as temporarily gnaw, momentarily masticate and fleetingly chomp you — if just to remind you pulling off enormous heists are possible, but messy getaways tend to be inevitable.

I didn’t get a chance to include this in yesterday’s consideration of Nelson Doubleday [6], so I’ll present a link to it here [7]: Marty Noble offers a characteristically wonderful collection of recollections regarding the late owner’s time with the Mets. Treat yourself and read it [7].