Jeremy Lin mesmerized a city, and to a certain extent the world, for a month or so last winter, helping to drag the New York Knicks out of the muck they were stuck in and into contention. He became a full-blown sensation and phenomenon along the way, with his exciting brand of team-first basketball. R.A. Dickey also exploded onto the scene, seemingly coming out of nowhere, like Lin, and a smaller, yet passionate mania surrounded the knuckleballer. He wasn't able to lift his team up into a playoff situation the way Lin did, but when he took the mound, his team usually won. But now, both are gone. Letting Lin move on to the Houston Rockets has worked out swimmingly for the Knicks (well, at least so far, but not on Monday night) -- can the same thing happen to the New York Mets?
It's a tough decision to let a fan favorite and drawing card go, especially when the player is just entering the prime of his career. Lin and Dickey are a decade and a half apart in age, but both may have their best years ahead of them (though it will be hard to top 2012 for Dickey). The Knicks' point guard replacements for Lin -- Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni -- have thrived and helped transform the Knicks into one of the top teams in the league, but, let's face it, there was some luck involved. What if Steve Nash and his brittle health came to New York instead of Kidd? Who knew how Prigioni would translate to the NBA? But letting Lin go, and not doling out all that money to keep him, seems to have been the right move.
Can the Mets be so lucky? They received two high-ceilinged, top prospects in Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard when they dealt Dickey, but there's surely no such thing as a sure thing. Those two could join Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese, Ike Davis and David Wright to anchor a young competitive team in the mold of the 1980s Mets or, of course, neither could pan out, and Dickey would have been dealt away for nothing. For every Jesse Orosco, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez that's come to New York in a trade for prospects, there's an Alex Ochoa, Ryan Thompson and Dan Norman to throw a bucket of cold water over one's hopes for the future. It's a gamble and a crapshoot. But once the Toronto Blue Jays ponied up d'Arnaud and Syndergaard, it was one the Mets had to make.
Lin and Dickey both had something special that fans could relate to. Their storylines and narratives, of seemingly appearing from out of the sky and attaining a high level of success, while being articulate, thoughtful and grounded -- good guys -- were similar. The Knicks' and Mets' situations are and were different, of course, as the Knicks are in a win-now mode and the Mets are attempting to build for the future, but the Mets are crossing their fingers that their blockbuster transaction will be as successful as the Knicks' moves that involved Lin.
Jeremy Lin and R.A. Dickey were both beloved, but fans also love something else, maybe even more than those two favorites -- and that one thing is, of course, winning.