View Photo Gallery: It was only in 2010, his first season with the Mets, that R.A. Dickey established himself as a solid, dependable, effective big league starting pitcher. First, he had to straighten out his life, and crooked-out his pitches.

It’s been 69 years since a knuckleballer started an All-Star game.

But given a prime opportunity to break that streak, National League manager Tony La Russa instead extended it to 70.

La Russa selected San Francisco Giants ace Matt Cain to start Tuesday’s Midsummer Classic for the NL, bypassing New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey — the major league leader in wins.

Dickey, who is in the midst of a season for the ages, had hoped to get the nod, and on Monday expressed disappointment in La Russa’s selection.

“I’m not going to break down in tears over it, but at the same time I’m a competitor. I want to pitch. I want to start,” Dickey said. “I feel like I had a good enough first half that I should be considered. But I’m not the boss. I don’t necessarily have to agree with him, but I have to respect it. That’s just the way it is.”

Should Dickey have gotten the ball over Cain? Here’s a look at how the two compared over the first half of the season.


Dickey --- 12-1---- 2.40 ---- 0.93 ---- 123 --- 26 --- .203 ----- 2

Cain ------- 9-3 ---- 2.62 ---- 0.96 ---- 118 --- 24 --- .209 ----- 2

The feather in Cain’s cap was his perfect game against the Houston Astros on June 13. Dickey, meantime, tossed consecutive one-hitters, including one on the same night as Cain’s masterpiece.

“We wanted to reward Matt Cain for a career of excellence that’s getting better and better,” La Russa said of his choice. “And he had a great example of that during the summer on one of his pitching days.”

Matt Cain gets the start for the NL. (Rob Carr/GETTY IMAGES)

“You’re talking about the best players in the world, and you’re asking about a pitch that’s too nasty to handle?” Dickey said. “I hope that’s not it. If that’s the reason, that’s a poor reason.”

But simply making the team is quite a feat for a pitcher who never made more than 15 starts or had an ERA below 4.62 in his first seven major league seasons. After committing to the knuckleball, he has become the Mets most consistent starter over the last three seasons and he is a key reason why the team went into the break six games above .500.

And Dickey could very well play a key role in helping the NL take home-field advantage for the World Series.

But the question remains: did he deserve to start? Did La Russa snub Dickey or is this all just sour grapes?

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