R.A. Dickey, a pitcher for the New York Mets baseball team, will set off tomorrow to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, despite the wishes of the ball club. Dickey will be making the climb as part of a fundraiser for Bombay Teen Challenge, organization dedicated to rescuing and saving young sex slaves that are put to work in brothels in India. He will be joined on the trek by Dave Racaniello, a bullpen catcher for the Mets, and Colorado Rockies pitcher Kevin Slowey, who is a former teammate.
When the Mets got word of Dickey’s intentions, they sent a letter to his agent objecting to the player’s plans to climb Kili, the tallest mountain in Africa at 5895 meters (19,340 ft). The team wanted to go on record with their concerns in case something were to happen to Dickey, which would prevent him from playing for the team next season – a season in which the 37-year old pitcher is scheduled to earn $4.5 million. In the letter, Met’s management stated that they reserve the right to terminate his contract should something go wrong while on the climb.
Of course, this is mostly just posturing on the part of the Mets, who don’t want to see one of their players injured and unable to play before Spring Training even gets underway. But climbing Kilimanjaro isn’t exactly fraught with dangers. Yes, it can be a physical challenge, and yes there are some risks involved, but thousands of people climb the mountain each year without any problems, and the likelihood of anything happening to Dickey is remotely small.
As the Adventure Journal points out, the Mets are actually missing out on a good opportunity for PR with this climb, and instead are coming off looking a bit like jerks. Professional sports are always about the money of course, and as I mentioned, they’re out to protect their investment. It just seems like they could have found a better way of handling the entire situation.