Regardless of whether you think the Mets made the right decision to trade Cy Young winner and Tolkien nerd R.A. Dickey to Toronto for two highly touted prospects, there's no doubt that the team is losing a classy, grade-A athlete. And an unusually eloquent one as well: Dickey penned a heartfelt open letter to NYC in the Daily News today, thanking the city and the Mets organization for giving him a chance. "A chance for a fresh start," he wrote. "A chance to prove that maybe I could be somebody on a big league mound, an authentic and trustworthy pitcher, not just a retread with a weird name and an even weirder pitch."

Dickey reflected on the trade and his own ambivalence about leaving the team:

I am not going to lie to you, though. The trade was hard for me at first. This is where my heart was, where I wanted to be, where I lived out a story of redemption and felt that every one of you shared it with me in some form or fashion. I loved pitching for you. I loved your passion, the way you embraced me from the start, and the way you seemed to appreciate the effort I was putting forth. Every time I’d walk off the mound after an outing, I’d look in your faces, the people behind the dugout, and felt as if all your energy and support was pouring right into me — even when I was lousy. It gives me chill bumps thinking about it even now.

There's no doubt that over the course of his three seasons with the Mets, Dickey has developed a surprisingly deep connection with the city. Whether he was climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, writing books about his childhood, volunteering to help with Hurricane Sandy relief, giving tickets to underprivileged kids, appearing on The Daily Show, or naming his bats after obscure Lord Of The Rings references, Dickey seemed to make the most of any opportunity he was handed—and he flourished under a spotlight which has destroyed many a career (most recently: Jason Bay).

I may not pitch for the home team anymore (a friend told me I now have to start calling myself a Canuckleball pitcher ) but wherever I go from here — wherever I might wind up in the future — I hope you know that I will never forget my three years in New York, and never be able to adequately thank you for everything you’ve given me.

Oh, and as for that unusual pitch: if you haven't seen this slow-mo gif of Dickey's knuckleball, you really should do that right now, and take a moment to appreciate what a special pitcher he is.