TORONTO - R. Charlie Krueger Jersey .A. Dickey learned many things in his first season with the Blue Jays, not the least of which is managing his own expectations, those of an organization which acquired him by trading promising youth and those of a fan base aware of that price and starved for a winner. "I won a Cy Young last year and I did not live up to what that year was last year," said Dickey. "So I have to do a good job, myself, of not putting so much pressure on myself. Its going to come. There was a big trade made, a lot of pieces were given up for me so theres an expectation that comes with that. I take that very seriously. I have to do a good job of making sure that I hold it in the right perspective as well." Dickey finishes 2013 with a 14-13 record, the second-highest win total of his career. His ERA of 4.21 is the highest since he became a full-time starting pitcher three years ago. Dickey pitched 224 2/3 innings, which will lead the club. He struck out 7.1 hitters per nine innings and walked 2.8 hitters per nine innings - averages that regressed from his Cy Young season with the Mets. "A snapshot of the season, for me, is a tad above average," said Dickey. "I ended up with but 14 wins and if thats a down year then Ill take a down year from time to time. I have a lot to improve upon and feel like Ive done a pretty good job of growing over the season as far as trying to identify what can make me better for next season. Ive got a lot of stuff written down. (Pitching coach) Pete (Walker) and I have got a list going and Im very optimistic about next year." Despite a comfortably seasonal night in Toronto, the roof was closed for Dickeys final start. The knuckleballer denied having direct involvement in the decision to have the game played indoors but its been clear, for a while, that both Dickey and the club are looking for ways to maximize the conditions for his special pitch. Make no mistake, its not an excuse, the knuckleball is affected by climate – specifically humidity – and wind. Dickeys Rogers Centre splits look like this: Roof closed – 5-2, 3.58 ERA, seven home runs allowed; Roof open – 3-4, 5.73 ERA, 17 home runs allowed. Bottom line, Dickey gives up more than two extra runs per start when the roof is rolled back. Each of Dickeys 10 starts at home between May 4 and August 11 was outdoors. "In truth, I need to be to pitch well no matter what the roof is," said Dickey. "It at least gives us a good sample size to be able to see, if we do have a day thats marginal, we can make a decision based on what the statistics show us." Dickey faced his share of adversity this season. He pitched through neck and upper back pain for most of the first three months of the season, an injury he described on Saturday as a torn rhomboid muscle. While he pitched through the discomfort, he was robbed of the ability to throw his high-velocity knuckleball. Complicating matters further, Dickey was tipping his fastball early in the season, which allowed hitters to sit on the pitch. After identifying the problem on video, he quickly corrected it. Dickey is pleased with the decrease in his walks total from about mid-June. He hasnt issued more than three free passes in a game since June 15. He blames the neck injury, in part, for an early season lack of control. "I remember having a conversation with you guys earlier in the year that it was a struggle to take speed off of it like I needed to to be able to pitch and throw strikes like Im used to throwing," he said. Dickey credits Josh Thole, who was recalled from Buffalo after Henry Blanco was designated for assignment in mid-June, with being a calming influence on him. Cynical and jaded Blue Jays fans, who view the season through a lens of frustration and disappointment, may not want to hear Dickey preach hope for 2014 so soon. The scars of this year havent healed yet. But Dickey is resolute in his confidence, both in himself and in the team, as he looks ahead to spring training in February. "Ive learned an awful lot having come from the NL East to the AL East and been able to identify the guys that I need to mix in my sequences a little better and work on that on the side," said Dickey. "Ive paid attention to who hits me well and who doesnt and what I need to do from a pitching standpoint to give myself the best chance to win. "Weve played a year together," Dickey said of the team. "Thats a big deal, guys. Like having all these pieces come into the fold at once that havent played together. Weve played together for a year now. Now we know what to expect out of each other. We know how to challenge each other. We know a little bit more about how to hold each other accountable. All of those things are very important on a team as you well know." Delvin Williams Jersey . He will play 10th-seeded Feliciano Lopez in Sundays final, after the Spanish left-hander defeated Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic 7-6 (7), 6-4. Ronnie Lott Jersey . The ongoing funk on penalty kill and an unusually quiet night on home ice for the power play divided the Leafs from the Bruins at the ACC in a rare Sunday night affair.SAN ANTONIO -- Annual traditions are everywhere in San Antonio. Theres the way the famed Riverwalk is transformed into a sea of lights at holiday time. Fiesta Noche del Rio, a summerlong outdoor performance of song and dance that dates back more than half a century. A huge rodeo, taking over the city for about three weeks every winter. And of late, theres been the Tim Duncan Watch. Unlike the others, this is one San Antonioians dread. But if he goes out now, hell be going out as a champion -- for the fifth time. San Antonios 104-87 win over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night gave Duncan his fifth title, all with the Spurs. And throughout this series, speculation has been rampant that if the Spurs ended Miamis reign Duncan might finally feel like the time is right to end what will surely be a Hall of Fame career. "Amazing," Duncan said. "It makes last year OK." His first title was in 1999. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has a longer span between championships. "Its a very emotional time," Duncan said. When the 2011-12 season was threatened by a lockout, it was speculated that Duncan might have already played his last game. Hes certainly doesnt play for money anymore -- hes making about $10 million this season, a giant sum in the real world but well below market value by NBA standards -- and has always seemed to be a reluctant superstar. And then, every fall, Duncan shows up for training camp, the Spurs win a bunch of games, and the legacy just keeps growing. "I know hes got one more year on his contract, and he loves being with us, loves playing basketball," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "Either way, whatever he decides, Ill support him. But if I have to choose, obviously, I would love him to keep going. I love playing with him." Its hard to find something in San Antonio more revered than the Spurs. "Go Spurs Go" signage hangs from what seems like every other building in the sprawling city. If someone is on the streets of San Antonio on game day and not wearing Spurs gear, chances are they live somewhere else. During the NBA Finals, its not uncommon for residents to strap Spurs flags onto thheir cars, drive through downtown and honk like crazy -- even on off days in the series. Alyn Beals Jersey. Duncan has never played for money anyplace else. Sunday was his 1,488th NBA game. Every one of them has been in a Spurs uniform. The only other players in NBA history to play that many games and never change teams: Utahs John Stockton and Indianas Reggie Miller. "He feels a responsibility to his teammates," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He enjoys them. He wants to hang around as long as he can while hes useful and while hes having an impact on the game. He takes care of his body. He works out all summer long with a variety of different things, boxing, swimming. Hes very careful about what he puts in his body, so he does everything he can to maintain a level of play. "At some point," Popovich added, "that will stop." But when? Duncan insists he doesnt know. Its something he, Parker and Manu Ginobili -- the Spurs Big 3 -- have been hearing for years, that their demise and breakup is imminent. By now, they almost find it amusing. "Weve been on our last run for the last five or six years from how everyone wants to put it," Duncan said. "We show up every year, and we try to put together the best teams and the best runs possible because what people say doesnt matter to us. As I said, as long as we feel were being effective, were going to stay out here and were going to play. We feel like we can be effective, and we have been." Duncan is the 21st player in NBA history to win five rings with one team. Everyone else on that list played for the Lakers, Celtics or Bulls. That speaks to longevity and sustained greatness, which all factors in to the enormous legacy hell leave behind at some point. Again, though, thats not Duncans thinking. Not now. Not yet. First things first -- theres another parade coming to San Antonio. When the Spurs won the Western Conference title and earned their rematch shot with Miami, which won last years finals in a seven-game classic, Duncan vowed that San Antonio would win this time around. He was right. "This is the only one that counts right now," Duncan said. ' ' '
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