"When he's at baseball, the true, real Rob doesn't come out," Joanne says. "He's too afraid no one will like him." The upshot is that few see his more appealing side, and family friends sometimes call up Joanne's parents, afraid that she's being handled like Faye Wray. Joanne does worry that Rob's self-esteem is too intricately tied up in his right arm and what it can accomplish. But around the house, she can assuage his temper by laughing it off, salve his insecurity by telling him she could hear the catcher's mitt pop on TV, and help him cope with his profound fear of failure by teasing him. "Everything's an act with Rob; he's the most dramatic person I know," she says. "He's got the reputation for being this total maniac—which he is sometimes—but that's what makes him so successful. So what's wrong with it?"
Dibble appears to be grappling every day with just that question. He talks about learning to unleash his intensity in less destructive ways. He cares about young people: He does work for Citizens Against Substance Abuse and strives to be a positive role model. "I don't want kids to grow up thinking, I'm going to play the game the way Rob Dibble plays the game," he says. "But I'd want them to have my intensity and my desire in their hearts when they step on the field. Maybe not carried to the extreme that I do."
That's because in the end, deep down, Dibble knows that the black knight never wins.