Friday, April 07, 2006
What Might Have Been
This week in Tampa, Florida, former Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden was sentenced to a jail term of a year and a day for violating his parole after he tested positive for cocaine. I was really saddened to hear this news, but this may be the best thing for him. Gooden's had many chances to straighten out his life, but the evils of drugs continue to dog him. I've always dreaded the day I pick up a newspaper or hear on the news that he was found dead someplace. Prison has a way of waking some people up and they are able to change their entire lives. I hope for his sake that Gooden gets the help he needs.
I'll never forget when Gooden came up in 1984 and set the baseball world on fire. The first time I saw him pitch, in Houston in April 1984, I was a fan of his. Shea Stadium was electric every time he pitched, and he looked like he was on his way to the Hall of Fame. In his second season, he was 24-4 and won the NL Cy Young Award. By the tim the Mets won the World Series in 1986, drugs had entered his life in a big way, and they have been his demon ever since. The Mets finally ended up releasing him after 1994. He was forced to sit out 1995 because of a drug suspension, but the Yankees picked him up in 1996 and he pitched a no-hitter in May of that year.
But he was never quite that dominating pitcher again. Gooden is only 42 years old, and his life is a complete shambles. I hope that with his family's help, he can get his life back on track again.
Whenever anyone mentions the name "Dwight Gooden" or his good friend from the Mets in 1980's, "Darryl Strawberry", I always feel sad and I think of just one line about both of them.
What might have been.