In back-to-back years, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden won the Rookie of the Year Awards for the Mets. For Strawberry, he was being called the Black Ted Williams. As for Gooden’s part, he was doing things not even Tom Seaver did in a Mets uniform. These two were supposed to be the foundation for what was supposed to become a Mets Dynasty. Instead, the team would only win one World Series.
The reasons have been well documented by now. Both would struggle with drugs during their playing careers. Gooden would become the first baseball player suspended for an entire season for a drug of abuse. While Strawberry didn’t face similar suspensions, his career suffered. The two sure fire Hall of Famers would have to settle for becoming Mets Hall of Famers.
During the “Doc and Darryl” 30-for-30, fans noticed two different men. Strawberry seemed to be a person in control of his life; a man who has beaten back the demons. Strawberry is a man who now speaks at vocational centers hoping to reach out to those people who are struggling much in the same way he did or still does.
Gooden did not appear to be in the same good shape as Strawberry. As the director of the 30-for-30 Judd Apatow said, “Dwight seems to be having a harder time.” (Ted Keith, Sports Illustrated). Apatow wasn’t the only one left with that impression. Many Mets fans who watched the 30-for-30 suffered a little heartbreak watching a Gooden who seemed to be struggling. It is something Strawberry personally noticed.
After the 30-for-30, Strawberry spoke out publicly stating, “He’s a complete junkie-addict,” he said. “I’ve been trying behind the scenes to talk to him and get him to go for help, but he won’t listen. He thinks he can manipulate and B.S. his way through everything. His son called me to beg me to help his dad before he dies.” (John Harper, New York Daily News). Quite ominously, Strawberry would say, ““I have to try something before he’s dead.”
After hearing the comments, Gooden lashed out at Strawberry going so far as to call him Lucifer. Overall, Gooden characterized Strawberry as trying to deflect attention from his own personal demons saying, “[Going public] was a weak shot, and he did it to make himself look better, because he is running a drug rehab.” (New York Post).
A little less than a year later, there appears as there is some peace between Strawberry and Gooden. While the two have not spoken since Strawberry’s comments, Gooden apparently no longer harbors any ill feelings saying, “There’s no hard feelings yet. Unfortunately, he spoke how he felt. Whether I liked it or not, I respect that. Wasn’t true. You move on. Maybe one day we get together and talk, but right now’s not the time.” (Anthony Rieber, Newsday).
As for the initial angry reaction, Gooden blames the timing of the event as he had just lost his beloved mother. Overall, he states there is no issue in his mind between the two Mets legends saying, “Everything was good then, too. It’s just his opinions.”
Overall, you cannot tell the Mets history without speaking about Darryl and Doc. The two men will forever be linked, and they will forever be a part of one of the most beloved Mets teams. While Gooden may not harbor any ill feelings, it is apparent the back-and-forth in the press last year put some form of strain in their relationship. Hopefully, there is a time for the two of them to once again reconcile. More importantly, here’s hoping the two of them remain clean and continue leading peaceful and happy lives.
(Photo: Daily News)