Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Fall of Gooden Continues. According to Darryl Strawberry, Doc Gooden's downward spiral has yet to reach its end as the former great has refused help from his friends and family.
It's been a full year since the former slugger [Strawberry] spoke to Doc Gooden, and the conversation did not go well. "He just blew me off," Strawberry said through a curl of blue smoke. Not that Darryl was surprised: He'd heard that Gooden was in the middle of a long, downward spiral, relapsing into a web of drugs and alcohol. Friends of the one-time pitching legend say he's crashed through the walls of his support system, which means he's no longer being tested, no longer attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and has stopped speaking to those who used to safeguard his recovery.

Instead, Gooden's life has turned into a blur of the old addictions. After serving seven months in prison in 2006 for violating his probation because of cocaine use, Gooden is believed to be living on his own in St. Petersburg, Fla., although no one's sure what he does for money. Gary Sheffield has set aside $1 million for his uncle, but refuses to make it available to Gooden until he seeks help.

"The thing about Doc, he tried telling me I wasn't doing it right, that I wasn't living my life the right way," Strawberry said, shaking his head. "So it was like, 'Whatever, man.' That was the last time we spoke. It broke my heart, really. Doc is such a great guy, I love him forever. But he never got away from the people who ruined his life. He's still out there with them, doing crazy stuff. So I keep busy with other things now."
Better that, Strawberry figures, than the world Gooden now lives in. When asked if there was a way to help his friend, Strawberry nodded and said simply, "Pray."
It's still scary to think how amazing Gooden's career would have been had he never fallen into a life of drugs and alcohol.

Doc's first two seasons:
1984: Age 19 - 218 IP; 161 Hits; 276 K; 2.60 ERA; 1.07 WHIP; 17-9 Record; 7 CG & 3 SHO

Age 20 - 276 IP; 198 Hits; 268 K; 1.53 ERA; 0.96 WHIP; 24-4 Record; 16 CG & 8 SHO

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