Doc’s Year

I’m not usually one to hold grudges. I’m able to accept mistakes, and understand that things happen. It’s just hard to forgive the 80s for robbing us of the greatness that was Doc Gooden. Yesterday, the Mets legend was given the key to the city. It was 31 years after they won the World Series, and Doc was too fucked up to make it to the parade. The 80s tragically swallowed a number of careers. Len Bias, who stopped his heart with cocaine, is considered the greatest basketball player to never compete professionally. Maybe it would’ve been better if Doc never played in the big leagues. At least we wouldn’t have known what we missed. He had a relatively long career, but in 1985 we got a snapshot of a once in a lifetime athlete. He was only twenty years old, and maybe that was the problem.

Every now and then, athletes dominate at such a high level, that the rules are changed to make the game more fair. We saw it after Bob Gibson finished the 1968 season with a 1.12 ERA, and they lowered the mound. As amazing as that season was, I’d argue Doc was even better in 1985. He won the Cy Young, and should’ve been the MVP. It was a season where he went 24–4 with a 1.53 ERA. In those 4 losses, the Mets scored a total of 1 run for their phenom. An amazing stat to me, is he was only removed twice mid-inning the entire year. It was said that if the Mets had a lead, Gooden would secretly wish for his teammates to get out, so he could get back on the mound. He was an athlete in complete control. It was a level never seen at that age, besides Mike Tyson.

Every one thought they were seeing a star on the rise, but I think Doc knew he was standing on the edge of a cliff. He jumped off in 1986, when he became acquainted with cocaine. After that, he was never really Doc again. It was like when Kinison started doing stand up with those awful head scarves. It wasn’t the guy we fell in love with. Because of Youtube, I can watch highlights of Gooden, not having the privilege of witnessing it firsthand. He had flawless Nolan Ryan-like mechanics, with an immortal curveball referred to as “Lord Charles”. You can have any hitter in their prime, I’ll take 1985 Doc Gooden.