Ask Gary: How much career did Gooden waste?

by Gary Shelton on July 16, 2016 · 0 comments

in general

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Saturday, 6 a.m.

Dwight Gooden had won 132 MLB games by age 26 (194 wins for his career), Only Kid Nichols (361 career wins), Christy Mathewson (373 career wins) and Walter Johnson (417 career wins) have ever won more by that same age. So how much of Gooden's career did he squander?

Scott Myers

How far is it from the suburbs of St. Petersburg to Cooperstown? To me, that's how much Doc stuffed up his nose.

He was a friendly kid with a great smile. That was the first thing you noticed about Dwight Gooden, and maybe one of his biggest problems. I'm sure people made it easy for Gooden to get into trouble. I don't believe in writing off bad

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behavior to the people around you, but I'll always wonder how much of the Mets' clubhouse screwed Dwight up. It got to be all about the partying instead of the game, and as you know, a pitcher is a fine-tuned creature. I just never thought Dwight could handle it.

Maybe I'm a sucker for a nice guy. When he was with the Yankees, I remember lingering outside of Doc's locker once. I told him I just wanted to be accountable, because I had given him a hard time in the paper. He just smiled and said he deserved to be given a hard time.

Then he would go out and mess up all over again. He was like the kid who promised he would be better, and then he would break another window. He couldn't help himself.

It's funny. I talked to Jerry Angelo this week about how much of his career Ricky Williams had wasted. You could think of others: Josh Hamilton and Johnny Manziel. There is a certain sadness to waste. The heavens don't bless many of us with those kinds of gifts. They blessed Doc, and he threw it away. I can't imagine living with that.

How active do you think the Rays will be before the trading deadline & who do you expect will be traded?

Larry Beller

Do you mean making telephone calls? Talking to other teams? In that case, I think the Rays will be extremely active.

When it comes to actually moving bodies, I have my doubts.

If you're another team, you probably come here to shop for starting pitching. Teams seem to shrug off other team's production for potential, so I'm sure Matt Moore and Jake Odorizzi will get some attention. But I think most teams who deal with the Rays realize their finances, and as a result, I think they short-sell them. Remember when the Rays didn't get much for David Price? It was because everyone knew the Rays couldn't afford to keep him.

A contender would only be interested in a Rays' regular if he had a reduced need. Logan Morrison isn't likely to go as a starting first baseman, but maybe as a pinch-hitter. Desmond Jennings could be late-inning defense and base-running, but I don't think anyone wants him to start in left field on a regular basis.

That's one of the Rays' problems, and one of the problems as other teams look at their rosters. They just don't have a lot of guys who are athletic enough to pitch-hit, pinch-run and play defense in late innings. And if they do want a Brandon Guyer or Steven Souza for those roles, would they give a team such as the Rays what they wanted? It's doubtful.

In the end, I'd be surprised if any of the Rays' starting lineup moves. Both Evan Longoria and Logan Fosythe could, but Tampa Bay doesn't want to let them (or Kevin Kiermaier) go. You know who'd I'd be interested in at the right price. I think Steve Pearce is a pretty good piece.

For the Rays, I think the only bullpen pieces that could move are Erasmo Ramirez (who wouldn't bring much in return) and Alex Colome. The starters are likely Moore or Odorizzi, with Drew Smyly being on the outside.

Here's the thing that concerns me. When have the Rays gotten better in their current year at the trade deadline? Usually, they're dumping a salary, and the return is a minor leaguer you won't see for 3-4 years. There was a time I was hopeful at every trade deadline. Lately, the team hasn't gotten better.

Do you think fantasy football, either yearly or daily, has affected the game or NFL players at all?

Nic Hollis

Oh, absolutely it has affected the way we watch the game. And I'll tell you: When I was a fantasy player, it's unbelievable how closely I paid attention to the league. Who else cares about who gets the third-most carries on the Browns? The Raiders?

I remember when I was covering the Dolphins, we were chatting about fantasy football once with receiver Mark Clayton. Clayton kept insisting we should pay the players. We were getting, like, $18 bucks for the season pot, and Clayton wanted a cut.

Of course, that was before the organized leagues made the money so large. Suddenly, some fans cared more about their fantasy teams than the team they used to root for. I don't know. It always seemed like a sucker bet to me. Not everyone is making a million bucks a week like the ads would have you believe.

Bottom line? I think, within reason, fantasy leagues are fun. They augment your interest. They make you think to adapt to the rules of your league. But it's the same as when that $2 bet turns into $50, it isn't about fun anymore. It's a problem.

It seems the silliness of "all-star" games at the pro level never ends. Don't you feel that Miami's Fernandez deserves at least a one game suspension and fine for offering up a fat pitch to Boston's Ortiz- and telling him it's coming- now that the " game " has a dramatic effect on post season play. Seems like selling out your league, and maybe your team, to me. That's all I'm asking!

Richard Wade

Richard, I completely agree with you. You can't have it both ways. Either an all-star game is for funzie, or there are serious stakes and you should treat it that way. There are dozens of players relying on this.

I've said it before. I think it's ridiculous to decide something as big as a home-field advantage by what all-stars from teams that aren't in the running do. But if you are, you owe it to your teammates -- and to the game -- to give it the weight it deserves.

Heck, Ortiz gets to play the Rays 18 times a year. He has plenty of pitches grooved.

In the aftermath of Phil Mickelson's opening-round 63 at the Open, shouldn't the sports world finally unmask this seemingly favored athlete as the notoriously addicted gambler and cheat he really is. He gets off committing the crime of cheating at "investing" in the stock market, (on a tip from his bookie to whom he owes a million dollars), and for which others have done jail tim. (Think Martha Stewart), and then parades around with his Barclays logos representing one of the most corrupt world wide financial institutions, contributing greatly to the near collapse of the global economy. Take that you 99%er golf fans. That's all I'm asking!

Richard Wade

I think the problem here is the preconceptions people have of golfers and of white-collar crime. Both are at play.

First of all, let's agree that Mickelson wasn't charged with a crime. He was said to have profited from one, but not committed one. So automatically, there is murky water. You can debate what you think you know and what you think happened. Evidently, Mickelson owed some golf bets, and he was told about a stock illegally, and he profited from it. As I understand, he has made restitution (not that that erases a crime).

Mickelson himself has become a popular figure, finally winning after years of watching tournaments get away from him. He's salvaged a bit of his reputation on the course.

Then there is the white-collar crime, which fans don't quite see as robbing banks (whether they should or not). It seems innocent enough, one guy giving a heads up to another, the same as he might a horse at a track. But it's illegal. I'd rather my kid commit that crime than, say, murder or rape, but it's still against the law.

Here's a surprise. Most sportswriters aren't financial experts. They don't have the powers of the court to demand evidence and testimony. So you get limited reports on a murky subject. Frankly, fans would rather watch a guy hit the ball over the water than hear about crimes.

I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just saying that, for some reasons, other crimes hit our sensibilities a lot harder than this one seems to have.

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