A Good Risk?
Suppose pro baseball lifts Dwight Gooden's drug suspension, making the once dominant righthander available for your staff. Do you snatch him from the Florida sandlots, or do you give him an intentional pass? We put the question to big league managers, who were assured of anonymity. Of the 26 responses, 10 were nays, 10 were yeas, and the rest would not commit. Though most skippers felt the fallen New York Met could still pitch effectively, many expressed concern about his off-field troubles. "There's a certain amount that baseball has to give to the public," said one. "Are we going to keep giving fans the Dwight Goodens and Darryl Strawberrys?"
Another skipper thought linking Gooden to Strawberry, who is making a comeback with the New York Yankees, was off the mark: "Darryl is one of the most liked guys around, but he's made out to be the bad one," the respondent said. "That should be switched."
Several managers would consider Gooden because of the dearth of big league pitching talent. Doc's ex-teammate Ron Darling is a fixture in the Oakland A's rotation despite his 6.11 ERA. "You have Double A pitchers up here," said a skipper."You take Gooden on the chance that he's got something left."
Doc got some character references as well. The strongest: "He has done a lot of good things for baseball and deserves another chance. He's a good young man."