Darryl Strawberry was standing outside the Mets' clubhouse, pulling hard on a Newport. It's the last remaining vice in a life otherwise devoted to charity; he's created a foundation to help autistic children, the ones he says "have that pain in their eyes that I can relate to." But of all the souls Strawberry has touched, one remains beyond his grasp.Pretty cool of Sheff to put that cool million aside for his uncle.
It's been a full year since the former slugger 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.
Not even that incentive has been enough to keep Doc clean. Ray Negron, one of Doc's former handlers, tracked down Gooden in November. He, too, had heard the worst, and was ready to come to Gooden's aid. But like Strawberry, Negron ran into a wall of denial.
We here at NYYSI are just waiting for Sheff to blame this all on Joe Torre's racism and for the media to blame it on A-Rod being a slumlord.
Sheff and Doc in simpler, geri curled times
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