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Doc Gooden says he’ll never speak to Darryl Strawberry again

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In the minds of most baseball fans of a certain age, Doc Gooden and Daryl Strawberry are joined at the hip. They each won a World Series ring with the Mets, each were part of the mid-late 90s Yankee dynasty at the end of their careers and, unfortunately, each had a good deal of their promise as baseball players destroyed by substance abuse.

Moreover, they have always been portrayed as — or assumed to be — friends. And at times they have been friendly. But Doc Gooden says that’s no more. Here are some of Gooden’s comments from Kevin Kernan’s story in the New York Post from the other day:

“I’m tired of him taking shots at me . . . I don’t understand why he constantly tries to take shots at me when I was there to support him. It’s not worth it to reach out to him anymore. What’s the point?”

Gooden is referring specifically to comments Strawberry made about Gooden last summer when, after Gooden did not show up to a public appearance both were scheduled for, Strawberry publicly speculated that Gooden was doing drugs again and suggested that Gooden’s life was in danger. Gooden refuted that and continues to.

No matter what was or was not going on with Gooden, he certainly did not appreciate the public speculation from Strawberry. Speculation that, from Strawberry’s point of view may have been well-intended, though Gooden tells Kernan that he believes jealousy and self-promotion on Strawberry’s part may have been involved.

It’s a sad situation all around. Those guys were super important to a lot of baseball fans at a certain point in time. They also taught a lot of baseball fans a lesson about human frailty and the risk of making a hero out of an athlete. The public saga continues. For better or for worse.

Bryce Harper to Little League players: “No participation trophies, first place only”

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Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.

“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”

The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.

Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.

Indians to move Danny Salazar to the bullpen

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MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.

Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.

Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.