Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
Associated Press

Doc Gooden did not appreciate Darryl Strawberry’s comments


Late last week and over the weekend Darryl Strawberry voiced public concern about former Mets teammate Doc Gooden‘s struggles with addiction, saying he was worried about Gooden, calling him “a complete junkie-addict” and saying that Gooden’s son had reached out to Strawberry for help.

Today Gooden himself spoke, calling in to WNYM radio to respond:

“The Darryl thing hurt me a lot because I had just though we re-established our relationship. I forgave him for a lot of stuff. I never threw him under the bus, never said anything about him publicly. For him to say that stuff, you have to draw a line somewhere and I guess do a better choice of picking friends.”

Gooden went on to say that, while he was an addict, he was healthy and that he not actively using drugs.

It’s a fool’s errand to look in from the outside in such situations and pretend to know what’s really going on. Strawberry’s concern for Gooden came off as genuine, but it’s also possible that Strawberry doesn’t know what’s really going on with Gooden and/or that sharing his concerns constituted something of an invasion of Gooden’s privacy. Likewise, Gooden may be legitimately upset about Strawberry’s comments and the public nature of all of this but may, like a lot of people struggling with addition, be denying that he’s going through a rough period when he really is. We have no idea what the truth of all of this is and, really, it’s not our business, even if love and admiration we have for the ballplayers involved cause us to become invested.

For what it’s worth, Gooden’s son, Dwight Gooden Jr., released a statement last night:

“On behalf of myself and my brothers and sisters we would like to thank Darryl (Strawberry), Janice (Roots), members of the media, friends and most of all, the fans for their concern for our father’s health. His problems have been well documented and publicized through the years. At this time our only concern is his health and that he takes care of himself. There has not been a single day that our love for him or his love for us has ever wavered. One thing that has always been constant has been our father’s determination to provide for us regardless of what was going on in his life. He has always provided for us and has always been there for us.”

With that, here’s hoping for the best for everyone involved.

The Dodgers are reportedly “trying to give away Puig” but have had no luck

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I’m taking this one with a serious grain of salt, at least as far as the characterization of “give a guy away” is concerned. The report is from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who says this about the Dodgers’ efforts to trade away their erstwhile major league right fielder:

“The Dodgers are trying to give away Puig, but no luck. Puig, with Triple-A Oklahoma City, is considered toxic at the moment, but it takes only one team to want him,” Cafardo said.

“He doesn’t have too many allies in the Dodgers organization, but as one team official said recently, ‘At some point, the talent, the maturity is going to take hold. Someone will benefit from it. We hope it’s us, but it’s hard to envision it right now.'”

Puig is raking at Triple-A right now (.419/.479/.721 3 HR, 2 2B, 1 3B 11 RBI) and, for all of his missteps and injury issues over the past couple of years, is still a young player with a lot of obvious talent. He’s owed $14 million over the next two years, but that’s not a ton of money these days for a potential plus-bat, even for a risk like Puig. If the Dodgers can’t trade him right now I suspect it’s because their definition of “give him away” is not the same as everyone else’s. Maybe he doesn’t get as big a return as a lot of players with his talent might, but a lot of teams would take a chance on him, I’d think, before he was simply given up for nothing.

In other news, three years ago today I wrote this thing about what we talk about when we talk about Yasiel Puig and other Latino baseball players. I suspect a good bit of the same vague and assumptive dynamics go into talking about such players’ trade  value as go into characterizing them as human beings.

(via The Score)

Defensive shifting and corked bats . . . in the 1860s


Baseball’s historian John Thorn brings us so many wonderful golden nuggets from baseball’s past over at his “Our Game” blog. And, as any good historian does, he likes to bring them to our attention at a time when current events could use a dose of historical perspective.

Such as today, when he presents us with an article that an old dude wrote in 1902, remembering when he was a young dude playing something akin to baseball in the 1850s and 1860s. It wasn’t professional baseball as we know it and there is a lot of questionable noise in the article about the transition from proto-baseball games like rounders to what became professional baseball in the second half of the 19th century, but it’s still pretty fun. Mostly because it talks about infield shifting!

“The short­stop for many years shifted ground to a point between first and second bases if a left-handed striker was at bat….”

As Thorn noted in a tweet to me later this morning, shortstop was a later addition to what was becoming baseball and, at the time, he functioned “as sort of a rover, as in softball.” Defense was fluid then and was allowed to evolve. Rob Manfred would limit the fluidity of modern defense, heading off some sort of natural evolution. I think it’d be a mistake for him to do so.

Bonus: ballplayers were just as crooked then as they ever have been:

“a shrewd, up-country team of Connecticut in the early sixties did not miss the mark when it bored out a set of huge bass-wood bats and filled them with corks.”

If they had Deca Durabolin back in 1866 you can bet your bippy the players would be injecting it.

Go read the whole article. There is nothing new under the sun.