Mar 04

Will Dwight Gooden Ever Turn His Life Around?

It usually is not a good sign when a name not recently in the news shows up on the “What’s Trending Now,’’ list when one logs onto the Internet.

Dwight Gooden was there this morning and we can expect to see future postings as his latest issue with the law unravels.

GOODEN: Once upon a time. (AP)

Gooden, long out of baseball but not forgotten by Mets fans, allegedly threatened his estranged wife, Monique, on Friday, when he should have been on a back field in Port St. Lucie tutoring what he once was – a hot, young prospect.

It would have been nice if Gooden had a second career in the sun, literally and figuratively. It’s not like he hasn’t had chances. The Yankees gave him several when George Steinbrenner was alive and he would have been welcomed by the Mets had he not struggled with drug, alcohol and law issues.

Monique Gooden called police and filed a restraining order. He was forced to move out of the house he and his wife are living in until their divorce becomes final.

Reportedly, Gooden threatened his wife, saying: “All bets are off and I will hurt you and your family. You’ll see, just wait.’’

A DUI, well, a team can live with that on a player’s record. Not pleasant, but doable. It is especially possible if the player had a remarkable career and once was a face of that franchise, as Gooden was with the Mets.

However, such a threat, especially if carried out, is not the image a team wants to project. There has to be considerable damage control if Gooden is to ever again represent the Mets.

Or, any other major league team for that matter.

That is, of course, unless something bad happens to him, such as jail, or worse.

Gooden will no longer have visitation rights with his two children until a hearing, March 11. In the interim, Gooden can contemplate where it all went wrong.

The drug problems began shortly after the 1985 and 1986 seasons, which were his early days with the Mets, and unfortunately, the highlight of his career. There once was a night a decade later, when nearing the end with the Yankees, he threw the no-hitter one expected of him whenever he took the mound at Shea Stadium.

Throwing what Kevin Costner said in “Bull Durham’’ was “ungodly stuff in the show,’’ Gooden was the inspiration of the “Ks’’ banners fans hung over the stadium railings. Gooden was electric in those days when he owned the summer nights at Shea.

We knew it wouldn’t last forever as it never does, but were shocked and angered and saddened knowing Gooden was throwing away his career with drugs and booze. We once were enthralled with the hard- partying Mets of 1986 and even glorified them, but also knew at the same time knew life on the ledge couldn’t end happily.

For different reasons, but ultimately the same one – a lack of self-control – it didn’t well for Gooden. For Darryl Strawberry. For Lenny Dykstra. Wally Backman is still paying the price.

Nearing the end of his life, Mickey Mantle talked of role models and said, “don’t be like me.’’ At one time, there wasn’t a kid around who didn’t want to be like Gooden, standing alone on the mound awash in the cheers and adulation that comes with greatest.

Gooden is again alone as he faces another life crisis, but there’s nobody who wants to be like him.

And, that’s just sad.

Dec 29

Baseball Movies For The Snowed In; Liking Kevin Costner And John Cusak

Saturday afternoon and it’s coming down. With no college games worth watching, channel surfacing has brought me to “Bull Durham,” one of my favorite baseball movies. Is there a better time to watch a baseball movie than during a blizzard?

Most baseball movies, actually sports movies in general don’t come across as believable because it is hard to duplicate the game-action scenes. Robert Redford had a decent swing in “The Natural,” but the movie lost me with the home run that blew up the lights and hitting the cover off the ball. I realize Hollywood takes its liberties, but that’s too much.

I like “Bull Durham,” but it’s not my favorite baseball movie. Not close. Maybe I expect too much, but the more I see it there’s more I find unbelievable. For one thing, nobody will hang around long enough to hit 247 minor league home runs.

Oh well, I guess I’m being too picky.

That being said, the following are my three favorite baseball movies:

1) FIELD OF DREAMS: There’s nothing realistic about this movie, but you go into it knowing it is a fantasy. This is a movie about fathers and sons as much as it is baseball, but it’s more about the bond between fathers and sons that is baseball. To me, that’s powerful and timeless.

There’s a limit on the baseball action scenes and Ray Liotta has a good swing for a right-handed hitter. Too bad Shoeless Joe Jackson was left-handed. That’s unforgivable. There’s such a thing as having a Hollywood license, but that’s just weak. Couldn’t they have reversed the film or something similar?

2) EIGHT MEN OUT: This is a gem. It’s one of those films, like my all time favorite, “Casablanca,” that I’ll stop on it whenever I channel surf. I’m a history buff and this is almost a historical documentary. The action scenes are believable and they got Shoeless Joe’s swing down. I thought John Cusak as Buck Weaver was great, beginning with his scenes with the street kids and concluding with end when he watched Shoeless Joe in a semi-pro game.

3) COBB: Tommy Lee Jones is good in just about everything and this is no exception. If you’ve read the book, this was dead on. It showed what a miserable person Ty Cobb was, but also how driven and intense player, one who hated Babe Ruth.

I thought the saddest part of the movie was the scene at the Hall of Fame when Cobb’s former teammates and colleagues wanted nothing to do with him and shunned him at a party. It was akin to the book about Johnny Carson when his former classmates ignored him at a high school reunion.

I guess “Bull Durham” is fourth. Major League 1 was humorous. Major League 2 was reheating a souffle.