"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Huntingdon Valley, Pa (Sports Network) -
Maybe it's too late. Maybe Darryl Strawberry has already killed himself in more ways than one. Maybe we should just let him destroy all that he was able to become, is or might have done in the years remaining and turn our attention to other things. More important things. People that are appreciative and responsive. Maybe it is time to put the pity back in the jar, close it and move on.
I am a diehard Yankee fan. I bleed pinstripes. There is, inherent in me - as a human and sports fan - the desire and ability to forgive and forget, to go for the second, and third, chance. To extend a helping hand and pull the Darryl Strawberrys of the world up from the depths. But there is an equal reluctance to let them pull me down there with them.
Darryl is hell-bent on failure and has been over-indulged beyond reason. He is a tragedy of which Shakespeare would have been proud. The man is a fantastic athlete, he landed with one of the greatest teams of all-time, was fortunate to revel in championships that others can only dream about, gathered about him more support than a political candidate and actually had the media and fans cheering him on to recovery when he lapsed and began to slide backwards.
Not many enjoyed fan interaction more than Strawberry at Yankee Stadium
There are, however, only so many cheeks to turn, so many hands to hold out and so many times one can say, "It's okay, Darryl, we understand you have a problem and we will go along if you can straighten it out." He cannot. He is, for now, beyond help. This is not a disease. Smoking is not a disease. Alcoholism is not a disease. And drug addiction is certainly not a disease. It is self-inflicted.
When he was treated for colon cancer, that was treatment for a disease. My father had colon cancer, so did my mother and a sister. We treated them and, eventually, lost all of them. It was sad. But they suffered from a disease. Treatable with odds stacked against them. Darryl's odds are his own. He is the bookmaker. He carries both sides of the wager and can win or lose as he chooses. He opted to lose. Strawberry's colon cancer was not invited into his body. Cocaine was sent an embossed invitation.
He will likely never return to baseball. And, if he does, it will be as a sorrowful figure, the skeleton of what he was, an abject figure of pity about which all will wonder when he will fall from grace again and ponder what he might have been.
Strawberry's bat was one of the most feared in the game during most of his career.
Baseball enveloped him in its womb and protected him over and over again. Without that he probably has enough money to live in relative comfort for the rest of his life. And, one would have to guess that George Steinbrenner and the Yankee family will never let Darryl descend to the ranks of the impoverished and downtrodden who fade into forgotten oblivion.
He never cared enough about himself. How much more shall we care about him? He never realized his full potential. Seventeen years flushed down the toilet. What opportunity!!! Mets and Yankees. He could have been a shoo-in Hall of Famer. He could have been much more. He could have erased it all and be cheered from the upper deck to the field had he kept his word. He did not. He was weak. He betrayed everyone and, most particularly, himself and his family.
Addiction is awful. It is unrelenting. It is not understandable to those who have been fortunate enough to avoid its presence in their lives. But it can be beat. There is a life beyond cocaine addiction and most that must fight it do not have the potential and prize waiting for them, the reasons to win that were down the road for Strawberry. They were not that fortunate. They were left to drown in their own pitiful state of despair.
Darryl had every reason to fight back, to win, and to go on. And, more support than any addict out there.
He went to rehabilitation for alcohol abuse and rehab for drug abuse. He was the object of a paternity suit. He broke his first wife's nose. He threatened her with a gun. The IRS said he cheated them out of hundreds of thousand of dollars (for that I forgive him endlessly). And there was more that was never made public.
Baseball and the Yankees turned the other cheek. People were in jail for similar offenses but Darryl's confinement was the dugout and clubhouse. As things turned out it was discovered that Darryl started doing cocaine in his rookie year, 1983. Darryl Strawberry hurt more than himself - he hurt his wife (wives), children, teams, teammates, fans. He could not play in 1990 because of a bad back. His teammates on the Mets mumbled, "Sure, drunken back."
Darryl Strawberry is 38. He has yet to grow up. And his childhood is behind him. The remnant is that he thinks he can get away with foibles and transgressions like the child that still lives within him. The one that needs cocaine.
He once said that he thought he could become a superstar. He indicated the he would have to work hard and keep his head. Darryl, you gotta be kidding. You fooled most of us and, saddest of all, yourself.