Last week, the New York Mets honored play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen, inducting him into their Hall of Fame. It was well deserved. Cohen, for a long time, has been lauded as one of the best in the business.
Last July, Keith Hernandez’s jersey number was retired by the Mets. Saying Hernandez, an 11-time Gold Glove winner at first base, an MLB record at the position, is the greatest defensive first baseman of all-time is not a hot take. His premier defense, contact hitting skills and strong leadership were essential for a Mets team that would go on to win the 1986 World Series.
However, it got us wondering here at MLBbro… when will they retire the numbers of Dwight “Doc” Gooden and Darryl Strawberry? There is no ‘86 Championship glory without the greatness of these brothas known as “Doctor K” and “Straw.” They also remain the most talented, exciting and impactful players (can put Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza, David Wright and Jose Reyes in that category as well) that the Mets have ever had.
What are the Mets waiting for? Yes, these men have made mistakes off the field, but how long should they be punished? Is it fair to withhold an honor from a player due for off the field transgressions when they’ve mostly hurt themselves? Debatable. I
n a 1985 federal testimony, Hernandez admitted to using cocaine during the 1980 season while a member of the Cardinals. Time passed and he was forgiven. Jerry Koosman was sentenced to jail in 2009 for tax evasion. He was forgiven and the Mets retired his jersey in 2021. Can Gooden and Strawberry receive the same grace or do the Mets have some sort of grudge?
Whatever the answer is, one thing’s for sure. It can’t be their game because on the field, well, they were spectacular. The term “box office” is thrown around a lot these days for different players.
But, Gooden and Strawberry were all that and then some! The energy of the city was just different when Gooden took the mound, especially during his dominant 1985 season. Young fans could compare a Doc outing to the energy behind a Jake deGrom or Shohei Ohtani start. He was REALLY “him;” an absolute must watch. Batters dug in against Doc knowing they didn’t stand a chance. He’d go 24-4 that season with a 1.54 era, racking up a whopping 264 K’s with a devastating fastball and one of the best curveballs the game has ever seen.
Dwight Gooden was 157-85 with a 3.10 ERA, 1,7875 strikeouts in 305 appearances for The Metropolitans. His .649 win percentage is best in Mets franchise history, He’s second to the legendary Tom Seaver in wins, strikeouts and WAR.
Meanwhile, Darryl Strawberry, blessed baseball fans with a tremendous combination of bat speed, foot speed, and natural home run hitting power as well as being a dynamic offensive threat. He bro bombed an MLB leading 39 home runs in 1988. His speed on the base paths made him elite, notably during the ’87 season, when he became the 9th player in MLB history to join the 30-30 club.
Strawberry batted .263 with 1,025 hits, 252 home runs, 733 RBIs, 662 runs and 191 stolen bases in his career as a Met. He was one of the most feared sluggers in the 80’s and is currently STILL sitting atop the Mets all time home run list. Straw still also ranks second in Mets history for RBIs and WAR amongst position players.
The numbers don’t lie. With Keith Hernandez #17 retirement almost one year old at Citi Field, Doc & Darryl should be in the on deck circle for their numbers to be retired next. With the notoriously petty Wilpons out of the way, new owner, Steve Cohen, should ensure no one else wears 16 or 18 in Queens ever again.