Dwight Gooden: The MLB Fan Cave Interview
Doc Gooden: The MLB Fan Cave Interview
Legendary New York Mets pitcher Dwight “Doc” Gooden recently stopped by the MLB Fan Cave. In between shooting some fun sketches, Doc took time to talk candidly about his 1986 World Champion Mets, pitch counts, and which current sluggers he’d like to try to strike out.
MLB Fan Cave: Welcome to the Fan Cave. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us.
MLBFC: You played on a lot of great clubs over the years. Which one did you think was the strongest overall club?
DG: The ’86 Mets. We had guys on our bench who could’ve started for other teams. We had pitchers in our bullpen who went on to have good careers -- closers and starters as well. Our starting nine, we couldn’t have had a better group. The guys came together in a way where there were no egos, and we had tremendous chemistry. Everybody just had the one goal and that was to win the Championship.
MLBFC: Do you think that the ‘86 Mets were the best team in the last 25 years?
DG: Yes, and I would say the ’98 Yankees were a close second.
MLBFC: You see what’s going on with Stephen Strasburg and beforehand Mark Prior. What do you think about the pressures placed on young pitchers and the concerns about the wear-and-tear that they take?
DG: I don’t really agree too much with pitch counts. The innings I understand, but the pitch counts, I think you’re really slowing down a pitcher's progress. Unfortunately, you can throw one pitch and blow your arm out. That’s the danger of it, but I would just say let them pitch and develop.
MLBFC: Who are some of the pitchers in today’s game who impress you most?
DG: I would definitely say Strasburg. I like Aroldis Chapman of the Reds. He’s aggressive. I think when guys come up and they have that overpowering fastball, it comes with the attitude you have to have to achieve. Justin Verlander is that kind of guy. With a lot of guys now, it’s their slider that is good for them. But for me, being a fastball/curveball pitcher, it’s good to see a guy throwing an old school curveball. He’s definitely filthy.
MLBFC: What kind of advice would you give to someone like Verlander, or someone who gets to the World Series as a rookie?
DG: Remember how you got there. Don’t slack off, and don’t get lazy. Don’t get too content with what you’re doing. It might be easy to get to the top, but it’s hard to stay there.
MLBFC: Which past teammates have you stayed the closest with over the years from the Mets and Yankees? DG: From the Mets, David Cone is probably one of my closest friends. I still see Darryl (Strawberry) from time to time. Bob Ojeda, Jesse Orosco, Ron Darling. Sid Fernandez and I text and talk talk a lot, even though he’s in Hawaii. The Yankee guys, I see them a lot.
MLBFC: What was the one hitter you dominated the most when you faced him?
DG: Tim Wallach. He sticks out, but I do remember he got me like twice in one game. Normally him, Tony Pena, as those guys had big swings. And Tim Wallach probably more so then, because he had the upswing and I was a high fastball pitcher, so it just didn’t match up. MLBFC: Who were the toughest hitters who always gave you trouble?
DG: Chili Davis and Barry Bonds. Chili wore me out. I was on top of my game when he was with the Giants, but if I didn’t have my good stuff, some fans would get a souvenir.
MLBFC: Which of today’s top hitters would you like to face in a pressure situation?
DG: In my prime when I was on top of my game, probably Albert Pujols. I think he’s the number one hitter right now. Adrian Gonzalez is a great hitter, too. Jose Bautista would be interesting because he’s a power hitter, with that crazy bat speed. David Wright would be interesting as well.
MLBFC: You could strike him out?
DG: In my prime? The Met days? Yes. But the Yankee days I don’t know.
MLBFC: Your nickname obviously stuck with you. What are some of your favorite player nicknames today? DG: The Freak. Tim Lincecum. What he does on the mound is incredible. On the mound, he just shows no emotion. A lot of young pitchers seem to get frustrated, and the opposing team sees that and takes advantage of them. But he doesn’t show any of that.
MLBFC: What are the differences between playing for the Mets and Yankees?
DG: With the Mets I went to Spring Training and it was more about getting healthy, winning our division, playing together, and building chemistry. With the Yankees, the whole goal was to win the World Series. It was just World Series or nothing.
MLBFC: Which environment did you like better?
DG: With the Mets, it was early in my career, so trying to get to the playoffs was enough. But once we won in ’86, we got a taste of it and with the guys we had, we felt like we should have won more. So I liked that pressure with the Yankees. When I went there in ’96 it was like an All-Star team. If you look at the roster it was incredible. With George Steinbrenner there pretty much every day, you know what’s going to happen. I enjoyed that at that time in my career.
MLBFC: Who was your favorite manager to play for?
DG: Davey Johnson. I might be a little biased, but Davey was really the reason I made the team in '84. In '83 in Lynchburg. Back in '82 I got drafted, Davey was a roving instructor for the Mets and he saw me throwing in rookie ball in Kingsport, Tennessee.
MLBFC: Are you still close with Davey today?
DG: Yes. Still tight with Davey.
MLBFC: Do you remember that moment when you were told that you made the team? Do you remember like where you were, what that feeling was? DG: Oh it was crazy, I feel like it was yesterday. It was back when we had spring training in St. Petersburg. I remember that day we were leaving camp to open the season in Cincinnati, and the game had started, but I still hadn’t officially heard. About the fifth inning of the game, Davey came up to the regulars and told me that I made the team. I couldn’t believe it. A year-and-a-half out of high school and to hear that was special. Part of me was thinking, "Uh oh, am I sure I’m ready?" So you get both feelings.
MLBFC: Thanks for your time, Dwight. Best of luck.