Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lorenzen's Emotional Weekend, Thoughts on Strawberry and Gooden

by: Jack Ward
Staff Writer

The Reds last Saturday were not in last place for the first time since April! The Reds climbed into fourth place with a 53-69 mark. But alas the Reds slipped back into the cellar with two losses to the Dodgers on Sunday and Monday. The Reds are 21-14 after the All-Star break and I have every reason to believe the Reds will continue to end the season very strong.

Michael Lorenzen had a sad, but ultimately happy ending to the week last week with the death of his father. Michael is only 23 years old and that’s quite a blow to lose your father so young. But Michael’s father battled alcohol and drug dependency and even deserted the family and left young Michael and his three older brothers to practically raise themselves as their mother also struggled with alcohol and drug abuse.

Michael fought back tears after he homered on Friday night. The first Reds pitcher to hit one out this year. The scene was so moving as you watched this young man go through the plethora of emotions after that moment. The ways the Reds players and staff rallied around him was a tribute to the class organization the Reds have and the way they care about one another.

We are praying for Michael as he grieves and heals during this awful time. Michael thanked everyone for their prayers and support after the game and professed his faith in Christ who has strengthened him during his loss. In this day and age these young ball players with all the pressure to succeed in the game of baseball can have life so twisted and gnarled. It is so refreshing to hear that a young man has his life in order and his priorities straight.

When I think of the grounded life of Michael Lorenzen, I can’t help but think of the wasted careers and lives of so many potential superstar baseball players. Two in particular: Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. This week Darryl Strawberry has admitted that he is concerned that Dwight Gooden is using cocaine. These two…. who are or were great friends and forever linked on those great Mets teams of the 80’s. Darryl Strawberry was talented beyond measure. He could hit a ball a mile. Could run, throw, and field. He was tall and athletic. He led the Mets to a world championship in 1986. He had it all but got addicted to cocaine, alcohol and other drugs that derailed a sure fire Hall of Fame career. But he has redeemed his life and is helping others overcome addictions.

Dwight Gooden might have been the best pitcher off all time if coke and booze hadn’t destroyed his potential Hall of Fame career. His numbers his first four years are off the charts. In 1984, he won 17 games as a 19 year old rookie and struck out a rookie record 276 batters. He got better in 1985 as the Cy Young winner. With 24 wins and just four losses and a microscopic 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts. In 1986, he was 17-6 and led the Mets to the World Championship. There seemed to be nothing that could stop Gooden from being the best all time. Then in December, 1986 he got in his first trouble with the law in Tampa and that was when his downward spiral started. It led to a drug suspension in 1987 and despite that Dwight still won 15 games. He was 18-9 in 1988 and led the Mets to another playoff run. Of course, he had some decent years after that even pitched a no-hitter in 1996 and played on the Yankees World Championship team, and finished his career 194-112, but Gooden never reached the greatness that seemed to be destined to be his. His life continued to spiral out of control after this playing days. But Dwight had begun to overcome his demons and had been doing great working with Darryl Strawberry in helping people with addictions also until this latest supposed relapse.

Success comes so easy for some of these guys that maybe they become bored. Most of the time success on the field does not mean success in life. The truly greatest people are not those who can throw a ball the hardest or hit a baseball the farthest but those who hit homeruns with family and friends and who strikeout temptation. As they round third and head for home, the real heroes are those that run with dogged determination to win not only in baseball but in the game of life itself and then get the biggest victory of all……eternal life to come. I pray for Dwight Gooden that he might finally find strike out addiction and pitch the greatest game of his life that makes him a winner forever!

Until next time,

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