I became a Dwight Gooden fan again after he appeared at the closing ceremony at Shea Stadium. I stopped being a fan around the time he pitched a no-hitter while wearing a Yankee uniform. That was the final straw for a player who should have been the third Hall of Fame pitcher to win the bulk of his games in a Met uniform. (No, I'm not over Nolan Ryan, either.) A pitcher whose two-month stint in drug rehab in 1987 probably cost the Mets a chance to defend their last title.
I went to the 20th-anniversary celebration of the 1986 team, but Gooden didn't make it - he was in jail. At the time, Gooden seemed even more separate from the great memories of that era.
But when Gooden showed up at the farewell to Shea, it suddenly seemed right. Gooden had let down the Mets, the fans and himself. Now the Mets had finally welcomed him back. The fans had welcomed him back. And Gooden, one hoped, was getting his life back together.
Gooden appeared to be doing well enough that the Mets offered him a job as a spring training advisor, but he turned it down because he said he did not want to be away from his wife while she was pregnant.
And now Gooden has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence while his son was in the car, unrestrained.
What a sad day for Gooden and his family. And what a sad day for Met fans that one of our own is in trouble again.
Yes, one of our own. Even while failing to live up to his immense potential, Gooden won 157 games with the Mets - and 24 with the Yankees.
Gooden, for better and worse, is once again part of the Mets family, and that's the way it should be.
I am thankful that nobody was hurt in the accident today. It will be understandable if the Mets don't offer Gooden any more jobs for the forseeable future. If Gooden is convicted of these charges, he should do more time.
But Gooden still belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame for what he achieved on the field, even if this summer's induction turns out to be another ceremony he is forced to miss.