Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry debates can turn brothers into enemies. The pair of New York Mets legends will forever be tied to each other for a whole lot of reasons. They’re even getting their separate days in the sun in 2024 with jersey retirements.
Here's a difficult red pill vs. blue pill choice to make. Take the red pill and Dwight Gooden is never a part of the Mets franchise. Take the blue and we erase Strawberry from team history. Both still enter the league, but instead of drafting these two, the Mets end up with someone inconsequential.
You have to take one pill. Which do you swallow?
Which Mets legend do you erase?
After much deliberation, the pill to take goes against a whole different way of ranking the two. Gooden was with the Mets for longer. He is arguably the more important player in team history. His 1985 campaign is one of baseball's best of all-time in the sport. There aren't enough good things we can say about what he gave the Mets.
Keeping all of this in mind, individual performances don't quite matter as much as a championship. Individuals celebrate their accomplishments. A World Series win is shared by the fans.
Gooden was never good in the postseason for the Mets. As much as he helped the team in the regular season, it was the other pitchers who uplifted them in October.
This is where taking the red pill begins to make a little more sense. The Mets of the 1980s successfully built up a full rotation of mostly youthful players. None of those pitchers of any age were better than Gooden.
However, it's Strawberry whose performance is toughest to match. From a power perspective, Gary Carter was the first to compete alongside Strawberry. Later on it was Howard Johnson and Kevin McReynolds who gave the Mets bombs-a-plenty.
Remove Gooden from the rotation and the Mets feel a lot more capable than if Strawberry exited the lineup. The team may have had a strong balance during its heyday of the 1980s, but the loss of the top power bat would have taken away a threat in 1986 they couldn’t have found anywhere else on the roster.
The difference in Gooden contributing every fifth day compared to Strawberry on a daily basis should also be considered. We know how much of a difference a starting pitcher can make, but there are limitations. Any sort of tie goes to the slugger.
It’s red pill for me. What about you?