Stephen Strasburg makes his Major League debut tonight. Over at SI.com, Joe Posnanski tells us what it all means while Cliff analyzes the debuts of some other hyped phenoms.
I remember this one:
Team: New York Mets
Opponent: Houston Astros
Date: April 7, 1984
Line: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 HR, 2 BB, 5 K, W
The fifth-overall pick in the 1982 draft out of Tampa’s Hillsborough High School, Gooden struck out 300 men in 191 innings in A-ball in his full-season debut in 1983, and in 1984, he broke camp with the Mets as a 19-year-old who had never pitched as high as Double-A. Gooden was sharp in his debut and, after a hiccup in his second start (3 1/3 IP, seven hits and six runs, all earned, while taking the loss against the Cubs), he went on to enjoy one of the best starts to a pitching career in major league history. In 1984, Gooden won the Rookie of the Year award on the strength of a 17-9 record, 2.60 ERA, and a league-leading 276 strikeouts (in 218 innings!). In 1985, he won the NL Cy Young award and the major league pitching triple crown, leading the majors in wins (24 against just four losses), ERA (1.53, second only to Bob Gibson’s 1.12 in 1968 since the arrival of the live-ball era in 1920) and strikeouts (268). Things went downhill from there, in part because of the 744 2/3 innings Gooden threw over three seasons prior to his 22nd birthday, but also because they couldn’t go up. The impossibly high expectations Gooden created for himself led to a vicious cycle of self-destructive behavior including alcohol and drug addictions which continue to disrupt his life to this day.