Here was a man who had it all, a high nineties fastball and a knee buckling curve, a rubber arm and steel back bone, an intense glare with pristine perception, but most importantly the talent in reserve to move above the status of legend.
Here was a man who threw it all away and still recieved second chance after chance. A man who succumbed to temptation and betrayed himself. A man who looked in the mirror and mocked his gifts. A man who fell back on his accomplishments instead of elevating above them.
Here was a man who had the key to New York City only to open all the wrong doors. Here was a man whose tale spun from adventure to tragedy. Here is an example of the saddest thing in life, which is wasted potential.
Here is a human being.
Here was a man.If a person can be defined by his deeds on the playing field, than the personal lives of many insecure wealthy men in America might just be on the cusp of salvation. But as it is, if one’s existence can be predetermined by the amount of important dates on their schedule, we’d be cheating ourselves into thinking that athletes and entertainers aren’t real human beings,instead more superior versions of our own psyche. The people who subscribe to this theory, drudging up ignorance through the mere force of will to cover up their own character flaws, are most definitely the same people who cry out for athletes to be role models.
Those who create heroes are only cheating themselves. Because heroes aren’t born at all, rather created, and the same process that builds a man up enough to think he is a God walking on water can be repeated again to drag one down to the depths, never to be seen the same light again.
Every day it gets harder to dismiss the process as a function of mass human reaction to themselves. Darwin’s Theory states that we are given what is needed to survive, and as time goes on the simple truth being revealed may be that we need a higher class to build up and deconstruct in order to survive in our own world. When should any one man be a measuring stick on how we should live our lives?
The process comes with definite perks. Sure, it does indeed state with exclamation that we are inferior, but since the “inferiority” is a trait of the masses instead of the one, it makes it all the more easier to judge. Judging comes with the territory. We feel through our own failure that a contribution has been made to the more fortunate. Without us reading about them on Page 6, would they really exist? One basic truth arises from this thinking: our lives are the ones that are more real.
The conclusion so often arrived at is that since more people live in an apartment than in a pent house, the apartment is a closer barometer of reality.
Derek Jeter is supposed to go out every night and have the time of his because that credit card commercial said so.
If someone such as Shaq happens to be depressed, we don’t ever relate. We react. How could someone with a multi- million dollar house be unhappy about anything?
Perhaps if these people were allowed to be depressed, rehab clinics all over the country wouldn’t be packed to the brim with delegates from the Hollywood Walk of Fame. If a celebrity realizes that he has everything he ever wanted and is still miserable, our society offers no other way for him to attempt happiness.
How could they be unhappy? What more can they want? The people who judge them don’t have the answers.
There’s nothing that makes the masses blood boil quite like someone who made residence in a penthouse and decided to burn it down on his own unfortunate accord.
The simple answer to the infinite question as to why someone with “status” could act so wrecklessly and foolishly can be answered with the one undeniable fact that constantly falls on deaf ears.
Our heroes are human. They are us. There is no more fortunate class, no gifted group of people living beyond a glass ceiling than nine to five guy can’t penetrate, it simply doesn’t exist.
We are all people. Functional as it may sound, the simple truth is consistently misunderstood by those same people like myself who still constantly wonder… why?
Why is Dwight Gooden wasting all his chances?
Why can’t he be a role model?
A better question to ask:
Why can’t we?
It was hard for my eyes to believe, but the withered, shaking shell of a man who was wearing an orange over coat with his hands chained together was Dwight Gooden. He looked the part of a run of the mill substance abuser on his last legs, the hope drained from his eyes. As if looking in the mirror at my past beliefs that heroes did exist, I turned away before changing the channel, unable to digest that a person with that much potential can seemingly throw his life away. I’d read his biography written with Bob Klapisch, I’d listened with hopeful [deaf?] ears his constant mantra that he was clean, and I believed it. I believed every single word, despite the fact that there were numberless other former drug addicts who wanted to quit, said they were, and just couldn’t beat the satanic temptation. Dwight Gooden was different, or so I thought. Dwight Gooden wasn’t different because he was a better person than all the other less privileged people who had fallen down innumerable times and Dwight Gooden wasn’t different because of all the people who vouched for him. Hardly. Dwight Gooden was different because I saw him pitch a No Hitter against the Seattle Mariners when I was seven years old.
And there’s the danger. I wanted Doc to be different because he made me feel different. He made me feel like there were extraordinary people in the world who could be called upon to save it, to do things that mere mortals couldn’t, to hold a line up with Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez, and Jay Buhner without a hit. We have a hard time foregoing this child like sentiment into old age, because the games are always there reinforcing it. We don’t want to believe Michael Jordan cheated on his wife because God Damnit, he’s Mike Jordan. When we want to be like Mike it means running down a basketball court in 1992, our tongues hanging out of our mouths with some quality M.C. Hammer blaring on a boom box in the background. We don’t want to be extorted by some mistress.
In the end, the fact that Dwight Gooden had a great curve isn’t worth a damn in the grand scheme of things. If a man living next door to you can have problems he just can’t deal with, than so can you. Little do we ever realize that the neighbor is just the same as we are, no matter the circumstances, the talent, or his fastball.
Doc may have had money, fame, and popularity. But all of this, all of it couldn’t cover up for the fact that he felt coke made it easier for him to mingle at a party. Super human talent can never make up for human fallibility. The truth is that there are no heroes.
Is that such a bad thing?