Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Mets Weren't Alone In Finishing '86 On A High Note

During his ten years in the major leagues, Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd was never one to keep his mouth shut about anything.  But there was one thing he kept mum about over the past quarter century.  Until now.

In an interview with Jon ("I'm not the one who says Bel-TRON") Miller of WBZ radio in Boston, Boyd admitted that he pitched under the influence of cocaine in every ballpark.  In addition to the revelation about his rampant drug use, Boyd offered the following oily nuggets:

"Some of the best games that I've ever, ever pitched in the major leagues, I stayed up all night.  I'd say two-thirds of them.  And if I had went to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played.  I felt like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons."
"If I wasn't outspoken and so-called 'a proud, proud black man', maybe I would have got empathy and sympathy like other ballplayers got that I didn't get; like a Darryl Strawberry or Dwight Gooden, Steve Howe.  I can name 50 people that got third and fourth chances all because they weren't outspoken black individuals."

So let me get this straight.  "Oil Can" Boyd, who was supposed to start Game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets until the game was postponed and pushed back a day, felt his career was cut short for many reasons.  I can give him a good reason why he threw his final pitch in the major leagues before his 32nd birthday.  How about this?

He was high on cocaine!

"Oil Can" Boyd wasn't always high, as evidenced by this photograph during the 1986 World Series.  Getting knocked around for four first-inning runs in your first World Series start will do that to you.

After Boyd was replaced as the Game 7 starter by Bruce Hurst (who had already been proclaimed the World Series MVP before the Mets mounted their improbable rally in Game 6), his next three seasons weren't exactly something to sniff your nose at.

From 1987 to 1989, Boyd combined to go 13-12 in 40 starts with a 5.19 ERA.  Boyd did recover to go 10-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 1990 as a member of the Montreal Expos, but stumbled mightily in 1991.  In his final year in the majors, Boyd went 8-15 for Les Expos and the Texas Rangers.  In 12 starts for the Rangers, Boyd went 2-7 and posted a 6.68 ERA.  Everything is supposedly bigger in Texas.  Perhaps that explains why Boyd was such a big flop in Arlington.  Or perhaps it was his sleep deprivation and the rolled up 20s he kept leaving behind in hotel bathrooms.

Now, about the excuse about not getting empathy, sympathy and any other "pathy" there is to get.  Boyd was quoted as saying that because he was an outspoken black individual, he didn't get multiple chances the way rehab regulars Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Steve Howe got.  Um, I hate to say it to you, "Oil Can", but that certain former Mets rightfielder you mentioned wasn't exactly Sherman Shushypants.  And the last time I checked, he appeared to be African-American.  Just sayin'.

Cocaine is not something to be proud of and I'm sure "Oil Can" Boyd wishes he had done things a little differently when he was a player.  But to come out 25 years later and make claims like the ones he's making not only don't make anyone feel sympathetic towards him, but in some cases, might make people dislike him more than when he was an active major leaguer.

Maybe "Oil Can" Boyd would have done better if he would just stop making excuses for everything he caused to himself.  When he finally learns to take the blame for his actions, perhaps he'll see things for what they really are.  Until then, I'm sure he'll sell plenty of books on the topic.

Editor's note: "They Call Me Oil Can: My Life In Baseball" will be released in June.  How convenient that he's discussing his past drug use now when his autobiography is about to be released.

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