ESPN’s 30 for 30 film, Doc and Darryl, mixes together 2 underdog stories of baseball, addiction, fame, relapse and potential.
In this film, directors Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio explore the lives and careers of former New York Mets superstars, pitcher Dwight “Doc” Gooden and power hitter Darryl Strawberry. Together the duo led the Mets to winning the 1986 World Series. With Darryl being 24 and Doc being only 21, the Mets looked primed to build a dynasty. “They were going to be our guys for years,” laments longtime Mets fan Jon Stewart. But then life spiraled out of control for them, Gooden and Strawberry brought repetitive heartbreak to the city that fell in love with them.
The film centers on a meeting between the two at a diner in Queens, as they look back on the glory days of the mid-80s and the harrowing nights that turned them from surefire Hall of Famers into lost potential. Besides just reminiscing on their roller coaster lives, Doc and Darryl touch on topics that they had never previously talked about, like whether Darryl ever ratted on Doc about his cocaine use.
The audience also gets to listen to Doc talk about missing the World Series parade down the Canyon of Heroes, or Darryl counseling others at his ministry, illuminating the fact that these are good men who have struggled, and continue to struggle, with a disease.
Besides hearing from the two subjects, Apatow and Bonfiglio also included interjections from those who were a part of the ride. Star first basemen of the time, Keith Hernandez, supplies some amazing back stories and context for the audience, along with fans and writers from the time.
One of the best parts of the work is that it shifts the narrative away from the overused trope of New York City destroying young lives. Apatow and Bonifiglio do a great job of looking back into the childhoods of their subjects, showing that their disease had started to grip them way before they ever saw the Big Apple. The audience really gets a feel for the complete lives of the two men.
This 30 for 30 special does a magnificent job of combining two unique stories into one film without diluting any of them. Doc and Darryl isn’t a work to watch for people that are looking for happy endings but it should be watched by anyone looking for insight into two of baseball’s biggest what ifs.
Doc and Darryl will premiere on July 14, 2016 at 9 p.m on ESPN.
Check out the trailer here