Dykstra Part III (or: Nailed, the Story of Lenny Dykstra)
Clued into the ESPN Dykstra story by my estimable colleague Mr. Alexander, I read it as a sequel to a piece that appeared in, of all places, the New Yorker, in March of ’08. Before the bailout. Before Madoff. Before AIG. Before all the schemes and frauds and esoteric finance . The story, titled Nails Never Fails, doesn’t try overly hard to make Dykstra look like a fool. Or a dick. Lenny more than obliges by handling that part all by himself.
For many ballplayers, the growing-up point does not arrive until after retirement, when all the freebies vanish and equipment managers and hotel maids can no longer be relied upon for regular laundry service. Dykstra last played in the majors in 1996, at age thirty-three. Improbably, he has since become a successful day trader, and he let me know that he owns both a Maybach (“the best car”) and a Gulfstream (“the best jet”)
You should read the whole thing — as a prequel if you’ve already read the ESPN article Tom referred to. If you followed Dykstra from his playing days it was assumed — assuming you or anyone else ever gave this a second’s worth of conscious thought — that Dykstra would leave the game as the same jock-brained, brassy asshole he was in his rookie year with the Mets. At some point you found out he was a stock picker with Jim Cramer’s the Street (before Jim Cramer was left gasping for air on the set of the Daily Show), which came as a shock, but was always a little hard to believe — like the first time someone told you Pamela Anderson was a member of MENSA. But reading the ESPN piece I was struck by the grandiosity, on a scale impressive for a retired superstar let alone someone like Lenny fucking Dykstras …though I’ll admit, the size of the lies is pretty impressive. It’s all hinted at in the New Yorker piece, the seeds are there…I highly recommend you read both.
Once Lenny manages to get it together — and from the ESPN piece it looks like it’s gonna be a long hard climb — I see the third act clear as day: Lenny as a bloated spring training “attitude instructor” for the Mets or Phils, a heartening albeit modest come-back tale, which is cut tragically short when he’s gunned down in the back of a Fort Lauderdale strip joint for some obscure unpaid debt.
As a friend said to me earlier, Lenny is Pete Rose with a better angle (though I’m not sure it’s really better).