Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nails in the coffin

This is Lenny Dykstra's 1986 World Series ring.

You can currently purchase it here for $28,000. Along with his World Series championship trophy for $13,000. Along with the three run walk-off homer he hit against the Astros in the playoffs for $4,750. (Autographed bats can be had for as little as $450.)

This is one of the saddest things I've ever seen.

Lenny Dykstra (a k a "Nails"), one of the heroes of my youth, is flat broke. (He's been broke for a few months now, but I didn't realize just how broke.) And this pains my schlubby heart.

There was a crazy kind of exuberance about Dykstra that I always loved. He was so damned aggressive. You just knew that he couldn't wait to get on base. While Darryl Strawberry had more raw talent, Dykstra was the sort of guy who had an impatient, ravenous love of the game. He was thrilling to watch.

And there was something so, well, dumb about Dykstra that I thought it was kind of endearing. If you've ever read Michael Lewis' book Moneyball, he tells a great story that I shall relate below:

“Billy [Beane] remembers sitting with Lenny in a Mets dugout watching the
opposing pitcher warm up. ‘Lenny says, “So who’s that big dumb ass out there on
the hill?” And I say, “Lenny, you’re kidding me, right? That’s Steve Carlton.
He’s maybe the greatest left-hander in the history of the game.” Lenny says,
“Oh, yeah! I knew that!” He sits there for a minute and says, “So, what’s he
got?” And I say, “Lenny, come on. Steve Carlton. He’s got heat and also maybe
the nastiest slider ever.” And Lenny sits there for a while longer as if he’s
taking that in. Finally he just says, “Shit, I’ll stick him.” I’m sitting there
thinking, that’s a magazine cover out there on the hill and all Lenny can think
is that he’ll stick him.’”

Beane's diagnosis of Dykstra is that he was a great ball player because he was dumb. Whereas a smart guy (like Beane) would freeze up when going up against Steve Carlton, Dykstra didn't give a shit. Not because he was fearless -- simply because he couldn't remember who the hell the guy was and why he should be afraid.

Dykstra has not held up well in the years since he was with the Mets. He was obviously juicing shortly after he moved to the Phillies (which was in the Mitchell Report). When he left baseball, he was actually riding high for a few years as a "business guru", snowing a bunch of people -- including Jim Cramer (there's a shocker) and New Yorker writer Ben McGrath -- into believing that he had some finance acumen, but it was mostly bullshit. He claimed he had a net worth of $58 million in 2008 -- but had less than $50,000 worth of assets when he filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after defaulting on pretty much everything.

Sorry Nails. I feel for you. If there are any rich schlubs out there who want some 1986 Mets stuff, be charitable with your opening bids.