As regular readers of this little dog-and-pony show know, the ex-Phillie Lenny Dykstra is a favorite topic. Part sitcom, mixed with street philosopher and combined with a burning school bus off to the side of the road, Dykstra never disappoints. Nearly everything he does is entertaining in that watching-a-burning-bus-on-the-side-of-the-road kind of way.
The Dude would be full of surprises if he wasn’t so full of surprises.
Even when he’s doing something ordinary, like the time he was talking to the ball scribes at the Vet during one of the Phillies’ many reunion weekends a handful of years ago, Lenny brings it. I remember him holding court and telling us how he dealt with the years of injuries that have wrecked havoc on his body, though when asked if he needed special treatment to take care of his ailing back, Lenny said, “No, I’m not a [bleep].”
We’ll allow you to use your imagination there.
Anyway, lately Dykstra pops up in the media from time to time for one silly story/controversy or another that is directly related to his avarice, tactlessness, boorishness and simple bad form. In the decay of Western Civilization, Dykstra is right there in the warhead. He’s bunking up in the same development as those swell citizens like Bernie Madoff or at AIG, though his stomping grounds are a little more low rent.
Like we said, he’s a laugh a minute.
Nevertheless, Dykstra first came into the post-baseball spotlight when he was heralded by former hedge-fund manager turned CNBC maven, Jim Cramer, as an investing savant. With Cramer pimping him, Dykstra’s star rose to big prominence thanks to fawning pieces on HBO’s Real Sports and even The New Yorker (yes, The New Yorker) that not only talked about his supposed investing acumen, but also his latest venture, The Players Club, which is a magazine for professional athletes only that allegedly teaches them how to properly invest their millions so they don’t squander it away when the crowds stop cheering.
You know, really altruistic stuff.
Only Real Sports and The New Yorker (and others, like the Philly Daily News) bought Dykstra’s version of things hook, line and sinker. There was no real examination of his finances and the reporters didn’t check the public record for things like liens on his home, businesses or whatever else.
For some reason Lenny Dykstra was beyond reproach to some seasoned reporters. You know, the same Lenny Dykstra that was named in The Mitchell Report, placed on probation by Major League Baseball for gambling in high-stakes card games, and crashed his car into a tree while driving home from Smokey Joe’s and John Kruk’s bachelor party with Darren Daulton riding shotgun.
You know, solid citizen stuff.
So while Lenny was allowed to brag, unchecked, about his $17 million house purchased from Wayne Gretzky, as well as anything else that can quell his Napoleonic complex, some people did hold Dykstra accountable. And now a whole bunch of them are suing.
In the most recent feature documenting the financial exploits of Lenny Dykstra, ESPN.com details those currently after the former Phillie centerfielder for unpaid debts — from firms to friends to family.
It’s a helluva read.
Yet at the same time it’s all a little sad to see how it’s winding down for Dykstra who was a tremendous ballplayer (when he was healthy) and, for a season, one of the finest Phillies ever. However, the tales more than mirrors Dykstra’s style as a player that was, needless to say, all about him and “look at me.” Oh sure, Dykstra wanted to win and all of that. But given a choice between running into a fence and injuring himself or remaining healthy and on the field, Dykstra always went for the short-term glory.
And based on the Mike Fish story on ESPN.com, it sounds like he could have used his own advice.