… and the (dead)beat goes on

lennydykstra1Yes, Lenny Dykstra is back out there in the press after HBO updated its fawning “Real Sports”  profile from a couple of years ago. Apparently they added racist and deadbeat into the vernacular along with stock investor.

However, neither Bernie Goldberg nor The New Yorker admitted to being duped by Lenny’s supposed largesse. But it is worth noting that Lenny also appears to be the subject of an equally fawning documentary from No Regrets Entertainment.

There’s an especially deep quotation at the top, too. Take a look:

So who looks worse these days, Jim Cramer after the Jon Stewart stuff or Lenny?

The Dude abides?

lennydykstraAs 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.

Morning newsy news

paper boyIn an effort is to make this site more blog-like (is that good or bad?), we are going to incorporate more stories from places that folks following this site and the Philadelphia sporting scene would otherwise miss.

Call it a public service.

So in this public service to you, the dear reader, I’ll assort all the things that pass my way that is noteworthy and post it here as many mornings as I am in business. Some of it will be about baseball and the Phillies and some will come from the sports world. But most of it will be about other things. That’s just the way it goes.

Plus, how much sports writing can one read, really?

Anyway, there are two magazines in which everyone should own a subscription if they want to be (relatively) switched on to the basic cultural trends.

The other magazines can just be put out in the recycling bin.

One of those magazines is Esquire, which is in its 75th year of telling grown men not to wear sports jerseys lest they want to commit a social faux pas and look like some sort of a philistine. In fact, in a recent issue of the magazine it was suggested that there was a name for grown men who wore the jersey of their favorite team while out and about in public.

They’re called professional athletes.

The other magazine that people should subscribe to is The New Yorker, which is a weekly that digs deeper into stories so that the nuance has nuance. The magazine is also the home to cartoons that are not funny and original poetry and prose. Actually, The New Yorker is doing the same things now that it did decades ago. Once I heard editor David Remnick say in an interview that he didn’t care about how long the stories in his magazine were as long as the writing was interesting. This struck me as an odd thing to say because shouldn’t that be the case in every publication?

Obviously, it isn’t the case.

Nevertheless, I remember sitting in the library at J.P. McCaskey High in Lancaster, Pa. thumbing through the latest edition of the magazine looking at the names of the writers and all of the different styles they used to tell a story. But more interesting than that was the pages of events listings that has always been a staple of The New Yorker. Right up front, before the always entertaining “Talk of the Town” column , columns and columns of agate type describing where and when all the latest bands, plays, shows and openings were going down. Sometimes I actual got dizzy thinking that out there, in one city, all this stuff was going on and quite clearly there wasn’t anything happening in Lancaster.

As a result my friends and I got together on weekend evenings and spent time tripping the alarms on the houses in our neighborhood.

What, did you think there was a Jean-Luc Goddard retrospective happening downtown?

In the March 27 issue of the magazine there’s a story by Eric Alterman chronicling the death of the American newspaper business. I’m one of those guys that believes advancements in technology should only makes things better – particularly when it comes to words, discourse and information. Yet for some reason the scions of the newspaper business just don’t understand how to make it work, which, clearly is because of a forgetfulness of the newspapers’ mission. For some reason folks believe that news, information and art is a product or a commodity like anything else.

Those are folks we like to refer as pigs.

Anyway, newspapers are dead. Stick a fork in them. If you don’t believe me read Alterman’s story.

Meanwhile, a guy who seems to get what the mission of the story is a fellow named Bob Lefsetz. An ex-publisher of a influential newsletter on the music business-turned web site, Lefsetz now turns out daily posts on, oddly enough, Lefsetz.com, because, “I’m just passionate about music and trying to speak the truth about it.”

In a story by Josh Freedom duLac of The Washington Post, Lefsetz is described as the Jim Cramer of music writing… only without the millions from hedge funds to pay the freight. Simply, Lefsetz just wants to write about what matters to him and big-wigs in the business have taken notice.

Is that so wrong?

Speaking of wrong, I caught the 1 a.m. edition of the PBS show Frontline the other night just in time to watch the latest piece called, “Bush’s War.” Complete with over 400 interviews, including extended talks with the so-called “architects” of the war in Iraq and many of the generals, the Frontline episode should be viewed as the first honest retrospective of the five-year old war.

PBS shows the series regularly, but if you miss it on the tube it’s available for online viewing.

Perhaps the most striking part about the first hour of “Bush’s War” was how readily some of those in charge of the operation were willing to admit that the plans and the policies were and are “a fiasco.”

I wish there were something I could add here.

Barry O Finally, it appears as if Barack Obama will hit Lancaster on Monday (and I thought nothing happened here) for a rally. Hillary Clinton also made the trip to Lancaster last week to film a special for MTV, hold a rally at Millersville University, and then be sucked up to by the local press. That’s probably how it will go with Barry Obama, too.

Celebrities can do no wrong here in Lancaster as far as the locals go.

Unfortunately, Monday is also the opening day of the baseball season, so I’m stuck going to the ballpark…

Could that be the first time that sentence has ever been written? Sure, hang around the press box and that sentiment is right there on the surface, but as far as typed out on a keyboard and thrown out there for consumption, yes, I believe it is the first time someone has complained about having to go to a baseball game.

The New Yorker: Out of Print – Death and Life of the American Newspaper.

The Washington Post: Rage Against the Machine – Bob Lefsetz, the Music Industry’s Go-To Gadfly

Frontline: Bush’s War

(Not so) tough as nails

Lenny DykstraIt’s kind of fun to see Lenny Dykstra turning up everywhere as the veritable media dynamo that he has become. By now, most folks have caught the new Lenny on HBO’s Real Sports talking about his career as a day trader with Bernie Goldberg.

There Lenny was again in the pages of The New Yorker (yes, The New Yorker), discussing his latest venture called The Players Club, which is a magazine aimed at professional athletes on how they can better invest their high incomes so that they don’t squander it all before their playing days end.

Dykstra says it will be “the world’s best magazine” and throws around such superlatives about nearly everything he has purchased as if he were out for revenge or if he had somehow been shortchanged somewhere along the line. His car, a German Maybach, is “the best car.” He bought a Gulfstream plane because, “it’s the best in the world and there isn’t even a close second.”

It doesn’t stop with the big things, either. He raves about a door in his $17 million house purchased from Wayne Gretzky, as well as about the house itself and the weather in Southern California. It’s all the best and 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.

But that theory flies in the face of the mission behind his The Players Club. As he said in The New Yorker:

“I’m forty-four, with a lot of mileage, dude. A lot of mileage.” The chaw is gone, and he hasn’t had a drink in years. “When the market opens at six o’clock in the morning out here, I mean, dude, you got to be up,” he says. “You get to a point in your life where, yeah, I loved baseball, but baseball’s a small part. I’m going to build something that can change the fucking outcome of people’s lives.”

Yes, because helping multi-millionaires from separating themselves from their money is soooooo altruistic.

Anyway, in addition to Real Sports and The New Yorker, Dykstra’s name has also appeared in a story in which an accounting firm is suing him for $110,000 for money owed for accounting and tax work.

Then Dykstra’s name showed up a handful of times in The Mitchell Report, which didn’t really come as a surprise to anyone. Yet, the Mitchell Report and Dykstra’s physical health is the one issue that seemed to be glossed over during the HBO profile and the magazine story. With Goldberg, Dykstra’s speech was somewhat slurred, a point exemplified in Ben McGrath’s story:

His hands tremble, his back hurts, and his speech, like that of an insomniac or a stroke victim, lags slightly behind his mind. He winks without obvious intent. In his playing days, he had a term for people like this: fossils. Nothing about his physical presence any longer suggests nails, and sometimes, as if in joking recognition of this softening, he answers the phone by saying, “Thumbtacks.”

But that’s it. Dykstra’s health, just like the depth and true worth of his financial portfolio are taken at face value. In fact, the only nuance presented in either story came from Dykstra’s personality. There, Dykstra appears to be in 1993 form.

Floyd LandisMeanwhile, the final stop on Floyd Landis’ appeal hearing has planted itself in New York City where the case enters its third day. Landis and the USADA will present cases today and tomorrow before wrapping it all up on Monday. Then they will wait for the panel of three arbitrators with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to make a decision, which will come sometime during the calendar year… probably.

Nevertheless, there has been very little in the way of rumblings from the USADA or Landis camps, which is quite the opposite from last May’s hearing. Plus, Floyd likes to talk and hasn’t said anything to anyone.

But for a preview of the proceedings in NYC, here’s a story from ESPN’s Bonnie D. Ford.

I don’t like to brag[1], but I went 14-for-16 in the first day of NCAA tournament selections. I tripped up on the UNLV-Kent State and West Virginia-Arizona games.

Still, it’s not too bad for someone convinced that the tournament is nothing more than a lot of hot air until the second weekend begins.

Ted LeoFinally, in an interesting development, arena rock stalwarts Pearl Jam announced that they will take Ted Leo and his Pharmacists out with them for the first part of their U.S. tour, which opens in Camden, N.J. on June 19. Certainly such a decision means that Pearl Jam aims to bust their collective asses during the six dates in which Teddy Rock Star opens up the shows. After all, if Eddie Vedder and the gang give just the slightest of inches, Ted + Rx will own them.

Fortunately for the Pearl Jammers, work ethic has never been an issue. That means it will be an action-packed six shows for all involved.

Jun 19 — Camden, N.J. — Susquehanna Bank Center
Jun 22 — Washington, D.C. — Verizon Center

Jun 24 — New York, N.Y. – Madison Square Garden
Jun 25 — New York, N.Y. – Madison Square Garden

Jun 27 — Hartford, Conn. — Dodge Amphitheater
Jun 30 — Mansfield, Mass. — Tweeter Center

The always interesting Kings of Leon will take over the opening duties after Ted Leo leaves the tour.

More: Ted Leo covers Rush on WFMU

[1] Uh, yeah I do.