I recently read an account chronicling the latest chapter in the Lenny Dykstra saga. It was an ugly, bizarre, almost comical footnote to the life and times of a formerly feisty, tobacco-chawing, scrappy professional baseball player who traded in his romp through the green fields of America's pastime for a bull-headed charge through the green streets of Wall Street.
Just one year after the swaggering New York Mets of 1986 won 108 regular season games and a World Championship, I devoured a spate of memoirs about that crazy and wondrous baseball season authored by various players and their quirky manager, Davey Johnson, too. But there was only one tome among this library of anti-literature that stood apart from the pack, and it was Lenny Dykstra's NAILS: The Inside Story of an Amazin' Season. The "with" guy, who actually wrote the book in Dykstra's incomparable voice, was sportswriter Marty Noble. NAILS was in a class by itself, as Noble nobly channeled the memories, observations, and opinions of this short, lean, and gritty centerfielder affectionately known as "Nails." "Today we played the fucking Cardinals" was the kind of stuff interspersed throughout the book's narrative, as well as Dykstra's dismissing all things with which he disagreed with a pithy "I call bullshit on that."
Flash forward more than twenty years and this very same man is apparently broke, bankrupt, and living in the back of his van or something only slightly better than that. It is reported that he owes tens of millions of dollars to a whole host of people and entities who bought lock, stock, and barrel into the mega-hype that he, a former baseball player, was a financial whiz kid. Frequently wrong guru in the world of high finance, Jim Cramer, even sang Dykstra's praises on his CNBC program.
Once upon a time Lenny Dykstra hit a walk-off homerun against the Houston Astros in the 1986 NLCS. It was an extraordinary baseball moment and a Met fan memory of mega-import that we will not soon forget. In all of professional sports, there are few happenings more dramatic than walk-off, game-winning home runs, particularly in critical games and during the post-season. It's too bad Dykstra didn't walk-off into the sunset of positive memories that October day....
Instead, life went on, and Dykstra has since been fingered in the Mitchell Report as a steroid user—no big surprise here considering that he morphed into a major muscle head and power hitter, which he certainly wasn't with the Mets, in the later years of his career. And recently, of course, this celebrated financial genius inaugurated a magazine called The Players Club for a readership of well-compensated professional athletes, which embodied investment and brokerage counsel among its myriad services. And as they are so often wont to do, the moneyed lemmings came out of the woodwork and poured millions upon millions of dollars into what turned out to be a black hole with no there there. I, for one, just wish I could turn the clock back to 1986—for Lenny's sake.