Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lenny Dykstra Living Dangerously

Growing up, I was always a huge fan of Mr. Dykstra. But really, how could you not be? The guy went around diving head first into bases with a huge wad of chewing tobacco stuffed in his cheek and a badass surfer mullet curling out the back of his helmet. Oh, and if that weren't enough, his nickname was Nails!

Mets fans remember Nails for his stellar performance during the 1986 season. I was an infant at the time, but from books, movies and the anecdotes of my elders, I've developed a pretty solid appreciation for the intensity of young Dykstra's performance. Then there was the 1993 World Series, for which Dykstra surely would've been named MVP had the Phillies won. I remember that in one game of the Fall Classic he accidentally swallowed a full cheek of tobacco, then retreated to the locker room and vomitted before returning to the dugout and blasting a home run during his next AB. That sequence of events pretty much sums up his career for me, and explains why he will always be one of my favorite athletes of all time.

But then there is the matter of his post-sports, errr, let's call them endeavors. Forget that in 1999 a 17-year-old girl who worked at his car wash accused him of sexual harassment; the charges were eventually dropped. Never mind his once-lauded investment schemes which turned out to be at best ridiculously kakamani and at worst criminally fraudulent; such is the nature of all neo-capitalist ventures.

There are countless other incidents we could go into as well, but rather than drag on I'll just share this article @andykoufax tweeted me earlier today. So, without further adieu:

Ex-MLB palyer put into prison for car theft
LOS ANGELES - Former New York Mets star and World Series hero Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to three years in state prison on Monday, following an October no contest plea to grand theft auto charges.

The 49-year-old ex-ballplayer was sent to prison after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge rejected a request by defense attorneys to withdraw the plea and fight the charges at trial.

He was taken into custody at the conclusion of the hearing to begin serving his sentence.

Dykstra was charged in June with 25 counts of grand theft auto, attempted grand theft auto, filing false financial statements and possessing a controlled substance in what prosecutors say was a scheme to lease cars using phony business and credit information.

A search of his home during the investigation turned up cocaine, Ecstasy and a synthetic growth hormone, according to authorities.

He pleaded no contest to three counts of grand theft auto and one count of filing a false financial statement. Under California law, a no contest plea is the legal equivalent to pleading guilty.

In September Dykstra's friend, Christopher Gavanis, pleaded no contest to one count of filing a false financial statement in the case and his former accountant Robert Hymers, pleaded no contest to one count of identity theft.

Dykstra, who spent more than a decade in the major leagues, mostly as an outfielder for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, also faces criminal charges in two unrelated cases.

Last May, a federal grand jury indicted him on bankruptcy fraud and obstruction of justice charges, accusing him of stealing or destroying some $400,000 in property that was part of his bankruptcy case.

He faces up to 80 years in federal prison if convicted of the federal charges.

And in August, Dykstra was charged with two misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure after Los Angeles city prosecutors said he exposed himself to a string of women who answered his Craigslist employment ads.

He faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted in that case.

Nicknamed "Nails" during his playing days, Dykstra is perhaps best remembered by Mets fans for the 1986 season, when he struck a walk-off game-winning home run in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

The key lead-off home run that he struck sparked a comeback by the Mets from a 2-0 series deficit to win the championship over the Boston Red Sox.

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