Nobody likes a sore loser. Lenny Dykstra seems determined, alas, to make the sorest of losers before him resemble Medal of Honour winners.
Maybe it was wishful thinking to expect Dykstra to go gently into that good, gray night after his defamation suit against his 1986 Mets teammate Ron Darling was thrown out by the New York State Supreme Court last week. He seems bent on going there scorched earth and half blind.
How else would you describe a man legally declared libel and defamation proof who declares Darling faked thyroid cancer (for which he underwent surgery last year), Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Wilpon’s son Jeff (their chief operating officer) were in on the fakery, and New York State Supreme Court justice Robert D. Kalish was bought and paid for to rule against his defamation suit toward Darling’s memoir 108 Stitches?
Kalish ruled, in essence, that Dykstra couldn’t be defamed as claimed by Darling’s memoir 108 Stitches considering the former outfielder’s past, to which he copped only too bluntly in his own memoir (House of Nails), having committed “fraud, embezzlement, grand theft, and lewd conduct and assault with a deadly weapon.”
On Tuesday NJ.com writer Randy Miller published the net result of telephone conversations with Dykstra in the wake of the lawsuit dismissal. “Hearing and watching Lenny Dykstra rant and curse and slur his words during selfie Twitter videos is what it’s like talking to the former Mets and Phillies star over the phone.”
“Ron Darling lied about cancer, OK?” Dykstra tweeted with video Monday, after his Uber ride in southern California got “rammed into by a couple of hillbillies.” Knowing Dykstra’s penchant for describing people dissimilar to himself in racial and other slur terms, it’s not unreasonable to guess that “a couple of hillbillies” to him were just people in a pickup truck regardless of whence they hail.
Darling took a leave of absence from his job as a Mets broadcaster (on a team with Gary Cohen and with his former 86 Mets teammate Keith Hernandez) recuperating from his surgery. It would require copious dollars paid to a lot of people to enable a hoax like that, but Dykstra swore to Miller that he has “documents” to prove it. Documents not yet proffered.
“I got the proof. The Wilpons knew all about it, and they’re in on it,” Dykstra told Miller. “Never in a million [fornicating] years did they think Nails would get to the [fornicating] bottom of this, but I [fornicating]-eh did . . . I’m going to prove it when I do in an interview with an AP writer and expose them because I got documented proof. That means I can support what I say.”
He didn’t offer to share the documented proof with Miller. But while he was at it, Dykstra tweeted aloud that he thinks Darling and the Wilpons might have been behind the couple of hillbillies who rammed his Uber ride. Might.
Darling mis-remembered Dykstra hurling racial slurs toward Boston Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd before leading off and homering against Boyd to open Game Three of the 1986 World Series. The worst the Mets’ bench jockeys hammered Boyd with, other than hollering, “C’mon, throw harder than that, you pussy,” was a schoolyard play on his nickname, “Shit Can,” after a former teammate advised them Boyd could be rattled by bench jockeying.
But Kalish cited enough existing further evidence of subsequent racial slurs, not to mention the sad revelations Darling cited and hammered that emanated from Dykstra’s spectacular enough business collapse, to determine Dykstra libel and defamation proof legally. Among numerous other sources, Kalish cited Dykstra’s own memoir.
It’s a terrible thing to ponder that a baseball player as admired as Dykstra was (and remains) for playing hard-nosed with occasional bull-headedness (fair disclosure: I was one of those admirers) collapsed under the weight of his own flaws to the point where his reputation couldn’t save him. Not every player finds life after baseball without potholes, pitfalls, or pratfalls. Dykstra’s happened to be deeper, wider, and more profound than many.
Tweeting and beating his gums as he has in the wake of the Kalish ruling won’t help Dykstra and may injure him further. “[I]t has been determined, as a matter of law, that Dykstra’s reputation is so utterly sullied that he is unable to be defamed,” observed NBC Sports’s Craig Calcaterra. “The same, however, would certainly not be found if Ron Darling, the Wilpons, the judge who dismissed Darling’s case, and/or Dale Murphy’s son wanted to sue him.”
Dale Murphy’s son?
Dykstra and Murphy were Phillies teammates briefly, during the sadder part of Murphy’s injury-abetted decline phase. Last Saturday evening, Murphy’s son took part in one of the more peaceful protests, in Denver, against George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police—and took a rubber bullet right next to his left eye.
An Atlanta Braves icon, whose reputation as a clean player and a clean man has never been challenged credibly, Murphy revealed his son’s injury on Twitter last Sunday night. “His story is not unique,” Murphy said in the tweet, which preceded another showing his son’s injury. “Countless others have also experienced this use of excessive police force while trying to have their voices heard.”
On Monday morning, Dykstra tweeted of his former teammate, “F*** him and his loser kid.” That afternoon, Dykstra went further: “No children of Lenny Dykstra have had issues with police resulting from being part of an Antifa mob. We Dykstras have proper respect for the men in blue.”
You don’t have to be part of an Antifa mob to know and believe that four Minneapolis police officers—particularly Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, now facing charges upgraded from third-degree to second-degree murder, and his three partners now charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter—committed an atrocity that no decent human being would or should dismiss.
You don’t have to disrespect the men in blue to understand that rogue cops exist, commit crimes in their own right, commit atrocities for reasons racial and otherwise, and escape accountability through ways and means such as “qualified immunity.” And, that ordinary citizens have every right in these United States and on God’s green earth to object to and protest those crimes and atrocities.
You also don’t have to be either a craven, wingnut left or right agitator to understand that there have been only too many among us who seized upon the Floyd atrocity and the culpability of four Minneapolis police officers as an excuse to break entire neighbourhoods, if not cities, and the lives of those whose neighbourhoods they broke, regardless that the targets had nothing to do with committing that atrocity.
So them Dykstras have proper respect for the men in blue? This grandson (paternal) of a New York police officer (he retired the year I was born) would like to remind them that the crooked and corrupt among the men in blue stain their fellow officers profoundly enough. Grandpa Walter—once of the gentlest but firmest souls you’d ever wish to meet off duty—would have denounced such rogue cops and such free-lance looters and vandals with equal fury.
“[F]rom where I’m sitting,” Calcaterra writes, “[Darling, the Wilpons, Kalish, and the Murphys would] each have very good cases if they decided to go that route” of their own litigation against Dykstra’s remarks. From where I’m sitting, Calcaterra probably isn’t sitting alone.