Sunday, July 3, 2011

#53 Len Dykstra

Card thoughts: This Dykstra rookie card is a perfect epitome of "Nails" career, hustling, legs so fast his back foot is a blur, and bat in hand, looking like he's going to cream someone.

The player: I hated the mid 80s Mets. Hated them. Dykstra, and the other cocky, smug jerks who made up this team are a reason why. I still recall Dykstra when on the Phillies sliding into third and coughing up a huge, disgusting lump of chaw while adjusting his jock strap. That's the kind of disgusting guy he was.

Still, you can't deny Dykstra had talent. In his early Mets career, he was platooned with Mookie Wilson as an unusual leadoff hitter platoon. He usually stole about 30 bases a year, hit around .280 and scored about 75 runs. He was known for his aggressive outfield play and huge cheek full of chaw. Unfortunately, Dykstra was also a disruptive presence on the club causing the Mets to trade him to the Phillies midway through the 1989 season with Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel. Initially despondent after the trade, Dykstra would hit only .222 the rest of the season. But he would go on to have his greatest seasons with the Phillies, leading the league in hit with 192 and on base percentage with .410 in 1990, and having an MVP caliber year in 1993, leading the league in at bats, runs, hits, and walks that year, leading the Phillies to the World Series.

In between those great campaigns, Dykstra broke his collar bone twice, once while drunk driving with teammate Darren Daulton, and once while crashing into an outfield wall. More than likely, the 1993 season was aided by Dykstra's well documented steroid abuse at the time. His post baseball career has been quite colorful. Apparently, Dykstra was so arrogant he thought he was also some kind of financial wizard. He impressed that other financial carnival barker, Mad Money's Jim Cramer so much he had Dykstra write a column for him advising stock investments. Dykstra was also involved in several car wash businesses, a magazine called the Players Club geared towards rich athletes, a corporate jet charter company, and several other business ventures. He was also alleged to have engaged in credit card fraud, and had a habit of not paying his bills. Here's a fascinating account of Dykstra, the "mogul".

All this shadiness caught up to him, and Dykstra filed for bankruptcy a couple of years ago. However, he's still allegedly living by fraud, having stripped his foreclosed house of some assets, and recently he apparently stole three cars from a dealership in some kind of complicated financial chicanery. Oh, and his family hates him for allegedly defrauding them. Despite all the fame, I wouldn't want to be "Nails" right now.

Rear guard: Check out those numbers from Single-A Lynchburg. Insane! One of the greatest seasons in South Atlantic League history.

Casey Stengel managed the Mets their first 4 years of existence. However, that fact is wrong. Wes Westrum was managing the Mets on that date, having replaced Stengel midseason. Stengel was still the oldest Mets manager, however, but at 75 years, 31 days on August 30, 1965.

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