Archive for the ‘Nails’ Category

"It’s about living the dream, bro"

April 25, 2009

This piece by’s Mike Fish, like everything else about Lenny Dykstra, just fascinates me. Nails comes off as nothing but a small-time crook who is in way over his head, but more than that, he seems to maintain this incredible arrogance and sense of entitlement throughout, despite proving time and again that he really can’t handle what he’s gotten himself into.

I’ve always thought that the most dangerous (presumably) well-meaning person in the world is a star professional athlete of a certain intelligence level — well above, say, Operation Shutdown, but not nearly as smart as Ron Darling or Brian Bannister or Jim Bouton or Harold Reynolds — who gets a lot of attention and a lot of microphones in his face and has a certain predisposition toward self-aggrandization. (Let me be clear about Reynolds: I think he’s a genius as a communicator, and probably in a number of other ways. It’s just that at some point he — like Joe Morgan, another legitimately smart guy — made a very conscious decision not to learn anything new about baseball.)

The two poster boys for this middle range, to me, are former World Series teammates Curt Schilling and, now, Dykstra. Both are pretty smart guys…for baseball players. And that, with their personalities and the attention they received during their career, is a problem. These two guys pretty much embody the reason the phrase “knows just enough to be dangerous” exists.

Pro athletes, as a general rule, have an ingrown sense that they’re better than most people. In many ways this is justified, and in every other way it’s simply thrust upon them. If you spend five or ten or twenty years being told that and/or treated as though you’re better than everybody else, who can blame you for coming to believe it?

So what happens when you notice that not only are you, being a pro athlete, better than most people, but you’re smarter and better educated than most other pro athletes, and that (if only because of what you actually do on the diamond) people around you with microphones and tape recorders seem to want to hear what you have to say?

Well, then you get Schilling, who is under the misimpression that it’s a good idea for him to give forceful and loud opinions about complicated and controversial things he doesn’t take the time to understand. And, I think, you get Nails. Not to say that Dykstra is a creation of society or something — it seems pretty obvious that he’s done some awful things, things no other moderately-smart pro athlete has done, and it’s not as though he doesn’t need to pay for those things. Just that it would be nice if there were some way to enjoy sports and celebrate the ones who excel at them while still leaving these individuals with some concept of their very real limitations.

Nails was a very good ballplayer, but that’s done, and it’s been done for 13 years. Now he’s just a guy, one with what appears to be roughly average human intelligence and incredibly disproportionate levels of arrogance and ambition. But when you’ve spent twelve years as a star and another bunch as a celebrated former star, how hard must it be to see that in yourself?

And on a side note (he plays a shady bit part in the article), could things get any uglier for Jim Cramer lately?