Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
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Yeah, I Gotta Rash, Man
2008-03-19 06:07
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Did anyone catch the segment on Lenny "Nails" Dykstra on the latest edition of HBO's Real Sports? Ex-ballplayer-turned-shrewd-businessman. It's worth watching for the highlight clip they show of Nails throwing bolos at Dodger catcher Rick Dempsey back when he was with the Phillies. It's also interesting to see how Dykstra looks and sounds like a troll, almost as if he's drugged. (And if you want to get good and steamed, wait around until the post-segment interview between reporter Bernie Goldberg and host Bryant Gumbel, and dig how Goldberg cops out of telling the truth about Dykstra's alleged use of PEDS.) Pat Jordan wrote a piece on Dykstra for Fortune.com back in December of 2006. The published version concentrates mostly on the nuts-and-bolts of day trading, but Jordan's original ("The Dude Abides") focused more on what it was like to hang out with Dykstra.

From Jordan's orginial manuscript:

The Dude is trudging up Fifth Avenue on a bright, cool November afternoon, pulling his computers in bags behind him. He walks hunched forward like an old Stone Aged savage on bad knees, with a bad back. He says, "I got a lotta mileage on me, Bro. I'm workin' the old man thing now." He's headed for the St. Regis, "like a home to me, Dude," where he's stayed regularly for fifteen years.

He stops at a newsstand and picks up a copy of the New YOrk Post, with its front page photo of Sadaam Hussein under a headline that reads: Next Stop Hell. The Dude smiles.

"Look at this fucker," he says. "They found him in a hole! The Dude had no fucking plan, bro."

Unlike most ballplayers, when the Dude left baseball, he had a plan. Not to go broke like many of his teammates. He invested his money in small, managable businesses, car washes, quick lube oil change shops, and in real estate, "That's why they call it real estate, dude, 'cause it's real," and in mutual funds which his broker told him, "Was only blue chips, it's sage." The Dude was determined to make more money after baseball than he ever did in it. "Players think everything should be handed to them, dude," he says. "That's don't work in the real world."

...After dinner, the Dude and I go outside for a smoke. We stand alongside the St. Regis entrance in the darkness, watching limos pull up, doors being opened, long, shapely legs emerging from the backseat followed by an older man in a nice suit. The Dude says, "There was nothing better than winning in New York City, and in Philly. I'd rather dodge batteries in Philly than play in L.A." He grabs a doorman, peels off a twenty and asks him to get him a bottle of water. But the Dude can't wait. He starts walking around the corner to a Deli.

"I got ADD or sumthin," he says. "I subscribe to 30 newsletters but I gotta listen to them on tape. I got no patience to read. I'm always thinking about the next thing. I didn't get into stocks until I was confident I knew what I was doing. I even wrote a letter to Warren Buffett, that's how naive I was. I wrote, 'Mr. Buffett, I'm Lenny Dykstra, a baseball player. Could you teach me how to invest?' He hand-wrote back on his own stationary, 'Lenny, I'm a fan, I'd love to help you but I can't. Best of luck.' It was so fucking cool, dude."

In the most recent issue of The New Yorker, Ben McGrath writes about Nails' latest enterprise:

For many ballplayers, the growing-up point does not arrive until after retirement, when all the freebies vanish and equipment managers and hotel maids can no longer be relied upon for regular laundry service. Dykstra last played in the majors in 1996, at age thirty-three. Improbably, he has since become a successful day trader, and he let me know that he owns both a Maybach ("the best car") and a Gulfstream ("the best jet"). The occasion for our lunch, however, was a new venture: Dykstra is launching a magazine, intended specifically for pro athletes, called The Players Club. An unfortunate number of his former teammates have ended up broke, or divorced, or worse. The week before we met, the ex-Yankee Jim Leyritz, himself twice divorced and underemployed, had hit a woman while driving home from a bar. He never grew up.

"You've got the ten per cent who are going to find their way no matter what," Dykstra said of the athlete population. "And you get the ten per cent that are fuckheads no matter what—we'll paste an 'L' to 'em." The rest need guidance, and Dykstra, who will write a regular column called "The Game of Life," is prepared to give it. "This will be the world's best magazine," he said.

As proof of the worthiness of his cause, he brought up his old Phillies teammate Pete Incaviglia: "Remember the big, burly guy? Best five-o'clock hitter in baseball history. Allergic to leather. Allergic to leather." (Translation: Incaviglia could hit the ball a mile in batting practice, and was no good with a glove.) "Inky called me this winter, and he asked me for a job. And I felt bad—said, 'Come on down.' I showed him our business plan, and he said, 'Where was that when I was playing?' " (Incaviglia, who now manages a minor-league team in Texas, later told me, "Lenny's idea is the most brilliant, best idea I've ever heard in my life. It's mind-boggling.")

Dykstra's business plan extends beyond the magazine. "We're creating a life style!" he said, and emphasized that he wanted to encourage athletes in their prime to set aside a half-million dollars a year in a customized retirement account, thereby insuring "recurring cash flow" for life. He turned over a piece of paper and drew a small circle, inside which he wrote the letters "TPC," for The Players Club. Next, he drew a larger circle around it and began connecting the two circles with spokes: "building bridges," as he put it. At the end of the spokes, he wrote things like "annuity," "private jets," "real estate," and "concierge." That last one, he said, was for "when you forgot your wife's birthday, and you're in the on-deck circle. You go, 'Oh, no! Batboy, go call the concierge service for The Players Club. Tell him to get flowers for my wife, and tell her I love her.'

In the Real Sports segment, I found Dyktra's profanity refreshing. Otherwise, I thought he was a jerk, a guy with a chip on his shoulder, just the kind of guy I wouldn't ever want to be around. Pat Jordan actually liked Nails, considered him to be an amiable guy, no small feat considering the fact that Dykstra tried to screw Jordan out of writing the article on two occasions before finally agreeing to it. Regardless, it is interesting that Nails is seemingly so good at what he does. Just goes to show, just because a guy is a schlub, doens't mean he isn't smart as hell.

Which reminds me of the real Dude, Jeff Bridges. When I was working as an assistant film editor on "The Big Lebowski," one of my responsibilities was to synch the dailies--the footage from the previous day. Bridges was incredible. He simply was The Dude. A film actor, through and through, Bridges gave subtle variations with each take. He wasn't like a lot of other actors, trained in the theater, who often needed several takes to warm up. Mostly though, Bridges wasn't bright in the conventional sense. He wasn't some hyper-articulate intellectual. But on film, as an actor, he was about as shrewd and gifted as anyone I'd ever seen.

Comments
2008-03-19 06:29:08
1.   Knuckles
Dykstra's an interesting dude (or Dude). He has a clear plan, and follows through. He's a grinder, as evidenced by his business results and the peek into his young life as a Mets farmhand along Billy Beane in that Moneyball book that Joe Morgan wrote.

It's funny how your perception of people change and turn out. I liked Nails when I was little and he was a Met, then began thinking he was just your average drunken jock. This was based on only a couple glimpses: my dad saw he and Daulton (now there's a character) and some other Phils partying up at the Hard Rock in Skydome during the WS, and an interview with him on ESPN2 one time, where he talked (and he talks like Rocky) about going to France and getting all up in the culture, ordering $3,000 bottles of wine and chugging them in the restaurant for pure shock value. Etc etc etc.

Then you hear "car wash" and continue to think typical ex-jock marginal business. But the guy continues to grind, and suddenly 10 years after retirement, he's the guy who you expected to still be fat, drunk, and stupid at your HS reunion, but somehow built his own business from the ground up, and is succeeding.

Nice post, Alex.

2008-03-19 09:18:58
2.   ChuckM
What are they smoking at the Chronicle?

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Yankees have "expressed interest" in Rich Harden.
So far at least Harden is healthy, so if the A's are interested in trading him they may choose to begin shopping before he has a chance to be sidelined again. The newspaper speculates that the A's would ask for Ian Kennedy and "perhaps" Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez.

2008-03-19 09:32:43
3.   Chyll Will
Don't know if it's of interest to anyone or if you're following, but the Red Sox are boycotting today's ST game against the Blue Jays and refuse to go to Japan in protest of a decision to withhold coaches' appearance bonuses for the Japan trip. The A's are also considering a similar boycott.

Wow, listening to the reports coming in on ESPN, this sounds like it's gonna be ugly between them and the MLB front office before it's resolved...

http://tinyurl.com/2n3b8x

2008-03-19 09:42:57
4.   Shaun P
3 Chyll, I hadn't heard that, so thanks for the update. I say, good for the Sox, and I hope the A's do the same.
2008-03-19 09:44:47
5.   standuptriple
2 I wouldn't pay much attention to that. I read this AM too. At those prices I'm sure the Yanks will say "No thanks". Beane must have a mole at the Chron, because they are his usual outlet for his "advertisements" which I saw this as.
2008-03-19 09:52:13
6.   ChuckM
5 I figured it was BS. But shouldn't a rumor at least attempt to be somewhat believable?
2008-03-19 10:15:39
7.   standuptriple
6 Apparently you don't read the SF Chron regularly. They realize that the Bay Area is a baseball/football Sahara right now and I think they just want to make it somewhat exciting.
2008-03-19 10:37:07
8.   ms october
3 4 sounds like it got resolved - they are back on the field and it seems the bonus pay for coaches has been taken care of

0 1 i mentioned last week after alex posted something about dykstra on real sports that chris ballard skewered him on the back page of si.
i don't really know which way to take what's coming out on dykstra, but many outlets are portraying him as a scam artist in trying to get a hold of other athlete's money. again, i don't know what is really going on, but if that's what is happening, I can't think positively about the guy.

2008-03-19 10:57:33
9.   markp
Change of subject: when the Yankees went to Japan, did MLB pay for their coaches, families, etc?
2008-03-19 14:11:31
10.   Shaun P
9 Pete Abe says that Mussina said that the Yanks' players were given a pool of money and they could split it up however they wanted. The players voted equal shares to the coaching staff and trainers etc. No idea about the family stuff, but for some reason, I think the players specifically didn't bring their families. I could be wrong.

So, Joba's starting the year in the bullpen, with no rules? Should be interesting . . . wonder when he'll go into the rotation, and what the reason will be?

2008-03-19 14:20:26
11.   monkeypants
10 The 'no rules' sorta worries me, unless Girardi is on board with the plan. Otherwise, he'll get shoehorned into the 8th inning slot and pitch every day, thereby running up his innings even though he is not a starter AND making it harder to move him into the rotation.

Or maybe I'm just too cynical.

2008-03-19 14:45:43
12.   Jeterismyhomeboy
Hi! Longtime reader, first time commenter (although I am sure that you all are aware of my newness).

While the "Joba to the 'pen" news isn't really new, I think they're not talking about rules because they don't want to be beholden to the media and the opposition. I'm absolutely sure that Nardi, Cashman and Girardi have a basic understanding of how Joba will pitch his innings. I just don't think they want that understanding to be public.

2008-03-19 15:06:25
13.   wsporter
12 Nice first post. I think that makes a lot of sense.
2008-03-19 16:21:35
14.   rilkefan
12 What you say makes sense. I wonder if so if that's Girardi keeping the press farther away than Torre did or a reaction to (perceived) strategic decisions by opponents last year.
2008-03-19 16:47:55
15.   Knuckles
12 Logic! On the internet! Where did this guy come from? Good points dude, and welcome.
2008-03-19 17:17:29
16.   RIYank
Will Moose be happy to go the bullpen after the All Star Break? Or if not happy, at least not upset?

Welcome, Jeterismyhomeboy. Or do I call you Jeterisyourhomeboy?

2008-03-19 19:08:22
17.   monkeypants
12 As everyone says, very logical...I hope you are right.
2008-03-19 20:41:05
18.   Jeterismyhomeboy
15 Lady, not dude. ;-)
2008-03-19 20:47:21
19.   wsporter
Somehow, I feel the corporate IQ rising.
2008-03-19 21:11:59
20.   Al Rogers
12. Gurrl, knows her shit!!
2008-03-19 21:44:43
21.   Chyll Will
12 ,18 Schweet! I vote she gets the same appearance fee as we do >;)
2008-03-19 23:24:38
22.   Al Rogers
21. Chyll Will (AKA Marvin Miller)

Agreed - all for one and all for Manny.

who's our union rep?

warm'n up in da bullpen - wildcat strike!

No justice, no snark!!

2008-03-20 07:25:30
23.   Chyll Will
22 Here Al, put the number in between brackets, like so: [#] and you get 21 !

"How many strikes do we break out on the daily?
Say me say Manny money, say me say Manny Manny Manny..."

>;)

2008-03-20 13:11:22
24.   Al Rogers
23 so that's how it works, cool.

learn som'tn new every day.

Oh shyt, this is a contract year for Manny! And he's goin to great lengths: yoga, mediation, and talkin to da press. (i'm not joking.)

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