Have you heard the one about the former athlete who spends his vast fortune and spirals downwards into the seedy underbelly of bankruptcy, drug abuse and fraud before spending time behind bars?
Oh, you have?
Well, you can hear it again, thanks to former Phillie Lenny Dykstra, who was sentenced to three years behind bars on Monday, stemming from grand theft charges following an investigation into the former All-Star's business dealings.
In an article for Sports Illustrated, David Epstein detailed the fall of Dykstra, who not too long ago, was living the high life thanks his sharp business acumen and a successful car wash business in California. But like so many athletes before him, the one called “Nails” lost it all, thanks to a combination of bad investments, greed, and above all, hubris.
Epstein's column is a detailed and interesting read, and he chronicles the investigation, soup-to-nuts, from the detective working the case, to the accomplices that Dykstra brought in to help propagate his many lies, to the slip-ups that finally proved to be the nail in "Nails" coffin.
I won't go into too much detail here -- I'll let Epstein's piece speak for itself -- but here are some quick hits that serve to paint a rather vivid portrait of Dykstra:
All told, it's a very good read, and it paints a picture of Dykstra that is not too dissimilar from so many con-men in movies. Sharks that can spot a rube a mile away, only to bring them into the fold for the express purpose of extracting something from them. In Dykstra's case, the lure of the high-life led his pawns to him, and their trustworthiness and naivete proved to be their own downfall.
For some, Dykstra will forever be the scrappy, tough centerfielder who had a moderately successful Major League career, and the indelible image of a wad of chewing tobacco wrapped in bubble gum. For others, he will be no different than other has-beens: Done in by his own devices and the same stubbornness and relenting will that made them such successful athletes in the first place.