Over the last couple of decades, scandals of various stripes have marred the image of Major League Baseball. First, there was Pete Rose’s admission that he bet on games — a revelation that led the league to ban him from baseball for life. Then, the controversy surrounding the use of performance-enhancing substances seemed to drag on forever.
And now we have a startling admission from Lenny Dykstra. The centerfielder who spent 17 years in the majors told Fox Sports personality Colin Cowherd that he spent half a million dollars to hire private investigators to dig up dirt on umpires. In turn, Dysktra used the information he gleaned from the detectives to blackmail the umpires into shrinking his strike zone and increasing his total number of walks.
The Big Lead reports that Dykstra’s efforts paid off:
In 1993, Dykstra signed a big contract extension with the Phillies. His walk totals jumped from 40 in 345 plate appearances in 1992 (11%) to 129 in 773 plate appearances (16%) in 1993. And then 68 walks in 315 plate appearances in 1994 (21%).
Dykstra proudly gave Cowherd the details on his operation.
“I said I need the umpires, [so] what do I do? I just pulled out half a million bucks and hired a private investigate team to follow them,’’ said Dykstra, who won the 1986 World Series with the Mets.
“Their blood is just a red as ours. Some of them like women, some of them like men, some of them gamble, some of them do whatever.’’
So Dykstra used baseball blackmail, or at least some P.I.-assisted extortion.
“Fear does a lot to a man. (I’d ask) did you cover last night? They’d call a strike. Oh, I don’t think you heard me. Did you cover the spread last night?” said Dykstra, pantomiming a strike zone suddenly shrinking to a minuscule size.
The natural question that stems from Dykstra’s newest bombshell is this: will it sink his already tarnished reputation once and for all? I mean, he’s already received a couple of black eyes from his involvement in the steroid brouhaha and his theft conviction. Will this admission make him look any more dirty than he already is?
If betting on baseball games was enough to ban Pete Rose from baseball for life, shouldn’t using blackmail to enhance his personal statistics warrant the same for Lenny Dykstra?
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Sean Locke Photography