Friday, July 29, 2016

The night Lenny Dykstra was swinging in the rain

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(I'm reading Dkystra's recently published book House of Nails: A Memoir of Life on the Edge. Lenny's tale inspired me to republish one of my favorite baseball pieces that I wrote five years ago for Yahoo Sports.)  


Lenny Dykstra's every move has been easy to track during these past few years. The questions about steroids or the details of his financial rise and fall have also been voluminous. His association with Charlie Sheen and indictment for bankruptcy fraud are just the latest in a series of media flashes.

If we reflect on our scrubbed memories, we will see a smiling, gritty guy who would do anything to win. Dykstra channeled his personality traits through a baseball diamond, while the fans couldn't help but love the luster.

1993 World Series, Game 4

The Philadelphia Phillies were trailing the Toronto Blue Jays two games to one, when Game 4 got underway on a rainy night at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.

Tommy Greene, who went 16-4 in the regular season, yielded three runs in top of the first. Dykstra initiated the Phillies' counter attack when he worked a walk off Todd Stottlemyre to lead off the bottom half of the inning. He stole second base and later scored on the Blue Jays starter's fourth walk of the inning. The Phillies exited that first frame with a 4-3 lead.
After Greene singled to center field to lead off the bottom of the second inning, Dykstra stepped to the plate. 'The Dude' tattooed Stottlemyre when he hit a two-run home run to deep right field.
The Phillies' 6-3 margin wouldn't last long, as the Blue Jays regained the lead with four runs in the top of the third inning causing Greene's departure.

Up and Down

Al Leiter took over for Stottlemyre in the third inning and was still pitching in the fourth, when Dykstra hit a line-drive double to center field. Mariano Duncan followed with a single that tied the score at 7-7.

In the bottom of the fifth, Leiter yielded a two-run home run to Darren Daulton. Milt Thompson then doubled home a run and was standing on second base, when Dykstra hit another two-run home run to right field that gave the Phillies a 12-7 lead.
The Phillies' bullpen later surrendered a six spot in the top of the eighth. That offensive barrage proved to be too much to overcome, as the Blue Jays won the game 15-14 to take a 3 games to 1 series lead.
Dykstra's three-hit, four-run, four-RBI performance was just one part of what proved to be the best season of his career.

Nailing it

Everyone has the right to question the types of decisions that 'Nails' made during his playing days, or how he has handled his subsequently loud retirement. But, everyone who values a red light player will always remember the night 'The Dude' was swinging in the rain.

(I hold all copyrights to this article which originally appeared on Yahoo's Voices platform in 2011.)


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Philadelphia Phillies: Cody Asche trade decision looms

                                                                                                                       (Photo via

Cody Asche had the potential to be part of a renewed Philadelphia Phillies core as of 2013. As the 26-year-old works through his fourth major league season it's become possible that he's entered his last calendar year as a member of the organization. Encouraging evidence in the rebuild has dramatically increased the number of good young players who could become part of the next Phillies' playoff team, which directly affects Asche's tenure.

Platoon Player?

Strictly playing left field this year has helped Asche to up his defensive game. He had been an exclusive third baseman until the spring of 2015, when the Phillies assigned him a left fielder's glove. Maikel Franco, one of the aforementioned youthful position players, took over the hot corner at the start of last season, which necessitated Asche's move.

The Phillies didn't cut ties with Asche, via trade or some other transaction last year. Philadelphia hasn't done that so far this season either. That's because the former fourth round 2011 draft selection is still seen in a positive light. A spring training oblique strain, ongoing questions surrounding whether he's strictly a platoon player and at what position, have prevented him from starting regularly for the Phillies throughout the current campaign.


General manager Matt Klentak was open about using this season to audition various players for the future. Asche's charge is to prove that he can produce at the plate and therefore justify an everyday spot in the outfield. Defensively, he's proven to be a competent, though not an outstanding fielder. However, Asche plays left, where Greg Luzinski and Pat Burrell were part of World Series championship squads in 1980 and 2008, respectively. So, a Gold Glove isn't required in left field on a winner, as long as that player's bat sings consistently.

Tyler Goeddel, who played in Double-A for the Tampa Bay Rays last season, has already demonstrated a strong arm when playing in left field. Offensively, he hasn't been given enough at bats for the Phillies to gauge whether he can play in the outfield regularly. However, his ongoing Rule 5 status indicates that Philadelphia may want him to be part of its long-term plans.

Clock Ticks

Then, there's All-Star Odubel Herrera. His roster spot is fully secured, which means that there's only two, or three, available outfield spots moving forward. Asche won't return to third, unless Franco is shelved, for the season. Plus, the volume of prospects in the upper-minor league system that includes: Nick Williams, possibly Cam Perkins, Dylan Cozens, Andrew Pullin and Roman Quinn, if he can ever stay healthy, leads one to believe that at least a few of those players will earn a shot in the Phillies' major league outfield soon. So, Asche must convince the front office that he's a core piece, or he'll probably be traded this summer, or in the upcoming off-season.
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