15 years ago today: Lenny Dykstra plays in final game

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May 18, 1996

Phillies leadoff man Lenny Dykstra suffered a rib-cage injury while going 0-for-3 in a 7-2 loss to the Dodgers. It turned out to be his final game in the majors. He was placed on the disabled list four days later, never to return.

Dykstra, who was just 33, was batting .261/.387/.418 at the time of the injury, and he still ranked as one of the NL’s best leadoff hitters when healthy. Just three years earlier, he finished second in the NL MVP balloting after scoring 143 runs. That was the highest total for an NL player since Chuck Klein scored 158 runs in 1932 and the second highest total in the majors since 1950 behind Rickey Henderson’s 146 from 1985.

Dykstra was also an All-Star in both 1994 and 1995, despite playing in 84 and 62 games the two years. The 1993 season was the only one of his last five in the bigs that he topped 100 games. A fan favorite for his ultra-aggressive play in center field, “Nails” played for only the Mets and Phillies in his 12-season career. He hit .285/.375/.419 with 81 homers and 285 steals in 1,278 games.

Unfortunately, Dykstra wasn’t only reckless while on the field. In 1991, he crashed his Mercedes into two trees while driving drunk. He missed two months with broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a broken cheekbone. Teammate Darren Daulton was with him at the time and suffered a broken eye socket.

He’s also had plenty of additional interesting run-ins since.

After recovering from back surgery, a 35-year-old Dykstra attempted a comeback with the Phillies in 1996. However, he went just 2-for-21 in spring training before calling it quits due to more troubles with the back.

Cincinnati Reds fire Bryan Price

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The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.

It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.

Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).” 

Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.

Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.