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.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.