Ron Darling and Lenny Dykstra are feuding

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Former Met and current Mets broadcaster Ron Darling has a new book out. It’s called “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game,” and it was released on Tuesday. As you might expect, it has a lot of stories about those crazy mid-80s Mets team of which Darling was a part.

One anecdote is getting significant play at the moment. It involves Lenny Dykstra and Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd of the Boston Red Sox. Darling says that before Game 3 of the 1986 World Series Dykstra was “shouting every imaginable and unimaginable insult and expletive in his [Boyd’s] direction — foul, racist, hateful, hurtful stuff” when he was in the on-deck circle before leading off the game.

Dykstra says that didn’t happen and, on a Monday radio appearance, he threatened to sue Darling. He also said he would “drop [Darling] like a red-headed f—ing stepchild” if he saw him. In his corner are former Mets teammates Dwight Gooden and Kevin Mitchell who said they never heard Dykstra yell racial slurs at Boyd, who is black. Darling responded on Tuesday saying “I heard what I heard and I put it in the book for a reason,” and says that other Mets teammates support his account. Boyd said this week that he did not hear Dykstra shouting anything at him but that he believes Darling.

This morning on Twitter, the following exchange occurred:

Dykstra responded, repeatedly referring to Darling as “Jussie Darling,” apparently trying to equate him with Jussie Smollett, the actor who was initially accused of making up a false racially-motivated assault before charges against him were dropped. Which is a rather interesting comp given all of the politics and agendas at play in the Smollett story, but let’s leave that aside. That aside, Dykstra parses Darling’s statement, slamming him for using the passive voice and for not offering up something stronger than that he “stand[s] by all recollections that were written.” He also uses emojis to call Darling a rat:

Whether Dykstra actually shouted slurs may be difficult to establish with 100% certainly given the passage of time and, one presumes, the lack of video and audio of such a thing. It’s also worth noting that Dykstra would have a strong incentive to deny he did such a thing, even if he did it. As for teammates, saying one did not hear something happened is not the same thing as saying that it did not happen. It’ll be interesting to see if Mets teammates come forward to corroborate Darling’s account or if any beyond Gooden and Mitchell come forward to support Dykstra.

It’ll also be interesting to see if Dykstra follows through on his threat to sue, even if his case for a suit is strong on the merits. A defamation suit’s damages are, at heart, reputation damages, and Dykstra, as we know, has something less than a glowing reputation. Of particular note is the fact that there have been many past claims, including in books, of Dykstra being a racist. Dykstra didn’t sue over that. It’s also pretty notable that a key part of his bad reputation has to do with dishonesty — he did time for fraud — which presents sort of a problem when it comes to making legal claims that someone is lying about you. It’s also the case that Dykstra himself has made super questionable claims about stuff he did during his playing career which, to say the least, muddy the waters about both his capacity to tell the truth and about how good and pure a guy he was.

Anyway, today is the Mets’ home opener. Happy baseball!

 

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.