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!

 

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.