So Ron Darling and Lenny Dykstra are embroiled in a war or words over alleged racial epithets Dykstra hurled during the 1986 World Series. Whom to believe?
Obviously right now, each former player has their own version of the truth, so no one really knows what happened. But Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Kevin Mitchell say it never happened (and those three men in particular would probably be more sensitive to the alleged comments). And Keith Hernandez says Dykstra was “barking” at Oil Can Boyd before the start of Game 3, but he could not hear what he was saying.
Darling says several players on the bench that night heard it all and “have his back.” Thus far we have not heard from anyone.
So whom to believe? Let’s look at the character of both men. Well, Lenny Dykstra is a convicted felon who has had a series of legal issues, including some high-profile recent ones. His book, entertaining as it was, contained half-truths and omissions about his earlier troubles. Oh. and he was accused of lying in that book (the Robert DeNiro cocaine story). Overall, Dykstra does not come across as a pillar of society.
Ron Darling, however, does. The well spoken Ivy Leaguer is a respected broadcaster and is relatively scandal-free (the Houston incident notwithstanding). However, I questioned Darling’s credibility in my review of his first book. He wrote a couple of things that did not ring true, including not naming a scout who said he would never make the big leagues as a shortstop. He claimed he did not want to “dishonor” the man. I questioned why, considering he gave an accurate report; Darling would not have made it as a shortstop. By not naming him, the scout could not deny the report. So maybe it never happened?
He does the same thing in this book, not wanting to tell the world what Dykstra’s alleged comments were, writing,”I don’t want to be too specific here, because I don’t want to commemorate this dark, low moment in Mets history.” That’s all well and good — no one really wants to hear hate speech (well, almost no one). But unless he is specific, it raises doubts as to whether the unknown words were actually said.
This is not to say Darling is not telling the truth. Dykstra probably was “barking.” Is there a chance Darling did not hear what he thought he heard? So far no one on the bench that night has backed up his claims. Even if someone does, it would not prove anything, since Dykstra has his defenders.
Given their histories, Darling would clearly win an integrity battle with Dykstra. That doesn’t mean Dykstra is lying here. I don’t think Darling is, either. But someone is (unless Darling really misheard Dykstra’s barking) — I just don’t know who.