SI Vault
Edited by Richard Demak
May 20, 1991
Live and Learn
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May 20, 1991


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Live and Learn

Maybe this accident is a blessing in disguise

Athletes everywhere could benefit from the close call involving two Philadelphia Phillies. Shortly after midnight on May 6, centerfielder Lenny Dykstra and catcher Darren Daulton were on their way home from a bachelor party for teammate John Kruk when Dykstra's car—traveling at an excessive speed—skidded into two trees. Neither player, police say, was wearing a seat belt: Dykstra suffered three broken ribs, a fractured collarbone and a broken bone beneath his right eye, and Daulton, a scratched left cornea and a fractured left eye socket. Daulton is expected to be back in uniform in about a month, and Dykstra may play by August, but police say that had the car hit the trees from a different angle, both players might have been killed. Dykstra has been charged with driving under the influence.

The list of athletes involved in alcohol-related driving incidents grows and grows. Police said Willie Shoemaker was legally intoxicated when he drove his car over an embankment last month, leaving him paralyzed. And in March, a car driven by Boston Celtic Charles Smith ran into two pedestrians, killing them. (Smith has pleaded not guilty to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.)

Is this a trend? If it is, clubs may be able to do something about it by refusing to pay players while they recuperate from injuries sustained while driving under the influence. After all, a player who drives drunk not only risks lives when he gets behind the wheel, but he also betrays his team. Although standard player contracts contain provisions prohibiting such risk-taking as drunk driving, the Phillies have decided to pay Dykstra and Daulton while they are out. (Because of the number of games he will miss, Dykstra will lose $400,000 to $900,000 in performance incentives.) "I think that Lenny has suffered enough," says Phillie owner Bill Giles. "I'm sorry, not angry. People make mistakes."

Dykstra's friends are hoping that the hard-charging centerfielder will now slow down away from the diamond. "Lenny's lived," said former teammate Kevin McReynolds of the Mets. "Let's see if he's learned."

Lies and Videotape

The PGA's replay policy is getting ridiculous

First Craig Stadler lost more than $37,000 in a tournament in 1987 when a TV viewer called in to point out that Stadler had broken a rule by kneeling on a towel to protect his pants while taking a shot. Then Paul Azinger was disqualified from a tournament in March when somebody phoned to say that Azinger had nudged some rocks with his foot. Embarrassed by these incidents, the PGA Tour decided to monitor telecasts for infractions, and sure enough, two weeks ago Tom Kite was penalized a shot in the Byron Nelson Classic when one of the new replay officials ruled that Kite had made an improper drop.

Not only are replay rulings inherently unfair (only some players are shown on television, therefore only they can be penalized), and not only is the whole idea of replays abhorrent to the game's history (golf has gotten along fairly well for 500 years on the honor system), but there is also the question of where this video madness will end....

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