"Nails" Brings Back Those '86 Feelings

Lenny Dykstra, the noted baseball philosopher, arrived at Tradition Field prepared to drop some wisdom on the Mets. "This is serious stuff," he said. "We're playing for money." Dykstra pulled on a Mets uniform for the first time in 15 years to begin a weeklong stint as a baserunning and outfield instructor.

"It's very special, and I say that with all sincerity. It comes from my heart," he said. "Everything I have, everything that I own and everything I am involved with has to do with one thing, and that's the New York Mets giving me the ability to play major league baseball."

Dykstra was one of the last true characters in the game, a tobacco-stained gnome of a center fielder who called everybody "Dude" and was on a first-name basis with all the dealers in Atlantic City.

Now he's a 41-year-old father of two living on a golf course in Los Angeles and running a chain of car washes. On the side, he cuts deals with Internet service providers. But "Nails" will always know more about baseball than he does bandwidth.

"It all comes down to trying to figure out how to win baseball games," the center fielder of the 1986 World Champions said. "That is something I'm pretty good at, and I'm not afraid to say that. ... This is a business and I know how it works."

The Mets have been an employment agency for the 1986 alumni. Howard Johnson, Randy Niemann, Tim Teufel and Mookie Wilson are minor league coaches or managers. Hall of Famer Gary Carter is a part-time instructor, working with catchers during spring training, while Keith Hernandez is a broadcaster.

Dykstra is a different case. The Mets dealt him to the Phillies in 1989, and ties were broken. It took first-year general manager Jim Duquette to regain his trust. "I was really impressed with his attitude and knowledge of today's player," Dykstra said. "I was never able to strike a relationship with the other GM (Steve Phillips) like I have with Jim."

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