An Interview with Christopher Frankie

Lenny Dykstra NAILEDI recently had the opportunity to chat with author Christopher Frankie about his new book, NAILED! The Improbable Rise and Spectacular Fall of Lenny Dykstra. You may remember Lenny Dykstra from his time in the Majors (he played with both the Mets and the Phillies). You may remember him for his $55M car wash empire, or his affiliation with Mad Money’s Jim Cramer. Or you may remember him for his increasingly baffling behavior that was so publicly scrutinized.

So without further ado, let me present Christopher Frankie.

Matt Warden: You were obviously motivated to write this book. What prompted that?

Christopher Frankie: First and foremost was the realization that this is an absolutely astonishing story and that my front row seat in 2008 allowed me to tell this insider’s tale with the texture and context that was severely lacking in the mainstream narrative. Many people had heard some of Dykstra’s story from TV and the newspapers, but I guarantee they haven’t heard it like this.

On a personal note, I also wanted to show how and why so many smart, talented, hard-working and well-intentioned people got caught in Dykstra’s web and had such a hard time walking away. It’s a story of abuse, leverage, coercion and manipulation that I think will shock many people.

MW: What made working with Lenny so difficult to cope with?

CF: The manic and self-destructive behavior that wreaked havoc on everyone in Dykstra’s life. The chaos he introduced into nearly every situation masked a lot of his misdeeds.

What also made working for Dykstra so difficult in 2008, when I worked for him, was the contrast between his public image and what I saw behind the scenes. The positive press, such as the HBO Real Sports feature, as well as Jim Cramer’s endorsement, his $18 million mansion and private jet, all gave Dykstra added credibility and helped him explain away the “red flags” that would surface during the beginning of his financial downfall. It made it very difficult to discern fact from fiction at the time.

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RAB Q&A: Al Leiter

(Getty Images/Jim Mcisaac)

Last Friday I was invited down to the MLB Network studios in Secaucus to look at their operation, and while I was there I had a chance to speak one-on-one with two-time former Yankee and current YES Network/MLB Network broadcaster Al Leiter. We talked for nearly 20 minutes and mostly discussed his career, but we also touched on Andy Pettitte‘s comeback, Michael Pineda‘s missing velocity*, and the 2012 Yankees in general.

* The interview took place before Pineda’s shoulder tendinitis was diagnosed.

Leiter is every bit as entertaining in real life as he appears on television, so needless to say it was a pretty awesome experience. Here’s the full interview, beginning with a question straight out of left field…

Mike Axisa: In Game Seven of the 1997 World Series, you threw a first pitch curveball to Omar Vizquel (to start the game). What was the thinking behind that?

Al Leiter: “Because I got peppered in Game Three, in Cleveland, I knew I had to throw a curveball. I went back and looked at two left-handers,  and it was the Yankees series against Cleveland. David Wells did well — Boomer was fastball-curve — and I watched every pitch. And then I looked at Andy Pettitte’s game; Andy Pettitte got peppered a little bit. Andy was more fastball, curve, cutter, slider, and I said forget it. You know what? It’s gonna be a [bad] game if I don’t use [my curve].

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An interview with international scout (and former Yank) Mike Pagliarulo

Mike Pagliarulo was selected by the Yankees out of the University of Miami in the sixth round of the 1981 Amateur Draft. Recalled in July of 1984, Pags served as the Yankee third baseman for the next five years before being traded to the San Diego Padres. He won a World Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1991, and played for the Baltimore Orioles, Seibu Lions in Japan, and the Texas Rangers before retiring at the conclusion of the 1995 season. A fan favorite during his time with the Yanks, Pags has been a frequent guest at Old Timers’ Day since his retirement.

Since retiring, Pags has worked in scouting and consulting. He founded the Baseline Group which seeks to provide business solutions for baseball and recently started the non-profit start-up Baseball Institute of Development.. He agreed to answer some questions from Matt Bouffard of Fack Youk. What follows are some highlights of the conversation. The full interview will run at Fack Youk in the near future.

Matt Bouffard: What’s it like being a former Yankee living outside Boston these days? Do you get any flack for that? Didn’t you grow up as a Yankee fan, and if so, how did that come about, and what was it like to be a Yankee fan in Medford during the 1970s?

Mike Pagliarulo: My dad was the biggest Billy Martin fan ever. We grew up in Boston and everyone was a Red Sox fan except him. When I was a kid I always thought my father was right except when it came to the Yankees. Well, after my first big league spring training where I met the big league guys for the first time; I said, “Dad you were right again!” The Yankee organization was built on class and respect and everyone I met there was the same way. Back in Boston I still caught heat, but nobody gives out that much crap without being scared!

MB: After coming up in mid-1984, you’re first full season with the Yanks was 1985. That was a tumultuous year: Yogi Berra was fired just 16 games into the season and Billy Martin returned for his fourth stint as Yankee manager. You guys spent all summer chasing Toronto, clawed back into the race, and went north of the border for the season’s final weekend needing a three game sweep to force a playoff. What was that pennant race like for you and what was the let down like getting eliminated that Saturday?

MP: Tumultuous is a word associated with New York. And it’s not a bad word. I’d like to refer to playing under certain scrutiny and pressure as the way it is supposed to be! We aren’t babies and people pay lots of money to see you play. I hate it when tabloids side with the poor player who’s under so much pressure while making 10 million dollars. That doesn’t appear to match.

1985 was the year in which I learned more about Mr. Steinbrenner than any other. I never realized how much he wanted to win until the last month of the season. One example was during September when we returned from a night game in Milwaukee. The game was late and the flight was delayed. We’d got into Newark airport about 6 AM and the Boss has limos waiting for everyone to take them home. We had a game that night. I couldn’t believe that such a cool and generous thing could be done without being in the press.

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July 2nd Signing Period Q&A with Ben Badler

I usually don’t spend too much time covering July 2nd signing period, because there are so many false reports and so much sketchy information out there about international amateur players that it’s hard to know what’s reliable and what’s not. One place that always has reliable info is Baseball America, and I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk exchange emails Ben Badler, BA’s international free agent guru.

In case you don’t know, July 2nd is when teams can begin to sign international players who aren’t draft eligible as free agents. Most players come from Latin America, but in recent years we’ve seen teams scour Australia, Asia and even parts of Europe for talent. The players must be at least 16-yrs old to sign but, as always, there are some loopholes that could be exploited. Jesus Montero is the Yanks best international signing of late, and big leaguers Melky Cabrera, Robbie Cano, Chien-Ming Wang and Mariano Rivera were all acquired this way in the past.

You can read Ben’s stuff at BA’s site, and you could also follow him on Twitter for more prospect info than you can handle. I think I speak for all of the RABiverse when I say that I greatly appreciate Ben taking time from his hectic schedule to drop some knowledge on us. Here we go…

Mike: The worst kept secret on the international market this year is the Yankees’ interest in catcher Gary Sanchez, and in fact it seems like he’s all but signed on the dotted line. What can you tell us about him, and what kind of bonus is he looking at?

Ben: Sanchez is the top catching prospect this year from Latin America. Anyone I talked to about Sanchez leading up to July 2 figured he would sign with the Yankees, and now it looks like he’s going to sign with them for a bonus of around $3 million (the exact number isn’t clear), which will probably be the third-highest bonus for a Latin American player this year after Miguel Sano and Wagner Mateo. There is another Dominican catcher who is looking at a considerable bonus by the name of Jacob Beltre, but most scouts with whom I have spoken think Sanchez is the better all-around prospect. Some scouts I have talked to aren’t quite as impressed as the Yankees apparently are; he’s got the arm strength, the quick release and he can crush the ball in BP, but some of them aren’t sold on him hitting in games. But the Yankees have seen him more than anyone, and if they’re going to give him approximately $3 million, I’m sure they’re comfortable with his ability to hit in games, either presently or in the future.

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