The world is abuzz about “Tiger King”, and no athlete in the history of Philadelphia sports is more “Joe Exotic” than former Phillies player Lenny Dykstra.
I’m going to be realllll careful with this one. Here goes.
By now, you’ve probably seen Tiger King, the 7-part limited series on Netflix that delves into the completely bizarre subculture of big cats, mullets, possible cults, and a whole bunch of random things that I can’t even do justice to. And even if you haven’t watched it, you’ve no doubt been bombarded on social media by it, especially images of its star, Joe Exotic.
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This all got me to thinking; haven’t I seen this guy before?
Not exactly, but it turns out that I am very familiar with his spiritual cousin, former Philadelphia Phillies center fielder/leadoff man Lenny Dykstra. I’m not necessarily saying that Lenny should play Joe Exotic in some sort of Tiger King film, but their bodies of work are just too competitively bizarre to overlook. Simply put, Lenny is the all-time Tiger King in the realm of Philly sports.
First, there is the physical appearance, replete with matching hairstyles that say “I don’t care what you think”. At least, they do when you compare 1993 Lenny to mid-2010’s Joe, whose look essentially screamed 1993 even a couple decades later.
I have to admit, however, that when I first started considering Philadelphia sports and any possible relation that they had to Joe Exotic, Dykstra wasn’t the first guy that came to mind because of physical appearance. Instead, that “honor” went to his former Macho Row teammate, John Kruk. I mean, it’s almost too good. Anyone who had Chris Farley play them in a sketch is a worthy choice. But Kruk’s status as an upstanding citizen disqualified him from consideration, as his background just wasn’t compatible enough. Mitch Williams might also merit a mention here, but he’s still no Lenny.
In the end, the frequently ridiculous predicaments that Lenny Dykstra has found himself in put him above everyone one else when it comes to stacking up against Joe Exotic. I mean, look at this…
- After establishing himself as a successful car wash mogul and even fooling money guru Jim Cramer into trusting his stock market acumen, Lenny’s businesses failed and he went into bankruptcy. The mansion that he had purchased from Wayne Gretzky fell into disrepair, with issues like missing toilets being reported. Gretzky eventually bought it back.
- Legal charges against Lenny have included trashing a hotel room and stealing jewelry, and those are just on the low end. Some of the rest aren’t fit to talk about on a sports site.
- Lenny agreed to fight the “Bagel Boss Guy” but then ended up backing out.
- Last year, Dykstra had to search for his missing dentures in the dumpster behind a Jersey Mike’s sub shop, which spawned this all-time tweet from his wrestler/clown friend…
If that doesn’t all say “Joe Exotic”, I don’t know what does.
Joe and Lenny are also shameless self-promoters, with the former having plastered his name and face on literally everything, especially during his failed run for governor of Oklahoma. Lenny, meanwhile, is always scheming to keep in the public eye. This included a recent, extremely awkward call into Angelo Cataldi at WIP that also saw the mild-mannered Ray Didinger accuse Lenny of reneging on an agreement to pay thousands of dollars for services rendered. It was just the latest strange development in the post-baseball life of “The Dude”.
Ultimately, the main and saddest similarity between these two men is that they’ve both found themselves incarcerated for the actions that they’ve taken. And despite the tone of this article, I want to make it clear that I don’t condone any action that harms other people physically, monetarily, or otherwise. There is no humor in actual pain and suffering. Lenny Dykstra and Joe Exotic are a couple of outlandish people, but their actions have had real consequences that need to be considered.
Still, with no sports right now, my mind has been working overtime. And this comparison jumped off the page to me. Originally, I thought about who we could cast in an all-Philly sports version of Tiger King, but all I could come up with was Lenny as Joe Exotic and Scott Rolen as Carole Baskin. Man, I really need sports to come back.