Bronx bum

Sports blotter: "Hero to zero" edition
By MATT TAIBBI  |  January 9, 2008


Unhappy birthday to you
Man, there sure must have been some serious drinking going down on those great Yankee teams of the 1990s. Forget about Boomer Wells being hungover for his perfect game — how about Jim Leyritz, the latest poster boy for baseball’s clear status as America’s last-place sport in terms of moral rectitude?

The former Yankee slugger — a hero of the 1996 World Series — made headlines in Florida just before the New Year when, police say, he plowed through an intersection drunk and hit the Mitsubishi Montero of 30-year-old bartender/mom Fredia Ann Veitch, who was hurled from the vehicle and killed. Leyritz, who of late has been sporting a Christopher-Lloyd-as-Uncle-Fester-in-The-Addams-Family bald-headed–goon look, had been celebrating his 44th birthday on the night in question before jumping behind the wheel (with, as it turns out now, a suspended license). Fort Lauderdale authorities charged him with DUI manslaughter and DUI property damage, easily making Leyritz the most infamous sports criminal since we closed the 2007 books — and a safe bet to stay near the top of our list for the duration of 2008.

Stories since the incident have been trickling out suggesting that Leyritz’s drinking was not, shall we say, episodic. In a startling story in the New York Post about a week after the event, reporters Lisa Lucas and Dan Mangan revealed that Leyritz, while engaged in a vicious divorce action against his ex, Karrie Leyritz, actually petitioned a judge to lift a restraining order against him because it “complicated matters,” since the two often frequented the same bars and clubs.

In other divorce filings, it appears Leyritz once claimed that his wife was a “slut” and a “whore” who forged more than $40,000 worth of checks and other financial documents so as to support her Vicodin and Adderall habits. Leyritz even claimed that she cleaned out his credit-card accounts to such a degree that he was left stranded during a New York business trip because his hotel rejected his card.

Leyritz posted a paltry $11,000 bond and is now free (and hopefully traveling on foot) while he awaits trial. In the meantime, stick him at the top of the ’08 crime board.

Say hello to my little friend
Haven’t had one of these in a while. I call these offenses “McAlisters” — named after Baltimore Ravens cornerback Chris, who made them famous. Athlete gets on plane; athlete becomes unhappy with seating/service arrangement; athlete opens can of whoop-ass on unsuspecting flight attendant. Normally, travel-related offenses happen before embarking the plane; your typical sports-travel bust either involves a jock who bugs out at a traffic cop after parking illegally in a no-standing zone (Jake Peavy, Leigh Bodden), or else he tries to smuggle an illegal substance through a security checkpoint (Damon Stoudamire, Mike Vick). Occasionally, if he’s really nuts, he’ll just flat-out steal something off the conveyor belt at the X-ray machine (former NFL running back Larry Ned, who tried to walk away with a laptop).

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