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).
Sometimes, however, a post-departure incident develops. McAlister famously went bonkers at the start of a trip from Las Vegas, assaulting a flight attendant in a dispute over seating arrangements. The plane wasn’t even off the ground yet, though, so authorities escorted McAlister back into McCarren International and off to the county clink, eventually hitting him with a disorderly conduct charge. This time, the offender, a minor-league hockey player named David Cornacchia, one-upped that legacy. The 5-11, 200-pound defenseman for the Florida Everblades was reportedly upset at being denied alcohol on a flight from Toronto to Dallas and not only slapped a flight attendant, but head-butted a passenger in the face and then whipped out his flaccid penis for everyone to admire.
Formal charges have not been filed as of yet, but Cornacchia did issue an apology, saying he was “deeply remorseful” for his actions.
In other hockey-crime news, San Jose Sharks left-winger Ryane Clowe was nabbed for DUI just before the New Year, while TJ Oshie (University of North Dakota) and Mike Radja (University of New Hampshire) were busted in disorderly conduct incidents in Grand Forks, North Dakota, following a UNH victory over the Sioux this past week. Hockey arrests have been steadily picking up in the past year or so — they may start eating into football’s face time.
Note to self: 300-pound men not inconspicuous
Football players often talk about the value of “getting small” in order to break through the line of scrimmage. Normally the advice is given to running backs, but in this case, perhaps a defensive tackle should have listened.
Demarcus Granger, a 307-pound run-stuffing DT for the Oklahoma Sooners, missed the Fiesta Bowl this past week after being busted in Tempe, Arizona, for garment stuffing. It appears the behemoth tried to stuff a coat in his bag and then walk out the door at a Burlington Coat Factory. He was instead flagged down as he walked past the cash registers, busted, and rung up on shoplifting charges.
Who steals a winter coat in Tempe, Arizona?
Granger was an all–Big 12 second-teamer and an early favorite to go very high in the 2010 NFL draft. He can now probably count on early membership in the Laveranues Coles Memorial Third-Round Shoplifter Club. Give him 11 early points for the 2008 list.
When he’s not googling “Sooner, later” and “In-flight entertainment,” Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone. He can be reached at
2008 LEADER BOARD
JIM LEYRITZ (YANKEES) | DUI manslaughter | 90
DAVID CORNACCHIA (FLA. EVERBLADES) | mid-flight assault, head-butting bystanders, exposing wine-shrunken wiener | 46
DEMARCUS GRANGER (OKLAHOMA) | stealing winter coat — in Arizona | 11
SHAUN WHITE (X-TREME SPORTS) | spraying fire extinguisher, acting like the little douchebag he is | 11