Keidel: Jungle For Jim Leyritz

By Jason Keidel
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You know someone – be it a neighbor or a neighboring cubicle – whose walls are lathered with photos and posters, a temple of idolatry. It could be a woman who wants to be with a man or a man who wants to be like a man. A pro athlete is often the target this affection because they often have the qualities of a movie star and don’t need special effects to prove that they can kick ass.

While the aggregate drum of the 24/7 news cycle hammers us with scores and stats, graphics and crawlers, the fine print reveals tales of tragedy. And so it is that they are more like us than the television tells you. Ask Lawrence Taylor, Doc and Darryl, Denny McLain, and Pete Rose.

Or Jim Leyritz.

We don’t know exactly what Leyritz did that night in 2007. We do know he drank, got into a car, and then killed a woman with that car. No matter the verdict from his trial, Jim Leyritz has that burden on his formerly formidable shoulders. We now have his mug shot next to his baseball card and, for baseball fans, a sad memory to replace a grand memory. Fourteen years ago, Leyritz hit one of the most memorable home runs in Yankees history, wrecking the career of Mark Wohlers and igniting the dynasty from 1996-2000.

And to see him now, his face framed by that chilling photo taken by the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. You wonder what he’s feeling there under the frigid stare…

jim leyritz Keidel: Jungle For Jim Leyritz

(Photo by Broward County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images)

We’re well aware of the might of athletes but we ignore the plight of athletes. They may be built like gods but aren’t built for stardom. Who is? Do you want to be so famous that you can’t shop for groceries without a swarm of paparazzi? Do you want UFC fighters flanking you for security?

“A lot of people think that because you play professional sports, everything is fine and your life is great,” Denver Broncos tight end Daniel Graham told “But we’re humans just like anybody else. We have issues just like anybody else does. And you can’t take life for granted.”

Graham’s teammate, Kenny McKinley, committed suicide in September. He was 23.

It’s probably easier for pro athletes to suffer every defect in the catalogue because they can afford them. Women aren’t chasing you and me down the street. Hustlers aren’t asking to invest our measly checks. Groupies aren’t stuffing your pockets with narcotics. And when the star player feels depressed, well, he’s not supposed to. He’s rich and famous. Trainers are trained to set a bone but not a brain.

We superimpose heroic qualities because they can run, jump, and throw, ignoring the illegitimate children, debt, domestic violence, head trauma, and internal drama of leaving the stage. Being shoved from the spotlight may produce the greatest withdrawal of all. Ray Leonard and Brett Favre didn’t make myriad comebacks for money. They simply didn’t know what else to do with their lives. Andy Pettitte essentially said the same thing. All he knows is taking the ball every fifth day.

“If only I had A-Rod’s life…”


Does Alex Rodriguez look happy to you?

Many of you will take next week off for Thanksgiving. Maybe it’s trite to summon new attitudes and gratitude because the calendar tells us to, but there is reason to give thanks. At the risk of arrest by the PC Police, we live in a wondrous land, perhaps the lone place on the planet where our future is as vast as our imagination.

So grab your wife and give her the hug of her life. Things could be much worse. If you don’t think so, ask Jim Leyritz. Or just look at him.

Feel free to email me:

pixy Keidel: Jungle For Jim Leyritz
  • Joe L from Yonkers, NY

    While I did just email the author, I will say the article is very good, and well written. With, of course, the exception of your description of Leyritz’s actions that night (read: We do know he drank, got into a car, and then killed a woman with that car.)
    If only life were so black and white. I certainly could benefit from millions of dollars. But I wouldn’t want all that attention. I’ll enjoy my humble Thanksgiving, and leave the news making to the “stars”. Nice job JK

  • JK

    God dispenses intelligence, Anthony, so it isn’t your fault that you don’t have any. The point of the piece is that pro athletes are NOT to be envied, that our simpler lives are often more valuable and authentic than theirs. I’d suggest you read it again, if you knew how to read.

  • Anthony

    Stop making it seem like I should be feeling bad for guys who have been treated like Gods their whole life, making millions of dollars, & getting the beautiful woman even though they could be the ugliest guy on the planet. Yes they are human, they bleed….and have feelings , but they also have every advantage in the world and the security of having MILLIONS of dollars. The REAL world is alot tougher and much more stressful than movie stars/athletes who have to worry about fans coming up to them for autographs etc. That is part of the job and they know that when getting into there profession. If they don’t realize all that comes with fame, than they are even dumber than they look…..Oh I feel so bad for A-Rod….Oh I feel bad for Jim Leyritz, he may be serving life behind bars……Please he should…he killed a woman because using poor judgement. He thought he was above the law because of who he is & because of people like you putting him on that Pedistal. You make me sick!

    • Aggie J

      I have watched this trial and at the end of the day, realized that the victim had her share of responsibility in this situation. First of all, she was drinking and driving, not wearing her seat belt, on her phone talking and texting. Her driving record was anything but squeaky clean. Having said this, none of us know that Jim Leyritz is guilty. He has had to carry a verdict of guilty by so many waiting for his trial to begin. I can only say that any of you without sin to go ahead and throw the first stone.

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