Since being charged with vehicular homicide in December of 2007, former Yankee Jim Leyritz has been an unfortunate CSTB fixture. Whether being accused of blowing a modest fortune on booze, or complaining to a Broward County Judge that he could no longer enjoy Chicken Marsala, Leyritz hasn’t done a wonderful job of presenting himself as a sympathetic figure. Profiled today in the Miami Herald by Dan Le Batard, the retired player-turned-broadcaster continues his public relations missteps, unveiling a curious defense strategy (ie. the victim was driving drunk, too) and discussing the travails of….dating!
”This accident happens whether I was drinking that day or not,” Leyritz says. “It would have happened at 2 in the afternoon. There was no possibility of me avoiding that crash with all of my senses. A mother was taken away from her kids. I can’t change that. But I didn’t do it. The accident did. And that accident wasn’t my fault.”
He walks over to the DVD playing his road-side sobriety test. There he is that night, walking heel-to-foot in a straight line, touching his nose repeatedly with an extended arm, following the pen in the officer’s hand from side to side without moving his head.
”I’m scared to death here, but look at this,” he says. “I’m passing everything.”
The Baseball Assistance Team works to help poor former major-leaguers with money. Leyritz’s case is coming up for a vote in a couple of days, but he’s worried. He lost most of his money in a divorce, and now his ex-wife has had to move back in to help with expenses and the kids. That has been plenty awkward, especially since he is dating for the first time since the accident.
”My opening line hasn’t been the best,” he says, then pretends to flirt: “You need to listen to me breathe into a machine just to start my car. You can have a drink with me but don’t kiss me because I can’t have it on my lips. I don’t know what my future is, either. Oh, yeah, and my ex-wife is at the house. And I have no job and can’t pay for dinner.”
Of having his new girlfriend over and his ex-wife in the other room, he says, “My Jerry Springer moment.”
He had jobs doing those things before the accident. Had rented homes here and in New York. A daily radio show. Did fantasy camps and clinics. Speaking engagements. He would get $1,500 to $3,000 dollars just to go up to a suite during Yankees games and sit around with fans for two innings while taking pictures and autographing photos of his most famous home run. The requirement was that he stay for just two innings, but he usually would stay for six or seven because he likes people and telling stories. He had a deal with an athletic company and had just completed some infomercials for an international real-estate company.
”I was going to be the Eric Estrada of Costa Rica,” he says. “All that’s gone now.”
Not to make light of a serious tragedy (more so for the dead woman’s family), but there’s got to be some motivational fodder here. If a bald, penniless, washed-up jock facing a felony conviction can land a date WITH HIS EX-WIFE ON THE COUCH, there’s hope for every lonely person. Not much hope, but some.