Another day, another Yankee-dynasty hero hits the sports-crime blotter. This time, the offender is Jim Leyritz, he of the memorable 1996 World Series Game Four homer off Mark Wohlers that drove a stake through the heart of the Atlanta Braves franchise. Bald-headed with intermittent bouts of bad facial hair, Leyritz always looked like a turbo-charged townie-on-speed, which incidentally he probably was (he admitted to popping greenies during the 2001 season). He's also been a regular inhabitant of the crime pages since his retirement, and is back there again now.
His worst offense was the December 2007 DUI-manslaughter of a woman named Frieda Ann Veitch, who was also found to be driving drunk at the time. Leyritz had a blood-alcohol level of .14, but has always insisted that the crash was not his fault — "She went through the light," he said afterward. "She hit me." He's still awaiting the start of that trial.
Leyritz was out again in February when he was busted and tossed back in jail for drinking in apparent violation of his probation terms; a judge released him after accepting his lawyer's argument that the pretrial conditions for bail were not clear. Then he briefly got in trouble this spring, when the alcohol-detection device in his car malfunctioned and he tested a false positive — that situation, too, was eventually cleared up in his favor.
Now Leyritz has been accused of assaulting his ex-wife. Karrie Leyritz has given conflicting accounts of what happened — she first said he struck her twice and pushed her to the ground in an argument over child support, and later said he dragged her out of bed and pushed her to the floor. Leyritz claims she was drunk and made up the story in order to get back at him for trying to kick her out of the house. A sweet family story all around.
Leyritz sounds like a tool with accountability issues. Give him 57 points, with more to come if he gets convicted on the DUI.
Usually when ex-jocks go bad, they go the self-destructive/pathetic route. You know the deal: bad coke habit, delinquent on six-figure child support, arrested in a Marietta, Georgia, motel for punching a 12-toothed crack whore and trying to escape cops (circle one of the following) on a bicycle/on foot through an alley with no pants on/on a sit-down lawn mower. That's the normal last-chapter story.
The normal early chapter story is somewhat brighter — you might be arrested for stealing food off the plates of other customers at an Oklahoma salsa bar, or get popped for sexually assaulting a 17 year old in the back seat of your soon-to-be-repossessed Escalade. Just trying to regain the lifestyle and privilege you lost, and not having the sense to do it gracefully — that's the usual jock-gone-bad story.
What's not normal is a guy who goes from playing football for Texas Lutheran University in 2008 to robbing an AutoZone and a Little Caesar's with a shotgun in 2009. Yet that is exactly what Luis Rey Pena allegedly did.
Cops say the former TLU offensive lineman's MO was to go into these places, fire his shotgun into the ceiling, and then demand money. Both businesses were located in San Marcos, Texas, a little armpit of a town not far from San Antonio. Police released surveillance photos of the masked, shotgun-wielding (and lineman-sized) culprit, and Pena was arrested soon thereafter on two counts of aggravated robbery. He's been suspended from the team, but the school is so far holding off on expulsion, although that seems like a formality at this point. Give him 71 points for the double-barreled stick-ups.
Matt Taibbi can be reached at email@example.com.