I read the news recently that Jim Leyritz’s trial for D.U.I. manslaughter is over (New York Times). If you’re in suspense, he was acquitted of the manslaughter charge but the jury did slap him with a misdemeanor, which could carry a few month’s jail time, but nothing as bad as the several years that the more serious charge would have carried. Among the mitigating circumstances, the woman who was killed in the accident was also driving while drunk, might have had her car’s lights off, and Leyritz’s blood alcohol level didn’t actually test as high as expected.
What irked me about this story was not the outcome, or even its existence — people including ballplayers making bad choices is nothing new. That the article points out that he is “former Yankee Jim Leyritz” is also nothing new. Heck, that’s what makes it a news story worthy of the Times in the first place.
But what rubbed me wrong is the final two paragraphs of the story:
Leyritzâ€™s famous homer tied Game 4 of the World Series against Atlanta, a game the Yankees won in extra innings. The victory paved the way for their 1996 title, their first in 18 years.
Primarily a catcher, Leyritz also played for the Angels, the Rangers, the Red Sox, the Padres and the Dodgers. He had a career batting average of .264 and hit 90 regular-season home runs.
Is it just me, or does that all seem really… reductive and inappropriate? I think I could have lived with just the final sentence, but the “famous homer” one just feels absolutely muck-rakey to me when juxtaposed with the content of the story.
I know it’s there for those with short memories who read the article and said “Jim who?” but I just cringed when I read it. There’s an edge of sensationalism there (“World Series Hero Driving While Drunk!”) that is just unseemly for the New York Times… or for anywhere, really.