Jim Leyritz, the journeyman backstop who squeezed an 11-year career out of being a back-up backstop, playing for six teams, including the Yankees twice, is awaiting a decision from a deadlocked jury to see his fate.
Leyritz, whose three-run jack against the Braves in the eighth inning of the 1996 World Series fueled the Yankees comback from a 2-1 deficit, and win, has that one real moment of glory on his side in what can best be described of late as a "tumultuous life."
While celebrating his 44th birthday, December 28, 2007, after a night of boozing, Leyritz drove through an intersection--witnessess claim the light was red, Leyritz contention was yellow--when his Ford Expedition plowed into the Freida Vitech's Montero, head on, killing the woman.
Though Leyritz' blood alchohol was .14 at the time--and .08 means you are drunk in Florida--Vitech was similarly blitzed with a level of .18 which simply adds to the confusion of responsibility and contributory negligence.
But, the hanging manslaughter charges that hang as a result of the December 28 crash have prompted such lovely rationalizations from Leyritz and his defense team, to suggest that Vitech was drunker, ran a red light, would have caused an accident herself, and was driving with her lights off.
Not that any of this excuses Leyritz, although his attorney has apparently dumped enough responsibility on the late Ms. Vitech that the jury is deadlocked.
But, wait, there is more. Model citizen Leyritz also spent Fourth of July, 2009, in the pokie after beating his ex-wife, Karen for cashing a check without his approval.
Oh yes. In 2006, on ESPN, Leyritz also acknowledged his use of amphetamines to help ease him out of a hangover during his Yankee days (Leyritz revealed this on ESPN in 2006).
Hmm. Ok, I understand innocent until proven guilty. And, well, it is not like I am a saint, or have not made mistakes. But, the more I learned about Leyritz in simply following the threads of this piece as I knew the manslaughter jury was hung--the more I think Leyritz not only belongs in jail, I am thinking he wants to go there for whatever reasons.
For that is a lot of acting out in a pretty short period of time, and were Leyritz a five-year old in any of our households, well, he would have rated more than a couple of time outs by now.
As of the close of business, yesterday, the jury was indeed still deadlocked and the judge ordered the jury to try again today, or a mistrial, meaning the whole shebang starts over again, will be declared.
Somehow, I am having a hard time feeling sorry for Leyritz, who has already paid $250,000 to Vitech's family, clearly acknowledging some kind of responsibility, let alone guilt.
But, well, Leyritz had it all. Money. Fame. Everything to spend the rest of his life after baseball living a fruitful life. And, well, one way or another, he seems to have pissed away happiness.
And, I guess justice will be served, one way or another. But, one thing is for sure. However heroic Leyritz might have seemed after his '96 homer, he is a lot less so now.