Book Review: Long Shot by Mike Piazza with Lonnie Wheeler

As I’ve stated on this site more than a few times, I’m not a big fan of Mike Piazza. I acknowledge that he is an very talent hitter, not just a great hitting catcher but one of the best right handed hitters of his era.  I’ve defended him against the witch hunt against him that kept from being a first ballot Hall of Famer and hope that someday the Mets retire his number 31.  After reading Piazza’s autobiography, Long Shot (Simon & Shuster) I still believe he is a hall of famer player and that his 31 should be emblazoned on the Citi Field outfield wall and I’ve reinforced my feeling that Piazza is a self-centered, what’s in it for me kind of guy.

The book itself is a pretty good read and may have been a better read for me if I didn’t read it right after devouring Terry Francona’s book which was outstanding. But I give a lot of credit to Lonnie Wheeler who co-wrote the book with Piazza for putting the pieces of Piazza’s life and career together into this book.

Piazza destroys the myth about his relationship with Tommy Lasorda and how that relationship gave him the career he had. It’s no myth, it’s the etched in stone truth. The other revelation in this book is that Mike’s dad Vince was a typical overbearing Little League stage dad who was all in Mike’s business and the Dodgers baseball business as well. What’s sad about the relationship that Vince Piazza had with Tommy Lasorda and all the meddling both of them did with getting Mike a shot to make the big leagues is it overshadows the hard work and perseverance that Mike put in to get to the big leagues and have the great career he had.    

Mike doesn’t seem to get that every time he had a problem with a minor league manager or coach and ran to daddy or his Dutch Uncle Tommy, it left a black mark on his reputation.  Again to his credit Piazza let his bat do most of the talking as he rose up the ranks of the Dodger chain. The trip to the top though left Piazza bitter towards the organization as not many of the Dodgers minor league staff thought he was worthy of the prominent spot he had in the origination.

Piazza in some chapters enjoyed his time with the Mets and in some chapters he didn’t. He loved New York City and Mets fans as he was taken aback by the passion of the Mets fan base after playing in front of the laid back LA crowd. But had some differences with ownership and with of all people Mets P.R. man Jay Horowitz, who is beloved by everyone in the Mets org. Same as he blamed Vin Scully for turning Dodgers fans against him. Talk about delusional!

Piazza speaks unabashedly about his deep commitment to his Catholic faith but he also lists all the D-List Hollywood bimbos he bedded during his baseball career.  He speaks of the deep friendship he enjoyed with Erick Karos, Todd Zeile John Franco and Al Leiter. But only Franco and Leiter attended his wedding, in fact it was at his wedding that Piazza realized that he burned a lot of bridges with teammates as his wife side of the church was filled with friends and his side was quite sparse.

Of course Piazza goes in to detail about his feud with Roger Clemens and the fact that he never confronted Clemens about his attempt to decapitate him. Piazza talked tough about confronting Clemens but when he had the chance at the 2004 All Star Game when he and Clemens, NL teammates met in private and Piazza had his chance to level Clemens did nothing. In fact Piazza talks about getting even with every pitcher who hit him with a pitch but the only one he went after was Guillermo Mota who mocked him by saying “how come you didn’t go after Clemens like you went after me”?

There is of course the chapter on supplements and what Piazza took and didn’t take which I read fast because I’m tired of reading and talking about PED’s.

As I said, Long Shot is an enjoyable read especially for Mets fans as the best part of the book is Piazza going into detail about the 1999 and 2000 seasons, his relationship with Bobby Valentine and his emotions following the 9/11 attacks and his home run against the Braves in the first game back after the attack.

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TIME FOR A MEDIA INTEGRITY TEST

I’m sure by now most of you have either heard or read the attack article by T.J. Simmers of the LA Times about Marcus Thames. There have been a whole lot of opinions on how Simmers went after Thames with the nastiest of attitudes, basically calling Thames are no talent bum and also calling out Don Matingly as being clueless on how to manage a big league team. If you have ever read Simmers columns before this one, you know he plays the Angry Old White Guy perfectly and he takes pride in being an asshole.  As much of an asshole as Simmers may be, I have to give him credit for being an accountable asshole.

Everything Simmers said about Thames and Matingly he said to their faces and both knew it doesn’t pay to argue with and asshole, especially an Angry Old White Asshole but again he wrote what he wrote and walked into the Dodger Clubhouse the next day to face the men he besmirched. Got give him credit for that.

Yesterday on Twitter, I got into a bit of a “Tweet debate” with Evan Roberts of WFAN. Roberts sent out this Tweet that I felt made him look like an ignoramus:

“ I’m certainly not a booer, but the guy I will be first to get on if he doesn’t perform would be Jason Bay…”

My response to Roberts was:

“why would you boo Bay? by the way have you ever been in a pro clubhouse or locker room to interview players?”

The reason for the second part of my question was, Roberts and his partner Joe Benigno love to rip players, managers/coaches , GM’s and owners on the air, which is fine but I never remember either of them ever saying they have been in a locker room or clubhouse of the area teams to confront the folks they’ve blasted. I felt the statement that Roberts made was unbelievably stupid.

The Tweets went back and forth with Roberts refusing to answer my question of facing the guys he criticizes but when he finally answered, I felt bad for him:

  @kranepool You think higher of me and my co workers then I do…most of these players don’t know or care who I am..   

My Tweet before that was about Roberts doing a mid morning show on a 50K watt NYC radio station, and doesn’t think the players know who he is? I call bullshit. I think Roberts is either scared or intimidated by the folks he goes after.  Roberts loves to tell listeners that he buys his own tickets to Mets and Nets games and would rather watch the game in the stands than in a press box. Nothing wrong with that. But why not go into the clubhouse after a game and talk to the players or manager/coaches about the game or team’s performance? If Roberts put as much time and effort into his craft as he did in his Twitter baseball games, maybe the players would know who he is.

I think the reason I was so stunned by Roberts’ comments is the fact that the Mets have been gracious in granting Mets bloggers access to players, Terry Collins and Sandy Alderson and I’m not going to lie any time I can talk to someone affiliated with the Mets, I jump at it.

I’m very critical of the ownership of the Mets but believe me I would love to sit down with Fred, Jeff and Dave Howard for an interview.  If they wanted to rip me for sucky writing and poor grammar that would be fine with me, hell they could tell me to hit the gym and drop a few pounds, I’d be glad to take it because if you dish it out, you have to take it, but seriously a sit down between myself and management would allow them to see where I’m coming from as a long time Mets fan who just wants to see the team he roots for given more respect,  work on building a winner, and treating the Mets fans better that they do.  No screaming or yelling just conversation and debate.  I can act like adult when I have to.

I all come back to accountability, I stand by whatever I write and I have no problem going into the clubhouse and talking to whoever I have a beef with.

How the media tide has turned, it’s the bloggers now who are now the most responsible reporters of news.

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R.I.P. DUKE SNIDER

A very sad day for those who remain of the Brooklyn Dodgers fan base as the Duke of Flatbush has passed away at the age of 84. Not only is it sad that Snider has passed, but he was also the last remaining regular of the Boys of Summer.

Snider was like most of the Brooklyn Dodgers keeping a residence in Brooklyn during the season. Snider and Pee Wee Reese lived in Bay Ridge Brooklyn on the same block as my godparents.

Everyone who lived in Brooklyn during The Era has some kind of Dodger story

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HOME IS WHERE THE OFFENSE IS

Last night I had a great time talking to Rob Castellano of Amazin Avenue about the Mets farm system on THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN. Today Rob has a great Q & A with Jim Calis of Baseball America.

Last night, under the steady hand of Dave Jauss, the Mets continued their Home Sweet Home ways with a great 8-2 win over the Cards. Before the game, Jerry Manuel was informed he was to take the night off for banging brims with umpire Doug Endings in LA on Friday. Manuel asked if he could delay his suspension until today so he could name me the Manager for the night, as a nice birthday present, but Bob Watson nixed the idea.

You know it’s your birthday when……..Your family has a smile on their faces when you say you’d like to leave at 2PM for a 7PM game at Citi Field. I just love to see them grit their teeth in a big grin saying “Sure Dad no problem, we love going to games 4 hours before game time”

We all know the Mets have a bad record when it comes to dealing with concussions but it seems hard to kill them over Jason Bay head injury. Bay did not show concussion symptoms after smacking into the left field wall at Chavez Ravine and he was checked out by Dodger team doctors. In fact Bay himself thought he was just dehydrated on the flight home to NY. Hopefully after a couple or three days Bay will be fit to play.

Don’t forget to check out my THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN store at Cafe Press

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NO JEFF KENT, IT’S YOU THAT NEEDS TO SHUT HIS PIE HOLE

I enjoy listening to Vin Scully more now on Dodger telecast than I did when he was the voice of The Game of the Week and when ol’ Vin goes away there will never be another like him, so leave it up to one of the biggest ass hats to ever grace 126 Street and Roosevelt Ave to take Scully to task for “talking too much” when Scully stated the obvious when he stated that Kent is hitting better since Manny Ramirez joined the Hollywood Phonies at was slotted in the clean up spot with JK in the 3 hole.  I’m sure there is a large Dominican fellow in Boston who would second Vin Scully’s observation.  

Kent has to know the consequences of taking on a icon like Scully. When Scully leaves this earth people will mourn, when Kent meets his demise people will wonder what took so long.

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