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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We Say Never Forget But In Some Way We Have Forgotten

Today here in Lower Manhattan it looks like business as usual, folks are stopping at the coffee carts and then running to their office, the SI Ferry was packed with working folks and school kids and the weather, after one of the hottest and most humid NYC summers in a long time, is bright, cool and crisp, just like it was 11 years go.

I hear and see the words “Never Forget” every anniversary of the attacks of September 11th 2000 and I say to myself how can you forget? Every day I report to work I’m reminded since I have to pass the now construction site where a new 1 World Trade Center has risen high to the sky.  I’m reminded like I was last night when I stepped out on the front steps of my house and looked up to see two powerful beams of light shining high into the clear night sky. This is same from steps that my wife and then 6 year old son and 2 year old daughter sat waiting for me to return home and then busting into tears of joy that I did return home unlike many of my Staten Island neighbors.  Over 300 of the murder victims of that day were from Staten Island.  Some were men men who I had been coaching against at Staten Island Little League and some were parents of kids playing in the league. Some were firemen and cops who made the ultimate sacrifice that is still to this day underappreciated by the public they serve.  When you travel through Staten Island you see names attached to street signs, the names are of people who lived on those blocks that were killed in the attack. There is a beautiful memorial in the Grasmere section in a triangle in the middle of the road that leads into Hylan Blvd, it’s called Angels Way. It was started by a woman who lives across the street from the triangle who lit a votive candle and planted a pray card on the fence. From there more people came with candles, pray cards and pictures of loved ones lost. From there it grew to where a local nursery donated flowers and shrubs and people devoted many hours to build the site into a beautiful shrine. It always amazes me how people can come together in times of sorrow but why does it take tragedy to bring us together? That’s what hurts the most.    

Eleven years ago today in Lower Manhattan when the Towers crumbled and people ran to help save as many lives as they could, no one cared if you were a Christian, Jew, Muslin or an Atheist. No cared if you were born in this country or were an immigrant. No one cared if you were White, Black, Brown or Yellow. No one cared if you were Gay or straight. All we cared about that day was you were a human being who needed help and comfort from another human being.   

So when we say and write “Never Forget” it should cover not only the attack of that day but the compassion, kindness and total concern we had for one another.

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The United Mets of Flushing

 

I didn’t see any of yesterday’s game as it was Mother’s Day and my kids had no sporting events (all through Little League we never scheduled games on Mother’s Day, I can’t say the same for youth soccer my kids regularly played on Mother’s Day making life difficult for a bunch of families, thankfully this season the schedule worked in our favor) but I received updates on my phone, it’s tough to be sitting in a theater during a play to check my phone when it’s vibrating with Mets news especially when my wife is sitting next to me, so it wasn’t until the conclusion of Perfect Crime did I see the carnage in Miami by left by the Mets bullpen.

So instead of a beyond belief 6-0 road trip the Mets head home to Flushing with a 4-2 mark instead. Now we all would have co-signed for that record at the start of the trip but since the two losses were of the blown by bullpen variety, it made for an angry fandom after the game because as I discussed on Saturday, nothing turns a baseball fans red like a blown save to lose a game, in fact Jon Rauch took to Twitter to lay some knowledge on some fans when it came to commitment to winning and having your teammates back. As we saw with the Frank Francisco taking on inept home plate umpire Todd Tichenor, who by the way is in his first season as an everyday MLB umpire, this Mets team has passion and they seem to have enacted the practice of no teammate left behind as Rauch put on display last night. They win as a team and they lose as a team. It seems some Mets fans are not grasping this concept; maybe some of you are pining for the days of “One Met Said” cowardice we’ve seen in the Mets clubhouse during past administrations.  Thankfully those days look to be over.

Now that doesn’t mean Terry Collins will keep the status quo in the bullpen as the manager stated he has “8 options” to use as a game closer and let’s be honest here Mets fans, you can scream and curse Frank Francisco and Manny Acosta for yesterday and Friday but the toughest thing to build in baseball today is a proficient bullpen. Look at the regal Bronx Bastards, they need help in their pen but even with their unlimited financial resources, they can’t go out and buy a closer to replace the Sainted Mariano the Majestic. So TC may have to go with the hot hand to close games or use a combo of Tim Byrdak, Bobby Parnell and Jon Rauch, the three most effective relievers so far, to finish out games.

At the end of last season, Sandy Alderson pointed out that all the blown saves that led to losses at the end of the season were unacceptable and that these types of situation’s can bring down a team. Right now this Mets team is united but you wonder how much that unity can stand if the late game meltdowns continue?

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JUST AN AWFUL DAY

After coming home from a long weekend I found out that one of the people killed in that crash in New Jersey played baseball for me for two seasons and competed against me in  Staten Island Little League for eight years.

Eric Colligan 15, was killed in the early morning of July 4th as he and his friends and his friends family were returning home from Atlantic City. Eric played baseball and football for McKee/SI Tech. He was also the ace pitcher/3rd baseman and cleanup hitter for my Babe Ruth League team up until this season. The only reason he didn’t play for us this season is due to his football career was really taking off and he couldn’t commit to baseball due to football camp.

I’m at a loss for words here, this was one terrific young man and to be taken at the age of 15 is just staggering to me. As much as I wanted to write about some Mets stuff today especially about Jason Bay, it all means nothing to me right now.

My heartfelt condolences to Eric’s family for their tragic loss

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IT’S GAMES LIKE LAST NIGHT THAT MAKE METS FAN WANT TO SHOUT

Non-Mets fan ask all the time why do Mets fans put all the blame Jerry Manuel after every Mets loss? Well, we don’t put all the blame on Manuel and we don’t hold him accountable for every loss and last night’s 2-0 loss wasn’t his fault but he did make a big mistake by not letting Johan Santana pitch the 9th inning. Santana could have just as wel given up Corey Harts walk off homer but if he did so what. Santana is the ace of the staff and he should be treated as an ace. Forget pitch counts this isn’t Little League you need to have a feel for your pitchers and the feel last night was Santana was in a great grove.

That’s the biggest drawback with Manuel, look how long it took him realize the GMJ stinks and that Angel Pagan was more than capable of being the everyday CF’er? He still hasn’t figured out how to use Jenry Mejia all he knows is the young arm should be here and not in Buffalo starting. Manuel also has this mental block about whoever plays 2nd base must bat 2nd in the lineup. He also forced fed Jose Reyes into third hole with disastrous results and finally put Jose back where he belongs in the 1 hole and low and behold, Reyes has responded. For reason known only to Manuel, he trots out Jeff Francoeur every single game with his unsightly .218/.278/.364 hitting line. How does Omar or even Jeffey Skill Sets sit by and let Manuel play this automatic out every single game? FREE THE ANIMAL JERRY I’M BEGGGGGGGGGGGGGGING YOU!!!!

The Mets should still be riding the wave of the last home stand as you head into Milwaukee that fields a dead team in a dead ball park with not just your Ace but one of the top pitchers in baseball who pitches a gem but comes away with nothing. That sucks as did Jerry Manuel’s decisions last night.

The Mets will be wearing NEW YORK CUBANS uni’s tonight as a salute to the Negro Leagues. The Mets wore these once before I believe and I love these uni’s. I wish they would make a third jersey like these instead of those ugly ass black ones.

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OLLIE IN MID-SEASON FORM

You always tell kids in Little League (as Ron Darling stated) when a ball goes under a fence, raise both your arms straight up in the air. Willy Taveras  must have missed that lesson when he was seven but his folly is Omir Santos gain with an inside-the-park-grannie.

Ollie Perez threw strikes today and the Nationals and most of them were tattooed by Nationals batters. The Mets will spin OP performance like a Maytag washer. Don’t worry he still feels great and looks very fit in his snow white’s.

On the other hand, Hisanori Takahashi was incredible punching out 6 in 3 innings of work. That’s NON-ROSTER LHP Hisanori Takahashi. LHP Pat Misch also was stellar in his 3 innings at work. Sometimes the solution to your problems are right under your nose.

Frenchy loves to show off that cannon he has throwing out Kevin Mench and Pete Orr at the plate. Each play was no contest.

Big Pelf took a shot off the leg yesterday but and X-Ray didn’t show any damage. Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday.

Everybody Loves Ike

Has Charlie Samuels lost his mind? How the hell does Chris “The Phuckin’ Phillie” Coste get uni number 3 ?

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LET ME GET A THERA-FLU COCKTAIL WITH A NYQUIL CHASER

I’m home today still sick but I’m sure I’ll be fine tomorrow just in time to shovel about 7 inches of snow that’s supposed to hit NYC.

After waking up from a Nyquil stupor I was perusing the ‘net for Mets stories and of course my first stop was Mathew Cerrone’s Metsblog, in which a few posts had me thinking:

It’s about time for the Mets and Omar Minaya to call Jason Bay’ bluff. Tell him and his agent “here’s the deal 4yrs/$68-70mil take it or leave it” then give him 48 hrs to decide. If he can get more from this mystery team that’s out there, so be it. Time for the Mets to man up and let Bay take them for assholes.

Same thing with Bengi Molina. There is no team in any baseball league-MLB, Japanese League, Little League, or Men’s Sunday softball league , that will give Bengi a 3 yr deal. Again Omar needs to make a take it or leave it 2yr deal an if Molina balks then go to Rod Barajas or Miguel Olivo (two better choices ) or go with the Blanco/Santos later in the year Josh Thole catching troika. 3 yrs for Bengi Moilina? Keep dreaming

Good to see that the Mets are taking my advice and speaking to the Cincinnati Red Stockings about Aaron Harang and or Bronson Arroyo. This wanna be GM’ing is tough so how about a finders fee to me Jeffey?

It’s amazing that the Jose Reyes/Mike Francesa sit down from Wednesday is still getting so much buzz. Reyes handled himself beautifully with the FAN Bloviator as he let his personality and passion show thru. Instead of hearing from second and third sources we heard right from the shortstops mouth that he never had a problem with Willie Randolph and understood full why he was benched for non-hustle and the fact that he wanted to come back to play so badly last year that he injured himself more. Reyes also said his personality is what it is and he’s not about to change and he told it like it is about the handshakes and celebrating, how what he does is tame to what other teams do. The sad part of the interview was Francesa telling the audience that he had to plead with the Mets to let Reyes come on with him. It just shows how out of touch management is. Reyes and Jeff Francouer have done more for goodwill amongst the fan base this week that even the incompetent Jeffey Skill Sets should be able to see that but I may be asking for too much.

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NON METS: THIS SCARES ME TO DEATH

A non-Mets but a baseball story here. I just read where a woman from Staten Island sued the New Springville Little League and Little League International because her son, aged 12 at the time torn up his knee sliding into second base. Her claim was the coaches were negligent in teaching her son how to slide properly.

 

The first thing I want to know about the child is was he overweight. I’m not picking on the kid if he was fat I’m asking because in 10 years of Little League coaching I’ve had 10,11 and 12 year olds that were so over weight we didn’t have baseball pants to fit them or shirts. I had a 12 year old who wore a 40 waist pants and XXL shirt (his parents thought it was so cute that Big Mike was playing ball even if he couldn’t run, catch or swing a bat without weezing) so maybe this young man was a bit to heavy and that led to his injury.

My next question would be is the child a special education student? Many parents never tell coaches that their child suffers from ADD or ADHD. I am not an educator or a psychiatrist so when I yell at a kid for not paying attention or not looking at me when I’m speaking, it’s because I think the kid is a goof off, if I know in advance that the kid has issues I’d approach him a different way but Little League is forbidden to ask if a child has behavioral problems. That is a huge issue. I’ve had many kids like that, in fact one kid was just a real nasty sort and one day at practice when he was tired of hearing me tell him to catch the ball with two hands he told me to go fuck myself. My son heard this and was ready to beat the kid to a pulp. Finally when the mother told me he didn’t take his “meds” that day I realized the kid was sick.

I volunteer for lot’s of things because I believe in giving back. No one grew up in a better environment than me and I tried to give that to my own kids. I always feel for children who come from homes where it’s not ideal and I’ve always felt that sports is a way of showing kids that teamwork and pulling for one and other is a life lesson and for the most part kids are great it’s the parents that suck.

One thing Little League needs to do is run coaching seminars in the winter to help ladies and gentlemen who would like to volunteer and either don’t know the rules or they are intimidated by other coaches. I’ve had teams where I needed two other people to help me and it was hard between the apathetic parents (the majority unfortunately ) and the ones who feel they are limited in what they know or can do about the sport. If the parents had some guidance the program works a lot smoothly.

I hope this woman will be happy with the money she gets (I know the ambulance chaser who took the case will put his take to good use <sarcastic>) and maybe her conscience won’t bother her when she passes the New Springville Little League field when it’s gates are locked and the grounds are full of weeds and the kids who’s could have made great friends and learned that there are people who not only are there to teach you to play baseball but to listen to your problems and try to help you are all gone but then again when you sue a local Little League you have no conscience.

I wanted to hurl when I read this. Although having served on jury duty on Staten Island I’m not surprised. To be quite honest, when I was on a panel for a civil case involved the MTA and a woman who fell on a bus the answers by the folks on the panel to the attorneys questions were embarrassing. Some woman claimed she couldn’t serve on the jury because she had to be home every day at 4PM to make dinner fro her husband. Another man said he lived in Totenville and coming downtown was a “pain in the ass” for him. So this moronic verdict is not shocking. 

A non-Mets but a baseball story here. I just read where a woman from Staten Island sued the New Springville Little League and Little League International because her son, aged 12 at the time torn up his knee sliding into second base. Her claim was the coaches were negligent in teaching her son how to slide properly.

 

 

I wanted to hurl when I read this. Although having served on jury duty on Staten Island I’m not surprised. To be quite honest, when I was on a panel for a civil case involved the MTA and a woman who fell on a bus the answers by the folks on the panel to the attorneys questions were embarrassing. Some woman claimed she couldn’t serve on the jury because she had to be home every day at 4PM to make dinner fro her husband. Another man said he lived in Totenville and coming downtown was a “pain in the ass” for him. So this moronic verdict is not shocking.

The first thing I want to know about the child is was he overweight. I’m not picking on the kid if he was fat I’m asking because in 10 years of Little League coaching I’ve had 10,11 and 12 year olds that were so over weight we didn’t have baseball pants to fit them or shirts. I had a 12 year old who wore a 40 waist pants and XXL shirt (his parents thought it was so cute that Big Mike was playing ball even if he couldn’t run, catch or swing a bat without weezing) so maybe this young man was a bit to heavy and that led to his injury.

My next question would be is the child a special education student? Many parents never tell coaches that their child suffers from ADD or ADHD. I am not an educator or a psychiatrist so when I yell at a kid for not paying attention or not looking at me when I’m speaking, it’s because I think the kid is a goof off, if I know in advance that the kid has issues I’d approach him a different way but Little League is forbidden to ask if a child has behavioral problems. That is a huge issue. I’ve had many kids like that, in fact one kid was just a real nasty sort and one day at practice when he was tired of hearing me tell him to catch the ball with two hands he told me to go fuck myself. My son heard this and was ready to beat the kid to a pulp. Finally when the mother told me he didn’t take his “meds” that day I realized the kid was sick.

I volunteer for lot’s of things because I believe in giving back. No one grew up in a better environment than me and I tried to give that to my own kids. I always feel for children who come from homes where it’s not ideal and I’ve always felt that sports is a way of showing kids that teamwork and pulling for one and other is a life lesson and for the most part kids are great it’s the parents that suck.

One thing Little League needs to do is run coaching seminars in the winter to help ladies and gentlemen who would like to volunteer and either don’t know the rules or they are intimidated by other coaches. I’ve had teams where I needed two other people to help me and it was hard between the apathetic parents (the majority unfortunately ) and the ones who feel they are limited in what they know or can do about the sport. If the parents had some guidance the program works a lot smoothly.

I hope this woman will be happy with the money she gets (I know the ambulance chaser who took the case will put his take to good use <sarcastic>) and maybe her conscience won’t bother her when she passes the New Springville Little League field when it’s gates are locked and the grounds are full of weeds and the kids who’s could have made great friends and learned that there are people who not only are there to teach you to play baseball but to listen to your problems and try to help you are all gone but then again when you sue a local Little League you have no conscience.

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SIX INNINGS-JAMES PRELLER

Jame Preller is a big time Mets fan and and an author  of children’s books.  His latest book is Six Innings which intertwines a Little League championship game with Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS. If you’re a parent, grandparent or aunt or uncle or if you are looking for a gift for a child this Christmas put down the video game and  buy them a book. They will be pissed off at first but later on they’ll thank you down the line  as there is no more important skill in life than reading and it is a shame that there are kids in this country that have reading problems or are apathetic to reading that it is a damn shame.  One book that would make a terrific gift this season would be Six Innings.

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WHO STAYED UP FOR LAST NIGHT’S GAME 3?

I wanted desperately to go to bed but I was I got to involved in last night’s late night with the Used Car Salesman and now I have to scramble as if it’s  Sunday it must be High School Open House Day as I have to go with my son to two more schools on his list.  So ‘ll be brief. Very sloppy game on both sides with bad base running and errors with the Rays not living up to their rep of top fielders and strong bullpen and the Upton run scored reminded me of little league but the game was compelling and I guess MLB had no choice but to start the game at 10PM but I doubt to many people stayed up for the end unless they were coming home from a night of partying.

Saw this today that the Fish are looking to deal Kevin Gregg and though tif not a closer for the Mets a great 8th inning guy and the Mets and Fish have worked deals before so I’m sure Omar will be dialing Larry Beinfest. Or one would hope

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Tickets

The Mets are looking great this year and The Eddie Kranepool Society keeps you up to date on the good bad and the ugly. If you are looking for Mets Tickets, you must visit Coast To Coast Tickets for all your ticket needs. CTC carries MLB Tickets as well as some of the best priced Concert Tickets on the web and don't forget they also carry Yankees Tickets.

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