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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Mike Piazza Jumps Into The Literary Field

Not much Mets on field news today as we await the official opening of camp tomorrow with pitchers and catcher ready to check in, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any off field Mets news.

Mike Piazza has written a book with Lonnie Wheeler called Long Shot (Simon & Shuster) which I hope to get my hands on tomorrow. But before the book drops, there have been some excerpts of what to expect in this tome that I can guarantee won’t come close to approaching R.A. Dickey’s book in both substance and style. If the excerpts I read this morning with my bagel and coffee are any example I hope I don’t get whiplash from all the head shaking I’m anticipating while reading Long Shot. You know what? That’s really not fair, I should hold final judgment until I read the complete work but still there are some things I’ve read so far that made me take notice.

Piazza is still haunted by Roger Clemens and the night he took one Clemens fastballs off the side of his head.

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Piazza talks about taking karate lessons after the beaning with the premeditated thinking of confronting Clemens if or when he faced him again. That time came just about three months later in Game Two of the World Series when Clemens threw the barrel of a shattered bat at Piazza who did turn and walked toward Clemens but as he said:

“There were complications,” he ( Piazza) recalls. “The least of them was the realization that Clemens was a big guy, and I stood a pretty fair chance of getting my ass kicked in front of Yankee Stadium and the world. That was a legitimate concern.”

Maybe in the book Piazza goes into more detail and at least using getting tossed out a World Series game and possible suspension of another game in the series as reason for not charge at Clemens because turning tail fearing an ass kicking is mighty weak.

It seems not only was Piazza intimidated by big powerful pitchers he also got smacked around by ex-girlfriends as well:

One of his best-known girlfriends was Debbe Dunning, the actress who played the “Tool Time” girl on the hit comedy “Home Improvement.” One Halloween night when Dunning came over with a pumpkin and her dog, Piazza decided to break off the relationship.

There was screaming and crying and then the Tool Time girl waffled my ass,” he recalled. “I hadn’t taken a punch like that in a long time.”

WOW!

Piazza speaks about taking androstenedione and of course everyone’s skirts go up in the air when they hear this. This morning on WFAN, Richard Neer was all up in arms over this revelation and in his ranting over this proclamation by Piazza failed to remember (I could see him falling asleep listening to his own voice) that Andro was both legal  to use in MLB and was sold over the counter at health and nutrition  stores like GNC. This never occurred to Neer who acted like he was Bobby Goren cracking a Major Case.

Piazza also fesses up to taking amphetamines which puts him a class with over three-quarters of those enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Piazza also states that he needed to grab some Vioxx on those days when the grind of squatting behind the plate was taking its toll. Vioxx,, a powerful anti-inflammatory has since been banned in the U.S. due to the bad side effects from the drug, the most harsh being death.

The excerpt goes on about the stories of Piazza’s sexuality and his rough relationship with Latin teammates, which will be more strained after the read his quotes about “Latin’s should learn English and not be as pampered as they are by MLB teams” and the “Latin Mafia” that had it in for him. Safe to say a managerial or coaching spot in pro baseball is not in the cards for Piazza.

Again I shouldn’t pass judgment on the book until I read it, I just pray it’s better than this book which may be the worst written book of all time

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