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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Mets Drop A Duda But Gain A Coco

This is the lovely Coco Rocha modeling the latest in Mets apparel at Citi Field yesterday for more on Coco and the CFDA check out their website.

 

My day at Citi Field started out with listening to Terry Collins spin the latest in what is now becoming the Mets annual swirly into the irrelevant baseball teams in MLB. I like Collins but this “we’re a good team playing badly” mantra has got to stop as he is close to getting to the Rich Kottie/Art Howe territory of his Mets managerial reign where “we’re a good team playing badly” or “we battled out there” becomes manager speak for “we really suck but I can’t say we really suck”

Collins then spoke about demoting Lucas Duda. When asked how Duda took the news he was headed upstate New York, Collins answered the question with a question, another thing you shouldn’t do, but he expanded his explanation that Duda was upset, my question is “how can you tell”?

Collins then went on a bit of a rant on how when he was a minor league manager the way he handled guys getting sent down after they have had led a major league lifestyle was “you have 24 hours to pout” and but after that you got go out and play. The biggest surprise was when Collins said Duda will play left field and some first base in Buffalo as Collins, took responsibility for putting Duda in right field and made it seem like Duda is done as a right fielder

To listen to the whole pre game presser click here.

A definite required read to day is from The Bitter Bill who is 100 % spot on in his post.

While myself and my fellow Mets bloggers were watching batting practice and taking in the whole pre-game scene at Citi Field, there was a lot of commotion as folks from the Council of Fashion Designers of America were showing off their line of Mets apparel which was modeled by a lovely young model named Coco Rocha. Coco came over to the group of Mets bloggers and we were requested to ask some questions about the fashion line and any quires for madam Coco.  Now the extent of my fashion knowledge comes from shopping at Modells and Old Navy and I know every married man reading this knows anything that you look well in was picked out by your wife. I’m not ashamed to admit that any suit, sport coat or pair of dress shoes I have ever owned was either picked out by my wife or my mother.  So here I am standing next to this fashion metrosexual guy who is eying me up and down checking out my shirt from Khol’s , jeans and Converse All-Stars and we both kinda gave each other a look like “let’s just make the best of this” The Mets clothing line is available at the Mets Team store at Citi Field (check out these pics from Mets Police) and at on the web.

One more thing about Coco Rocha, she is a beautiful young lady but way to skinny for my taste. There were a couple of the Mets main stream press corps checking out Miss Rocha after myself and the bloggers were done talking to her. I had some fun with Coco as I racked my mind to figure out what can I ask her I mean can ask her how she trains for modeling “So Coco what do you tip the Toledo’s at 90-92 lbs how do you maintain that”? Or “how many hours a day to you work on your runway walk? Do you feel you’re stronger as left foot or right foot first model”? So I asked the only thing I could think of “So Coco (as you can see I am infatuated with the name Coco, it is quite a cool name) what about this Mets bullpen what do you think is needed to straighten it out” Everyone laughed and I think Coco gave me a little wink (or maybe some of the infield dirt got in her eye) that’s when the Metrosexual felt it was time to break this up. Best move all day.

Back to the writers, one writer who shall remain nameless was asking about Coco, wanting to know who she was, what’s her name etc. etc. I said to him, “why don’t you go over and talk to her”? He gave me a look like we were back at a high school dance. Look Miss Coco is not my type I mean if I took her out for dinner it would be so awkward me having a T-Bone steak with a baked potato and Coco with three peas and some bean sprouts. Talk about awkward. Again I chided the writer to go over and introduce yourself, hell, just make believe your writing something, don’t be intimidated Geez.  He never went to talk to Coco. So sad. Why are some guys intimidated by beautiful women?  What is the worst thing in the world that could happen, she tells you to get lost? Big deal. So the writer just stood there never getting a shot at sweeping Coco off her feet, all I could do was shake my head.

 

 

 

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COACH ‘EM UP, COACHES OUT

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

One of the worst kept secrets surrounding the Mets was the fact that Chip Hale was ready to head back home to Northern California to join his buddy Bob Melvin as bench coach for the A’s. What was surprising was the domino effect Hale’s departure had on the rest of the coaching staff.

Mookie Wilson was let go with the old “we’ll reassign you in the organization” which is like when a cop sucks at fighting crime, the NYPD sticks them in the property clerk’s office. But where does Mookie get reassigned to?  Word is he didn’t work well with Lucas Duada in getting him acclimated to right field and he wasn’t very good at positioning the outfielders or working with base runners  during games. Wilson also hasn’t fared too well as a minor league manager and since he had trouble coaching the outfield with the big club, roving minor league instructor seems out as well. What’s left?

Jon DeBus got the boot from the bullpen it seems because he was a catcher and the club would rather have Buffalo pitching coach Rickey Bones, a former pitcher, in the pen to work with the relievers. DeBus was also in charge of working with Josh Thole and Ronnie Paulino and supposedly wasn’t helping Thole with his defense and was negligent in getting Paulino to show a better work ethic.

It’s a shame that Ken Oberkfell got the ax as Obie did what he was assigned to do, be the yin to Terry Collins’ yang. Obie was brought in the be Collins bench coach because he was calm, cool and collected a contrast to Collins “makes coffee nervous” persona. Obie is one of those good solid baseball men who did everything he was asked by the organization and now is shown the door. I hope he lands with a team that makes the post season and gets to cash one of the nice winner’s checks.

Tim Teufel gets the prize job as 3rd base coach/obligatory 1986 World Champ for 2012. Gotta meet that quota of 86ers ya know.

The job for Collins’ consigliore it seems is between Larry Bowa and Jim Ringgleman. Both are close confidants of Collins but I will be really pissed off if Riggleman gets the job as the Mets should be looking to stay away from quitters.

Once upon a time, Murray Chass was one of the best baseball writers around. His coverage of baseball labor disputes was unparalleled due to his close relationship with former MLBPA President Don Fehr and his mouthpiece Gene Orza but after Chass was let go by the NY Times he became a bitter nasty old man and started a website (he’s refused to call himself what he really is, a blogger) where he could spout his bitter nasty old man bullshit. Today he posted about Jeffey Skill Sets and how he is known around baseball as the most disliked executive in baseball. Of course, Old Man Murray rails for most of the post about the Mets blocking the Highlanders Triple A team from playing in Newark next year (oh yeah I forgot, Chass is an unabashed Highlander ball licker an older version of Ian O’Connor) but at the end of his piece he stated something that I have heard as well so that’s why I’ve included it in my post:

Sandy Alderson, Minaya’s successor, is completing his first season in the job, and I have already heard that he is growing tired of Wilpon’s suffocating presence.

Now if this was just Murray being Murray I’d laugh it off but I have heard the same thing from folks whose take on things around the club I respect and stories they have told me have turned out very reliable. I’ve always said I’m a Mets fan for life but I’ll tell you this, If Sandy Alderson leaves the Mets because of dealing with Jeffey is getting in the way of his work then I’d have to seriously think of stopping my support of the team until a new owner takes over.    

 

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IRISH-AMERICAN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME ANNOUCES 2011 NOMINATIONS

What better day to announce the nominees for the Irish-Amercian Baseball Hall of Fame than St. Patrick’s Day.The Hall and the ceromonies are held at one of my favorite places in all of the city, Foley’s NY Pub & Restaurant (run by Shaun Clancy and his dad John, two great men of County Cavan) 18 W 33 St across from the Empire State Building. SO if you are at the parade today stop by Foley’s as I’m sure the joint will be jumpin’ for sure.

Here are the nominees :

HALL OF FAMERS and LEGENDS

Big Ed Walsh – Baseball’s All-Time ERA Leader

Wee Willie Keeler – A .341 lifetime hitter who shares the longest ever NL hitting streak (44 games) with Pete Rose

Mighty Casey of the “Mudville Nine” – Character in Ernest Thayer’s famous poem

 

CURRENT LIVING EX-PLAYERS

Nolan Ryan – Baseball’s All-Time Strikeout Leader, now president of the Texas Rangers

“Super Joe” McEwing – Popular versatile player, now a White Sox minor league manager

Jeff Nelson – Four-time World Series champion, now a broadcaster with MLB Network

 

MANAGERS

John McGraw – Legendary New York Giants manager

Tom Kelly – Minnesota Twins two-time World Series champion manager

“Walpole Joe” Morgan – Former Boston Red Sox manager

 

TEAM EXECUTIVES

Gene Monahan/Steve Donohue – Longtime New York Yankees trainers

Mike Kindle – President of Baseball Ireland (Dublin)

 

ENTERTAINERS

John Fogerty – Writer/Singer of “Centerfield”

Terry Cashman – Writer/Singer of “Talking Baseball” (30th anniversary this year)

John Fitzgerald – Filmmaker of “The Emerald Diamond”

 

“The nominating committee has come up with some intriguing names this year,” said Shaun Clancy, owner of Foley’s, which features one of the country’s most extensive public displays of baseball memorabilia outside of Cooperstown.  “We believe it is significant that baseball’s all-time strikeout king and its all-time ERA leader are both of Irish descent and have New York connections.  So do the legendary manager John McGraw, players Wee Willie Keeler, Joe McEwing and Jeff Nelson, Yankees trainers Gene Monahan and Steve Donohue, and songwriter Terry Cashman.”

 

With the blessing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Foley’s, a popular destination among baseball players, executives, umpires and fans, created the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize players, managers, executives, journalists, and entertainers of Irish descent.  Inductees are chosen based on a combination of factors, including impact on the game, popularity on and off the field, contributions to society, connections to the Irish community, and, of course, ancestry. 

The game of baseball has welcomed immigrants from its earliest days, when an estimated 30 percent of players claimed Irish heritage.  Many of the game’s biggest stars at the turn of the 20th century were Irish immigrants or their descendants, including Michael “King” Kelly, Roger Connor (the home run king before Babe Ruth), Eddie Collins, Big Ed Walsh and managers Connie Mack and John McGraw.  Today, major league teams regularly sign players born in Latin America, Japan, Canada, and elsewhere.

 

Shaun Clancy, an amateur baseball historian, created the Hall after learning about the rich heritage of Irish Americans in the sport dating from its infancy – a legacy overshadowed in recent years by other ethnicities.  He decided to celebrate his roots and those who helped make the game great by creating a shrine to Irish Americans in baseball in 2008.

McGraw has to be a lock to be named to the Hall. I will always have soft spot for McGraw for if it wasn’t for him I might be a Highlander fan today. When my father and one of my uncle’s decided to leave Boston after a living there a year when they arrived from County Sligo, they both had jobs laying gas pipes in Canarsie for Brooklyn Union Gas. On a day off they both decided to take a trip to the Bronx to see Babe Ruth and the Highlanders. When they got the Stadium, there were surprised by the lack of people around. That was because the Highlanders were on the road they were told by the cop on the beat. The cop told them if they wanted to see a baseball game, take a walk over the bridge to the Polo Grounds and go watch the Giants. So off they went.

As they took their seats they noticed a guy barking orders at players, they asked who he was, a fan told them “That’s McGraw, he runs the team” They looked at each ‘What ? An Irishman is the boss?” That was it my dad and uncle became die hard NY Giants fans, even though they lived in Brooklyn and stayed in Brooklyn to raise families in the heart of Dodger country. When the Giants left town both of them and the Mets were born they became Mets fans as did my brothers and my cousins. Things happen for a reason who knows, if the Highlanders were home that day, this site might have been The Tom Tresh Society. I hope Mugsy gets elected to the Hall with a landslide vote.

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