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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Observations From Opening Day at Citi Field

Observations from opening day at Citi Field:

I’ve been going to Mets games for 48 years, I was 6 years old in 1964 when I went to see Bob Gibson beat the Mets  on May 9 th, and as excited as I was back then I was just as excited yesterday to be at Citi Field for opening day.

Outside the ball park before the game there was a great positive energy that non-Mets fans just do not understand. I stood near the SNY broadcast area where Bobby Ojeda, Chris Carlin and the iconic Ralph Kiner conducted the pre-game show. There is a segment of younger generation Mets fans who really don’t appreciate Kiner and what he means to charter member Mets fans like me. Ralph, Bob Murphy and Lindsey Nelson were a constant summer time companion on TV and radio. Nelson left in 1978 and that was shocking, but we still had Ralph and Murph. Murph left in 2003 and that was sad but through it all Ralph Kiner remained, albeit on a limited basis but Ralph always knew when to show up when you needed that boost of Mets elixir because when you’re a middle aged Mets fan the sight and sound of Ralph Kiner brings back memories of a simpler and great time of your life.

Lots and lots of CARTER 8 jersey’s and t-shirts on display yesterday along with signs and banners praising Carter and mourning the loss of Gary Carter. The Mets held a wonderful pre-game ceremony starting with the players, coaches and manager all wearing their warm up jerseys with CARTER 8 on the back and having Carter’ jersey hanging  up in the dugout.  It was also touching to see Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez, Bobby Ojeda and Mookie Wilson catch the first pitch from Carter’s wife and children along with the unveiling of the KID 8 patch on the outfield wall and video of Carters Mets career that would make even the most cynical Mets fan dab their eyes.

Seems the only people who are obsessed by the Mets attendance are the Mets Media Haters and Highlander fans.  The Mets Media Haters harp on this due to their lack of talent and originality, I mean how much talent does it take to answer a telephone for five hours a day while reading a newspaper and sucking down soda after soda or sit at a laptop staring lovingly at your Derek Jeter gift baskets while writing what a great GM Pee Wee Cashman is because he is so brilliant in having a $200 mil payroll to cover up his fuck ups. The Highlander fan knows that the first time the Mets show any success the Highlander reign of attention in this city will be over.

Citi Field was jammed packed yesterday, the line at the Shake Shack was a couple a hundred deep, the fans lined the Shea Bridge soaking up the sunshine which could explain for some of the empty seats you’ve seen. The crowd responded well to the player introductions, sure some folks felt it was a good time to boo Mike Pelfrey and Jason Bay but for most part the Mets faithful was happy to see their beloved team back in action.

I didn’t see any of the usual Highlander fan jerk offs who come to Citi Field wearing their Jeter jerseys and caps which is encouraging.

The Mets have made an upgrade on the main scoreboard to where it’s  setup like Gameday on MLB.com a virtual scorecard showing not only what the player has done in previous at bats but also showing you the location of balls put in play in those AB’s. The pitchers line as well as pitch count, pitch selection and pitch count are there as well as both lineups, the player at bat’s season stats and career numbers as well.

I have never bitched and moaned about the prices at the concession stands but $6.80 for a Nathans Hot Dog is ridiculous. Compare that to $11.50 for a turkey with mozzarella and gravy on a semolina hero at Mama’s of Corona, why would you go for the hot dog?

Nothing better than watching Johan Santana work. Frist two innings he had a bit of a command issue, which is to be expected as I’m sure his adrenaline was flowing like Niagara Falls but it was the 5th inning that really sent the message as to what a competitor he is and why Santana is one the best starting pitchers in baseball. He wanted badly to get 5 innings in today as his pitch count was limited to 80-85 so he knew this was his last frame of the day. Getting Freddy Freeman out on strikes to start the inning was big because Santana killer Matt Diaz doubled to left and you could see the finish line of this start was near.

After getting Jason Heyward to fly out to Bay, all Santana needed was one more out but he struggled against Tyler Pastornicky and Tommy Hanson walking both of them to load the bases for leadoff hitter Michael Bourn.  This was the at bat of the game. Santana fell behind Bourn 2-0 giving the crowd of Mets fans an uneasy feeling since it was September of 2010 when we last witnessed Santana pitch we forgot how much heart this man has on the mound. He got Bourn to hit a comebacker to him and with what adrenaline was left nearly threw the ball over Ike Davis head but Ike caught it stepped on first inning over with no Braves crossing home plate. Welcome back Johan.

Andres Torres pulled up lame in the 7th on Pastornick’s triple and while I hate to see anyone get hurt, I hope Torres takes all the time he needs to get that calf 100 % so we can get a good look at Kirk Nieuwenhuis as the everyday center fielder. Hopefully when Torres comes back it will be as the 4th outfielder,

Daniel Murphy 2 for 4 yup #ImWith28

 

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The New Party City Deck at Citi Field

I was invited out to Citi Field today by the Mets to get a tour of the new Party City Deck in Left Field and also to get a gander at the new outfield dimensions and the beautiful BLUE walls. I was impressed by all three.

The ball park looks great as the black outfield walls are now Mets blue. As I walked into the Part City Deck I was totally amazed how bringing in the left field fence by 12 ft could make such a difference in my perception of the distance from the outfield to home plate. I’ve stood on the warning track at Citi Field before the alterations and felt home plate was located in Jackson Heights, same thing with the height of the outfield wall, which have been chopped in half from 16 ft. to 8 ft. Looking up from the left field warning track I felt like a Chilean miner.

The Party City Deck looks like a great spot to see a game, the section can accommodate groups of 25 to 102. The seating is a combination of padded stadium seats along with barstool with a ledge where you can sit and enjoy classic ball park food (hot dogs, burger, chicken tenders, popcorn, peanuts and homemade potato chips) and soft drinks, water and beer, starting two hours before first pitch. After the second hour of the game, cookies will be served right up to the ninth inning. All of the food and drink are brought right to your seat waiters and waitresses, so there is no standing in line and missing the action on the field.

The price of a ticket to The Party City Deck ranges from $100-$200, depending on the opponent. The area is for group sales but for the final five games of the opening home stand (April 7-11) individual tickets will be on sale.

It’s good to see the Mets  realize that the dimensions of the outfield were a problem and made the alteration along with ditching the black wall along with the overwhelming  use of black (or soot as I believe is the official name of the color so predominate throughout the ball park)  throughout the park. It was the first time I walked into Citi Field and felt it was the home of the NY Mets. Amazing what a little paint can do eh?

Can’t wait for Thursday. Let’s Go Mets!!!

 

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THE ALDERSON TAPES

I was so pissed that I missed hearing Sandy Alderson on the SNY telecast last night. But, thanks to Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue who transcribed the whole interview Alderson did with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling, I’m caught up with what the Mets GM is looking to accomplish going forward with the team. What has me puzzled is the Mets fan/blogger fixation on what Alderson said about changing the dimensions and height of the Cit Field outfield wall, from reading the McShane’s transcript of the conversation, that was the least interesting feature to me.

I’m not saying reducing the height of the Great Wall of Flushing or bringing in the right/center Mo Zone is not good thing, in fact I’m all for it but Alderson’s insights on player personnel and his approach to the off season was much more newsworthy.

To me more important than wall renovations is what is the GM’s plan of attack for re-signing Jose Reyes. It seems like Alderson has a preempted strike ready to fire as he has tabbed October as Jose Reyes Month. I get the vibe that he has an offer already to be presented a figure in years and money that he won’t go over. Alderson has made it known he will not get into a bidding war over Reyes. He has been nothing but complimentary of the shortstop as has Terry Collins, who is on record as saying he can’t fathom the Mets without Reyes or David Wright for that matter which I’m sure is the company line. I’m interested in this negotiation to see if Reyes takes a little less money or years to stay with the only organization he’s ever played for or does he move on and take the best deal out there. I still think that while Alderson will make a very good offer to Reyes, he won’t be heartbroken if another team comes in and blows the Mets deal out of the water. No question he wants Reyes back but he won’t break the Skill Sets fragile bank account to sign him.

One of Alderson’s concerns was rushing pitchers to the big leagues but also doing a balancing act getting some of the minor league arms a bit of a push to move them along. Under Omar MInaya’s regime the club loved drafting collage pitchers to where a team like St. Lucie is overstocked with 24 and 25 year olds which it sounds like is very frustrating to Alderson. When you’re that age and still pitching in A ball, you’re at the shit or get off the pot stage of your career.

Alderson sounds like a Mets fan when he talks about the bullpen and how blowing late game leads, a la Bobby Parnell, takes the heart out of everyone when it’s on an almost daily basis. Safe to say, Alderson has seen enough of Parnell closing to know he needs to put finding a closer on the top of his shopping list. Also clearly stated, he will go outside the organization to find one.  Looking at guys like Greg Holland of the Royals, Mike Adams of the Rangers, Rafael Betancourt of the Rockies and Sean Marshall of the Cubs there are some interesting options for Alderson out there.

Alderson is happy with the number of innings his starters have given him but now he wants them to improve the quality of those innings. I believe that Jon Niese and Dillon Gee will and of course R.A. Dickey will give a quality start just about every time out but we still have no idea what Johan Santana will give you on the mound next year and of course there is the elephant in the room known as Mike Pelfrey. From Alderson’s comment it seems that Pelf will be back next season but in what capacity?

What we have Mets fans is one busy and interesting winter coming up ahead of us and the brain trust of our team. Right now is the lull where the team plays out the string as October on will be the most interesting time for the Mets since before the All Star break.

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ENJOY IT, SUMMER DOESN’T LAST FOREVER

 

 

 

I must admit, I didn’t watch much of the Mets-Giants game last night and from the looks of things I didn’t miss much. One thing I did notice and I kind of noticed this on Saturday, $iti Field is not exactly packed and jammed.

 

Remember back when the plans for $iti came out and it was announced that the seating capacity would be about 15,000 less than Shea and the outcry that fans would be shut out of games? Now there are tickets a plenty even in the beginning of the season the secondary markets were awash in Mets tickets. I’ve been to 10 games so far this season and I plan on going to at least 5 more. Sure it bothers me that the team is awful but what bothers me even more is winter. As bad as the Mets are right now, just think what it’s like in the middle of January with the snow, wind and cold and you have to wear three layers of clothes and a coat, hat and gloves. I can’t get enough days at the ball park to suit me. Besides the way the team is constructed right now, it has a nostalgic feel to going to a Mets game, very 1975-ish.

 

Is there a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel? First, the team started to listen to the fan base and has made improvements to $iti Field. The video screen in the RF corner came in handy on Saturday and the montage of Gooden, Straw and Hernandez looked great along with the banners on the outfield wall and even the cow in the promenade was cute. The place had a Mets feel to it, finally.

 

Then there were the Throwback uni’s paying tribute to the our NL heritage that the Skill Sets are finally embracing and maybe, just maybe the organization is realizing that blue and orange are our colors and the uniform we all grew up with is what we want. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that after this season the dreaded black uniforms will be no more.

 

But last night was the topper in this starting to feel better about my team. The Skill Sets actually went over slot money to sign their top draft pick RHP Steven Matz, by close to 400K. Now we’re talking here, let me give Jeffey and Freddy an ‘Atta Boy for that. See it’s not hard fellas.

 

Let me send out my hopes for a speedy recovery to Alex Cora who is having both thumbs operated on and is down for the season. The Mets should have let Cora take one more at bat so the fans could give him the ovation he deserves. Cora should have had his thumb surgery back in June but put it off due to the dearth of infielders to step up and play. Alex Cora is a gamer.

 

To fill Cora’s spot on the roster the Mets have resigned Teddy Martinez

 

At this point in the season, it isn’t really worth getting worked up over, but enough of Livan Hernandez already.

 

The Mets fan version of the Weather Underground will meet again a week from tonight at Two Boots Tavern 384 Grand St on the glorious Lower East Side. Come one come all we all need the therapy.

 

Highlander fans are starting to bloom in all their glorious doucheness over their teams recent run of good fortune. As I stated to my colleague who sits next to me at work, you can break balls all you want right now Highlander fans, but keep this in the back of your small minds, if you want to belittle the Mets and Mets fans and stick out your chests and walk around like it’s a foregone conclusion that World Series title 27 will come this late October you better hope it does, because if your Bronx Bastards fall short this post season. I WILL MAKE YOUR LIVES A LIVING HELL!!!!! Believe me it is very tough for me to hold my tongue when I wear my Mets shirts, shorts, cap, watch, and sling bag and get a bunch of shit from Highlander fans so you know I’m just waiting to attack and when I do it won’t be pretty. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

 

Memo to Adam “The Bull”

 

You can kill the Mets all you want but remember your place at WFAN, you’re a benchwarmer . Come September you’ll be back in your proper place taking phone calls from Jerome in Manhattan at 2 AM.

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YOU GOTTA GO TO MO’S AT 42ND AND 7 IN MANHATTAN TOMORROW TO MEET DWIGHT GOODEN

Former Mets great Dwight Gooden will be at MODELLS at W 42 ST & 7 Ave tomorrow Wednesday April 15th  from 3:30PM to 4:45 PM to celebrate the new MO’S ZONE and MODELLS CLUBHOUSE at Citi Field. Doc Gooden will be joined by Seth Horowitz, the President of MODELLS SPORTING GOODS and Mitchell Modell the CEO of MODELLS.

 

Here is what you get at THE MO ZONE and MODELLS CLUBHOUSE:

      The Mo¹s

Zone area of Citi Field is an exciting area in the brand new ball

park that will quickly become a fan-favorite destination for passionate fans

to cheer on their NY Mets.

* This area will be the new home for the best Mets fans in New York!

 

* In right/right-center field at Citi Field, there are two field-level

sections of seating that together make up an area which will quickly become

known as The Mo’s Zone.

 

* The Mo¹s Zone area is led-off by a 72 foot span across the outfield

warning track where the traditional padded outfield wall is replaced by a

chain link fence.

* Directly above this span of fence is the Mo¹s Zone fan section

(specifically seating sections #101 & #102). Within this area will sit

nearly 400 of the most passionate Mets fans known to mankind.  The area will

be full of energy and is uniquely tucked beneath the porch overhead which

hangs 18 feet out and over the playing field.

 

* Beneath the Mo’s Zone lives The Modell’s Clubhouse.  The Modell¹s

Clubhouse is set behind the chain link fence and will consist of

dugout-style benches backed by five full sized garage-style overhead doors.

Those doors open up to a private fan hospitality area which can accommodate

up to 70 fans.  The only thing that will separate fans in the Modell¹s

Clubhouse from the playing field is the chain link fence.  Fans attending a

game inside the Modell¹s Clubhouse will be as close to the playing field

 

during the game as you can get without being one of the players!

 

MAKING THE MO¹S ZONEŠ. THE MO¹S ZONE

 The Mo’s Zone and Modell’s Clubhouse will surely become areas in high

demand for those fans looking to experience the game in a truly memorable

way.

 

So come on out tomorrow between 3:30-4:45 at MODELLS at W 42 ST & 7 Ave to meet Doc Gooden and find at more about the MO ZONE and MODELLS CLUBHOUSE at Citi Field 

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