Why Do Baseball Writers Hate Mike Piazza ?

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I’ve never met Mike Piazza. People I know have met him and have had dealings with him and have told me some not so nice stories about him. When Piazza did not show or even send a video thank you as other members of that team did (Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Roger McDowell and Davey Johnson) at the SNY taping of the naming of the 50th anniversary all-time team, I asked around why the man named as the greatest catcher in Mets history wasn’t there, all I got was a lot of looking down on the ground and a some well…..ummmmmm…….aaaa…….’s as a response.  I’ve never been a big Mike Piazza fan and for me it was from conversations with folks who dealt with him and just my sense that he was more of a “me” player, perfect example was his stubbornness to not take ground balls at first base until he broke the all-time record for home runs by a catcher.  Even with all that bias I have against Piazza, I still think he’s a first ballot hall of famer and to tell you the honest truth I’m SHOCKED at all the negativity he has gotten from the voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America and it looks like what myself and every other Mets fan thought was a lead pipe cinch-Piazza going in as a first ballot HOF’er-isn’t going to happen.

The anti-Piazza block of scribes claims that due to nothing more than a case of back acne, Piazza is guilty of being a juicer. There’s absolutely no proof of a positive drug test nor was Piazza’s name mentioned in the Mitchell Report that links Piazza to usage of PED’s.  For every voter who casts a ballot minus Piazza’ name on it, 1,000 Tweets of “You’re an asshole” hit Twitter. I’ve tried to figure out why these baseball writers would embarrass themselves by not only leaving Piazza off their ballot but be so public about it. My conclusion is it’s not about the steroids it’s that the writers just don’t like Mike.

Think about it, baseball writers and players have feuded for years. Ted Williams hated the Boston scribes and vice-versa. When Williams was inducted in 1966, 27 voters left the Splendid Splinter off their ballot. Look how long it took Eddie Murray and Jim Rice to be enshrined. Murray and Rice hated the press and made their life difficult so when the time came, the writers turned the tables on them with some out and out hate. How about Albert Belle? Take a look at the 10 seasons Belle but together and argue that he is not worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown. Do you know what percentage of votes Belle received?  In 2006, his first season on the ballot, Belle got 7.7 % of the votes. In 2007 he garnered 3.5 % of the vote which in turn made him ineligible to be on any future ballot. A player who finished his career prematurely due to injury with a line of .295/.369/.564 and 381 HR 1239 RBI gets just two years on the ballot and goes from 7.7 % of the vote to a messily 3.5% ? Now that’s hate. I know Belle was a prick with ears to everyone he encountered in the game  but it goes to show that when the members of the BBWAA can get revenge they go on an all-out assault, which in my very convoluted way brings me back to Mike Piazza.

I don’t recall Piazza having any real animosity with the media except for when the NY Post questioned his sexuality. Piazza was never a great quote machine (neither is the sainted Jeets) and I’ve never heard of any “feud” between Piazza and the media so this could just be something in my own mind that fuels the feeling the press is out to get Piazza. Other than that or a positive drug test how could you not vote for Mike Piazza for the baseball Hall of Fame?

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LET’S RAISE A GLASS TO THE ’86 METS

Man, 25 years ago. So where was I 25 years ago tonight when the most famous ground ball in baseball history went through the wickets of Bill Buckner?

I wasn’t at the game, I was home watching with my wife as we were in month seven of our marriage. The only game of the series I attend was Game 1, the game that turned on a ball getting through the legs of Tim Teufel, a play that gets lost in the Buckner Blunder, ruining a beautifully pitched game by Ron Darling with help from Roger McDowell.  

One of the issues with watching Mets games on TV back in ’86 was Bay Ridge Brooklyn was NOT wired for cable television back then. There was a whole quagmire with franchise rights by the cable companies, if you wanted the lucrative Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights account you had to take the less desirable East New York, Flatbush area as well. So after all the graft and bribes were dished out, I think it wasn’t until 1988 when we Bay Ridgeites  got  hooked up to Time-Warner Cable, so back in ’86 I spent most of my time in the numerous bars of Bay Ridge that were equipped with these enormous satellite dishes on their roofs to watch Mets game televised on SportsChannel.  So when games were on “free TV” I’d give my wallet and liver a break and stay home.

Game 6 was on a Saturday night, I remember we went for an unusually early dinner (my kids have a hard time believing that the same couple who fall asleep on the couch at 9PM used to go out until 4 or 5 the next morning on a regular basis. It’s the same way their stare at our wedding picture in which I have this incredible crop of curly brown hair. The tilt their heads from side to side like it’s some abstract painting in a gallery trying to figure out who the guy is with their mom. Lovely.) and then came home. Before getting home I stopped at the deli on 5th Ave to pick up some Molson Golden for my game libation. My wife sat with me for the first few innings (she is not big on watching Baseball or any sport on TV, she’ll go a games in person and enjoy it but to sit and watch on TV? Ain’t happening) then decided she go to the bedroom and watch something else. Of course she fell asleep, so it was just me, Vin Scully (Mets fans were very upset with Scully’s critiques of the Mets during this series)  Joe Garagiola and my six bottles of Molson.

Everyone knows about the bottom of the 10th inning of this game but the inning that gets lost in history is the bottom of the 8th where the Mets were down a run. Former Met, Calvin Schiraldi comes in for the Red Sox to help preserve the lead and bridge to Bob Stanley, the Boston closer. After a Lee Mazzilli (pinch hitting for Jesse Orosco) leadoff single, Davey Johnson went against the Earl Weaver book he was weaned on, to play small ball. Lenny Dykstra comes up (by the way after six Molson on top of the cocktails I had at dinner, I’m now talking to the TV like I’m sitting with Scully and Garagiola. I wish there was Twitter back then, my drunked Tweets would have been memorable) and lays down a sac bunt that he beats out, so now the Mets have 1st and 2nd no outs.  Wally Backman comes up and he lays down a sac bunt that moves Maz to 3rd and Nails to 2nd after an Intentional Walk to Keith Hernandez to set up a double play at any base, up stepped Gary Carter.

Here is why Mets fans love Gary Carter, nobody loves a pressure situation and came through in those situations like Kid.  That’s why when you sit in Citi Field and the Get Well Soon video comes on the screen, everyone stops and watches. That’s why when I see Ron Darling in the Stand Up For Cancer PSA, with his I Stand Up For My Catcher sign, I get a lump in my throat. Gary Carter was a great Met, retire his #8 PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I digress, Kid comes though with a Sac Fly scoring Maz and we are tied at 3.

After the top of the 10th where Rick Aguilera gave up 2 runs, all I need is a hand gun as I’ve turned into Elvis Presley , looking to shoot my TV. After two quick outs in the bottom of the 10th I am one ornery intoxicated Mets fan, with my TV remote in my hand I was ready to turn off the set as there was no way I was watching the Red Sox celebrate this World Series (the pain of 1973 was flashing through my mind) but then, he comes that man again, Gary Carter with the base hit but here I was pissed at Kid for that hit. Please put me out of my misery already but my misery turned to ecstasy.

“HONEY, WAKE UP! WAKE UP! THEY WON!!! THEY WON!!! THE METS WON!!!! YYYYYYEEEEAAAAHHHHHH!!!! GAME FUCKIN’SEVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

My wife thought I’d lost my mind, I told get up and get dressed we got to go out. She looked at me like I was nuts but then she heard all the commotion coming from 5th Ave and then the phone started ringing as friends and family wanting to talk about the most improbable win in Mets history. There was no sleep that night/early mornings, bars and clubs of Bay Ridge were hoppin’ till sunrise and so was I.

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GREATEST…………….GAME………..EEEVVVEEERRR….

 Chris Jaffe of The Hardball Times has another great post today as he goes in depth on the Mets-Reds game that was played 25 years ago today. This game is famous for the Davey Johnson use of Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell shuttle from pitcher’s mound to the outfield and for one of the best baseball fights ever when Ray Knight knocked out Eric Davis for sliding into him at 3rd base.

I don’t know if this game has been available to SNY for its Mets Classics but if not, they need to pay whatever amount need be to obtain it even if it’s the Cincinnati feed because this was one of the best games ever!

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WELCOME TO STORYTIME WITH GARY, KEITH AND RON

 

As stated here and on other sites, the repartee of Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez and Kevin Burkhardt have helped take the edge off another unfulfilling season by the NY Mets. Last night was no exception.

Just as I was ready to switch over to the Rays-Jays game, Gary Cohen brought up the comments by Wally Backman about the Mets managerial job. Wally kind of hinted that some of the moves that Jerry Manuel has made this season are not particularly the same ones he would have made as Mets manager. No one is better than setting up his partners like Cohen and this subject got Hernandez and Darling going and we were off to the drag races.

Darling seemed offended by Wally’ statement saying there should be some sort of code of conduct between mangers. Hernandez then added it wasn’t such a bad thing like when Gary Carter practically put his thump and pinky to his ear during an interview and mouthed ‘Call me Jeff” into the camera. Darling agreed and you can just tell that back in the day, Kid Carter was a handful in the clubhouse. Hernandez then went on to let us know that Wally likes to talk. He mentioned that when the Mets were to play the Astros in Game 5 of the 1986 NLCS Backman was crowing in the clubhouse how the Mets were going to win that game. Hernandez said he went over to Backman and told him to keep quiet, and reminded him that Nolan Ryan was pitching (against Dwight Gooden in one of the great post season match ups as Ryan K’d 12 and walked just 1 in 9 inns while Doc pitched 10 innings and got a ton of ground ball outs as the Mets won the game in 12 innings on a Gary Carter single scoring guess who? Wally Backman) to which Backman replied in his Wally Way “Who gives a fuck”!

From there the SNY camera got a glimpse of Roger McDowell on the Braves bench and Hernandez had us all gather around the 50’’ Sony HD TV to hear the how Roger McDowell hated Gregg Jefferies guts. Keith brought up, as he has a many occasion (you get the feeling that Richie Hebner would be given a warmer welcome into the Mets Alumni than Gregg Jefferies ) how Jefferies was the only player on the team to have his own private bag for his bats, and Keith blamed Charlie Samuels for that as Darling added “you blame Charlie for everything” and the trio of announcers had a good laugh. Hernandez continued on how this burned the other players ass’s and McDowell had had enough of this little prima donna getting preferential treatment and proceeded to take  Jeffries bats and tossed them from the bag out into the parking lot at Shea. That yarn brought back memories of when Soldier of Fortune aficionado Randy Myers and McDowell took Jefferies bats and sawed them in half. I have mentioned here a few times  when John Franco joined the Mets in 1990 he tried very hard to get Jefferies to understand he needs to be more of a “we” guy than the me guy he was and to that end Franco invited Jeffieries for a night on the town in Bay Ridge Brooklyn. Franco was an acquaintance of a few of my friends so I’ve gotten to meet him on a few occasion so when he walked into the club where my buddies and I were hanging out, with Jefferies, we thought we were set for a pretty good night of partying. Well, after just about an hour at the club (The Penthouse for all you old disco types from Brooklyn out there) Jefferies was hitting on every woman in the place and nearly got the living shit kick out of him for it. Lucky for him the bouncers at the club were teammates of ours from our Staten Island Touch Tackle League team (Someday I’ll tell the story of when I ran down former Notre Dame and Pittsburgh Steelers QB Terry Hannraty  for a sack, the highlight of my journeyman athletic career) so Jefferies was spared a Bay Ridge beat down. Also that was the last time Franco ever invited Jefferies out for even a cup of coffee. When I was managing teams in Staten Island Little League, Franco’ son JJ was in the league and John would come watch him play when he could, When I saw him one evening at the complex I went to say hi and he said “Geez I see you everywhere around the Island (Franco lived just a few block from me on Staten Island) I laughed and then I asked him if he still kept in touch with Jefferies, Franco looked at me and said “Holy shit your were there too”?

Wow talk about making a short story long, anyway, Hernandez went on about the last game of the 1989 season when McDowell then a Phillie, and Jefferies fought as the last out of the game and season was recorded. The story in the NY Times paints a very ugly picture of that season and gives us a glimpse of the turmoil that the 90’s would bring. This quote from Phillies manager Nick Leyva sums up the feeling for Gregg Jeffries around baseball:

Nick Leyva, Philadelphia’s manager, defended McDowell by saying that Jefferies is not popular among his own teammates, then Leyva said, ”There were 30 guys on our side rooting for Roger and 20 guys on their side rooting for Roger.”

As a Mets fan, the one thing you should be rooting for right now is tonight’s game is a blow out early, maybe story time with Keith and Ron will talk about the nights at Rusty Staub’ restaurant on the East Side, that will be better than Taxi Cab Confessions.

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CAUTION THE SURGEON GENERAL HAS DETERMINED THAT READING THIS POST COULD BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH

Trying to write something creative this morning and it’s just not happening so I’ll just throw some shit on the wall see what sticks:

If Jose Reyes is 100 % healthy then why not let him start on opening day? Why is it even a question? His legs don’t seem to be any problem so if his thyroid levels are fine then why wouldn’t Jose be at shortstop on Monday?

I would love to be in the room when soon to be Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay-Z sit down and talk to LeBron James about joining the Brooklyn Nets. Mr. Prokhorov is going to be the most newsworthy sports owner this town has seen since a big blowhard ship builder from Cleveland rolled into town.

This Monday has been renamed Monumental Monday. Opening day at $iti Field. The NCAA Final and two hour episode of 24.  I’m busting sweat just thinking of how the Jack Bauer, Dana Walsh  interrogation scene will play out.

Major tip of the BLUE Mets cap to Shannon Shark over at Mets Police for uncovering the Fanwalk faux pau naming Sid Fernandez the winner of Game 7 of the’86 World Sereis when it was actually Roger McDowell who earned the win. At the time that game was over, we really didn’t give a rats ass who go the winner to tell the truth all I remember is pandemonium in the streets of Queens and that for one on the dozen or so times in my life I woke up the next day in my bed having no recollection of how I got home.  Ahhhhhh good times. Also Mets Police is recruiting for the Blue Cap Army to meet up Monday at $iti Field.

It’s a three man race to grab the 25th spot on the Mets roster. The candidates are Mike Jacobs, Frank Catalanotto and Chris Carter. Very tough choices. The first one I’d dismiss in Jacobs who is a hit a home run or miss guy and a not very good first baseman. It was commendable of Jacobs to put on the catcher gear and volunteer to be the emergency catcher. How often do you need an emergency catcher? Carter has earned the name The Animal for Jerry Manuel and Catalanotto is a savvy vet who can play just about any position on a baseball field. If I had to make the choice, I’d take Frankie The Cat.

Who? Raul Valdes Who? Raul Valdes Who? Raul Valdes

Ladies and Gentlemen please welcome the new and improved LMILLZ

I don’t look at Darryl Strawberry as being a quitter for leaving The Apprentice, it’s more like he was bored and tired of the stupid tasks he was asked to do. Whoever signed off on making this show two hours should BE FIRED! Thank God for TiVO. By the way as soon as Cyndi Lauper and Summer Sanders are fired I’ll be done with The Apprentice.

So long Chris Coste, Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out!

It looks like the new McFadden’s at $iti Field is going to be THE place to be.

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