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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Critics Are Way Off Base On The Strawberry-Seaver Exchange at All Time Mets Presentation

I was at the taping of the All Time Mets team at the 92nd St Y on Sunday but the show ran kind of long and with work the next day (a 5AM wake up) and a ferry to catch on the other side of Manhattan, I left as soon as the All Time team was announced so I missed the Q and A portion of the program.

I finally got a chance to watch it and I’m still trying to figure out all the hubbub over the exchange between Darryl Strawberry and Tom Seaver. It seems a lot of folks, Mets fans included are taking Seaver to task for his comment to Straw. Strawberry was asked the question “who would win in a game where it was Seaver vs. Gooden, a tough, tough question to answer. Darryl tried to be diplomatic and praised both pitchers then like a good politician he side stepped the question and jokingly bantered with Seaver on how he would have loved to bat against him to which Seaver responded “do you have handcuffs on”. It’s that comment that has some folks up in arms and I feel it’s a real over reaction.

I took the comment and I’d bet Strawberry took it as well, as Seaver saying “are you handcuffed? No ? The grab a bat and let’s go”. Some folks are saying the Seaver made an insensitive comment since Strawberry has had many run- ins with the law and has been arrested a few times in his tumultuous life. That is really a reach. Watching that video at no time did it seem that Seaver was being malicious or nasty to Straw in fact as I’ve said a few time since attending the show live, I have never seen Seaver so engaging and jovial in a long, long time. Don’t make this something it isn’t and please stop trying to make Seaver into a villain because that is just ridiculous.

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My Recap of The NY Mets All-Time Team Annoucement Show

Last night I attended the naming of the All Time Mets team at the 92nd St Y. The venue was terrific as was the host for the evening, Kevin Burkhardt  Mets voices Gary Cohen and Howie Rose who joined Burkhardt on stage to talk about voting for the team and to greet and interview the honorees who attended the event.

Although the show was announced as a sellout, there were many seats in the first three or five rows that were empty. Since this show was being recorded to be shown on SNY this Thursday night, a frantic SNY director was offering seat upgrades galore so there would not be any empty seats shown on TV. The Mets should implement this exercise at Citi Field.

For the most part the results of the voting went the way you’d expect, so let’s look at the nominees and the winners:

First Base nominees :

Ed Kranepool, Keith Hernandez, John Olerud, Dave Kingman

Of course my heart says Kranepool and Olerud was a great all around player but a short tenure as a Met and Kingman? I’d rather have seen Willie Montanez nominated. The winner of course was Keith Hernandez, who came on stage and as you might suspect, was quite engaging. His story on coming to Mets and why he stayed are classic. I won’t spoil the show for you folks so I won’t relay any of the stories but I’ll tell you this it’s a must see program.

2nd Base nominees:

Edgardo Alfonzo, Felix Milian, Doug Flynn, Wally Backman

No secret I love Howie and Gary not only because they are great announcers but they are also my contemporaries as a Mets fan.  After the nominees were announced, Howie mentioned Ron Hunt and how he was as worthy of being on that list with the other nominees. Gary then spoke about watching Milian and how he held the Mets record for hits in a season for the longest time. The winner here was no surprise, Fonzi.

Shortstop nominees:

Bud Harrelson, Raphael Santana, Rey Ordonez, Jose Reyes

Reyes is the winner but Gary told the audience how Harrelson was his favorite Mets player of all time and it took all his resolve to vote with his head and no his heart. By the way the voters were Howie and Gary along with Mike Vaccaro of the NY Post, Mike Lupica of the Daily News and Marty Noble of MLB.com

3rd base nominees:

Charley Smith, Roy Staiger, Lenny Randle, Felix Mantila

Do I really have to tell you who won this one?

Catcher nominees:

Jerry Grote, Gary Carter, Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza

This is where my middle aged head and heart becomes very stubborn.  I am a Jerry Grote fan then, now and always, so if I was on the voting committee I’d vote Grote and then leave the room. The winner was Mike Piazza who should be the next Mets player enshrined on Cooperstown. Now all of the players named to the Mets All-Time team were present at the event except for the one’s still active that sent their thanks and humble acceptance via video message, the only no show in person or on video was Piazza. I’ve not seen or heard a reason why Piazza didn’t show or at least send a video but as many of you know I am not a Mike Piazza fan and its things like this (and other’s) as to why I’m not.

Left Field nominees:

Cleon Jones, George Foster, Kevin McReynolds, Cliff Floyd

The winner was Cleon Jones. As I posted on Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Cleon this past Friday night at Citi Field so I was very happy he was named to the Mets All Time Team as the left fielder. Gary Cohen spoke of McReynolds as one of the most talented players to ever wear a Mets uni but his personality convened a guy who wished he was someplace else. Cohen was 100 % on point. The baseball cliché of the “5 Tool Player” fits McReynolds to a tee, but K-Mac had two huge flaws, he played the game like it was a job he didn’t enjoy and he hated NYC. That was a real shame as if he had a bit of passion for the game and opened his mind to what the city and region had to offer he may have been one of the best players in Mets history.

Center Field nominees:

Tommy Agee, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dysktra, Carlos Beltran

If Beltran never signed with the Mets, this would have been a very interesting category as I bet they would have nominated Lee Mazzilli at which point I’d have gotten violently ill. Thank you Carlos. By the way, Beltran sent a video thanking the voters and fans for this great honor and he also wished he could have been healthier during his Mets career. Beltran is one of those players who won’t be recognized for his contributions until he retires . He’s kind of a Phil Simms of the Mets

Right Field nominees:

Ron Swoboda, Rusty Staub, Bobby Bonilla, Darryl Strawberry

Mets fans are not shy about showing their emotions. When Bonilla’s name was announced there was a loud grown of disgust from the crowd. It got me to think, who is the most hated Met of all time? Bonilla is right there along with Jeff Kent who was also a  world class asshole, Richie Hebner or Armando Beneitez  and I guess I’d put McReynolds on that list as well. Oh yeah Straw was the pick.

Right Handed Reliever:

Skip Lockwood, Neil Allen, Armando Benitez, Roger McDowell

I think Kevin Burkhardt was slightly embarrassed when he read Benitez’ name as I thought the crowd was going to burst into a BULLSHIT chant. Gary Cohen represented for us old guys when he spoke of how good a reliever Lockwood was but then he spoiled it by trying to justify Benitez on the list. The winner was McDowell who sent a nice video acceptance but no hot foot.

Left Handed Reliever nominees:

John Franco, Tug McGraw, Jesse Orossco, Randy Myers

When I saw the nominees I was hoping for either Tug or Jesse but I thought this was going to go to Franco. I was pleasantly surprised when it was announced that Tug McGraw was the winner. Tim McGraw sent a video of thanks and Tug’s son Mark and his brother Hank were both there to accept in Tug’s behave and Hank’s stories was outstanding.

Left Handed Starting Pitcher nominees:

Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Sid Fernandez, Al Leiter

Had to be Koos.  Matlack, El Sid and Leiter were worthy Mets but Koos was as strong and as tough as any pitcher of his era as a Met. Koos was also a guy who earned the rep as a big game pitcher

Right Handed Starting Pitcher nominees:

Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, David Cone

He was then, he is now, and he will always be THE FRANCHISE. It’s a shame they didn’t just do this as the All-Time Mets pitching rotation so Doc could have gotten the acclaim he deserves but it’s hard when you are in the same category as THE FRANCHISE! Seaver was in excellent form, as funny and animated as I’ve seen him in a long time. Seaver knows he was great and he knows he is still the greatest player in the history of this franchise and as he gets older he has taken on that role with a lot of pride. I know how much he loves taking care of his vineyard and how he loves to be home on the West Coast but I just wish he come around Citi Field more often like how Ralph Kiner is doing now. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel knowing I watched Seaver pitch, same with Doc when both pitchers took the mound, it was a special event.

Manager nominees:

Casey Stengel, Gill Hodges, Davey Johnson, Bobby Valentine

How the hell did they get this wrong? Believe me I love Davey and I will never have a bad word to say about him but how could you not name Gil Hodges as the All-Time Mets Manager? When Seaver came out on stage his jovial mood changed when he started speaking about Hodges. Seaver was choked with emotion and said he knew he start crying once he started talking about Hodges and when he said how he wished “Gil was here with me right now” I have to say my eyes were a bit runny as well. It’s tough enough dealing with the disrespect Hodges gets from the Baseball Hall of Fame voters but to be snub like this for a Mets voting committee is even more disturbing.

 

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