A true Mets hero begins what we all hope will be a short journey this afternoon.
You may have read somewhere that this is Mike Piazza’s first time on the Hall of Fame ballot and it remains to be seen if his on-field accomplishments will be enough to usher him through the doors on his first go ‘round. They should be enough, of course, but there is enough of a taint to those accompanying him on the ballot that some Baseball Writers Association of America members might see fit to bar him this year. The latest Baseball Think Factory Hall predictor thingy shows Piazza at 59.5 %, well short of the 75% needed for enshrinement. What a shame.
Mike Piazza is widely acknowledged as THE best hitting catcher of all time. He holds the record for most home runs as a catcher – without utilizing the longevity so skillfully employed by the man he passed on that list, Carlton Fisk. A quick look at Baseball-Reference.com — at the players comparable to Piazza – reveals seven Hall-Of-Famers out of ten comparable players. Offensively, Mike Piazza belongs in the company of Johnny Bench, Fisk, our own Gary Carter and Yogi Berra. Of this there can be no dispute. It’s also widely acknowledged that Piazza was somewhat lacking on defense – and it has been noted that this is concerned with his throwing, mainly. It would be a crime if that was all that came between Mike Piazza and Cooperstown for at least a year.
No. There’s something else afoot.
The feeling that Piazza’s career numbers are suspect because he played in the same era as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro et al and had acne on his back is fairly prevalent among the stalwarts of the MSM. Retired New York Times baseball writer Murray Chass started the drumbeat a couple of years ago with some vague blog posts about muscles and bacne. As today’s vote grew closer, this theme was picked up by other members with the power of the vote. This whole guilt-by-association thing stinks. Piazza was never hauled in to testify before Congress. Piazza was never mentioned as a suspected “’roider” during his playing career – Chass’s innuendoes came out after Piazza’s retirement, a move which stinks of cowardice in and of itself. On his Sirius Radio show this morning, former Mets’ GM Steve Phillips emphatically declared that Mike Piazza did not take drugs. Period. He attributed all of Piazza’s accomplishments to simple hard work – even going as far as traveling to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball at his own expense as a newly minted Dodger draftee. Why is it only on the eve of his possible induction into the Hall that a link between Piazza and PED’s is being woven?
The conspiracy theorist in me wants to blame the Yankees…
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