Here, MetsBlog’s Matthew Cerrone follows all the action at Mike Piazza day at Citi Field:
In a report for the Daily News, Andy Martino says the Mets truly feel Mike Piazza belongs in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, even if members of the Baseball Writers Association did not elect him on the first ballot last January.
“Some on the Mets’ Hall of Fame committee felt that it would be a strong show of support to elect Piazza before he landed in Cooperstown. The team wanted to make clear to Piazza that it considered him a Hall of Famer, regardless of how members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voted,” Martino explains.
Piazza received 57.8% of the vote last winter – 75% is required to gain election into the Hall of Fame.
Still, while the Hall of Fame committee – comprised of Howie Rose, Gary Cohen, Al Jackson, Marty Noble and Jay Horwitz – are sensitive to the fact Piazza wasn’t elected, they felt it was appropriate to elect them to their Hall of Fame this year.
“The Hall of Fame committee recommended it,” Principal Owner Fred Wilpon told Martino. “I agreed with it. Some of our fans asked for it and wanted it. It seemed like the right time for Mike and for us.”
As for Piazza’s distance from the franchise Martino says Mets people attribute that simply to Piazza wanting a private life after retiring from baseball, and not any kind of rift.
“Ron and Keith were out of baseball for a while after retiring, too. A lot of guys just need that time,” A friend of Piazza told Martino.
Read more: Daily News
In a report for Newsday, Mark Hermann chatted with Al Leiter, John Franco and former Mets GM Steve Phillips about their time with Mike Piazza during their Mets careers.
“We got our rock star,” Leiter explained to Hermann. “I was on the phone with John Franco and some of the other guys and we were like 12-year-olds, going, ‘We got Mike Piazza!’ “
Leiter recalled the difference in opinion between then co-owner Nelson Doubleday and now Mets Principal Owner Fred Wilpon about the need to acquire Piazza.
“I remember that Fred Wilpon went on Mike and the Mad Dog and said ‘We’re fine, we don’t need a catcher.’ Then Nelson Doubleday went on a few days later and said the opposite,” Leiter recalled.
Meanwhile, Franco – who was inducted into the team’s hall of fame last year – is hopeful Piazza will one day be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame someday.
“It’s a great honor, and well deserved,” Franco said. “It is a step toward the day he goes into Cooperstown.”
Franco said it was an easy decision to surrender his number 31 jersey to Piazza when he arrived in May, 1998.
“I knew that’s what he wore all those years with the Dodgers and I knew he would appreciate it,” Franco explained.
Former Mets GM Steve Phillips said Piazza was an easy player to deal with, as he didn’t have to worry about Piazza getting into trouble.
“Here he was, a megastar, and he was incredibly low maintenance. He had no entourage,” Phillips explained. “His dad and brother would be with him, and the prettiest girl, but that was it. And after the game, he would have a protein bar and a Powerade. I never had to worry about that 3 a.m. phone call. It was an honor to be part of his time here.”
Piazza hit .296 with 220 home runs and 655 RBI as a Met between 1998-2005.
Read more: Newsday
Terry Collins told reporters yesterday he is looking forward to today’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Mike Piazza.
“To go in the Mets Hall of Fame is a special day for Mike,” Collins explained. “He’s certainly well-deserving.He’s the greatest offensive catcher the game has ever seen, so it’ll be fun to see him.I like Mike a lot, so it’ll be fun to say hi to him.’’
Collins has known Piazza since he was drafted by the Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft – Terry was managing their Pacific Coast League affiliate in Albuquerque that season.
Meanwhile, David Wright – who played with Piazza in 2004 and 2005 – intends to be on the field when Piazza is inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
“I’m definitely going to make sure I’m out there to enjoy it and celebrate Mike’s career,” Wright told reporters on Saturday. “I care deeply about this organization and Mike is a big part of the history of this organization, and also he was a teammate. It’ll be nice to celebrate Mike.’’
Read more: New York Post
According to Waldstein, Piazza also admits to using amphetamines before they were banned in 2006, and looked into the possibility of using Human Growth Hormone with the Mets, unaware it was a banned substance.
Waldstein says Fred Hina, a former Mets trainer, advised Piazza not to use HGH.
“It shouldn’t be assumed that every big hitter of the generation used steroids,” Piazza says in the book, according to Waldstein. “I didn’t.”
Piazza expressed disappointment to Waldstein he wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame this year.
“I won’t deny there is some disappointment, but I understand it’s a process,” Piazza told Waldstein. “All things considered, I got over 50 percent, and a lot of people were very supportive. I mean, there’s what, almost 600 voters? That’s a lot.”
Piazza appeared on 57.8 percent of the Hall of Fame ballots – he needed to appear on 75 percent of the ballot to get elected.
Michael Baron, Contributor
I’m really looking forward to Piazza’s book. He was always a very guarded, quiet, and private personality, and I am curious to learn more about a player I idolized for nearly a decade in Flushing.
As far as PED’s are concerned, I’m sick of hearing people speculate and condemn players like Piazza over the possibility they used steroids, banned substances, and so on. The debate should be whether or not Piazza’s talent combined with production warrant election to the Hall of Fame, and if there’s evidence of PED use, that can (and should) be taken into account. Suspicion and belief shouldn’t be enough to impact a decision to vote for a player or not, and in Piazza’s case, that’s all it is: suspicion. No matter what he says in the book, the speculation will always be there, and that really isn’t fair. Hopefully he at least has momentum working in his favor so to get elected to the Hall of Fame soon. He is the very definition of a Hall of Famer, and he deserves to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Brian ErniI’m still outraged by egregious error that nearly half of the Baseball Writers Association of America made when they left Mike Piazza off their 2013 Hall of Fame ballot.
Sure, it had people’s attention for a little while, but then MLB announced they would start testing for HGH, Brian Wilson rumors sprung up, and most recently, Banner Day taking place before a night game, has been occupying the majority of Mets fans’ bandwidth. But the snub of Piazza, who should have been on the receiving end of a telephone call last Wednesday ushering him into Cooperstown, is still drawing my ire.
Piazza is the best offensive player to ever play his position. That’s not up for debate. If we forego traditional stats and try to evaluate Piazza’s offensive production in a more neutral context (one not influenced by his lineup protection, the rate the hitters got on base and scored in front of him, etc.) Piazza created 1,378 runs: tied the most by a catcher (with Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk). Ted Simmons (1,283), Yogi Berra, and Joe Torre (1,259) round out the top five.
Some voters prefer to go straight off their gut. I’ve heard about the “wow” factor cited by Ken Rosenthal (and called into question here by Rob Neyer) in making a case for Jack Morris. Wait, Jack Morris had more of a “wow” career than Piazza? Not in my baseball conscious, nor many I’ve talked to over the past… oh, I don’t know… decades.
His critics will cite supposed “whispers” of steroid use and they’ll say he was a terrible defensive catcher, which indicate he isn’t a “first ballot” kind of player. However, people in media have been referring to Piazza as a “future Hall of Famer” for nearly 15 years. It was a slam dunk since the late ’90s. We all knew it.
In regards to his defensive play, pitchers had a 3.80 ERA when Piazza was catching. According to ACTA Sports, if you look at all the other catchers who caught the same pitchers in the same year that Piazza did, they allowed a 4.34 ERA. Was Piazza gifted at throwing runners out? No, and that mostly stemmed from footwork issues that hindered his relatively-adequate to moderately-decent throwing arm. But I would argue the few three-hoppers Mets fans grew accustomed to seeing Piazza bounce towards second base act more as a legend of past times than an actual negative impact on his pitchers and the amount of runs they gave up.
In 2009, Craig Wright wrote a detailed sabermetric study for The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2009 that showed that hitters had a .723 OPS with Piazza behind the plate and a .748 OPS with other catchers. Also, the The Fielding Bible: Volume II by Acta Sports found that Piazza saved at least 20 to 70 runs more than an average catcher defensively, depending on the technique that they used. That seems like a catcher who, at the very least, worked with his pitchers to develop the most effective game plan against opposing hitters.
Mike Piazza is an all-time great hitter and a moderate defender. To me, that is worthy of the Hall of Fame.
Matthew Cerrone, Lead WriterI feel bad for Mike Piazza, because I assume he wanted to get in to the Hall of Fame, and he was denied access by the BBWAA. I don’t feel bad for the Hall of Fame, because I hold that place in fairly low regard anyway, and yesterday’s vote did nothing to change that…
The Mets will only seriously consider retiring Piazza’s number after he’s wearing a Mets hat in the Hall of Fame, at least that’s what I was told years ago. I assume nothing has changed, but maybe it has. Who knows? Actually, a nice statement would be to retire his number and get it hanging up on the wall in time for the All-Star Game. There is also the issue of Piazza’s book, which was slated to come out this summer, and in which he’s expected to address the steroid rumors. So, I wonder how yesterday’s vote impacts the book’s release…. as well as the team’s plans for his legacy. Personally, I don’t care either way, I still admire the guy and will always consider him among my favorite players to ever wear a Mets uniform. Plus, the pencil-thin beard? I mean, that alone is worthy of a retired number, right?
Anyway, the reaction on- and offline yesterday to the BBWAA was entertaining. Personally, I think they look foolish, because they’ve obviously all unknowingly (or even knowingly) voted for cheaters before, yet yesterday they decided to take a stand. They did very little to expose steroid use with their pens in the late 90s, yet decided to take a stand yesterday with their votes. Also, you know they’re going to eventually vote in Piazza, and maybe even Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, which will make them look even more foolish. I mean, what’s the point of that? I’d think a guy is either a Hall of Fame baseball player or he’s not. It’s like the writers think they’re MLB’s parents, grounding their kids for the year, saying, ‘Go to your rooms, and think about what you’ve done.’ But, in the future, all will be OK? When did it become the responsibility of sports writers to temporarily punish people on the ballot, or at the very least make them feel bad or embarrassed… and all based on hearsay, and no actual evidence, by the way?
Yes, I’m more worked up about this from a media point of view, less about baseball. Because, I believe people did steroids in baseball and I’m OK with that. It’s hardly a source of pride, and the game should regret it, but I know the deal and accept responsibility for my actions, as a fan, who paid to see games, watched them on TV, and loved every minute of it. And, I’ll tell my kids about it, and be honest, because that’s baseball, which is littered with all sorts of eras and rules and shady activity that mess with stats and legacy (be it spitballs, greenies, segregation, wars, dead-balls, steroids, adjusted mound heights, the DH, and so on). Frankly, that’s our society in general, so why would sports be any different. But, to get all high and mighty now, 15 years later, and act like I’m some moral authority, charged with punishing players with votes and lectures on what’s right and wrong, when I did nothing to change that behavior when I could, seems like it would be a hypocritical to me. But, to each his own, I guess…