Retiring Piazza’s 31… and the BBWAA

Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer

I 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?

Mike PiazzaAnyway, 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…