Is is not only because I am a long-suffering N.Y. Mets fan that I ask and answer this question: Was Mike Piazza shunned in the most recent Baseball Hall of Fame voting?
Absolutely. But there is hope. He did go up in the number of votes this year, his second on the ballot. Conventional wisdom (if that sort of thing applies to Hall of Fame voting now that the taint of the “steroid era” seems to have spread to include those who have never been linked to giving that part of baseball history its nefarious nickname) argues that it’s only a matter of time before he rightfully takes his place in Cooperstown.
Piazza is the best-hitting catcher to play the game.
Piazza was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft. Nowadays, there are only 40 rounds in the draft. How’s that for an improbably rise?
The September 21, 2001 home run against the Braves. Back in the day, the Mets and the Braves were rivals, because both teams were—spoiler alert—good. The Mets played the Braves on September 21, 2001 in the first major sporting event since the attacks of September 11. Down 2–1 in the bottom of the 8th, Piazza hit a two-run homer against Braves’ reliever Stave Karsay to lift the team over their National League East rivals—and a nation above the emotional toll of the attacks, at least for a few moments.
The importance of that hit had little to do with the Mets-Braves rivalry. But in other circumstances where the Amazins’—and Piazza in particular—were threatened by rivals, Piazza held his own. During the 2000 season, Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens staged many an attack on the Mets most popular player, beaming him in the head during one of the Subway Series games and throwing a broken wooden bat at him during Game 2 of the World Series. Piazza had every right to charge the mound, but he kept his cool. Likely because…
He was not on steroids. No roid rage in Queens. Period.
Can’t the Mets just be rewarded for the fact that catcher seems to be the only position the team can get right? He ranks up there with Gary Carter. And, hopefully, the team can get it right this year with prospect Travis d’Arnaud.
Until then, perhaps he can join former teammate—and another former Mets superstar—John Franco in Sag Harbor. Franco’s son J.J. has played for the Sag Harbor Whalers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, and the elder Franco has been known to grace the mound in Mashashimuet Park on occasion. Or, Piazza could hide out with Keith Hernandez in his secret Hamptons lair. Maybe Piazza can join the Artists-Writers Game.
Perhaps he already has family out here? I went to elementary school with a girl named Jenn Piazza, and I could never get a straight answer as to whether or not she’s related to the Michael Joseph Piazza, 2015 Cooperstown inductee.