Jan 08

I Voted For Piazza

I can’t remember when I’ve anticipated the Hall of Fame results like I do this year. I would be stunned if the noted cheaters on the ballot – Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa – get in, but honestly I am surprised to read how many writers included them.

Some say they voted on production, yet omitted baseball’s greatest hitting catcher in Mike Piazza. I do not understand this thinking.

I did not vote for Bonds, Clemens or Sosa, but I did vote for Piazza. The evidence against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa is evident, as it is against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro.

That is not the case with Piazza, who never failed a drug test, did not appear on the Mitchell Report, and was never accused by a colleague on the record. There has been innuendo against Piazza from a several writers citing acne on his back. This is circumstantial evidence, and shaky at best.

If Piazza does not get in, and it is later discovered he cheated, then I will change my vote in the future. But, there currently is none, and I cast my ballot for him without hesitation.

Dec 01

Teams Silent On Hall Candidates Piazza, Bonds, Sosa And Clemens

The calls started to come the other night from other Hall of Fame writers asking if I intended to vote for Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. As a Hall of Fame voter the past decade I take the responsibility seriously.

Because of their connection to performance enhancing drugs, I did not vote for Mark McGwire or Rafael Palmeiro, the latter whom I covered when he was with the Orioles. Palmeiro certainly didn’t look bulked up at the time. I had been on the Yankees’ beat for several years when he waved his finger at Congress and said he never used steroids. I believed him.

PIAZZA: Will he make it to the Hall?

My guess, and it’s only a guess, is he thought after that display he wouldn’t be tested. I liked Palmeiro and it pains me to leave him off, At 3,000 hits and 500 homers, achieved mostly before his testimony, he was a given. He’s fallen off the radar since his retirement which leaves me wanting more.

Of the candidates, the only one I am sure of is Craig Biggio. Bonds, Sosa and Clemens are a definite no now because they have been implicated or tested positive. There is evidence as to their use. Piazza is different and I don’t know about him yet. He hasn’t failed a drug test and wasn’t accused in the Mitchell Report.

I don’t care about the newspaper articles of his back acne. What gives me pause is his autobiography is coming out in February, deliberately held back by the publisher until after the Hall of Fame announcement. I am wondering why. If Piazza didn’t use steroids, then why not come out and scream it? He has friends in the press in New York. Why doesn’t he say something?

I’ll probably wait on Piazza until next year depending on what he says in the book.

What is also interesting is the silence from the teams. Not a word. In previous years, teams would bombard the voters with emails, similar to what the colleges do when they have a Heisman candidate. Nothing, not a peep from these teams. Makes you think they know something, and it isn’t good.

Not only their silence speaks volumes, but the Giants and Cubs seem to be distancing themselves from Bonds and Sosa, respectively. Sosa is a two-time cheater in my book, using steroids and a corked bat. He can pretend not to understand English before Congress and bleach his skin white after retirement, but he can’t hide. We know what he is.

With the Mets, a franchise in desperate need of positive news, there’s been no public support for Piazza, a player who said he wants to go in wearing their cap. (The Hall of Fame decides the cap with its basis on where that player made his mark.) The Hall’s thinking with Piazza is he’d wear a Dodger cap. Clemens would wear Boston, Bonds would wear San Francisco and Sosa would wear the Cubs.

I don’t think that will be an issue on the first ballot.

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May 18

Today in Mets History: Hundley has tainted career day.

Not even chemistry would make Todd Hundley the player he was supposed to be. On this date in 1996, Hundley homered from both sides of the plate and drove in a career-high seven runs in a 14-5 victory at San Francisco.

HUNDLEY: Enjoyed career day on this date.

Hundley would hit 41 homers that season, but never again had a year that approached those numbers. According to the Mitchell Report, Hundley started using steroids that season after never hitting more than 16 prior to that year.

Hundley, the son of former major league catcher Randy Hundley, hit 124 homers in nine seasons with the Mets, and after stints with the Dodgers and Cubs, finished with 202 career homers when he retired after the 2003 season.

CAREER NUMBERS

Former Mets manager Bobby Valentine and Hundley feuded after the manager suggested his catcher needed more sleep, in reference to his late-night party image.

After Mike Piazza was acquired in May of 1998, it was apparent Hundley was done with the Mets and was traded to the Dodgers after that season.

Four years after his retirement, Hundley was named in the Mitchell Report along with another Mets catcher, Paul Lo Duca, for using performance enhancing drugs.

BASEBALL STEROID ERA

 

Jan 22

Jan. 22.10: Matthews to Mets.

MATTHEWS: Brings baggage to Mets.

MATTHEWS: Brings baggage to Mets.

Gary Matthews Jr., to the Mets from the Los Angeles Angels looks like a done deal. Several media outlets have made the report, but the Mets have not confirmed the deal.

Uncertain, is who the Angels would get in return or if there is a third team involved.

I’m not a Matthews fan, and if the Angels are willing to spend $20 million of the remaining $24 million of his contract to get rid of him, what does that say about their regard for the player? Matthews hit .250 with four homers and 50 RBI, with an on-base percentage of .336 last season.

Since 1999, Matthews has played for seven teams, including two games with the Mets in 2002. There has to be a reason why he’s always been on the move.

His numbers averaged out over a 162-game schedule is a .258 average with 14 homers and 63 RBI. Not exactly earth-shattering stuff.

Matthews’ best season was 2006 when he hit .313 (his only .300 season) with 19 homers and 79 RBI (both career highs), for which he was rewarded with that ridiculous contract by the Angels.

Matthews’ name also surfaced in the Mitchell Report, which begs the question of what he might have hit if he were clean.

I know they need a center fielder, but I don’t like this deal.

I replaced the pitching poll with one on Matthews.