Jul 24

Piazza: “The Thing I Miss Most Is Making You Cheer”


For eight years, Mike Piazza heard you, and today’s induction speech by only the second Met, joining Tom Seaver, to be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame was his way of saying thank you for the encouragement, the prodding, the enjoyment, and most of all, for the love.

“How can I put into words my love, thanks and appreciation for New York Mets’ fans?” was one of the many highlights of his Hall of Fame induction speech, which timed out close to 31 minutes, which was the number he proudly wore during his magnificent career.

“You have given me the greatest gift and graciously taken me into your family. This brings me back to the best time of my life. … You guys are serious. The eight years we spent together went by way too fast. The thing I miss most is making you cheer.”

Today wasn’t about numbers, but emotions and memories and Piazza made sure to thank his father, Vince, saying: “We made it, dad. The race is over. Now it’s time to smell the roses.”

But, not before thanking a few more special people, from managers Tommy Lasorda and Bobby Valentine, to scores of teammates, including John Franco, who gave up his No. 31 when the former 62nd round draft pick was traded to the Mets.

Piazza’s speech embodied the way he played – from the heart.

We loved him for the numbers and moments, including his post-September 11 home run, with a reference on his plaque saying, “it helped rally a nation.” But, we also loved him for his class and humility.

Piazza acknowledged how many noted that home run in the proceeding weeks, but he chose to honor the first responders who selflessly gave their lives.

That home run might have been a symbolic gesture, but what the police and firemen did was a greater sacrifice.

Piazza gave us numerous memories to love him over those eight years. Today he told us he loved us back.

Apr 04

Cespedes’ Explanation Insulting

Seeing Yoenis Cespedes’ comments about his misadventures in left field Opening Day served as a reminder most players don’t care as much as fans do. His explanation was insulting.

I don’t know what I expected Cespedes to say after he lackadaisically loped into position and casually reached for Mike Moustakas’ routine fly ball in the first inning. And, dropped it because he wouldn’t do the most fundamental thing, which is to use two !@#$% hands.

CESPEDES: ``I'm human.'' (AP)

CESPEDES: “I’m human.” (AP)

Every Little Leaguer knows to do that, but not Cespedes – and to be fair most Major Leaguers, either. Maybe they don’t think it’s the “cool’’ thing to do. Maybe they just don’t give a damn.

Cespedes’ comment was as half-assed as his effort three hours earlier: “The ball just fell out of my glove. The ball just fell. I’m human.’’

Fell? It fell because he was too lazy to use two hands; too stubborn to do one of the most fundamental things in his sport. Actually, in all fairness to Cespedes, it “fell” from his glove twice, the second when he attempted to pick it up with his glove. Another screw-up, as in a play like that you reach down with your throwing hand.

I guess Mets fans should be grateful he at least reached down to pick it up.

The play, Cespedes’ comments, and manager Terry Collins’ reaction is emblematic about what is wrong with professional sports these days.

First, there’s the player who doesn’t care enough to do his best then dismisses legitimate questions. Then, there’s the manager who is too timid to do anything about it. And, worse, defends the botched play. Don’t dare call out the player who is making $27.5 million.

Instead, Collins meekly said: “Gold Glove out there, it surprised everybody.”

I laughed because anybody who has been paying attention couldn’t be surprised.

Actually, the only person who came out of this looking good was the player victimized the most, with that being Matt Harvey.

Sure, Harvey had to be pissed – no pun intended – but he did the professional thing, which is to not publicly throw his teammate under the bus.

“It’s baseball. Things happen,’’ Harvey told reporters. “Nobody’s trying to do anything out there except to get outs and do everything we can to help the team. Errors happen. It’s part of the game.’’

So is using two hands.

ON DECK: Why this is Collins’ toughest job

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Jun 30

Today in Mets’ History: No-hit by Sandy Koufax.

On this date in Mets History, the Mets fell to one of the great ones in 1962 when Sandy Koufax threw the first of his four career no-hitters, winning 5-0, at Dodger Stadium.

KOUFAX: Said to have had the ``left arm of God.''

To illustrate the strange nature of the sport, the previous day the Mets drew 16 walks to win 10-4.

Koufax issued five walks and struck out 13 Mets, including Rod Kanehl, Cliff Cook, Elio Chacon, Chris Cannizzaro and Ray Daviault twice each.


In 20 career starts against the Mets, Koufax was 17-2 with a 1.44 ERA, including 14 complete games.


Koufax had a dominating six-year run from 1961-66, when he was named the National League MVP in 1963, and won the Cy Young Award in 1963, 65 and 66. His career was cut short at the age of 30 with arthritis.

At 36 years and 20 days, he was the youngest entry into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Koufax played basketball at the University of Cincinnati, and played for the baseball team in 1954. He was scouted by the Dodgers, but the report was lost.

Koufax later tried out for the Giants and Pirates – neither of which offered a contract – and the Dodgers again. This time, he was signed for $6,000 with a $14,000 signing bonus.

A close friend of owner Fred Wilpon, Koufax is a frequent visitor to the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and tutors the pitchers most every spring.

After a long drought, Koufax is back in the Dodgers’ family. The Dodgers hired him to be a minor league pitching coach in 1979, but he resigned in 2000, the departure blamed on an uneasy relationship with then Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.

Koufax severed ties with the Dodgers in 2003 when a New York Post article wrote of his sexual orientation and implied he was gay. Both the Post and Dodgers were owned by Rupert Murdoch at the time. Koufax resumed his relationship with the Dodgers when Frank McCourt purchased the team in 2004.