Posted: 02/13/2013 11:25 PM
February 13, 2013, 11:44 a.m.
Mike Piazza has not set foot in Dodger Stadium since his retirement. When the Dodgers offered to honor him with a bobblehead night last season, Piazza declined.
"He doesn't want to come back because he thinks the fans will boo," former Dodgers Manager Tom Lasorda, the godfather to Piazza's brother, told The Times last month.
Piazza did himself no favors on that score in his new book, "Long Shot." In the book, he blames iconic Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully for turning fans against him during the contract stalemate that preceded his trade to the Florida Marlins in 1998.
Piazza, who was eligible for free agency after the 1998 season, said he hoped to stay with the Dodgers but set a deadline of Feb. 15 to reach a new contract. In the book, Piazza wrote that Scully asked him about the deadline in a spring interview.
"He wasn't happy about it," Piazza wrote. "And Scully's voice carried a great deal of authority in Los Angeles."
Piazza wanted $105 million over seven years. In the book, he said the Dodgers made a take-it-or-leave-it offer of $76 million over six years, said he would have signed at $79 million, and suggested the team leaked that it had offered $80 million.
At $80 million -- or even at $76 million -- Piazza would have been the highest-paid player in the game. Dodgers fans took notice that spring, as Piazza wrote.
"The way the whole contract drama looked to them -- many of whom were taking their cue from Scully -- was that, by setting a deadline and insisting on so much money, I was demonstrating a conspicuous lack of loyalty to the ball club," Piazza wrote. "I understood that."
Piazza ripped the Dodgers in a 1998 opening day interview with The Times. In the book, he said that interview did not play well with the L.A. fans, and neither did the fact that he failed to drive in a run as the Dodgers opened the season with a four-game losing streak.
"On top of that, Vin Scully was crushing me," Piazza wrote.Much more at Link !!!!http://www.latimes.com/sports/...0,4321626.story
Posted: 02/14/2013 12:18 PM
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Posted: 02/15/2013 4:45 PM
February 14, 2013, 8:20 p.m.
When contacted by The Times' Bill Shaikin about the charges, Scully was clearly wounded, saying, "I have no idea where he is coming from. I really have no idea. I can't imagine saying something about a player and his contract. I just don't do that."
The folks at KTLA unearthed a video of that Scully interview from 1998 and, indeed, he crushed nobody. He simply asked Piazza about the ultimatum and gave him a chance to clear the air.
Fifteen years later, Piazza has misguidedly polluted it again. In an attempt to sell a book that he surely hopes will edge him closer to the Hall of Fame — he fell short this winter in his first year of eligibility amid rumors of steroid use — he has pushed himself further from his Dodgers home.
"I'm very disappointed in that, I'm sorry he would even do that," Lasorda said Thursday. ''I don't know what he was thinking."
If Piazza was thinking he was criticized on his way out of town, he's right, but it didn't come from Scully; it came from newspaper columnists who accused him of being selfish, one of them writing, "It's time for Mike Piazza to zip it."
Those words were mine. In that same 1998 column, I also wrote, "Piazza may love L.A., but he is notEric Karros, he is an East Coast guy, he will disappear in a minute."
If that has not happened in the last 15 years, it's happened now, Piazza completely removing himself from the Dodgers landscape with an unfair blow to their living monument.
"I think it's inappropriate," said Fred Claire, the former Dodgers general manager who conducted those contract discussions with Piazza. "Vinny has always respected the game. He's deserving of that same respect."
Claire, who lost his job after protesting the Piazza trade, believes that if Piazza had just kept his mouth shut back then, Piazza could have remained a Dodger for life.
"I wanted to sign him, the money was there to sign him ... we would have worked out this contract," Claire said. "They made a mistake about making an issue about the contract on opening day of the season. That was not good judgment."
One wonders if Piazza's anger toward Scully in this book is actually misdirected anger at himself. He really should have been a Dodger forever. He should have been the Kobe Bryant of Chavez Ravine. He should be settling into retirement on the fields of Glendale, behind the batting cage at Dodger Stadium, in the community where he was once the most beloved of ballplayers.
Even 15 years later, the fans would have embraced him. This was a guy who once hit a ball into the parking lot, who once knocked the San Francisco Giants out of the playoffs. If he had accepted the Dodgers' bobblehead offer last summer, you would still be hearing echoes of that standing ovation. How could he not have understood that? How could he have misread such affection for contempt, and responded with such venom?
"I wanted him to come back and be part of the festivities here, but he didn't want to do it," said Lasorda. "I kept telling him, 'Mike, believe me, I'll stake my reputation on those fans, they're not going to boo you.' "
He can't say that now. It was indeed once a longshot that Mike Piazza could go from the 62nd round to Dodger Stadium. It is sadly now a longshot that he could imminently return.More at Link !!!! Plus Video.http://www.latimes.com/sports/...0,541190.column
Posted: 02/16/2013 12:21 PM
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Posted: 02/19/2013 8:47 AM