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Mike Piazza Used A Club At The Plate, And On My Blue Heart

Mike Piazza will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday, and I’m emotionally split over how to feel about it.

Bravo for Mike. He’s earned it. He’s the greatest hitting catcher to ever play the game, and it was my pleasure and privilege to watch him play the first six years of his career as an L.A. Dodger.

During that time, Piazza WAS the Dodgers to me. He was an iron man in the line up, and made of iron when someone tried to crash home plate on him.

There are those who try to undercut Piazza’s legacy by pointing out he didn’t throw out enough base runners, but that has little significance in my Piazza evaluation. The man could hit! I have never seen a Dodgers’ catcher who could crush like Piazza. I may never see one like him again.

Make no mistake – as a batter, Piazza was much more than an all-or-nothing masher. He hit .300 for nine straight years, and won ten Silver Slugger Awards. But he’ll always be “Home Run Piazza” to me. Nobody wielded a baseball bat like Mike Piazza. His powerful, uppercut swing produced gargantuan home runs to my widened eyes. It was a beautiful sight to see.

I loved Mike Piazza as a Dodger. I was at the Sept. 21, 1997 game when Piazza became the only Dodger to hit a ball out of Dodger Stadium. I also remember the gut-dropping feeling the morning I first saw the news that the Dodgers’ numbers-crunching, legacy-oblivious owners at Fox had traded Piazza away.

That was the start of my bittersweet feelings toward the greatest Dodgers catcher I ever saw. Mike  Piazza has every right to feel upset the Dodgers did not offer to pay him what he felt he was worth at the time. However, he comes across to me like he also projects resentment toward the city and its fans as well. It’s like he hates that he was ever a Dodger.

“If the Hall came to me and said, ‘We want you to go in as a Dodger,’ I’d say, ‘Well, then I’ll go in as nothing. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with LA stamped on my head for all of eternity.” – Mike Piazza

He went on to make other statements that blamed Vin Scully for supposedly turning the fans against him. He said Scully was “crushing him” on the air. Piazza later backed off those statements a bit when he admitted he never really heard Scully say anything specifically, he was just going on what others told him.

Statements like these make it hard for me to feel the kind of pride a fan should feel when an iconic player from his team reaches Hall of Fame glory.

I’m happy for the man to have reached the pinnacle of his profession, but then I remember Piazza would rather go into the Hall of Fame wearing nothing – rather than the cap of the team who gave him his start. He would rather forget the city and its fans that loved him as a player for many years, and who were shocked and heartbroken when he was traded away. That makes it very hard for me to give Mike Piazza a standing ovation on his big day.


Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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Oscar Martinez
I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

35 thoughts on “Mike Piazza Used A Club At The Plate, And On My Blue Heart

  1. If we ever had a Mike Piazza appreciation day, I would give him a standing ovation (if I actually decided to go to that game!).

    I echo the first half of your article. In my mind he was the greatest Dodger hitter I’ve ever seen (since 1983), and he would have had the greatest Dodger offensive career had he remained a Dodger. But we stupidly traded him, and we’ve not had a superstar like him since. Kemp may have been on his way, and perhaps Seager will become that player. My greatest Piazza game was last day of the year, 1993, when he hit 2 hr and helped knock the giants out of the playoffs in an 13-1 ass kicking.

    I don’t blame him for what said after he was traded, or what he wrote in his book (which was regarding how he felt AT THAT TIME, not when wrote the book). Seems like there was just horrible communication from everybody, and idiots made idiotic decisions for no reason.

    He also should go in to the hall as a Met. He had more success in NY. He played more games there ( as hard as that is to believe), he made the world series as a Met. He’s a Met hall of famer because moronic Dodger management gave him away for no reason. That trade always stung me more than Pedro because Pedro hadn’t shown greatness yet as a Dodger (only flashes, like Urias). Piazza had MVP type years consistently, and was the city’s biggest star, after Magic left, NFL left, and thru the beginning of Kobe/Shaq.

    Anyway, let’s win today!

  2. Ugh, it still KILLS me that mofo Chase Carey of Fox (& a 2nd know-nothing, non-baseball exec whose name escapes me now) traded Mike without the knowledge of our General Manager, Fred Claire. I’m glad that Fred resigned in protest but it was lost on them, they didn’t care about him, about Mike Piazza and especially about the fan base. Complete idiots. They never should have had ANYTHING to do with baseball decisions and MLB should have voided the trade and told Fox to get their house in order.

    Even then it was quite clear Mike was a once-in-a-lifetime hitter (especially at the Catcher position) that a path to the Hall was open to him barring injury. I remember he ran a large ad in the LA Times thanking the fans, I’ve saved a copy.

    Mike definitely belong in the Hall and I understand why he chose to go in as a Met but it will ALWAYS bother me he wasn’t a career Dodger with a couple rings and that his number isn’t retired here.

  3. The game is nothing without the fans. Management \business is a different story. If piazza doesn’t see the difference and appreciate all those Dodger fans that supported him, them it’s his loss.

  4. So wait a minute, don’t you expect to see Grandal wearing Dodger Blue in the HOF? (yes only is he buys a ticket and is touring the hall).

  5. As a fan, I probably didn’t appreciate the individual stats of Piazza. I guess in my mind, he was compared to Johnny Bench. Bench won rings. Piazza never did. I liked the guy, but when he got traded, I didn’t think it was a big deal. I think the club got back some good players. I guess the Marlins didn’t think that much of him either. Then when he made a hissy fit, it pissed me off. I still am ambivalent over his HOF induction. I guess the stats speak for themselves, but he never won a World Series for the Dodgers or anyone else. My most vivid memory is when Clemens hit him in the World series. I guess I congratulate him with a small “c.” I don’t want him to wear LA on his plaque. Good. He doesn’t deserve to. Don’t forget, that this team is the only one that gave him a chance to play ball. And developed him. And waited for him to get good. Without the Dodgers, he would be just another guy who “could have been good.” And, I’m not convinced that he didn’t have some “help” along the way, as in PED.

  6. Badger said: “The Giants are paying Bumgarner $9.4 million while the Dodgers are paying Brett Anderson $15.4 million.”

    EXACTLY! The Giants grew Bum – that is exactly what the Dodgers are trying to do so they don’t have to sign the Brett Andersons. Let’s see how it works out that they are paying Shark and Cueto about 30% more than Anderson and Bumgarner COMBINED!

    Speaking of Anderson, his 2015 was a great year for a #5 – which is what they signed him for. He was statistically the 50th best starter in baseball in 2015. He may even come back and contribute THIS year.

    You can’t judge trades in a microcosm… well you can if you aren’t too bright , but otherwise it takes a few years to judge them. The first year? No so much.

    Look at McCarthy now – this is what the Dodgers thought they were getting in 2015… but I’ll take it now. I have read many of you post so much $hit about McCarthy for so long… you didn’t think I was going to forget did you? How do you like him now? If you are bright, you won’t jump to conclusions, but if you are dim… well that’s on you.

    Yasmani Grandal – I remain high on him. .237, .211, .226 – Russ Martin had three years in a row like that. Grandal is tied for second in MLB among catchers for HR. He’s 6th in RBI. Grandal is actually pretty good in a year when most catchers aren’t! He’s not going anywhere – it’s not worth the cost of several prospects for a “slight” upgrade like Lucroy.

  7. That’s 14hr and 36rbi for JT in the last 36 games. What a monster!

    This is a game Kenley HAS to close out! Giants lost; we have a shot at being 3 back

    1. Most games lost to the DL.

      Our Ace out.

      We are in the thick.

      What a great season.

      I see the bitchers are hiding.

      Then Kenley blows it again!


      Goodbye Kenley – You aren’t worth the big bucks!

  8. Extremely high leverage situations – he chokes!

    Make excuses that it’s the offense! Kenley is not at fault!

    5 blown saves. He blows!

    Give him the qualifying offer and let him walk!

    Cause Damn!

    1. Mark
      If Kenley’s fastball, isn’t above 92 there can be problems.

      But usually by the third hitter, Kenley is throwing 94, and he wasn’t above 92 today.

      1. The HR off Kenley was on a 95.6 MPH Fastball. He was well over 92. He was 93. He was 94. He was 95!

    2. The Dodgers had more hits then the Cardinals, but Joc made in error that allowed the Cardinals to score two runs, on one hit.

  9. He’s back.

    I like McCarthy fine for the last 5 minutes. The problem I had with him, the one most had with him, was the issue that manifested itself very quickly – he’s made of glass. Maybe we get 60 innings out of him? Yippee. We need it.

    Xtra innings. BS. Dammit.

    1. Bobby
      I know.

      I thought he would be more careful with that Jerko, because Jerko has saw a lot of Kenley.

    1. Bobby
      Almost every big game this year, that mattered about picking up games on the Giants, Kenley has blown it.

      But wasn’t that HR once again, on the first pitch?

      That is the pitch that almost every hitter, will try to Jack out of the place.

  10. Months ago I posted that he was a head case but no one believed me. The signs were always there.

  11. I normally like Kenley because he normally does his job. I do wonder about him. I always seem to hold my breath when he comes in. Will Montas ever show or will he always be hurt? I think the qualifying offer makes sense, maybe a team friendly extended offer. I have to think these guys know more than us if they haven’t locked him up.

    I hope we can work things out with JT.

    Eager to see what July 31 brings us.

    1. He probably wouldn’t take a Qualifying Offer but I’d hate to pay that much for him. And I’d hate to let him go IF I could get him for a more reasonable amount. Like you said, Montas isn’t a lock either. I know we demand too much of Kenley but that’s where “The Closer” era has brought us. My best offer would be Three Years, $40MM. If he walks, so be it. History shows us that whenever a club needs a closer, it finds one. Remember how almost ever closer in our history came into being….

  12. Snider: Right. When Kershaw takes the money and runs without a ring and badmouths the team and never in his career has a ring for anyone, he can go into the HOF with another hat on his head. I won’t forget his blown starts in the playoffs. He has a chance to be a Dodger Legend, but there is a bit more to go yet with his career and the choices he makes. On Jansen: He’s a good closer. That’s it. If he’s let go, someone else will come in and close and get nearly as many saves as he does. The role of a closer is to bring stability to the late innings. Jansen does that. Can someone else? Probably.

    1. You must be a very unhappy person. Every player on every team does his best, whether he’s a star or not, whether his team ever wins a ring or not. I don’t hate every player that left here for more money or a better chance to win a ring. That was his right and he’d be a damned fool if he didn’t manage his career as best he could. The fault for any team not winning is squarely on the shoulders of Management and Ownership, the players tried their best for any number of reasons. If Kershaw leaves here, and he well may, he will have a good reason for it, and he will take with him the love and respect of all Dodger fans who have their head on right.
      I shouldn’t have to point out to you that Piazza didn’t choose to leave, he was involuntarily traded. Management has that right. And as long as Management has that right, nobody has a valid gripe about any choosing to leave for whatever reason.

  13. As I watched the ceremony today, I got goose bumps watching the highlights of Piazza as a Dodger. I congratulated him for his epic career. But the good part is that it is over. This long sad story of the greatest hitter in the history of the franchise is finally over. It’s been almost 20 years but today was the end of this painful chapter. Congrats Mikey.

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