Archive for the 'Tom Glavine' Category

Mike, Tom, and the Hall

There are a number of reasons a person may get acne, even on their back. It can happen due to heredity. It can be caused by a hormone imbalance. Clothing can also cause the problem, especially if a person sweats a lot. Also, back acne can be caused by some medications including steroids.

And there lies the problem with why the greatest hitting catcher of all time is still not in the Hall of fame. We are talking about Mike Piazza, a player who not only hit the most home runs of any catcher but one who hit impact homers. In my opinion what truly sets a great player apart from a very good one is a player who can rise to the occasion. A player who gets the big hit when it is needed most. Piazza was one of those players.

Many players in the Hall of Fame today are compilers. They are in because the back of their baseball card is filled with numbers. A guy with 3000 hits or 500 homers is almost automatically in, unless of course they are connected to steroids. Mike Piazza is connected to steroids. Not because he has confessed to using them, was caught using them, was turned in by other players or those around the game that know things. No, none of that has happened. He’s on no list that we know of. Lists that include Mark McGuire, Barry Bonds, and Rafael Palmero to name a few, do not include Piazza. Nope, Mike is not on any of them, at least so far.

So in a country that decrees it is better for a guilty man to go free than an innocent one being locked up, apparently many writers feel Piazza was a user and therefore should not get into the Hall of fame, at least not yet. And why, because a writer in the Mets locker room once reported that Piazza had back acne, a symptom of steroid use. And there is also other circumstantial evidence. Piazza was a 62nd round draft pick who became one of the greatest catchers ever. Hmm, sounds suspicious to me (sarcasm intended). If you can prove to me that a 62nd round pick only had to take steroids to make him the greatest hitting catcher of all time then where do I get some?

This is a guy who worked his butt off to become the player he was. There are coaches of his from far and wide who will attest to it. He worked constantly to improve himself during the season and in the off season. And his career arc is much in line with other greats before the steroid era. In the case of the players who we know for sure that were using, they were producing at ages that were not common. Piazza began to break down in his mid thirties as most non users did. If he had hit 40 homers at the age of 37, maybe I would have some suspicion.  His last big homer season was 2002 when he hit 33 at the age of 33. At age 34, he hit 11 in an injury plagued season. He ended his Mets career hitting 20 and 19 homers in his final two years in Flushing respectively.  At 37, Mike hit 22 with San Diego before his final season in 2007 when he hit just 8 homers for Oakland.

If the steroid witch hunt had never happened in baseball, Piazza would already be in. But writers have made it clear they are taking a stand regardless of evidence and facts. Piazza will eventually get in. He’s the only player on the ballot who picked up votes this year. That’s no guarantee he’ll get more next year but he should. And in my opinion the Mets should retire his number regardless. Being elected to the Hall or not should be no criteria for his number not hanging on the Citi Field wall.

Personally, there is enough factual information, yes facts, that support that steroids did not make as much of an impact as writers and others in the media claim. The Steroids-and-baseball website is a great source of factual information in regards to steroids and baseball. That doesn’t mean there should be no rules to prevent their use. After all Steroids are illegal and taking them improperly will likely threaten a person’s health in the long term. However, there is a lot of information to suggest that the increased power numbers had more to do with expansion (and with expansion comes more watered down pitching), smaller ballparks, harder maple bats, and a tighter wound ball. Steroids may have aided in players being able to recover faster from injury but many studies are showing the increase in home run production was negligible, if at all! Again, I’m not defending the use of steroids but I am suggesting that the writers get a clue and stop using their vote as some kind of morality statement.

There are many in the Hall of Fame already who were users of steroids and other drugs. Some threw spit balls too and sharpened their spikes with the intent of hurting other players. Should we throw them out now?  Alcohol has ruined more families in this country then any illegal drug combined. Should we throw Babe Ruth and others out of the Hall who routinely tied one on? And of course alcohol reminds us of the utter hypocrisy that has baseball and all sports touting just say no to drugs while you chill out with a Bud. Let’s also not forget at the height of the steroid era, owners turned a blind eye because the turnstiles were spinning out of control. Steroids have been a part of baseball and all sports for a very long time, just ask Lenny Dystra who at the end of his Mets tenure showed up to spring training looking like Charles Atlas winking at anyone who caught his eye.  I think baseball should be commended for their new anti-drug policy but it’s high time we all move forward and leave the past to the history books.

Mike Piazza’s numbers speak for themselves. He performed as a perennial All Star in two of the most pressure packed markets of Los Angeles and New York. He hit home runs and drove in runs that were very often in meaningful situations. He was one of the best clutch hitters in the game. He was a better defensive catcher in terms of handling pitchers and blocking the plate than what he gets credit for. And his offensive numbers and awards are simply outstanding. Pizza belongs in the Hall, plain and simple.

Mets fans hate Tom Glavine for two reasons. One, he gave up seven runs in the first inning of the final game of 2007, completing a Mets collapse down the stretch of epic proportions.  Two, he said he was disappointed but not devastated of the outcome. This remark infuriated Mets fans who most always felt he was a Brave in Mets clothing all along. Oh well, there will be no convincing them of the truth but…

Glavine certainly made a tactical error in not demonstrating more remorse over that final game. Even if he faked it, his departure from the Mets would not have been so conspicuous. But I got his point and in his world of family first, his point was it is just a game and although infuriating, perhaps that was his way of trying to minimize the huge disappointment he most certainly felt as an athlete. You don’t win 300 games in baseball if you truly don’t give a shit about winning. But make one thing clear. Following the Mets down that horrendous September of 2007, you simply cannot pin the Mets demise entirely on one Tom Glavine. Night after night, starting pitching failed then gave way to a beleaguered bullpen that was simply out of gas. If a team cannot hold a seven game lead in early September, how the hell can you blame one pitcher on the final day of the season? Yes I get it but think it is very unfair.

And one more thing… like Glavine or not, regardless of going into the Hall wearing a Braves cap (which of course he should), one fact will always be true. Glavine won his 300th game as a Met. He did not do it as a Brave. He did it in Chicago against the Cubs wearing burnt orange and royal blue. That can never be taken away from us, a great moment in Mets history regardless of how you feel about Glavine. Also Glavine suffered what so many other stars did when coming to the Mets. The front office has historically never put a supporting cast around a new shiny face on the team.  It’s like spending $40,000 on a car and not going with the heated seats. The same can be said in Glavine’s case. The Mets simply do not follow through and build an entire roster. They put lipstick on a pig and hope for the best. Seldom does that work.  However, let’s remember that Glavine helped the Mets become a winner again starting in 2005, the playoffs in 2006, and up to game 162 of ’07.

The Hall of Fame is a baseball museum and it is a business. Fans of baseball can debate for hours on end of the merits of what players deserve to be there and what ones do not. We know the greats—Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Tom Seaver, Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Christie Mathewson, Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio and so forth. These are players that are heralded as the true greats of the game. They are players who dominated at their position either in the batter’s box or on the pitcher’s mound for extended periods of time. There is no question of their deserving of the honor to be a member. But over the years, it seems more players are getting in based on numbers alone. The fact a player stayed healthy, was very good, and amassed big numbers does not mean they necessarily were dominant during their era. But never the less, those players are getting in. Who was more dominating a hitter than Don Mattingly for a short period of time? But the powers that be say he wasn’t dominating long enough. I’m not saying that Mattingly should be in the Hall but his numbers are extremely comparable to Kirby Puckett. Puckett is in, Mattingly is not. But Piazza has the numbers and he also was that dominating player at one of the most difficult positions in all of professional sports. He should be in already and it is a crime he is not.

The writers being judge and jury without evidence, is simply wrong. There have been cheaters in this game since it started and it will continue. If not drugs, then something else will be discovered to give the player an edge. It’s ugly but it’s the nature of the business.

Mike Piazza deserves to be in the Hall. He was the dominant player at his position for over a decade. He won Rookie of the Year, MVP, helped teams to the playoffs three times and got the Mets to the World Series. No one will ever forget his home run on September 21, 2001 that united a city. And although he made the last out of the 2000 World Series, had the wind not have been gusting in so strong over Flushing Bay, it’s likely Piazza’s drive would have tied the game instead of landing in Bernie Williams glove.

If you have the proof Piazza was cheating, then show it otherwise do the right thing and vote the man into the Hall of Fame.