Jeff Pearlman

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Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer, by Taryn Cooper

Taryn Cooper is a Mets loyalist and blogger. I invited her to jeffpearlman.com to explain why I’m wrong to insist Mike Piazza is no Hall of Famer. She graciously accepted. Here’s her take …

Look at my numbers—not my haircut.

“Mike Piazza: Mets fans hate this. I get it, I get it, I get it. But there’s just no way in hell this guy was clean. No.”

— Jeff Pearlman

I know you do not get a vote for the Hall of Fame. It’s also been a week and a half since the vote—or non-vote—took place. Your mock vote post, though, gave me a bird’s eye view of how writers viewed this year’s nominees.

It’s a damn shame Mike Piazza didn’t get the necessary votes in 2013. Judging his legacy, Mike Piazza should have been a first ballot of Hall of Famer. Period.

It’s not just your assessment I disagree with. I disagree with the whole effing lot of them.

1)  “There’s no way this guy was clean.” Where’s the smoking gun? Where’s the proof that he juiced? There is none. Writers made an example of him, for the faults of his generation.

Oh, but there’s a source!  Who—Manti Te’o’s girlfriend?

Piazza very notably broke down as he aged. Not typical of a HGH user.

2)  “He’s not a first ballot Hall of Famer.”  I didn’t realize there was a wing in Cooperstown that distinguished those who made it on the “first ballot” as opposed to those who do not. Look at Piazza’s body of work. He’s the best-hitting catcher of his generation, probably ever. So now we penalize players for being too good?

3)  “He had BACK ACNE!”  So when you had a pimple on your ass in high school, does that mean I can accuse you of injecting steroids?

4)  “Tim Raines gets my vote.”  BWAH HAHA HAHA HAHA HAHA HAAAAAA. A coke addict? Uppers? Stones, glass houses, etc, etc.

Perhaps James Earl Jones, as Terrence Mann in Field of Dreams, said it best, that baseball “has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past … It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. “

Each baseball generation has had its controversy. Prior to Jackie Robinson, was there a level playing field? Gaylord Perry admitted to cheating, that didn’t dissuade voters. In the 1980s, players popped uppers and greenies like M&Ms. Did that prohibit any of those players from getting the necessary votes to represent their best of the generation in Cooperstown.  Nope.

Baseball fans are outraged because all of a sudden … writers are the morality police. Like baseball players are Girl Scouts. Now, a statement is made by withholding votes.

The number one rule of journalism is to never make the story about yourself. Yet, the writers who felt it prudent to elevate those who made the HGH era “golden” are penalizing those who might have done it. Not cool.

PS: Dale Murphy is Hall of Very Good, at best.

Taryn “The Coop” Cooper is a loudmouth sports fan.  She is head writer at Gal For All Seasons, part of the Mets writers co-op Kiners Korner, and (co)host of the associated podcasts.  Follow her maniacal tweets @Coopz22

  • Clayton Lust

    All due respect, that’s not much of a convincing argument – I expected there to be analysis of his numbers, his longevity, etc., not this.

    I hate to say this, because I think Piazza is in a similar place as Bagwell. Neither were caught, but both began to break down (as did Barry Bonds) as soon as there was an effort to clean up the PED issue. In Piazza’s case, I’m not as familiar, but in an era where there were PED’s he didn’t put up absurd numbers – very very good numbers, but not absurd numbers. I have way too many questions about Piazza none of which were addressed – that isn’t to say you were wrong, just that I don’t think you brought a very strong argument.

  • http://www.kranepoolsociety.com kranepool

    If it’s analysis of numbers you want he is Piazza’s page from Baseball Reference http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/piazzmi01.shtml

    The argument for Piazza’s Hall induction is but forth very succinct by Ms. Cooper, there is no solid evidence that Piazza was a PED user only speculation from sportswriters who I might add never made a peep that Piazza was a juicer during is playing days. You can add Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio to the equation as well

  • Jon Tessler

    I do not know if Piazza is a first ballot HoF guy or not(the writers say he isn’t). With that being said I am REALLY tired of the BBWAA trying to be the morality police for the game. I can’t say if PED’s helped pitchers pitch, or hitters hit, but for the same token Ty Cobb was possibly the dirtiest player in the game the first half of the century(the way he played) and he is a Hall of Famer.

    I say either put EVERYONE in who deserves it, or wipe the record book clean of all their stats for their ENTIRE careers. MLB would not have this problem if they had just released the 103 names of players who tested positive in 2003. Then we would know who used and who didn’t. Since we don’t, we have to rely of obviously biased writers opinions.

  • http://www.ThereItIsJakecom BlondiesJake

    The Hall of Fame doesn’t need the current voting system. The eye test covers it…you can tell a Hall of Famer by watching them dominate during their playing days. Compiling statistics does not a Hall of Famer make (and I’m pointing my finger directly at you Rafael “Vitamin Shot” Palmeiro).

    Without any concrete evidence showing Piazza took PEDs, he should’ve been a 1st Ballot Hall of Famer as the best hitting catcher of his generation.

  • Jeff

    “both began to break down (as did Barry Bonds) as soon as there was an effort to clean up the PED issue.”

    Testing began in 2005, the season Piazza turned 37. He batted .300 for the last time at age 32 and hit 30 HRs for the final time at age 33.

    He won’t hit any HRs this year. You want to chalk that up to the new in-season HGH testing?

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  • ref1ex

    everyone keeps saying best hitting catcher. Regardless of the position he played, dude hit more than 400 homeruns with a career batting average over .300

    How about 10+ All-Star games?
    Who cares if he’s a catcher or not, with batting numbers like that, you should be in unless there is reasonable doubt that he may have used PEDs. I’m still waiting for the evidence. Think about all the HOF caliber players who were linked to juicing weather they confessed or not. Back then, Piazza wasn’t on anyone’s radar despite playing in the biggest market.
    Now if for some reason in the future, it turns out that he really did juice;
    I can accept that because when that happens, then solid evidence would have surfaced to make me think otherwise. But until then, we should not string this guy up with the others that have known ties to juicing.
    These writers are quick to scrutinize every thing these athletes do but since they are responsible for casting votes for HOF, then they too should be scrutinize for their judgement and hold accountability. I want to hear it from any of the voters why they kept Piazza off the ballot.

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