If everything we've heard or read about Mike Piazza since The Trade were true, the only question is why the Dodgers didn't do it sooner.
He rarely threw out baserunners, was too absorbed with hitting to concentrate on working with his pitchers, cared more about his stats than winning and exploded the chemistry in the clubhouse with his contract negotiations.
It also was his fault the Dodgers didn't win any playoff games while he played for them. How about the Northridge earthquake? The Simpson-Goldman murders?
After New York Met co-owner Fred Wilpon asked Steve Phillips to investigate the possibility of trading with Florida for Piazza, the team's general manager had to travel no farther than the office next door. His assistant, Dave Wallace, gave Phillips the answers he needed.
The Dodger pitching coach during much of Piazza's career with the Dodgers before accepting a promotion last winter to the Mets' front office, Wallace said he told Phillips he would make the deal quicker than a New York minute.
"No, he's not the greatest defensive catcher in the history of baseball," Wallace said. "But he's not as bad as he's been made out to be lately. The Dodgers had some pretty good pitching stats the last few years, and he was part of it.
"The thing I emphasized to Steve is that the Dodgers have a young pitching staff. It's a difficult task for any catcher to bring guys along. We have a veteran staff with guys like John Franco, Dennis Cook and Bobby Jones. We feel we're a better fit for Mike."
As for Piazza's effect on clubhouse camaraderie, Wallace said: "Everyone knows my feelings about Mike and what he brings to a team. I can't speak for this season because I wasn't there, but I always thought he was a positive influence for the Dodgers."
There's no question about his influence on the Mets, who won their first seven games with him and, until David Cone got bitten by a dog Tuesday and created an opening in the rotation for El Duque, knocked the Yankees off the back pages of the tabloids.
For the New York teams, that's as important as the standings.
If the Piazza trade, the Randy Johnson trade talks and the Hideo Nomo firing are an indication, Rupert Murdoch learned everything he knows about baseball from George Steinbrenner. . . .
That wouldn't come as a shock. Murdoch owns one of those New York tabloids. . . .
Murdoch's Post lost the headline war Wednesday to the Daily News, which announced the extraordinary circumstances surrounding Orlando Hernandez's first Yankee start with "El Fluque.". . . .
The last one leaving the Marlin clubhouse, please turn out the lights. . . .
Even some Kansas City players were cheering for the Angels to knock the chip off temperamental teammate Felix Martinez's shoulder during Tuesday night's brawl. . . .
Jeff Burroughs, selected first in the 1969 baseball draft, signed with the Washington Senators for $88,000. . . .
Son Sean Burroughs, the ninth player selected Tuesday, could command as much as $2 million from the St. Louis Cardinals. . . .
Scouts project USC sophomore catcher Eric Munson as a potential No. 1 choice next year. . . .
Shaquille O'Neal was in Harlem on Wednesday, donating $1 million to establish technology centers in Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the nation. . . .
Before Sultan McCullough of Pasadena Muir was injured and Kareem Kelly of Long Beach Poly false-started in the qualifying meet, the field for this weekend's 100-meter state championship was one of the deepest ever. . . .
It's still hot, with defending champion Justin Fargas of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Miguel Fletcher of Alemany and Darrell Rideaux of Poly. . . .
Jim Brown will speak at the Beverly Hills High athletic luncheon Thursday. . . .
Isn't 90210 the number of tackles he broke during his career? . . .
Last season, long before the Dodgers' historic trade with the Marlins, the boss here, Bill Dwyre, asked Tom Lasorda what he would do as a manager if the front office put a gun to his head and threatened to pull the trigger unless he took Gary Sheffield. . . .
"I'd hope they missed," Lasorda said.
While wondering who will rock the baby now that Romario is out of the World Cup, I was thinking: It won't be the No Fun League once Bill Cosby is an owner, David Wells' eight consecutive victories makes Hot Wells a natural hunch bet in the Belmont, I hope Michael Jordan's finale, if that's what this is, is better than Seinfeld's.