So Mike Piazza is officially a Hall of Famer.
Certainly, there was never any doubt statistically he deserved the honor. He is generally recognized as the greatest hitting catcher of all-time, with a position-most 427 homers and a lifetime .308 batting average.
Yet I find it difficult to be happy for him. And not just because I’m one of those hardliners who doesn’t believe anyone you believe used PEDs should not be allowed into the Hall of Fame.
Piazza comes off a bitter man. It’s distasteful and sad, and sours the six years he spent here establishing himself as one of baseball’s premier hitters. He is the godson of Tommy Lasorda (correction: Lasorda is the godfather of Piazza’s brother, Tommy). The Dodgers took him in the 62nd round of the draft and brought him up through their system. He was the National League Rookie of the Year here. Fans adored him.
Yet he acts like his time with the Dodgers was pure hell. That the organization and fans, even Vin Scully, all turned on him.
OK, he did not get the contract offer he understandably believed he earned. He didn’t like the trade to Miami -- engineered by Fox executives and not then-General Manager Fred Claire.
All these years, and he remains oddly resentful. The team is on its second ownership group since Fox. There are precious few people still with the team who were around back in 1998 when he was traded.
You’d think whatever initial enmity he felt would be softened by the years and growing maturity, but no. He’s said for some time now he does not want to go into the Hall of Fame wearing a Dodgers cap. His 2013 biography left his feelings clear.
“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,’ ” Piazza wrote. “I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with LA stamped on my head for all of eternity.”
But he comes off like a petulant child. Not an attractive quality in anyone. Despite all those great Dodgers’ moments, it makes it challenging to truly root for him.
No one enjoys the bitter man. The current Dodgers ownership has reached out to him, but he has yet to step inside Dodger Stadium since he retired.
Now he’s off to the Hall and his rancor and his sad, self-imposed exile.
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