Friday, April 21, 2006


For the third straight season, Met second baseman/shortstop/media whipping boy Kaz Matsui homered in his first at-bat of the season. Unlike 2004 and 2005, however, where the Kazzer literally went deep, from the one or two hole, in the first inning, of the first game of the season, the this one came in the third inning of the 15th game, on an inside-the-parker that glanced off Brian Giles's glove. Hardly up there with Redford taking out the flood lights, but an accomplishment's an accomplishment.

I guess.

At any rate, I find it interesting that, as described in the recap, "The relay throw arrived at the plate just as Matsui did, but catcher Mike Piazza couldn't hold onto the ball." That's like saying "The Mets desperately needed to keep runners off the basepaths, but pitcher Victor Zambrano couldn't throw a strike," or "Despite needing someone to defend him from the beating he's taking from fans and the press, Oriole back-stabber Rafael Palmiero couldn't find a teammate who liked him."

The baseball press has spilled much ink through the years about Piazza's ballyhoo'd defensive failings, usually focusing on his somewhat overrated inability to throw out runners. I mean, he can't throw out runners, mostly due to footwork worse than Richard Gere's in Chicago. But I always thought Piazza was nimble enough behind the plate to deal with potential passed balls and wild pitches (yes, I just used the words "nimble" and "Piazza" in the same sentence. Won't happen again, I promise. Truly, you can put money down on that). Nonetheless, he has a weird inability to catch balls thrown from the outfield.

If you're a Met fan, or just had the opportunity to watch Piazza through the years, think of all the times you've seen him crouching at the dish, waiting for the ball, teeth clenched, moustache bristling, only to sweep at the runner, falling awkwardly to one side, as the ball bounced away from his catcher's mitt. I must have seen it a couple dozen times. And it happened again last night.

I miss the Piazza of old. Piazza the hitter. The one who drove gasp-inducing homers into the parking lot behind the visitors' bullpen. Or laser beam singles over the leaping second baseman's glove. But the scowling backstop, looking down and kicking the dirt after giving up his 34th straight stolen base, or flubbed yet another perfect relay throw? Glad he's on the other team this time. I'll welcome Mike in New York . . . Cooperstown, NY, a few summers from now. Til then though, rock on, bro. In San Diego.


Anonymous John Royal said...

I worked on the Astrodome scoreboard fro 1988 through it's last season in 1999. I saw just about every Astros home game -- of course, I was in Europe the time Darryl Kile no-hit the Mets.

That aside, it was Mike Piazza who the longest, grandest home run.

He did it in 1998 off of current Mets closer Billy Wagner. He connected on a 100 mph Wagner fastball and sent the ball up into the rainbow seats high over dead centerfield. The ball was still rising when it hit the seats.

Oh, and Yankee fan, Wagner was using "Enter Sandman" before Rivera. I can still remember hearing the music play as Rivera trotted in and thinking, hey, he ripped off Wagner.

That's it. I'm done.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I remember that homer well. Absolute bomb.

In fact, a couple friends and I had an e-mail discussion about it a few months ago.

4:22 PM  

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