The book: “Piazza: Catcher, Slugger, Icon, Star”
The author: Greg W. Prince
The vital statistics: Sports Publishing/Skyhorse, 264 pages, $24.99, released March 14
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnes & Noble, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website, or the writers’ website
The pitch: In Piazza’s 2013 autobiography, “Long Shot,” which became a New York Times best seller by the time he eventually was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016, Mike Piazza explained everything related to Mike Piazza – even if he couldn’t figure out the difference between what was “ironic” and what was a “coincidence.”
Coincidentally, he eventually felt he had to leave the Dodgers (frustrated as well during an ownership change), needed a second chance as a New York Met, shugged off steroid allegations (among other personal accusations) and finally got to look back on is career as one of a successful endeavor.
Curtain call. And another …. OK, done.
The cover of that particular book was careful not to show him wearing any particular team color or logos. It was pensive Mike, pulling the catcher’s mask of in a metaphoric way. Just look into his eyes and see his soul.
So that should, and will be, the definitive Piazza story, unless someone wants to come around in a few years and take a most down-the-middle approach.
This one here isn’t that, not by a long shot.
It starts with the cover shot, Piazza unapologetically in Mets laundry, about the start a home-run trot.
Just look at the subtitles for more clues. We read:
Just consider the source.
Prince’s bio frames him as the “cocreator of the blog ‘Faith and Fear in Flushing’ for Mets fans. He has already done a memoir by that same name in 2009 that is called an “intense personal history of the New York Mets.” He also has SABR membership.
Intense is one way of saying overbearing and a bit obnoxious. This Piazza book is just a microcosm of that obsessiveness to the extent that if you aren’t a drooling Mets fanatic, this will come off to you as did to us: All those adjectives above, with the cautionary tagline of embarrassing.
But apparently Prince knows his audience. It just isn’t anyone who follows any of the other 29 teams in the MLB.
Page 245 gets to the point when it’s announced that Piazza, after three years of voting, has finally garnished enough support to get Hall entrance, and now it’s time for Piazza’s decision to wear the “NY” logo on his bronze plaque instead of “LA” for whatever personal reasons he still holds.
“The next sound you heard was an entire fan base canceling the group therapy appointment it had made just in case Mike said different,” Prince writes. “For all the suggestions that baseball is a metaphor for life or America or whatever, baseball is mostly a metaphor for baseball, and baseball is a sport, a competition. Even in retirement, sides must be chosen. Mets fans wanted to be certain who was with them and not against them.”
Wow, didn’t realize it was that important to y’all.
On behalf of everyone in L.A., we bequeath any and all claim to Piazza as a Dodgers hero. We could not have lived with ourselves if just one Mets fan leaped off the Empire State Building had this turn of events not occurred.
They must still be reeling that Tom Glavine, who spent five of his 22 seasons with the Mets and all the rest with the Atlanta Braves, turned on them by taking the “A” on his cap come Hall time.
If we don’t get it, we’ll say we do just so we can move on.
“Piazza” in this framework has very little to do with his Dodgers upbringing, or his short stop of about a week in Miami, before getting shipped to New York so the Marlins wouldn’t have to carry his salary. This is all under the prism of Mike Piazza, Mr. Met.
Knock yourself out.
In the acknowledgements, Prince adds that “my fellow Mets fans and I weren’t shy about communicating our ire toward the BBWAA three Januarys running (leaving Piazza out), demonstrating to me just how much this book’s title character meant to us.”
You think the suspicion of steroids had anything to do with it? Or are we just kind of overlooking that a large zit a bit?
Prince also quotes another Mets believer who describes the fan-base relationship with Piazza to the way “the Bible is the story of the relationship between God and the Jewish people … I would call it a love story, but with a surfeit of blood and guts, idol worship and incest. True love never runs smooth.”
On Amazon.com, at last check, it already had six five-star reviews, but a couple of four- and three-stars are now appearing.
By the way, on the Baseball-Reference.com site that lists Piazza’s career stats, he’s also wearing a Mets hat. Congratulations on that, too.
Now, let’s all shower off.
== “So You Think You’re A New York Mets Fan? Stars, Stats, Records and Memories for True Diehards,” by Brett Topel (Sports Publishing, 169 pages, $14.99, released March 14)
= “The New York Mets Fans’ Bucket List,” by Matthew Cerrone (Triumph Books, 254 pages, $16.95, will be released June 1)