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Mike Piazza: His Bat and His Back (was he a steroid user?) ^ | March 4, 2009 | Murray Chass

Posted on 03/05/2009 5:26:39 PM PST by Free ThinkerNY

Baseball writers spend a lot of time in press boxes together, and the close and frequent proximity does not always foster positive relationships. For example, Joel Sherman of the New York Post and I do not have any kind of relationship. We have not talked for years. There’s no need to bore you with the reasons why. But the other day his column caught my attention. Not many of his columns do. He writes them, after all, for the New York Post.

But this was a column about Mike Piazza and the suspicion that he used steroids. As I read it, I was thinking I have to send Sherman an e-mail commending and congratulating him for raising the issue with Piazza. It’s a subject that was long overdue.

Circumstantial evidence against Piazza is almost as strong as it is against Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. A 62nd round draft pick in the 1988 draft and drafted only as a favor to his father, a close friend of Tommy Lasorda, Piazza wound up as the No. 1 home-run hitting catcher in major league history.

Piazza wasn’t a terrific catcher; he would have fared better as a designated hitter. But boy could he hit. He told Sherman the hitting came from hard work. That’s what they all said when they were suspected of having used steroids. We used to fall for that line. That’s one of the reasons we missed the advent and presence of steroids. We were gullible.

I suppose we could call the Mike Piazzas of the baseball world liars, but go prove it. Sherman, to his credit, doesn’t completely buy it. So I was a minute or two away from writing that e-mail. But then I reached the end of the column, and something was glaringly missing. I went back to make sure I hadn’t missed it, but it wasn’t there.

Early in the column Sherman writes about Piazza’s acne-covered back. This was a physical feature I had always noticed with Piazza. Not that reporters spend their time in clubhouses looking at guys’ bare backs, but when a reporter is talking to a player at his locker before he puts on his uniform shirt or after he takes it off and he turns around to put something in or take something out of his locker his back is what is visible. And Piazza’s acne was always visible. Teen-age kids never had such a problem.

Now as naïve as I might have been about steroids, the one thing I knew was that use of steroids supposedly causes the user to have acne on his back. As I said, Piazza had plenty of acne on his back.

When steroids became a daily subject in newspaper articles I wanted to write about Piazza’s acne-covered back. I was prepared to describe it in disgusting living color. But two or three times my editors at The New York Times would not allow it. Piazza, they said, had never been accused of using steroids so I couldn’t write about it.

But wait, I said, if I write about it, I will in effect be accusing Piazza of using steroids and then someone will have accused him of using steroids. No can do, I was told. I always took the veto to stem from the Times ultra conservative ways, but I also wondered if it maybe was the baseball editor, a big Mets’ fan, protecting the Mets.

Whatever the reason, I never got Piazza’s suspicious acne into the paper. Then all of a sudden the acne was gone. Piazza’s back was clear and clean. There was not a speck of acne on it. His back looked as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

What a remarkable development. It was a medical miracle. If teenagers could get hold of whatever Piazza used to clear up his back, they would be rid of the acne problem forever.

Coincidentally, while I was writing this column, I heard a radio commercial for a product called Proactiv (cq) Solution. I went to its Web site and found all sorts of celebrities who say they used it for their acne: Jessica Simpson, Alyssa Milano, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Vanessa Williams, Ryan Scheckler, Serena Williams, among others.

Piazza’s name was not on the list and his picture was missing from the group of pictures that adorned the site. So Proactiv Solution wasn’t the answer for his problem.

But the method Piazza used became apparent to me. It wasn’t medicine or any substance; it was abstinence. This was during the 2004 season, the first season baseball was testing for performance-enhancing substances with identification and penalties attached. If Piazza had been using steroids and didn’t want to get caught, he had to stop using. If he stopped using, his back would clear up.

His back cleared up. Completely.

I don’t know if Sherman noticed Piazza’s back after the 2003 season. But it was clear in 2004 and ‘05, his last two seasons with the Mets, and it was clear when I talked to him during the last week of the 2007 season when the Athletics, his team in his final season, was playing at Fenway Park in Boston.

The conversation was aimed at eliciting if Piazza planned to play another season or would be retiring, but I also asked him about steroids.

“I don’t really think about stuff like that,” he responded. “I think in a way these investigations there’s a positive in putting the whole thing to rest. This game is very resilient. There will be a time when people will say there was an issue and they dealt with it.”

Had he been asked to speak to George Mitchell, whose report on his investigation into use of performance-enhancing substances was only a couple of months from publication?

“No, I haven’t,” Piazza said. “I don’t know what the process would be. I’m sure the process will run its course.”

Piazza did not play another season. He played in three more games, the Athletics’ final three games of the season against the Angels, and retired. His back is presumably clear in retirement.

But it was Piazza’s back that undermined Sherman’s column. Sherman never asked Piazza about his acne, at least not that he made known in the column. He had raised the subject of steroids, but he didn’t ask about steroids-induced acne. What a letdown. What a disappointment. I didn’t send an e-mail.

TOPICS: Sports

1 posted on 03/05/2009 5:26:39 PM PST by Free ThinkerNY
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To: Free ThinkerNY

I always took the veto to stem from the Times ultra conservative ways, but I also wondered if it maybe was the baseball editor, a big Mets’ fan, protecting the Mets

I guarantee that’s the first time “The Times” and “ultra conservative” have been used in the same sentence

2 posted on 03/05/2009 5:34:30 PM PST by jeltz25
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To: Free ThinkerNY
Most sports writers and commentators are jock-sniffers. This dweeb is a pimple-popper. Uncle Tommy would never have let Mike use steroids. And as far as the hitting goes, as a kid he did take one-on-one lessons from Ted Williams.

This guy' s writing could use steroids.

3 posted on 03/05/2009 5:42:22 PM PST by Kenny Bunk (The Election of 2008: Given the choice between stupid and evil, the stupid chose evil.)
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To: jeltz25

As far as their sports section goes, I think the Times could actually count as a pretty conservative newspaper compared to their tabloid counterparts.

4 posted on 03/05/2009 5:55:43 PM PST by Alberta's Child (I'm out on the outskirts of nowhere . . . with ghosts on my trail, chasing me there.)
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To: Free ThinkerNY
Ya know .. these SportsWriters really need to get a grip on reality and quit spouting off all the time about this steroid thing. Is is a problem? Sure it is. Has it been ignored by MLB? Again, the answer is yes. Is everybody pointing their finger at everyone else? Again, Yes.

Mike Vacarro of the NY Post wrote a column last week about some the history of 'cheating' which has been going on in MLB since the dawn of Baseball --- 18" high pitching mounds where the pitcher would gruesomely stare down the batter before firing a lightning bolt at him, the 'inside pitch', or as its called now, the 'brushback pitch' ... the spitball pitch ... corking the bat ... amphetamine use during the 60's, 70's, and 80's ... all of which were *legal* in the earlier eras of Baseball ... and nobody puts an asterisk next to Hall of Famer, Gaylord Perry .... who practically admitted that he threw a 'spitball' thruout his career

Vacarro's NY Post associate, George King, also these past two weeks, has spelled *every* column of his with the name "A-Roid", as if to claim some moral victory for himself ... so there is no doubt that these scribes are fretting amongst themselves over this thing thats been going on for ages ... 'cheating', as it were.

Fact is that *every* athlete is looking for some sort of an edge over the competition, thats why they are 'competitive' and why they are athletes. Same as how every scribe sportswriter is always looking for some sort of 'edge' over their competitive sportswriters who are all vying for ink on the back pages.

Ennywees, I wrote this quickly so couldn't really edit it much, but hope it makes a point.


5 posted on 03/05/2009 5:55:44 PM PST by Mr_Moonlight
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To: Free ThinkerNY
So about a year ago I go to his Honda dealership to buy a car for my daughter. She picks out the car she likes, we wait for an hour before a saleswoman comes over, she says lets go for a test drive, we say great, we cruise around for half an hour, she disappears, comes back in about 20 minutes and we ask here how much the car is. Of course we have the full CR printout, reviews, and know what we're willing to pay for the car. She says X, we say no way. We ask here why there's no discount and she says their dealership doesn't discount ANY cars. In fact, it may take several months to even get the model and color we want. So we boogie.

So we go the other nearby Honda dealer where I know the sales manager from church. He gives us a price 1,800 lower than Piazza. We conclude the entire deal in 30 minutes, 2 weeks later we have the car. Love it.

Conclusion: Piazza Honda is on steroids and delusional.

6 posted on 03/05/2009 6:14:40 PM PST by Doc Savage ("Are you saying Jesus can't hit a curve ball? - Harris to Cerrano - Major League)
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To: Mr_Moonlight

Murray Chass and every other New York sportswriter has zero credibility when it comes to Mike Piazza. Years back, as I’m sure sports fans recall, there was a rumor that there was a NY baseball superstar who was gay. The fingers were pointed at the Mets, and then, of course, at Mike Piazza. Everyone in the media knew the allegations were not about Piazza, but rather the allegations were about Roberto Alomar, who had come over to the Mets in a trade. But the Alomar rumor wouldn’t sell papers. So they continued to float the Piazza rumor until he actually had to hold a press conference to refute the allegations.

They let Piazza swing in the wind when everyone in the media knew it was someone else. And Piazza, being a standup guy, didn’t “out” anyone when he could have done so and cleared his name.

FYI: Piazza is now happily married and he and his wife are expecting their second child. During his playing days, he was very open to the NY media about his Catholic faith, and the fact that he prayed the rosary. There was plenty of snickering behind his acneed back about that.

Piazza also endorsed Metrix during his playing days, a company that produced energy drinks, supplements and creatine. I’m not naive about steroids, but I know guys who did those creatine shakes and broke out quite a bit as well. Great journalism, Murray. He worked hard, came through as few underdogs had, had acne, so..... he MUST have cheated.

7 posted on 03/05/2009 6:27:20 PM PST by cumbo78
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To: cumbo78
This was my favorite line from the article: Piazza’s name was not on the list and his picture was missing from the group of pictures that adorned the site. So Proactiv Solution wasn’t the answer for his problem.

All the other celebrities mentioned were female. Mike, because he was not identified as an endorser of the product, could not have used the product. A deduction worthy of Inspector Clouseau.

8 posted on 03/05/2009 6:51:02 PM PST by Andyman (The truth shall make you FReep.)
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To: cumbo78
I'm a lifelong Yankees fan, but what I remember about Mike Piazza is that he got the Mets back into the game, and into the playoffs, and what a great acquisition he was for the Mets.

That Subway Series of 2000 was tremendous ... the final game count of 4-1 doesn't reflect how *close* all those games were, none were a blowout by any means, the Series could have gone either way

9 posted on 03/05/2009 7:12:20 PM PST by Mr_Moonlight
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To: jeltz25
I guarantee that’s the first time “The Times” and “ultra conservative” have been used in the same sentence

No kidding! The author lost me right at that point. Didn't read another lick. No point, really. I mean, it's not like there was likely to be any facts in it after that loo loo.

10 posted on 03/05/2009 7:17:46 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts (Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage...)
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To: Free ThinkerNY; All

Ridiculous. The writer is no so subtly trying to point out that because Piazza’s production, and likewise career, declined right around the time steroid testing became widespread that it must mean that he was using steroids before this. He completely ignores the fact that Piazza’s production declined at an earlier age than most baseball players because he was a catcher, and that every catcher who was an everyday player suffered the same type of significant production drop in their mid 30s. The reason is that the constant, day in and day out physical stress that catchers face is far greater than what players at other positions go through.

As far as acne covered backs, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a lot of athletes (who don’t use steroids) whose skin is less than healthy if they spend 3 hours every day from April through October wearing less than comfortable protective equipment often times in 90+ degree heat.

11 posted on 03/07/2009 7:29:56 PM PST by frankiep (Ron Paul was right)
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