Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Let Mike Piazza retire properly -- as a Met

Let’s review the Mets catching situation as spring training hits the home stretch.

Brian Schneider: Gimpy.

Ramon Castro: Gimpier.

Friends, clearly these guys are incapable to bellying up to the post-game spread without straining a hamstring. They are injury prone and one of them seems to be making plans to open the season on the disabled list.

Luckily, I have found a solution. And his name is Mike Piazza.

I know, I know. Mikey didn’t even pack a catcher’s mitt when he played in Oakland last year. And his hitting wasn’t all that spectacular, sporting a .275 average with 44 runs batted in and 8 homers in a mere 83 games.

But it’s not like we’re asking him to be our starting catcher for the whole season. We just need a back-up catcher while out two guys recover from a couple months in Port St. Lucie, apparently the most dangerous place on the planet.

All he needs to do is perform the basic duties of the back-up catcher. And those being taking warm-up tosses from the pitcher while the starting catcher gets his pads back on after batting and starting the rare April day game after a night game.

Plus, I want him to make an occasional pinch-hitting appearance.

Look, Clemens is out of the game. He won’t be able to drill Mikey in the dome. He’ll be safe.

Piazza deserves better than what he got. Legends deserve to go out on their own terms.

Look at Willie Mays. He got to leave the game as a Met, which is pretty special right there. But his last appearance was Game 3 of the 1973 World Series – at Shea, before fans who loved him.

Piazza, in contrast, went 1 for 4 in a meaningless game for an American League team that was a game out of last place, then waited for the phone to ring all winter into the spring for a team – any team – to ask him to grace their roster. He’s about to experience a de facto forced retirement.

Here’s what I want.

I want to see Mike Piazza see the standing ovation as he strolls to the plate, basking in the love from the Shea faithful thanking him for the glorious postseason runs of 1999 and 2000, and for enduring the Art Howe era with class.

Then, when either Castro or Schneider is ready to play, I want Mike Piazza to be able to say, “Fans, it’s time for me to hang ‘em up.”

I want to see Mike Piazza retire as a proud New York Met in a stately ballpark’s final go-around, and not as an Oakland Athletic – ick – in a football-fractured stadium where they have to cover the seats in the upper deck so the place doesn’t look as empty as it is.

Then, the very next day, I want to see No. 31 hoisted to the wall in rightfield, so the best position player to ever play for the Mets can join No. 41, the best pitcher ever to play for the Mets.

Piazza certainly has nothing to be ashamed of if his career ends now. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. In fact, five years from now he’d be on the same ballot as his old nemesis, Bat-Chucker Clemens, who I think we can all say will not be joining him at the podium.

But it could be so much nicer.

It’s a zero-risk proposition for the Mets. And what’s the alternative? Raul Cassanova? It’s not like Mikey is blocking a prospect from getting a shot.

Let him come back so he can go out in style.

7 comments:

JLC 1863 said...

I agree Dave. 100%.

Bring back MIKE!!!!!!!

Jacqui said...

It would be the right thing to do but sadly I just don't see Omar doing it. And that's a shame.

batona said...

Speaking of hallowed parks, are we still on for the Yankee game in June? BBT has been down for a long time now.

Mets Guy in Michigan said...

Batona,

We were unable to acquire tickets for the Yankees, and have switching to July 19 in Cincinnati to see a more respectable team from New York play the hometown Reds.

I think Will was having trouble contacting you. Shoot him an e-mail.

batona said...

Cincinnati? Shoot, I won't be able to make that. I do not have Will's e-mail.

mmosley said...

Great idea! But it makes too much sense and would probably cost too much. I assume Piazza won't play for peanuts.

I am making my first(and last) trip to Shea in September. Actually I saw a high school championship game there in 2001. The Mets were not in town. It was cool but scary. There were 200 cops there and maybe 1000 people. You had to choose a side, no sitting in the middle.

James L. Smith said...

Dave:
Thanks for your nice note and I'm going to link my blog to yours.

Have a great Easter,

Jim