Including Pudge Rodriguez, who was dressed for work in his Detroit Tigers uniform, the greatest living catchers were all gathered around, unmasked, on the grass of Shea Stadium. From the podium, where my stomach tumbled inside the Mets jersey that I had now worn longer than any other, the Cooperstown collection was lined up on my right. Yogi Berra. Gary Carter. Johnny Bench, the greatest of them all. And Carlton Fisk, whose home run record for catchers I had broken the month before, which was the official reason that these illustrious ballplayers—these idols of mine, these legends—were doing Queens on a Friday night in 2004.
I preferred, however, to think of the occasion as a celebration of catching. Frankly, that was the only way I could think of it without being embarrassed; without giving off an unseemly vibe that basically said, hey, thanks so much to all you guys for showing up at my party even though I just left your asses in the dust. I couldn’t stand the thought of coming across that way to those four. Especially Johnny Bench. As far as I was concerned, and still am, Johnny Bench was the perfect catcher, custom-made for the position. I, on the other hand, had become a catcher only because the scouts had seen me play first base.
Sixteen years after I’d gladly, though not so smoothly or easily, made the switch, the cycle was doubling back on itself. Having seen enough of me as a catcher, the Mets were in the process of moving me to first. It was a difficult time for me, because, for one, I could sense that it signaled the start of my slow fade from the game. What’s more, I had come to embrace the catcher’s role in a way that, at least in the minds of my persistent doubters and critics, was never returned with the same level of fervor. As a positionless prospect who scarcely interested even the team that finally drafted me, catching had been my lifeline to professional baseball—to this very evening, which I never could have imagined—and I was reluctant to let it go. To tell the truth, I was afraid of making a fool of myself.
It was a moment in my career on which a swarm of emotions had roosted, and it made me wish that Roy Campanella were alive and with us. Early on, when my path to Los Angeles was potholed with confusion, politics, and petty conflict, Campy, from his wheelchair in Vero Beach, Florida, was the one who got my head right. Back then, I hadn’t realized what he meant to me. By the time I did, I was an all-star and he was gone. I surely could have used his benevolent counsel in the months leading up to my 352nd home run as a catcher, when detractors who included even a former teammate or two charged me with overextending my stay behind the plate in order to break the record (which I ultimately left at 396).
That, I think, was the main reason I wanted to understate the special night. If it appeared in any fashion that I was making a big thing out of passing Fisk, it would, for those who saw it that way, convict me of a selfish preoccupation with a personal accomplishment. Jeff Wilpon, the Mets’ chief operating officer, had gone beyond the call of duty to put the event together, and had assured me that it would stay small. At one point, as the crowd buzzed and the dignitaries settled in and my brow beaded up, I muttered to Jeff, “So much for a small ceremony.” General Motors, the sponsor, gave me a Chevy truck. (Maybe that’s why my dad, a Honda and Acura dealer, was wiping away tears up in our private box.) Todd Zeile and Braden Looper had graciously mobilized my teammates, and, on their behalf, John Franco presented me with a Cartier watch and a six-liter bottle of Chateau d’Yquem, 1989, which will remain unopened until there’s a proper occasion that I can share with a hundred or so wine-loving friends. Maybe when the first of our daughters gets married.
Meanwhile, the irony of the evening—and, to me, its greatest gratification—was that, in this starry tribute to catching (as I persisted in classifying it), the center of attention was the guy who, for the longest time, only my father believed in. The guy whose minor-league managers practically refused to put behind the plate. The guy being moved to first base in his thirteenth big-league season. The guy whose defensive work the cabdriver had been bitching about on Bench’s ride to the ballpark.
But Bench understood. So did Fisk. “This is a special occasion for us catchers,” he explained to the media. “Only we as catchers can fully appreciate what it takes to go behind the plate every day and also put some offensive numbers on the board.”
Fisk had kindly called me on the night I broke his record, then issued a statement saying that he’d hoped I’d be the one to do it. That had made my week; my year. “I’m blessed,” I told reporters. “I’ve lived a dream.”
I also mentioned that I might write a book someday.
Revue de presse
"Piazza applies the single-minded drive he showed at the plate to making the case for his legacy. . . . [He] is forthright and often quite funny. . . . Mets fans will find insights, if not solace, in Piazza's account of the team's woes." (Ada Calhoun The New York Times Book Review)
"Mr. Piazza has had one of the stranger and more inspiring careers in baseball history. . . . [Long Shot] explain[s] how this non-prospect blossomed into a legendary hitter." (Tim Marchman The Wall Street Journal)
"Beloved Mets catcher Mike Piazza comes out swinging in a new memoir—confronting rumors about being gay and taking steroids, detailing his romantic home runs and finally setting the score with his hated rival, Roger Clemens." (Michael Gartland and Cynthia R. Fagen The New York Post)
Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
29 internautes sur 30 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Against All Odds23 février 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
To say Mike Piazza's professional baseball career seemed destined for obscurity is an understatement. After all, he wasn't even selected until the 62nd round of MLB's amatuer draft in 1988, and he may have never been selected at all if his dad wasn't a good friend of Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. Five years after Lasorda graciously "threw away" that late-round pick for the young catcher from Pennsylvania, the "long shot" Piazza emerged as the NL Rookie of the Year, displaying a remarkable hitting prowess that defined his entire career. A twelve-time All-Star, Piazza was a slugger who specialized in hitting "long shots", retiring with more career home runs (396) than any other catcher in the history of the game.
Defensively, Piazza was below average, rarely throwing anybody out trying to steal a base; however, playing his career during the notorious "Steroids Era", hardly anybody was running anyway. After all, a guy on first base was already in "scoring position" with so many home runs being hit. Piazza addresses the performance enhancing drug issue by flatly denying he ever juiced, and I tend to believe him. After all, his throws from home to second base never seemed to gain any velocity; not a scientific evaluation, but what worked for pitchers should've worked for rag-armed catchers, as well.
Piazza also refutes the "gay rumors", that were circulating during his playing days with the New York Mets; proving that playing in the Big Apple was a challenging endeavor, to say the least. Perhaps his biggest challenge in New York was staying out of harm's way whenever Roger Clemens was on the mound. After Clemens beaned the hard-hitting catcher - probably Piazza's reward for hitting Clemens especially hard over his career - the most bizarre confrontation occurred during the 2000 World Series when Piazza shattered his bat from one of Clemens' pitches, only to have Clemens zing the business-end of the broken bat very close to the body of the befuddled Mets catcher. Roger later claimed he thought the broken bat was actually the ball - an excuse so lame it was laughable. Piazza recounts this weird episode in his career with humor and candor, even going so far as to take karate lessons just in case he had to slug it out with his adversary at some point in the future.
For the most part, the stories Piazza narrates are entertaining - including the time his dad persuaded none other than Ted Williams to come over to the house to watch a then fifteen-year-old switch-hitter take his nervous hacks in the batting cage. Teddy Ballgame was quite impressed with what he saw in the youngster, and offered his encouragement to the star-struck kid, which obviously boosted his confidence as he embarked on a professional career in baseball.
However, when Piazza tries to blame Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully for turning the fans in LA against him shortly before he was traded, he loses some credibility. I recently saw the interview in question, and can only say Scully handled it with complete professionalism and fairness. Scully even went so far as to say "well said" after Piazza explained his position with the Dodgers' front office concerning his possible free agency. Unfortunately, this great former Dodgers catcher now feels unwelcome at any events at Dodger Stadium; something that will hopefully be resolved some time in the future.
Piazza comes across as a very likeable guy; clearly, a player who was driven to excell in his profession; who may have felt under-appreciated at times, but was always willing to accept the responsibility for carrying his team. He certainly performed best when the stakes were highest; when the spotlight shone the brightest whenever he was at bat. His description of the eighth-inning game-winning home run he hit against the Braves at Shea Stadium, just ten days after 9/11 - the first game at home since the attack, was poignant and about as inspirational as it gets.
This memoir is well-written and fascinating. Very few players in MLB history have put together the type of career resume Mike Piazza attained; although his inevitable induction at Cooperstown will have to wait at least another year, this is one "long shot" that really seemed destined to succeed the day he took his first swing with a bat.
22 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
RICK "SHAQ" GOLDSTEIN SAYS: FROM THE 1,390th PICK IN THE 62nd ROUND... TO 427 CAREER HOMERUNS!"16 février 2013
Rick Shaq Goldstein
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This is the autobiography of Mike Piazza former 12-time Major League Baseball All Star who currently holds the all-time record for most homeruns hit by a catcher in a career (396). The first thing worth pointing out to potential readers is that this book is not a typical run-of-the-mill baseball biography with big printed letters with wide spaces between the sentences and large blank margins to increase the number of pages in a book without increasing the intellectual content. The 347 pages of the story are easily equal to probably 425 or more pages in most books of this type. The writing style comes across as if Mike is talking directly to you with no phony re-interpretation of his thoughts and feelings to make his personal experiences come across more digestible for the everyday fan. In this vein... it is first a little surprising... and I mean pleasantly surprising... that when he discusses his childhood he does not camouflage his childlike exuberance for anything, whether it's his favorite snacks... favorite music... or his love of baseball... and his family.
His Father, Vince played an unbelievable roll in Mike's love for and growth within the magical world that is baseball. And here's where even an old-school-baseball-fanatic like myself... learned more about Mike's Dad than I had learned over all the years that Mike has been in the countries spotlight. Being that I was a Mike Piazza fan from the time he was a rookie on the Dodgers... I of course knew that his Dad (Vince) was old friends with Dodger manager and Hall Of Famer, Tommy Lasorda... and that if it wasn't for Tommy, Mike would not have even been drafted in 1988. It's part of the legend that Tommy pushed through a complimentary throw away 62nd round pick on Piazza. But the media has also always simply described Vince Piazza as a rich multi-millionaire car dealer and so you were left with the feeling that Mike was just a poor-little-rich-kid. This book lets you know that Vince earned it all on his own and came from anything but a cushy background. I already knew about the endless hours Mike spent in the homemade batting cage in the backyard. But to hear the hour after hour... day after day... year after year... commitment... made me feel even better about Piazza's success. One of the truly mystical... almost fairy tale... stories... is the one about teenage Mike and his Dad meeting the legendary Ted Williams at an autograph show... and when the "Splendid Splinter" heard about the batting cage he said: "LET'S GO SEE HIM HIT!" And believe it or not... the next morning Ted showed up!
As Mike grows up and takes you along the bumps... hills... and valleys... of his career... it is also enjoyable that the author isn't afraid to drop the childlike exuberance mentioned earlier... and talk with no filters exactly like men talk in clubhouses... bars... and the streets. You'll get a bird's eye view of everything from the time was he was fourteen and entered the Shea Stadium clubhouse and the players were watching porn... to feeling the emotions that beat in a young Piazza's heart when he sees and discusses his childhood idol Phillies Hall Of Famer Mike Schmidt.
This is a fully fleshed out life story that doesn't seem to miss a thing. From a shy boy who didn't even date in high school... to losing his virginity... to the infamous gay and steroid rumors. There are even unvarnished comments that might have come from a baseball version of an Oliver Stone conspiracy theory in areas ranging from his last days as a Dodger with accusations made about the legendary Vince Scully... to his final days as an Oakland A. And of course there's all the ugliness regarding Roger Clemens.
This is a tremendously in depth look at a legendary ballplayer... who like many players during this seriously tainted era... is still awaiting... the final words... of what... and how... his accomplishments... finally... and forever... will be carved into the stones of time.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Piazza comes across as honest11 mars 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
If not for a favor to Los Angeles Dodger manager (and family friend) Tommy Lasorda, Mike Piazza would never have been selected in the 1988 baseball draft. As it was, Piazza was the 1,390th overall pick, chosen in the 62nd round. The odds are long even for a 10th round pick. But the 12-time All-Star tells the story of how hard work and determination paid off in spectacular fashion.
Piazza went on to enjoy a 16-year career, most famously with the Dodgers and New York Mets, with brief stops in Florida, San Diego and Oakland before calling it quits in 2007, with the record for most home runs by a catcher, a .300-plus batting average, and, one would have thought, an express ticket to the Baseball Hall of Fame in the first round.
Unfortunately, Piazza had the misfortune to be on the ballot with Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and other players whose statistics have been tainted by accusations of using performance-enhancing drugs. There are those who have raised eyebrows over Piazza's accomplishments as well, although there has never been any proof and he emphatically has denied taking banned substances. His career, he claims, is based on an unending desire to succeed, hard work and good nutrition.
That desire was imparted in no small measure from his father Vince, who comes across --- depending on one's point of view --- as the nightmare Little League parent who demands his child get the best treatment, the star status, and who is not above making a good deal of noise when that doesn't happen. It brings to mind another overbearing father who drove his son to the big leagues: John Piersall, whose constant demands for perfection drove Jimmy into madness, which was chronicled in the latter's 1955 autobiography, FEAR STRIKES OUT. Fortunately, Piazza was able to handle the paternal pressure and did "grow up" at a certain point to finally assert his independence at a relatively advanced point of his life.
There are three watershed moments that come to my mind when reviewing Piazza's career. As a New York Mets fan, they all occurred while he was a member of that team. The first was in July 2000 when he was hit in the head by a Clemens pitch, perhaps in "retaliation" for doing so well against the then-Yankees hurler. That caused a lot of hand-wringing among fans and on the sports pages.
The second event came a few months later in the World Series against the Yankees when Clemens picked up a large piece of Piazza's bat that had shattered on a swing and threw it at the feet of the baserunner. The final, and most dramatic, was the game-winning home run that Piazza hit against the Atlanta Braves in the first game the Mets played at home following the September 11th attacks.
Piazza relates his emotions for these and other events, aided by the able assistance of Lonnie Wheeler. He comes across as honest, unless one is already predisposed to doubt. Particularly touching are the final chapters, in which Piazza realizes that his career is coming to an end and makes the decision to be all right with that.
There have been comments from various sports pundits and book reviewers that Piazza's book is self-serving. Well, it is a memoir; what else should it really be? But there are indeed several instances in which Piazza is less than gracious as he parcels out the blame to a few teammates in a way that almost seems like an alibi for some of his own shortcomings. And considering a career in which he averaged 36 home runs, 113 runs, and a .308 batting average, those lapses were relatively few and far between, which makes such remarks all the less charitable.
The book was timed to hit the bookstores after the results of the Hall of Fame voting were announced in early January (none of the ballplayers on the ballot were elected). Despite speculation, there seems to have been nothing in LONG SHOT that would have swayed anyone's decision. It did, however, give Piazza's offering a hint of mystery that may translate into increased sales.
Reviewed by Ron Kaplan
18 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Killing his legacy26 février 2013
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Full disclosure...I am a lifelong Mets fan and loved watching Piazza. I eagerly purchased this book and dove into it with anticipation, but finished it with disappointment.
Mike Piazza comes across as an angry, narcissistic egomaniac. He whines about not winning the MVP and other awards and blames others. He boasts about each and every accomplishment during his career in mind numbing fashion. He seems to think that his career was hindered by teams' front offices (Dodgers & Mets), the press, opponents and even his teammates. Me, me, me and I, I, I. While I still admire his accomplishments on the field, after reading this he certainly a less intriguing person. Piazza comes across as a stereotypical "dumb jock."
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A fair book about an excellent player and an intriguing personality.21 mars 2015
- Publié sur Amazon.com
First off I would like to mention that as a New Yorker and Mets fan I remember a lot of the recounted stories from this autobiography due to following the career of Mike Piazza. In Long Shot, Piazza recounts his baseball-obsessed childhood and unlikely rise to dominance in the MLB. His socially-awkward side and media reticence come out in spades during the telling of stories and that was interesting, particularly for someone who remembers how the stories actually played out in the media. The career highlights were particularly enjoyable to read about. Unfortunately, the somewhat whiny side of Piazza comes through at times as well. Recounts of how he felt targeted by the media and shunned by coaches and MLB's MVP voters usually ended up in Piazza explaining how he would complain to his wealthy, powerful father in an effort to intervene and rectify the situation. That perspective though, while juvenile, did galvanize just how much his obsessive practicing of baseball cost him socially. There seems to be a lot of kid-like emotions still in him that he never lost, seemingly due to his failure to be out and about like a real kid while he was one; guess that can sometimes be the price of training for a Hall of Fame career. Piazza also speaks about his after MLB life with a wife and kids. Those parts show the happy, grounded, family-man side of him, which was nice. Overall, I enjoyed this quick-reading book and got some interesting perspective but the storytelling could have been better.