Quick story on Mike Piazza:
When I covered the Mets, Piazza was a fun guy to watch take batting practice in spring training. Fresh off the winter and his knees feeling good, he would launch balls to the moon with that sweet right-handed swing.
During the week before the rest of the position players would report, Piazza would get extra time in the cage with the rest of the catchers. He would stand in there for 45 minutes, chatting away with the reporters who covered the team while taking his hacks.
As he talked about politics, music or some book that he read, Piazza would be crushing the ball.
“Dude, there should be a third political party in America …”
“There used to be the Whigs, they should come back …”
“Do you think Slash is the best heavy metal guitar player? …”
This would go on for a while. It was fascinating to watch as he hammered pitches the other way, 450, 500 feet.
Piazza got a lot of grief for his throwing. But he was an excellent receiver and never, ever blew a pop-up. He also knew how to call a game because he was such a good hitter himself.
In Piazza and Jorge Posada, it has been great to cover two of the best-hitting catchers ever. Totally different people who both take pride in the same tough job.
Here’s hoping Mike has an enjoyable retirement.