Book Review: Long Shot by Mike Piazza
- Updated: March 26, 2013
Mike Piazza was one of the most polarizing players of his generation. Just from the rare viewpoint that he had successful stints with two different teams makes him unique. During his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, Piazza received many accolades and was constantly considered at least the second best catcher in the game. The only person who was ever able to give him a run for his money during his active career was Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez. In his new book, Long Shot, Piazza tells the story of his successful career in Major League Baseball and what it took to get there.
Much was made of Piazza’s unlikely trip to the Majors during his career and that is the main subject of his book, just in case you couldn’t tell by the title. Piazza was picked in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The catcher states that the only reason he was picked is because his family was good friends with Tommy Lasorda. The Dodgers’ organization had no intent that Piazza would ever actually play for them. In fact, the scouts in the organization didn’t think that he had the skills to play in the Majors for anyone, ever. Piazza ended up proving them wrong, of course, and to top it all off, won the National League rookie of the year award in 1993.
Piazza sheds light on the fact that after all of that, he is now considered by many to be the greatest hitting catcher of all time. He ended his career with a .308 batting average. He hit a total of 427 homeruns, with 396 of those coming as a catcher. The amount of homeruns for that position is a record. While amassing those numbers, Piazza made seven all-star teams.
The book also focuses on that fact that Piazza considers himself to be very popular across the country. His book claims that the trade of him from the Dodgers to the Mets was one of the worst trades in baseball history. Part of the argument for this is that when he joined the Mets, he quickly led them to a National League Championship Series title and a trip to the World Series against the cross-town Yankees in 2000. This, in addition to the fact that he grew up in Philadelphia and owns business ventures there, as well as the fact that he lives in Miami, FL makes him feel like he has a strong nationwide presence.
Piazza considers himself to be someone who was very candid about the topic of steroids when many who were playing during his generation, especially those with strong power numbers like himself, hood behind cloaks of silence. In the book, Piazza makes strong statements on the detriment that the wide usage of steroids had on the game. He makes the point, many times in fact, that he never used, nor was tempted. Much of this seems to be directed at Hall of Fame voters as he attempts to buck the curve and become a power hitter from that era elected to the Hall.
He also spends a considerable amount of time talking about how the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2011 changed his live. Due to the fact that he lived just a few blocks from the Twin Towers and the Mets how stadium, Shea, becoming a center for relief efforts, he was very close to the action. He cites changes in the ball club, his faith and his priorities in the aftermath of the attack and states that the first game played in Shea after the attacks is one of the most memorable moments of his life.
Overall, the book certainly has its entertaining and insightful moments, but there were clearly a few different agendas that could have had less of a focus. For instance, while his journey to the pros is amazing, that topic gets to the point of being overrun in the book. Additionally, much of the book seemed like an attempt to boost Hall of Fame votes next year based on his lack of steroid use. While I understand why he would want to do that, this may not be the appropriate forum.
Overall rating: 3.25/5