Carroll: Mike’s Narrow Miss

Mets fans were understandably disappointed that Mike Piazza fell just a tad short in the Hall of Fame voting that is conducted by the membership of Baseball Writers Association of America. Piazza was listed on roughly 70% of the BBWAA ballots and 75% is the magic percentage for election into the Cooperstown baseball museum.

There is no argument that Mike Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher of all-time and that’s no small feat when you think of names as Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Carlton Fisk, and Johnny Bench, who all have plaques in the Hall of Fame. What is often overlooked is that Mike was a fine defensive catcher as well. While he was average at best at throwing out baserunners who were trying to steal, he was superb at preventing wild pitches by snagging countless balls in the dirt. Pitchers also credited him for calling the right pitches at the right times.

Mike Piazza should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer when he became eligible three years ago. Unfortunately some curmudgeonly BBWAA members made the assumption that Piazza was a beneficiary of performance enhancement drugs because (a) of the era in which he played and (b) an observation of acne on his back that some decided was indicative of steroid use. I am not sure how baseball writers can believe that they are dermatologists.

The good news is that it would be shocking if Mike doesn’t easily clear 75% next January. The only slam-dunk candidate will be Ken Griffey, Jr. Trevor Hoffman, who was a dominant relief pitcher for the San Diego Padres, who like Griffey, will be on the ballot for the first time and has a good shot of being elected. Astoria native Bob Costas declared that Piazza was a lock during the Hall of Fame announcement on the MLB Network. Even Daily News columnist Bill “Guilty Until Proven Innocent” Madden conceded that it’s inevitable that Piazza will be elected. Newsday’s David Lennon rightfully wrote that it’s time to place statistics above suspicions.

Although I am sure that Mike would rather have been elected on this go-round, the good news is that he won’t be overshadowed in the crowded Hall of Fame Class of 2015 that includes pitchers Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and infielder-outfielder Craig Biggio.

What hasn’t been discussed is why the Hall of Fame reduced the time that a player can stay on the ballot was dropped from 15 to 10 years which is unfortunate for solid choices as Tim Raines and Lee Smith among many others. I thought that this was designed by the shrinking BBWAA to exert more influence over today’s players. New York Post baseball columnist Ken Davidoff told me however that it was the Hall of Fame that decided on its own to cut down the time period. I don’t get it.

I never met the late Stuart Scott but I always enjoyed his work. He is one of the reasons that ESPN’s Sportscenter has become a cultural icon in a crowded television marketplace. At last summer’s ESPY Awards Scott brilliantly pointed out that because one dies doesn’t mean that one lost to cancer but rather it’s the kind of life you led that truly counts.

Congratulations to Flushing resident and institutional technology professional Robert Chee who pocketed $15,000 last month at the FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship that took place last month at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. FanDuel is the largest of fantasy sports companies where participants create teams based on players from a variety of teams in a pro league. The chief constraint is budget. It takes far more resources to have Tom Brady as your QB as opposed to Geno Smith. Winners are chosen by which players have the best statistics.

As long as he didn’t break any ethics laws by being flown to Dallas and sitting in Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ suite, who cares that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a fan of “America’s Team?” In some ways it’s refreshing that he did not take the safe route by saying that he roots for the politically better choices given his constituency of either the Jets, Giants or Philadelphia Eagles.

The uproar over Christie’s allegiance to the Cowboys reminds me of the courage of then Mayor Rudy Giuliani showed during the Yankees-Mets World Series in 2000. He could have taken the safe route by feigning neutrality but he was not shy about wearing his loyalty to the Yankees on his sleeve or any other part of his clothing for that matter.

New York City is surprisingly a key stop for the Professional Bull Riders Tour. If you have never witnessed a rodeo, be sure to visit Madison Square Garden the weekend of Jan. 16-18 to see which riders can last at least 8 seconds on very wild and dangerous bulls.

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