Bang The Head That Does Not Bang : Piazza Beaned

Posted in Baseball at 1:24 pm by

The New York Times’ Ben Shipgel on the latest episode in the New York Mets’ sad and thorough demise.

Mike Piazza, who missed 23 games with a wrist injury, was activated before Saturday night’s game against the Cardinals and hit a home run in his first at-bat. He later singled, and everything was going well until the eighth inning of the Mets’ 4-2 loss, when Julian Tavarez lost control of a 92-mile-an-hour fastball and struck Piazza in the helmet.

Piazza crumpled to the ground and lay there for a few minutes.

“I was a little loopy,” he said.

He walked off the field without assistance, and Ramon Castro went in to run for him and replaced him at catcher. Trainers later determined that Piazza had sustained a slight concussion, but Piazza did not receive a C.T. scan and was not admitted to a hospital.

When Piazza spoke with reporters after the game, he said he felt fine but did not speculate about when he would play again. “That’s up to Willie,” Piazza said, referring to Manager Willie Randolph.

To make matters worse, the cleanup hitter Cliff Floyd strained his left hamstring while sliding into second base in the seventh and said he would probably miss Sunday’s game.

Before the wrist injury, it had been a charmed season for Piazza, who says he realizes that he will probably not be re-signed. He receives standing ovations at Shea Stadium after home runs, and he has handled his tumble in the lineup from fourth to fifth to sixth to seventh with dignity.

Following the script, it hardly seemed surprising that Piazza cracked an opposite-field homer off Jeff Suppan, giving the Mets an early 1-0 lead.

Piazza singled and popped out in his other two at-bats before facing Tavarez in the eighth. After the game, Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa sought out Piazza to express his apologies.

“I don’t really have anything to say about that,” Piazza said.

La Russa said: “The incident where somebody gets hit in the head, whether it’s Mike Piazza or anybody, spoils the whole night for me. It’s been my No. 1 pet peeve. I’d trade him not getting hit, and we lose the game.”

I suspect we’ll not see a pregame press conference today where Mike announces that he’s lost respect for Julian Tavares. In all seriousness, I wonder if Piazza had been fast enough to catch Guillermo Mota in spring training a few years ago, would pitchers be so willing to aim at Mike’s skull?

All cynicism aside, the modest goal of the Mets organization since day one of Spring Training has been to play meaningful games in September, and New York’s International League (AAA) Norfolk Tides are doing just that, having forced a Game 5 in their IL playoff series with Toledo with last night’s 3-2 win. The winner of tonight’s contest will face the victor of the Indianapolis/Buffalo series, also tied at 2-2. Big league alumni you might hold near and dear to your heart starring for Buffalo in the series include former Met Mike Kinkade and all-male cinema superstar/reliever Kaz Tadano.

(Tadano reading a prepared statement to the Buffalo press, stressing that he never rented “Spanglish” from Blockbuster and even if he did, he wasn’t very good).

4 responses to “Bang The Head That Does Not Bang : Piazza Beaned”

  1. Greg K. says:

    I think the Mets should re-sign Piazza. When healthy, the aged Piazza is still a better offensive catcher than pretty much anybody else out there and while he’s not going to throw anyone out stealing, his defensive shortcomings have always seemed a bit exagerrated to my untrained eye.

    I just hope the Mets don’t break the bank for Ramon Hernandez.

  2. CSTB says:

    Piazza – nice guy (seemingly), dubious musical taste, suspicious ‘stache (sometimes), attractive biological female wife, civil war buff, for the most part, an a-ok public figure in a sports town filled with creeps.

    That said, if Piazza is going to play baseball in 2006, for his sake, it really ought to be in the American League. I hate to exaggerate his defensive shortcomings for you, but he’s thrown out 12 out of a possible 81 base stealers in 2005.

    “When healthy, the aged Piazza is still a better offensive catcher than prety much anybody else out there.”

    Yes, but when the key words are “when healthy”. Piazza hasn’t had 500 AB’s since 2001. And even if he were robust enough to be an everyday catcher in 2006, do you honestly think he’d be a better offensive force at the age of 38 than Victor Martinez , Jason Varitek,
    Rod Barajas or AJ Pierzynski?

    anything other than a super-cheap one year deal for Piazza would be a big mistake on the part of the Mets, and trying to wrest Kelly Shoppach from Boston would be a better use of their time (though they’ll hardly be alone in wanting him).

  3. Tom E. says:

    Tadano is on the Bisons with Kinkade.

    4-3 Buffalo in the top of the 8th in case anyone is wondering.

  4. CSTB says:

    thank you, Tom. I stand corrected. I think the Tadano film festival I was watching really messed with my already loose command of the facts.

    Indy scored 3 in the 8th,btw.


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