Murray Chass’ continued insistence that retired C Mike Piazza was a PED user is fast becoming The Backne Heard ‘Round The World. Quoting passages from Jeff Pearlman’s forthcoming ‘The Rocket Who Fell To Earth’ that alluded to Metal Mike’s backne, Chass (above) launched yet another offensive on Piazza via the auspices of Le Herald De Paris.
I must have received half a dozen reasons for why Piazza shed his acne, but the critics, besides stepping all over each other trying to excuse and explain their hero, ignored the critical factor. The acne disappeared as soon as Piazza was faced with random testing and that as soon as Major League Baseball began conducting suspension-inducing tests for steroids use in 2004, Piazza™s back became clear and smooth. No more acne, just like that.
I don™t know if Piazza used steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs. I never said in the column that he did. I raised the possibility, citing his acne as circumstantial evidence. Bloggers, I am told, had a field day with the column, but I have spared myself the pleasure of reading what they wrote.
I have had more important things to read, Pearlman™s book, for example. Writing about Piazza, Pearlman outlines his development as a player, noting that as a walk-on as a freshman at the University of Miami he had one hit in nine times at bat. This was the player who a reader, who said he had been Piazza™s roommate and teammate at Miami, described as œa hard worker and a great hitter with tremendous power.
Considering how serious a baseball school Miami is, it seems likely that such a great hitter with tremendous power would make a greater impression and get more playing time than 1-for-9.
Always Amazin‘s Matthew Artus has observed what he considers Chass’ vendetta, and opines that Murray is “resorting to waving like a lunatic, screaming, ‘Hey, look at me! Pearlman saw the backne, too! I’m right!'”
For the record, Mike Piazza did not attend the University of Miami. He attended Miami Dade College, a community college in Florida. A hotshot catcher for the U would get noticed a lot quicker, but a walk-on catcher in JuCo has a few more hills to climb. That’s how someone goes 1-for-9 as a freshman. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story, right?
I have no idea what Chass’s motives are for his witch hunt against Piazza. He’s not cleaning up the game, as the PED-enhanced cloud created by the likes of Bonds, Palmeiro, McGwire, and A-Rod more than build up the cynicism in today’s baseball fan. There isn’t a player since 1990 that would surprise me regarding steroids, from Nolan Ryan up to and beyond Piazza.
And what does Chass stand to gain? Recognition from the NY Post? Does he miss writing for a mainstream newspaper so much that he’d stoop to name-calling and potentially libelous statements? Wallace Matthews of Newsday is bush league compared to Chass.