Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Lasorda on Piazza and the HOF
By Mark Saxon
If you haven’t heard by now, Mike Piazza didn’t win election to the Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot.
The 12-time All-Star catcher, who played for the Dodgers from 1992 to 1998, wasn’t alone. No nominees got in Wednesday, largely due to the taint of performance-enhancing drugs in their era; Piazza got 57.8 percent of the vote, Barry Bonds got 36.2 percent and Roger Clemens received 37.6 percent.
William Weinbaum, a producer for ESPN's "Outside the Lines," caught up with Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda after Wednesday's announcement for his thoughts on Piazza's exclusion and the shutout thrown to the rest of the class of 2013.
"I was hoping and praying Mike would be selected," Lasorda told Weinbaum. "He had more homers than any other catcher and hit over .300.
"I don't think he took them [steroids] and that's my opinion. I hope I'm not wrong."
Lasorda, a longtime friend of Piazza's father, didn't otherwise disagree with the way members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America took a hard stance on suspected PED users.
"If guys cheated, they don't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame," Lasorda said.
In Piazza's case, the allegations have been circumstantial. In a 2010 Clemens biography, former Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman wrote that Piazza confided to some reporters that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Pearlman also quoted two former major league players who said Piazza was suspected of using steroids by other players.
"Assumptions? A lot of ships got sunk on assumptions," Lasorda said. "I don't think it's something, unless it's fact."
There is, of course, plenty of time for Piazza to make it to Cooperstown. This year's nominees have 14 more years before they fall off the ballot, presuming they win at least 5 percent of the vote every year.
Lasorda told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle last month that he didn't think Clemens, Bonds or Sammy Sosa deserved to get in, a sentiment he echoed to Weinbaum.
"How did they get those numbers? Who ever thought somebody would hit 70 home runs? Babe Ruth never hit 70," Lasorda said.