Next up, Mike Piazza

Will Leitch has an excerpt from Jeff Pearlman’s new Roger Clemens book, and it ain’t about Roger Clemens:

“There was nothing more obvious than Mike on steroids,” says another major league veteran who played against Piazza for years. “Everyone talked about it, everyone knew it. Guys on my team, guys on the Mets. A lot of us came up playing against Mike, so we knew what he looked like back in the day. Frankly, he sucked on the field. Just sucked. After his body changed, he was entirely different. ‘Power from nowhere,’ we called it.”

When asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, to grade the odds that Piazza had used performance enhancers, the player doesn’t pause.

“A 12,” he says. “Maybe a 13.”

According to another part of the excerpt, everyone knew it, including many reporters. Which should make the next round of the media’s faux outrage and lamentations of lost innocence all the richer.

Beyond that, Piazza recently announced that he’s writing his autobiography. When the news of that broke, I opined that there aren’t many superstars blander than Piazza, and that guys like him don’t really make for riveting reading. One has to wonder now whether the pitch to his publisher involved a promise to be the first megastar — non-Canseco division — to come completely clean on PEDs in print.

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Comments

  1. Grant said...

    I can’t imagine that Piazza would come clean about steroids before at least his first year of Hall eligibility. Too much to lose.

  2. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Unless of course his hand was forced by Pearlman calling him for a quote in response to the quotes he got for the above excerpt. He announced his book in November, when Jeff was likely putting this baby together.  I wonder if he decided that he’d better do whatever he could to get his story out in a way he could control.

  3. DavidB said...

    If back acne is proof of steroids, then somebody might’ve swapped my Sunny Delight with something from a WWE locker room!

    What idiocy.

    DanInPhilly: The reason these guys’ bodies aren’t decaying is because 99.999% of the steroids are perfectly safe if taken with discretion.  I guarantee you that there are more side effects in the, ahem, legal “performance enhancement” drugs that are so prominently advertised during MLB games and PGA events.  Pretty much everything you hear on ESPN is mindless sensationalism.  MLB isn’t interested in “health”, they just are trying to milk this controversy for all the attention they can.  ARod, McGwire, Mike Golic, Sylvester Stallone: not only are these men not decaying post-steroids, they’re the epitome of male health, relative to their ages.

    Lastly, this turn of phrase warrants repeating:

    ….Which should make the next round of the media’s faux outrage and lamentations of lost innocence all the richer.

    Good work, Mr. Calcaterra!

  4. ditmars1929 said...

    I’ve always thought Piazza was a user.  During the season, his body always seemed “cartoonish” to me, and he always looked different in the off season.  Then again, if he was using, one would think he might’ve had a better throwing arm.

    I don’t mean to be morbid, but if Bonds, McGwire, etc., drop dead of liver cancer or heart disease in their early 50’s, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

  5. lar said...

    I still don’t see how the use of steroids, even for a long time, could make Piazza (or anyone) into a great *ballplayer*. Yes, it could make him stronger, and that could lead to some improved offensive statistics. But I don’t think they turn a slow groundball hitter into a home run basher, and I doubt the ‘roids would add 200 ft to his flyballs/line drives. At some point, he had to learn how to hit a fastball or curve or slider or whatever, and he was obviously able to do that, 62nd round draft pick or not. Steroids do not turn a rookie-ball washout into a lifetime .308 hitter.

  6. DavidB said...

    Iar:

    I agree with your points: it’s simply not credible to attribute so much success just to steroids.  But the author of the book on Clemens did it for Piazza, Clemens, and Jason Giambi: he said that all three of them would’ve been nobodies were it not for steroids.

    (In the book, the author writes about how ‘97 was Clemens’s greatest season, and that it was steroid free.  He then contradicts himself by saying that Clemens was old and would’ve done nothing from ‘98 onward were it not for steroids.)

    One other note: there are some GREAT quotes in the book talking about how EVERYBODY in MLB knew steroids were prevalent.  The Yankees modified Jason Giambi’s contract – with the approval of the Commissioner’s office – to eliminate steroid penalties! 

    (BTW, Bill James has also mentioned, on several occasions, how steroid knowledge was well known by the MLB brass.)

  7. Jeff said...

    One of the aspects of the PED use that gets ignored is the effects on the players’ confidence.  Confidence can take a talented ballplayer very far, and a lack of confidence can cause them to fail when they otherwise wouldn’t. 

    I know this is something that is impossible to measure.  My feeling is that you take a talented ballplayer (not somebody who is not a nobody), have them take a PED that you tell them will make them a better player.  Not only will they get stronger, but they will perform better due to the increased confidence.  If you gave them a placebo I think you would see a similar, though maybe not as high, improvement in performance.

    As Lar said, increased strength isn’t going to make a .308 lifetime hitter.  But increased strength plus increased confidence, I could see that taking a talented baseball player to the upper limits of their natural abilites.

  8. DavidB said...

    Jeff:

    You’re theory that the largest boost PEDs give is that of confidence was actually expressed by ARod at his press-conference (not that anybody actually listened to him, they were to busy trying to strike a morally indignant pose).

    You might be right, you might not be.  But it’s one of those things that’s really very nebulous and untestable. 

    But the media – and the writer of the book – will have us believe that taking HGH turned Nook Logan into Hulk Hogan.  It’s all a load of crap.  If it could be tested, I’d bet that the placebo effect is more substantial than the biochemical.

  9. Pete Toms said...

    Murray Chass got ripped on the web for speculating about this but when Leitch mentions it it is credible….

  10. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Pete: to be fair, I never ripped Murray.  If I had said something I would have said that, hey, maybe some reporting—either back in the day or now—instead of simply citing backne would have added a bit more to the party. But I’ll grant you, the ripping on Chass was a bit much.

    As for Leitch: he’s only printing a book excerpt which sets forth Jeff Pearlman’s reporting on it.  And though many people like to rip Pearlman even more than Chass, we should at least acknowledge that he’s providing quotes from players—at least one of which is not an anonymous quote—rather than his idle speculation.

  11. Pete Toms said...

    Craig, wasn’t referring to you when I said Chass got ripped on the web.  I understand it’s Pearlman’s work, not Leitch’s.  I think though that without the endorsement of web deity Leitch that this would engender a different response from us internet baseball geeks.

  12. Craig Calcaterra said...

    BMM—While it’s been suspected by some, that’s not been reported anywhere (i.e. that he plans to drop a bomb like that in his book).  Maybe. If so, I’d applaud him for doing it, but there’s nothing to suggest that’s what’s up.

    But:  “He’s a gay”?  I don’t think I’ve heard someone say something like that since All in the Family went off the air. The definite article is both unnecessary and, depending on your intention, confrontational.

  13. Kenn Frye said...

    Regarding steroids and their effects on making an average Joe into Joe DiMaggio, I look to Jose Canseco.  Jose claims that steroids did something like that to him.  However, Jose has an identical twin, Ozzie, who also took steroids.  Jose had a career on the fringes of the HoF while Ozzie had a career on the fringes of the Majors.  The same chemicals acting on the exact same DNA should give fairly similar results.  If steroids made Jose into a star, shouldn’t Ozzie have had a career at least along the lines of Karros or Reggie Sanders?

  14. DavidB said...

    Calcaterra:

    I think that BMM was just cracking a joke, harkening back to the press conference he called to announce his heterosexuality.

    Piazza is married with children.

  15. BillyBeaneismyHero said...

    This is definetly not the first time someone said that Piazza did steriods.  I think it was Murray Chass who talked about Piazza’s backne, and how it suddenly cleared up after the new testing rules went into place.  Of course, he made no mention of what else may’ve caused or cured his backne, because why would you want your story to be unbiased.  Still, I can’t help wonder if it all makes sense.  Doesn’t it seem a little weird that a guy that was picked in the 62nd round (purely becuase Lasorda was a family friend) turned out to be the greatest offensive catcher in the history of the game?  It’s something to think about.  Maybe he suddenly figured it out.  Or maybe he got a little help from a friend named Winstrol.  Unless someone has proof, it’s all speculation. 

    Another thought on Piazza’s decline phase.  When testing started he was a 34/35 years old catcher.  It’s a well known fact that the performance of all-star quality catchers significantly declines around the age of 32, so that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

  16. DaninPhilly said...

    Honestly, if Piazza wasn’t on steriods, then it will come as something of a shock to me.  If any player fits the conception of a juiced baseball player, it’s him.  The only difference between him and Bonds is that it seems clear that Bonds didn’t use early in his career, while I suspect that Piazza was a more long time user.

    One wonders how these players bodies will hold up now that they are old enough to feel the effect of the serious use of these PEDs.  Will Bonds be able to walk in 10 years?  Will Piazza show up in 5 years looking like he’s 60?  Or will they all continue to look healthy and normal and live long lives.  And what answer should we want?

  17. lookatthosetwins said...

    BMM

    While that article may have been unneccesary, it was the funniest thing I’ve read all day.  I can’t figure out why exactly, but I laughed for about 15 seconds after reading “He’s a gay”.

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