Mike Piazza will go down as one of the three greatest catchers to ever don a Dodgers uniform and one of the greatest ever to do so, period — as evidence by his being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday. In terms of what he meant to the Dodgers as a player and as a figure, he should have his number retired, except, there’s a good chance it won’t.
His relationship with the Dodgers since being traded to the Miami Marlins has been strained, to say the least, and only worsened when he accused Vin Scully of turning fans against him, which, you know, turned fans against him.
Piazza said the following in his book (via the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin):
“The way the whole contract drama looked to them — many of whom were taking their cue from Scully — was that, by setting a deadline and insisting on so much money, I was demonstrating a conspicuous lack of loyalty to the ball club,” Piazza wrote. “I understood that.”
I don’t want to get into a he said-he said here. To me, that doesn’t matter. Not even a little bit.
Look, last month, we would’ve celebrated one of my cousin’s 33rd birthday. I say we would have because he passed away three years ago. Months before he died, I could’ve sworn he stole my then fiance’s purse (and obviously everything in it). I hadn’t spoken to him in the months leading up to his death because I merely thought he stole from us.
So, when we got the call from my mom early on a Saturday morning, you can imagine the thoughts that went through my head. All of a sudden, the maybe 50 bucks that might’ve been in the purse seemed *bleeping* miniscule. I’d’ve paid that back in full endlessly just for the opportunity to have a damn conversation.
For weeks, he would call and even when I was in town (I live in SoCal but most my family lives in El Paso, Texas), I’d ignore him. I didn’t want anything to do with him for 50. Damn. Bucks. I honestly haven’t gotten over that feeling — it’s legitimately one of my deepest regrets I’ll ever have in life.
I bring that up for the unequivocally obvious and obnoxiously overlooked lessons of how short life can be and the finality that comes with death.
Again, I’m not even remotely interested in who said what and the details of how the rift was formed between Piazza, Scully and the Dodgers. There are few things I’ll ever care less about. That’s between those three entities.
What I’m interested in is a whole bunch of grown ass men growing up and letting bygones be bygones to do the right thing. Piazza’s number should be retired by the Dodgers. He should stand there at home plate for the ceremony with Vin Scully standing there next to him.
One day, we’ll look back on what should have happened, and we can only hope it can still be resolved when that time comes.