Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Review of "Long Shot," by Mike Piazza and Lonnie Wheeler

 Review of

Long Shot, by Mike Piazza and Lonnie Wheeler, ISBN 9781439150221

Three out of five stars

Great hitting catcher, a bit self-centered

 It can be convincingly argued that Mike Piazza is the best hitting catcher of all time. He certainly put up the numbers while surviving the rigors of the most demanding position in baseball. He used the title “Long Shot” to emphasize how low he was in the draft of 1988, in fact he was the last player selected. Even Piazza admits that he was drafted by the Dodgers as a favor from Tommy Lasorda to his buddy, Piazza’s father.

 Yet, with the backing and encouragement he received starting from a very young age, there is no question that Piazza received favors that few prospects have been the beneficiary of. For example, how many teenage boys have received personal hitting instruction from Ted Williams? He also put in the hours of practice and study of the game, his father built a batting cage in the backyard so that he could practice hitting.

 While Piazza is an interesting baseball personality, the book is tainted by what is at times very close to whining. While his complaints about the media and fans in New York are founded, his prose indicates that he was being singled out. I have been following baseball and reading books about baseball for years and recall reading how the press and fans hounded Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and other stars. Mickey Mantle was booed a great deal in the first half of his career with New York. Piazza also has words of criticism of the way baseball teams bring along players from Latin America, helping them with translators and other aspects of fitting in. Given how much some of these players are worth and the fact that many are kids from very poor backgrounds, aiding those players is simply good business.

 While there are some high moments, I found the whining aspects annoying. Others that played in New York received far harsher treatment, by both the fans and the press.

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