In the short term, Mike Piazza is winning by getting people (like me) to buy his new book. In the long run, Piazza isn't doing his reputation any favors by calling out beloved Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, of all people, and casting him as a villain in Piazza's life.
Scully's image in Los Angeles (and elsewhere) is anything but villainous. He's 85 years old, has been the voice and face of the Dodgers since before they moved to California and, by most accounts including mine, is a swell guy. Piazza, conversely, would have us believe Scully has it in for him.
"Long Shot" says that in 1998, Scully surprised Piazza in a TV interview with gotcha-type questions about a deadline he had set with the Dodgers for a contract extension during spring training. Yes, a person whose job it sometimes is to ask people things asking about a deadline Piazza himself created is just the lowest. Later in the chapter, Piazza complained that Scully was "crushing" him when the team got off to a bad start and Piazza hadn't driven in any runs. It's not impossible to prove, if recordings of the games are reviewed.
However, in a response published in the Los Angeles Times, Scully says he has absolutely no idea what Piazza is talking about:
"That's not true at all," Scully told The Times in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Scully said he could not recall the interview in which Piazza said the contract deadline was discussed. However, Scully said, he never would criticize a player about contractual negotiations.
"As God is my judge, I don't get involved in these things," Scully said. "I can't imagine I would ever put my toe in the water as far as a player and his negotiations.
"I have no idea where he is coming from. I really have no idea. I can't imagine saying something about a player and his contract. I just don't do that, ever. I'm really flabbergasted by that reference."
Piazza continued in the book saying that fans — "taking their cue from Scully" and other negative stories in the newspapers of the time — started booing him over his demands. As if Piazza is the first guy ever to get booed.
Even if Piazza's characterization of the Scully related events in "Long Shot" are accurate, it doesn't matter. Dodgers fans won't even bother forgiving Scully for his alleged transgressions. There's nothing to forgive. Instead, they'll just dislike Piazza — even more than they already do — for being a jerk to Scully. Vin Scully draws a lot of water in that town. Piazza don't draw spit.
It's pertinent to note Piazza's other mentions of Scully in the book (he likely dictated to co-author Lonnie Wheeler). Piazza seemed to appreciate Scully being the first person in L.A. to pronounce Piazza's Italian last name with the proper phonetics. What he didn't appreciate? Scully apparently touting someone else for MVP in 1996:
It seemed like every time he did something against us that year, Vin Scully would go, “Ken Caminiti, everybody’s MVP!” Thanks, Vin.
So that's it. Piazza, already bitter about not winning MVP in '95, didn't win it in '96, either. Caminiti did, in a unanimous vote. If only Scully had shilled for Piazza. Of course, how would Piazza know what Scully was saying on TV when he was playing in the game? He's obviously relying on someone else's memory. Without reviewing recordings of all the games (ridiculous, of course), there's little to go on here.
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So, Mike Piazza vs. Vin Scully. Who ya' got? What if Piazza tries karate on him? Never mind, it doesn't matter. Even if you are taking Piazza's side, you're outnumbered. Piazza's not going to win this popularity contest, either. What might it cost him? A bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium? Good will that might help him get into the Hall of Fame sooner? All just so he could sell a few more books.
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