After a significant delay caused by a computer glitch, having too many Google accounts and far too many passwords to remember, the faithful blogger has returned in the new year, albeit midway through the first month already.
A lot of people simply say, "Time flies," but in reality, it actually does. It's Jan. 16 already. Wasn't it Christmas yesterday?
In any case, there are some issues that I feel I need to address today:
One, which has bothered me since the Baseball Hall of Fame voting was announced last week, is the fact that once again Mike Piazza didn't get elected into the Hall.
Now, I know what people are going to say, that I'm so totally biased because I'm a Mets fan. There's no denying that fact. Even after 32 years in this business, I know I should be totally unbiased about everything related to sports, but I can't drain the blue and orange that has run through my veins since I was four years old.
Believe me, there are times that I've tried and thought about that fateful transfusion, especially after the way the Coupon boys have turned the franchise into a laughingstock, but there's no price tag on loyalty and tradition. I'm a Metsie, Metsie, Metsie until the Lord calls me home.
Now, putting that aside, how does any sports writing member of the Professional Baseball Writers of America organization not vote Piazza into the Hall of Fame?
I know he got closer this year, finishing about 80 votes shy, and I know that he will probably get in next year, considering the only new candidate with true Hall of Fame credentials is Ken Griffey, Jr.
But still, the idea that Craig Biggio, a very nice player and a credit to the game as well as Seton Hall University, is now a Hall of Famer over Mike Piazza is downright ludicrous in my eyes.
I know Biggio got 3,000 hits, which used to be the sure-fire stamp of earning a place in Cooperstown. I know he had 50 doubles and 50 stolen bases one year and led the league in runs scored twice. All nice facts.
Simply put, Mike Piazza is the best hitting catcher to ever play the game. He hit .308 for his career and hit 427 homers, 380 of which came as a catcher, which is the most ever for anyone to ever play the position. His offensive numbers are clearly better than other Hall of Fame catchers like Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter.
And yes, I'm a Met fan who believes that Gary Carter, the Kid, the last piece to our 1986 World Series puzzle, was a great player and a great Met, but he's not a Hall of Famer. His numbers over the last seven years of his career are scary bad. There's a lot of sentiment for the Kid now that he's left us, but please, you can't even put Carter and Piazza in the same breath.
Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer and was well on his way to becoming one before he became a Met. After he became a Met, he literally saved that franchise from ruin and led that rag-tag team with limited talent (and an outfield of Timo Perez, Derek Bell, Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton) to the World Series. Piazza literally carried that team _ with the help of Edgardo Alfonzo and Robin Ventura. But Piazza was the main man in 2000 in winning the National League pennant.
Not to mention the countless clutch homers and hits he had over the years. Who could ever forget that monstrous blast on the first day baseball returned after the 9-11 tragedy? That homer uplifted an entire nation and especially gave the Big Apple a shot of much-needed adrenalin.
In my eyes, Piazza should be a sure-fire, no-brainer Hall of Famer. If I had a vote, he would have been among my first choices.
But for some reason, the voters chose to exclude Piazza because there are rumors floating about that he took anabolic steroids. True, at one time, Piazza used the strength and conditioning enhancement powder that a lot of ballplayers used before it was banned by MLB. But there is no substantial proof, like the Mitchell Report or any drug testing result, that shows Piazza using steroids. None.
Nope, it's all based on rumors. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News wrote that he learned from a former Piazza teammate that he was using steroids. But when Madden was asked if he knew for sure, he didn't know. He's just going on the hearsay of the former Piazza teammate.
Others have followed suit, citing that there are rumors of Piazza using steroids. RUMORS. We're going to base a man's place in immortality on rumors and not his actual performance? Are you kidding me?
In 32 years of being a sportswriter, do you know how many rumors I've heard, ranging to one's sexual preference to who they're sleeping with to what drugs they're on and where they hang out? Christ, I could write two books of juicy tidbits, based solely on rumors. But you can't base anything on a rumor.
But these sportswriters are keeping Piazza out of his rightful place because of rumors. One sports writer said on ESPN that the reason why he didn't vote for Piazza was because he didn't want to put him in now, then five years from now, the truth about his steroid rumors come out. Can you believe such crap? Let's not vote for a worthy candidate now just because a rumor MIGHT come out. It's beyond ludicrous.
The players who got voted in this year, namely Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, were no-brainers in my mind. They all belonged in and deserved of the red carpet treatment to Cooperstown, even if Johnson is one of the most surly, most unapproachable human beings in sports.
Again, performance. They were all three dominant pitchers.
Biggio? He was never the best player on his own team. How can someone be a Hall of Famer if they're not even the best player on the Astros? That distinction belonged to Jeff Bagwell, and he's not getting in because of _ yes, steroid rumors.
I don't envy the voting members of the PBBWAA, because they have a difficult job voting. It's painstaking to think who deserves it and who doesn't, especially now in the steroid era.
However, I'm a firm believer that both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were Hall of Famers before either was introduced to a syringe. Just look at their stats prior to 1998 and you'll see what I mean. They just extended their great careers longer than what anyone else could have done because of drugs. But in my mind, Bonds and Clemens deserve to be in the Hall of Fame above people like Craig Biggio. And I despise both Bonds and Clemens, perhaps my two least favorite baseball players ever, right next to Vince Coleman.
I also believe that the time has come to put Pete Rose on the ballot and see if he gets enough votes to get in. Rose is a Hall of Famer and should be put in the Hall for what he did as a player, not what he did hideously as a manager.
Look, O.J. Simpson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and they haven't exactly taken his bust down after all the juice that has fallen on the juice.
I would vote for Bonds, Clemens and Rose. And most definitely, I'd vote for Piazza, who deserves his place there.
I'd also vote for Tim Raines, but I do have a little bias there, considering I worked with Raines for two years when he was the manager of the Newark Bears. So he's someone I consider a friend, so there's bias there.
But I don't know Mike Piazza. I've covered him enough and interviewed him enough and watched him even more than enough to realize that the man is a Hall of Famer, much like the greats I grew up with like Mays, Aaron, McCovey, Brock, Gibson, Seaver, Killebrew and Frank and Brooks Robinson.
Back then, when you walked into a ball park, you knew who the Hall of Famers were. There was no debate. Now, you have to consider whether they did steroids or even worse, whether there are rumors that they did steroids.
It really makes it a tough job selecting who gets to go to Cooperstown. Someday soon, it will be Mike Piazza. It just should have happened already.
And while we're at it, the stupid-ass Mets should put his No. 31 on the wall in left field already. To think that number is not retired is beyond comprehension. But then again, it's the Mets. What can one expect?
Remember, this is an organization that held it's Farewell to Shea ceremonies AFTER the team was eliminated from the playoffs that day against the Marlins. Real smart, holding that after a heartbreaking loss, the last October baseball game that truly mattered for this organization.
Here's my movie tip of the day. Stay far away from "Boyhood." WOW, is it lousy!
I have to wonder what the Academy Award voters are thinking, considering this boring drivel for Best Picture and other awards. But then again, "The Artist" and "Unforgiven" were once Best Picture winners. I think "The English Patient" also won. In my eyes, those movies were drivel.
"Boyhood" was a nice idea, filming the boy from the ages of seven through 18. But the story was boring and the movie was almost three hours long. After a while, I couldn't wait for it to be over. I lost interest in the boy and his development. In fact, I was bored to tears.
So it's up to you whether to plunk down the money to see it On Demand like I did. After all the Oscar nominations, I figured it was a must-watch. Now I think it's a must avoid.
I have three friends in the local sports circle who are currently waging war against cancer, all doing as best as they possibly can.
One is Hanover Park baseball coach Dave Minsavage, who has pancreatic cancer. Minsavage, one of the most professional and nicest coaches in the business, has taken some time off to take on cancer and hopes that he can recover enough to make a comeback in the future, but he will not coach this year.
Another is North Bergen girls' basketball coach Dan Reardon, who has cancer of the lymph nodes and is taking on cancer head on, coaching his team as he undergoes treatment.
The third is my wonderful, caring and loving physical therapist Carl Gargiulo, who has lymphoma and has successfully gone through three various chemotherapy treatments before heading on to grueling stem-cell surgery next month. I owe my existence to Gargiulo and his loving hands, helping me walk again, guiding me from walker to cane to no apparatus whatsoever.
I'm not 100 percent. I still visit Strulowitz & Gargiulo Physical Therapy in Jersey City three times a week, more religiously than I used to go to bars. I plan on walking freely and easily again someday. There's no guarantee. But I'm not stuck in the house and bound to a walker anymore, thanks to Carl and his incredible staff.
Cancer is a hideous, relentless, unforgiving and horrible disease that doesn't choose sides and has a lottery draft. It attacks everyone, even those who don't actually have it, but care about those who do, like the three great men that I wrote about.
Here's to hoping all three are able to beat cancer, kick cancer's ass like it has never been destroyed before. In sports terms, cancer has won far too many times. It needs to be knocked on its keister from time to time.
I plan on being more active here in the future. I apologize for my lack of contributions, especially to the faithful readers of the blog and I know there are many. Happy New Year. Let's all have a better 2015 than the one we had to endure in 2014. I know for sure I'm going to give it my best damn shot.
You can read more of my work at www.hudsonreporter.com, www.theobserver.com and www.dailyrecord.com. This week, check out the tribute to Kearny girls' basketball coach Jody Hill's father in www.theobserver.com.