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Murray Chass goes after Mike Piazza again

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Murray Chass, who once went off about how Mike Piazza was a steroids user because he had acne on his back, goes after Piazza again:

I have been accused of being the only writer who has publicly suggested that he used steroids, but talk to any reporter who covered the Mets and they will say of course, he did. Recently I came across this passage from a piece about Piazza:

“Two springs ago, Mike Piazza asked, ‘How can someone write that I was a steroid user because of acne? When did I fail any test?’”

That’s his defense, and he’s sticking to it. The suspicion is Piazza didn’t fail any tests because he stopped using steroids when Major League Baseball began testing.

Piazza is writing a book with Lonnie Wheeler for an advance of $800,000, and for that kind of money a publisher is going to expect something other than balls and strikes. Specifically the truth. The original author of the book, Michael Bamberger, a Sports Illustrated writer of great integrity, withdrew from the project because Piazza wouldn’t commit in writing to tell the truth about steroids.

This is dangerous territory for Chass, but you know what? At least he’s going out on a limb a bit.  I have no idea if Piazza did steroids, but Chass is at least willing to make an accusation. Say what you will about it, but it’s gutsy. More gutsy than that enigmatic “I have my suspicions” business we’ve been hearing lately. Back acne and “everyone knew he did it” is not as damning as the stuff we read about Barry Bonds in “Game of Shadows,” but it’s more than anyone has managed to throw at Bagwell.

I wish those reporters who Chass says will freely tell you that Piazza did steroids would say something.  As a wise man once said, “I prefer a straight fight to all this sneakin’ around.”

And just because someone asks this in every thread, let me clarify my think-through on this stuff: I view the business of making PED accusations and the Hall of Fame to be two distinct, albeit related things.  I don’t like baseless accusations. I think evidence-based accusations are good journalism. If there is no evidence against a guy, it’s horse hockey to withhold a Hall of Fame vote. If and when someone is determined to be a PED user through some evidence, however, voters may feel free to exercise their consciences in that regard even if I disagree on that and wouldn’t withhold a vote for a guy simply because he used PEDs.

(thanks to Jason at IIATMS for the heads up)

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.