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)

Jorge Soler diagnosed with strained oblique, Opening Day in doubt

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Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.

The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.

When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.