Great Moments in Fact Checking: the Mike Piazza biography

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Mike Piazza was wrong about his interaction with Vin Scully back in 1998, but there was some emotion and, at least on some level, a subjective aspect to all of that. Piazza thought that Scully was “crushing” him and, even if he was overreacting in the extreme, it’s (a) understandable that someone could have walked away feeling that; and (b) it’s not something an editor would feel obligated to “correct.”

Rob Neyer found something else in Piazza’s book that doesn’t fit that description at all, however. A memory — and some ruffled feathers on Piazza’s part — about something Tom Glavine wrote in his own autobiography. Except Glavine never wrote the book Piazza claims he wrote and the anecdote can’t be found anywhere.

I know celebrity bios are notorious for bad facts and hands-off editors, but man, really?

UPDATE: Piazza’s co-author commented on Neyer’s post, addressing the discrepancy:

“Rob: I hate to say it, but it appears that you’re absolutely right. You’re right, also, that it’s a very weird thing. I can’t explain it. There’s a reference to that book in my notes, but I’m at a loss to say why it wasn’t checked and verified. As I’m sure you’re aware, in a book like this it seems that there are about a dozen items that have to be checked in virtually every paragraph. Fortunately, the Internet age makes it comparatively easy, most of the time. And this would definitely fall under the category of checkable. So I can offer no defense. I can only acknowledge that it was clearly, regrettably, my mistake. Sorry. I’d like to assure you that nothing in the book was published willy-nilly, without accountability, but I’m afraid your catch has challenged that statement. Hopefully, it’s the only error of that kind. Meanwhile, the editor has assured me that the passage will be corrected in the next printing.”

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.