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)

MLB crowds jump from ’21, still below pre-pandemic levels

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PHOENIX — Even with the homer heroics of sluggers like Aaron Judge and Albert Pujols, Major League Baseball wasn’t able to coax fans to ballparks at pre-pandemic levels this season, though attendance did jump substantially from the COVID-19 affected campaign in 2021.

The 30 MLB teams drew nearly 64.6 million fans for the regular season that ended Wednesday, which is up from the 45.3 million who attended games in 2021, according to baseball-reference.com. This year’s numbers are still down from the 68.5 million who attended games in 2019, which was the last season that wasn’t affected by the pandemic.

The 111-win Los Angeles Dodgers led baseball with 3.86 million fans flocking to Dodger Stadium for an average of 47,672 per contest. The Oakland Athletics – who lost 102 games, play in an aging stadium and are the constant subject of relocation rumors – finished last, drawing just 787,902 fans for an average of less than 10,000 per game.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished second, drawing 3.32 million fans. They were followed by the Yankees (3.14 million), defending World Series champion Braves (3.13 million) and Padres (2.99 million).

The Toronto Blue Jays saw the biggest jump in attendance, rising from 805,901 fans to about 2.65 million. They were followed by the Cardinals, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, and Mets, which all drew more than a million fans more than in 2021.

The Rangers and Reds were the only teams to draw fewer fans than in 2021.

Only the Rangers started the 2021 season at full capacity and all 30 teams weren’t at 100% until July. No fans were allowed to attend regular season games in 2020.

MLB attendance had been declining slowly for years – even before the pandemic – after hitting its high mark of 79.4 million in 2007. This year’s 64.6 million fans is the fewest in a non-COVID-19 season since the sport expanded to 30 teams in 1998.

The lost attendance has been balanced in some ways by higher viewership on the sport’s MLB.TV streaming service. Viewers watched 11.5 billion minutes of content in 2022, which was a record high and up nearly 10% from 2021.