Murray Chass can’t let go of Mike Piazza’s back acne

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While I was initially outraged at Murray Chass’s insistence that he knows Mike Piazza used steroids because he saw back acne on him once while walking through the locker room, I have since become amused by it. And a little bit in awe of his tenaciousness in holding on to the point. He wrote this over the weekend:

Attention, Mike Piazza fans and other cynics: A report in The New York Times on Saturday about the Barry Bonds perjury case said that prosecutors said that Bonds’ former girlfriend, Kimberly Bell, “would testify to seeing physical changes in Bonds that are indicative of steroid use, including acne on his back and shoulders…”

If acne is good enough for Federal prosecutors, it’s good enough for me no matter how much Piazza and his supporters scream and whine at my mention of Piazza and the acne that covered his back until it miraculously disappeared when baseball began testing for steroids in 2003 and 2004.

No one has accused Piazza of perjury, but he better be careful with what he says if he ever has to testify under oath.

Well, if back acne is good enough for prosecutors in a comically-misguided, tragically-wasteful and nearly evidence-free celebrity prosecution nearly eight years in the making, it should be good enough for a blogger like Chass too.

Personally though? I’d wait for a bit more before I accuse Piazza of ‘roiding. My brother had back acne when he was a teenager. It was because he was kind of a greaseball who got some bad luck in the genes-that-cause-bad-acne front.  Maybe Chass’s New York Times editor back in the day had a brother like that too, because they wouldn’t let him run with these kinds of silly accusations then.

How liberating it is to be a blogger and not have to deal with such petty concerns!

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.