More excerpts from Mike Piazza’s new book are out. Bill Shakin has the story here: Mike Piazza criticizing Vin Scully for turning the fans against him in L.A.
Piazza talks about his contract negotiations with the Dodgers prior to the 1998 season. In an interview with Scully, Piazza says Scully asked him about the deadline Piazza set for negotiations, which was the beginning of spring training. Shaikin on what Piazza wrote:
Piazza wrote that Scully asked him about the deadline in a spring interview. “He wasn’t happy about it,” Piazza wrote. “And Scully’s voice carried a great deal of authority in Los Angeles … Vin Scully was crushing me.”
Scully denies it:
“I have no idea where he is coming from. I really have no idea. I can’t imagine saying something about a player and his contract. I just don’t do that, ever. I’m really flabbergasted by that reference.”
Look, I know there’s a habit these days to say that Vin Scully is some godlike figure who does no wrong, so defending Scully is not exactly a brave and bold stance. But can anyone recall a time when Scully truly got involved in that level of the game? Contracts and dollars are so far out of his bailiwick that he’d have to call long distance back to his bailiwick to get his messages if ever he found himself there. Scully is all about stuff like “Uggla is Swedish for owl” and things.
Piazza talks about how he’s not well-liked in Los Angeles anymore. Hard to imagine why.
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.