In Mike Piazza's new autobiography Long Shot, the former Dodgers catcher has done the unthinkable: he's taken legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully to task.
Piazza blames Scully for turning fans against him heading into the 1998 season, his final contracted year with the Dodgers before hitting free agency. Piazza wanted a seven year, $105 million contract from Los Angeles, while the team countered with six years and $76 million, which would have made him the highest paid player in baseball. Fans weren't pleased with Piazza declining the offer, and he believes they took a cue from Scully.
"The way the whole contract drama looked to them -- many of whom were taking their cue from Scully -- was that, by setting a deadline and insisting on so much money, I was demonstrating a conspicuous lack of loyalty to the ball club," Piazza wrote. "I understood that."
Those are some pretty strong words, but as you'd expect, Scully denied it all when the LA Times got in touch with him on Wednesday.
"That's not true at all," Scully told The Times in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Scully said he could not recall the interview in which Piazza said the contract deadline was discussed. However, Scully said, he never would criticize a player about contractual negotiations.
"As God is my judge, I don't get involved in these things," Scully said. "I can't imagine I would ever put my toe in the water as far as a player and his negotiations.
"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."
Who really knows if Piazza is telling the truth, or embellishing things to create a buzz around his book. But if Piazza is trying to ingratiate himself to the Dodger faithful, going after Scully is a really poor way to go about that. For as great as Piazza's career in Los Angeles was, he hasn't really been embraced by the franchise as an all-time great, likely due to his acrimonious departure. His #31 was reissued in 2005 to Brad Penny, and has been worn by James McDonald, Jay Gibbons, Tim Federowicz, and Brandon League since. For a guy that won a Rookie of the Year award and finished in the top ten in MVP voting during each one of his seasons with the Dodgers, that's a major snub. But at the same time, the Dodgers haven't retired a number since Tommy Lasorda's #2, and the team really lacked an identity after Piazza was traded in 1998 until the emergence of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw in recent years.
At any rate, going after an institution like Scully is a bad move from Piazza. But if the goal was to get us to talk about his book aside from mentioning PEDs, then he succeeded in achieving that goal. I just don't think this is going to help Piazza's image with Dodgers fans.