Mike Piazza formally announced his retirement Tuesday. No farewell tour, no rocking chairs and no standing ovations.
Another character from baseball's Steroids Era just sort of quietly disappearing into the good night.
He finishes with 427 home runs (39th on baseball's all-time list); 1,335 RBI (80th); a .922 OPS (47th) and 12 All-Star appearances. No catcher in major-league history hit more homers than Piazza -- he passed Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk in 2004.
All of this, and yet I'm going to need every bit of his required five-year waiting period to wrestle with the question of whether I'm going to check his name when it appears on the Hall of Fame ballot.
Because nearly as surprising as his ascent from being a 62nd-round draft pick was the fact that his name did not appear in last winter's Mitchell Report.
Bulked up as he was during the peak of his career, Piazza did not pass the eye test in the late 1990s and early 2000s while clubbing 30-plus homers a season. And he did not pass the eye test again toward the end of his career when he mysteriously seemed to wither away.
Is it fair?
If Piazza never juiced then, hell, no.
But if those offensive numbers are artificially inflated, well, then, is THAT fair to all of the other players who did things the right way?
It's terrible that this is the prism through which we must view things today. But by irresponsibly opposing drug testing for years, Don Fehr and the players' union have brought this on themselves.
Likes: What a great story, Jon Lester throwing a no-hitter. ... That the only other no-hitter ever pitched against Kansas City was by none other than Nolan Ryan. ... The Cubs' Geovany Soto cracking an inside-the-park homer. That's the only play more exciting than a triple. ... This Los Angeles Times story on singer Sly Stone's interest in making a comeback. It contains one of the best quotes I've read anywhere all year. Context: A "golden moment" for Sly and the Family Stone was at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, during which the band performed the song Higher and a crowd of 400,000 sang the words back. Now, from the story, here's Sly: "Everybody I saw was full of peace, it was a spirit there that was just peaceful and cool. The thing I really remember is I went to whatever was the main street there and I got a bologna sandwich. And it was so hot. And I never open a sandwich to look what's going on, but somehow I thought that time that I would do that. Because it was hot and I didn't think bologna sandwiches were hot. And I opened it and there were people running across the meat. And, I thought, 'Whoa.'" ...
Dislikes: Don't want to hear any more about the umpires blowing Carlos Delgado home run call against the Yankees the other night. It was an 11-2 game. The Mets won. Because it was in New York, though, we're going to hear about it for weeks, and the periodic debate about instant replay will be going strong. ... Madonna's new disc, Hard Candy. Not that I'm a big Madonna fan to begin with, but I do enjoy all sorts of music and I like some of Madonna's earlier stuff -- Material Girl, Angel, whatever. But I picked up Hard Candy for my wife for Mother's Day, and most of it gives meaning to the word "monotony." It stinks.
"Into this life we're born
"Baby, sometimes we don't know why
"And time seems to go by so fast
"In the twinkling of an eye
"Let's enjoy it while we can
"Won't you help me sing my song
"From the dark end of the street
"To the bright side of the road"
-- Van Morrison, Bright Side of the Road