Welcome back to Sports Stories.
In March 1998, recently retired Dodgers center fielder Brett Butler told a reporter that the team had struggled the previous season because it lacked leadership -- especially from Mike Piazza.
“Mike Piazza is a moody, self-centered, ‘90s player,” Butler said.
Many of Piazza’s teammates stood up for him in the press, including third baseman Todd Zeile:
“You don’t need to hear a voice from the grave. If Brett felt that bad about this, why didn’t he say that to him face to face?”
A few days later, Tommy Lasorda gave an interview to the New York Post during which he spoke at length about Piazza -- the man whose career he had nurtured for literally decades, going way back to Norristown, Pennsylvania.
“How can a guy who hits .330 with 40 home runs and knocks in 120 runs not be good for a team? No catcher has ever done what he’s done.”
Lasorda was right. No catcher had ever done what Piazza was doing. So of course, two months later, the Dodgers traded him.
Adam and I are very excited to share our latest project: PIAZZA, a small, handmade book of poems and drawings about everybody’s favorite “moody, self-centered, ‘90s player.”
We have talked for years about making a zine like this -- something that would capture the man and his vibe during his run with the Dodgers in LA. And what better way to do that than with a sonnet cycle?
The poems in PIAZZA draw lovingly on classic works of literature from W.B. Yeats to The Big Lebowski. The illustrations bring out the essence of not only the player, but the time and place of his reign in Southern California.
We hope you pick one up as a gift to yourself or the baseball fan in your life. It will make for great reading during the holiday season and also good company during what is sure to be an extensive and depressing labor stoppage in Major League Baseball.
Fair warning to Mets fans: this zine does not get into his career in Flushing.
Along with PIAZZA the book, you can also buy a new “Mike Piazza, Los Angeles Catcher” t-shirt designed by Adam. It’s a really nice shirt — and like the zine, it makes a wonderful gift.
Finally, since it’s apparently 1990s week at Sports Stories, we also have a new limited edition hat for sale, inspired by our favorite trading card brand. It’s perfect for wearing to school, to the mall, or to the taping of an MTV Rock N' Jock Softball game if they ever bring that back.
You should also know that these hats truly are limited edition: there are 12 of them in the entire world, and Adam and I are keeping two for ourselves, which means that we are only selling 10. They are embroidered on deadstock denim with suede bills.
Thank you for reading Sports Stories, and continuing to support this project. We’re excited to bring you physical objects made with great care — and we hope that you enjoy them.