Vin Scully supposedly turned LA against Mike Piazza in this interview (Video)
Piazza’s book was released this week, and news outlets have been sharing various excerpts from the autobiography. Many of the reviews have been positive, such as when it was revealed Piazza began taking karate lessons to prepare for a fight with Roger Clemens. But there has been backlash toward Piazza for his criticism of Scully.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in his book, Piazza blames Scully for turning the city of Los Angeles against him during his contract dispute with the club in 1998.
Piazza was in the final year of a two-year, $15 million deal and wanted a large contract extension. He was believed to be seeking a seven-year, $105 million deal from the team. The Dodgers were supposedly offering a six-year deal worth either $76 or $80 million, depending on whether you believe the team or Piazza. Piazza’s representative had set a Feb. 15 deadline for the team to reach an agreement with him that was not met. The contract dispute led to the Dodgers trading Piazza to the Florida Marlins in May, who in turn dealt the catcher to the New York Mets eight days later.
According to the Times, Piazza says Scully expressed displeasure with the “ultimatum” during an interview for Dodgers TV partner KTLA in 1998 (seen below):
“He wasn’t happy about it,” Piazza wrote in the book, per the Times. “And Scully’s voice carried a great deal of authority in Los Angeles.
“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.”
“On top of that, Vin Scully was crushing me,” Piazza wrote.
In an interview with the Times, Scully said Piazza’s accusations were “not true at all.” The announcer, who has been with the team since their days in Brooklyn in 1950, says he does not get involved in contract disputes, and that he was “flabbergasted” by the reference from Piazza.
As a Los Angeles native who has listened to Scully call games for the past two decades, I don’t recall him ever criticizing a player or skewing his commentary based on contract issues. Sure, Scully will call out the team or individuals when they play poorly or break out a history lesson when he feels it’s necessary, but he doesn’t get involved with contract issues. I think the 1998 interview dug up by KTLA that’s seen above confirms Piazza is imagining things.
The Dodgers were planning to make Piazza the highest-paid player in baseball with the contract they offered him. He wanted to be the first player to make $100 million. That’s all the fans needed to “turn” against him.
Piazza has not been inside Dodger Stadium since retiring from baseball in 2008. His former manager, Tommy Lasorda, told the Times Piazza fears he would be booed by the fans if he did return. After going after Scully in his book, you better believe Piazza would be booed.