DECK THE HALL
After four years of knocking on the door, the 47-year-old former catcher, a 12-time All-Star, finally got into Cooperstown, where he hopes his plaque will evoke his "motif."
DAN PATRICK:What was it like to get that call?
MIKE PIAZZA: It's nerve-racking, but once you get the call, it's an amazing feeling. You can't describe it. You start to put your whole career into perspective and look back at all the times when, as a kid, you dreamed of being a major leaguer. You have this panorama of your life. It's euphoric.
DP:How difficult was it to read about why you should or shouldn't get in?
MP: When I came up with the Dodgers, I was able to talk to [Hall of Famer] Roy Campanella. He told me, "Just play the game. Do your job. Don't worry about what they write, and don't worry about what they say. With fans it's simple: If you have a good day, they're going to cheer; if you have a bad day, they're going to boo." It kind of put things into perspective.
DP:What about the [steroid] rumors and innuendos?
MP: It is what it is. To go around and try to stomp out all of these little things, you can't do it. It doesn't make any sense. I think it was accentuated with me being in L.A. and New York. Half of the stuff I read in the tabloids in New York about me was hysterical.
DP:You're going in as a Met. Did you even consider going in as a Dodger?
MP: I think it's important for me to say that I have absolutely no animosity or negative feelings toward the Dodgers. They gave me an opportunity. We had a falling-out and parted ways. Both of us were definitely at fault. The good thing is, it got me to New York. I had a baptism of fire there. Eventually I had to focus and find a way to go out and perform and find a way to get it done, and I did. They [the Mets] have taken me into their family. I can't describe the relationship I've had with Mets fans. It's been amazing.
DP:Will your plaque have a mustache and mullet, like you had early in your career?
MP: I came up with the muttonchops and the Fu Manchu [look]. I grew up in the '70s when [Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt] had a perm. The guys in the '80s had all the facial hair like [former reliever] Rollie Fingers. That was something I took into the '90s. It was part of my motif.
MP:[Laughs.] Yeah. They told me I was going to be able to look at the proofs [of the plaque]. I'm sure it will be cool.
DP:You gotta go mullet.
MP: Straight mullet, like [former Phillies first baseman] John Kruk. A Krukkie mullet.
Former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said that despite his recent hair transplant, he's glad he was bald during his playing days. "[The hair] would have driven me crazy," Urlacher told me. "With it, now my shower time has almost tripled." ... Former Reds catcher Johnny Bench described his plan to use Ken Griffey Jr.'s Hall of Fame nod as a chance to recover some old merchandise: "[Griffey] would steal stuff out of my locker [when Bench played with Griffey's dad]. I tweeted him and [told him] to bring that stuff back or I get your ring." ... Former NBA forward Brian Scalabrine doesn't believe Kobe Bryant will be considered one of the league's top 10 players of all time. "He will be between 15 to 25," Scalabrine said. "The reason is [Shaquille O'Neal]. If you take a guy like Allen Iverson and put him with Shaq then he, too, is in this conversation."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
SPORTING NEWS/GETTY IMAGES (PIAZZA)
ELSA/GETTY IMAGES (BENCH)
KYLE TERADA/USA TODAY SPORTS (SCALABRINE)