By: Michael Ganci

My Apology to Mike Piazza

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Credit to my being young and stupid at the time, although some would call me older and stupider now, but I was quite upset when the Mets acquired Mike Piazza 22 years ago.

It wasn’t the return that upset me. The cream of the crop going to the then-Florida Marlins was young outfielder Preston Wilson, along with Geoff Goetz (who never reached the majors) and Ed Yarnell (who finished his career 1-0 after a brief stint with the crosstown Yankees). Wilson, the step-son of former Mets’ great Mookie, went on to have a serviceable career as a regular, which included one great year with the Marlins and one sensational year with the Colorado Rockies.

In 2000, Wilson hit 31 homers and drove in 121 RBI, but that pales in comparison to 2003, when he clubbed 36 homers and drove in 141 RBI for the Rockies. It must be sweet to hit in that thin air. That earned him his only All Star Team invite and he even garnered MVP votes.

The return of Mike Piazza more than made up for it. It’s what he ended up replacing that made this deal sour for me at the time (I have since gotten over it). As a young kid, my first favorite player was Bobby Bonilla. When I went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, all I wanted was Bonilla baseball cards. I didn’t even care about the exhibits. That faded quick, but the guy who followed him played the same position I did in little league. He could hit the ball a mile, and his name was Todd Hundley.

Truth be told, Hundley really had two really good years as a Met, but they coincided with when the Mets ultimately decided to make the trade for Piazza, which at the time, I felt was unnecessary and insulting to Hundley.

Nobody will forget Hundley’s 1996 season, when he smashed a then-record 41 homers (was Mets single season record) and drove in 112 RBI. The encore wasn’t too shabby either, as in 1997, he hit 30 homers and drove in 86 RBI to go along with a .396 on base percentage. His play fell off a cliff, appearing in just 53 games in 1998. After the acquisition of Piazza and an unfortunate experiment in left field, Hundley was shown the door, and I was heartbroken.

Boy was I young and stupid.

Mike Piazza came in and he took this town by storm, leading us to multiple playoff runs, a World Series appearance and many other memorable moments I was fortunate enough to be present for. I even met Mike a couple of times, including while waiting for tickets and outside of a Modell’s Sporting Goods he was signing autographs at. While Piazza was never the most comfortable in the limelight, he was our guy, and he is my most favorite Met of all time.

So here’s my apology.

Dear Mike, forgive a young kid that didn’t know what he was talking about. Thank you for the fire and desire. Thank you for your ability to be clutch. Thanks for going to war with Roger Clemens. Thank you for the home run after Sept. 11, 2001 that lifted us, even for just a minute. Thank you for the 10-run eighth inning versus the Braves, when your missile capped off an improbable comeback.

You’re the best hitting catcher baseball has even seen, and I, for one, am happy you’re in Cooperstown wearing a New York Mets’ cap.

About Michael Ganci

Michael Ganci is the Co-Founder of the Daily Stache, along with Matthew Falkenbury. Since 2008, Ganci has eat, drank and dreamt all things Mets, and he'd have it no other way. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @DailyStache.

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