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'Try Reasoning With Him'
2003-03-13 07:51
by Jon Weisman
Note: The Dodger Thoughts blog has moved to the Los Angeles Times.

It's been a long time since something in the news has amazed me and filled me with wonder as much as the safe return of Elizabeth Smart. I'm just blown away, and very happy for her and her family.

No truth to the rumor that the hostilities between Mike Piazza and Guillermo Mota started last year with Piazza taunting, "Baby talk, baby talk, it's a wonder you can walk."

(It's a Brady Bunch reference. I want to use it, but feel impelled to clarify it because I used a different one at my softball game Sunday and the person I was talking to didn't watch the show and didn't get it. What kind of world are we coming to when you can't use a Brady Bunch reference with any confidence?)

Mota's got a blazing fastball and a 1.29 ERA with nine strikeouts and two walks (and one hit batter, of course) in seven innings this spring. That's very good. And it had better be, because he's the last man on the pitching staff, and I don't know how long teams will let you hold that job if every so often you're going to be suspended and held out of road trips.

It's not like Mota hit Barry Bonds. He hit a guy that many Dodger fans still worship - the prodigal son that hasn't returned. When Mota comes into a game in Dodger Stadium, I don't get the sense people are going to rally around him too much. Games against the Mets may sell out, though.

Anyway ... not that I live in a Brady Bunch world, but it seems like someone should really get Piazza, Mota and managers Art Howe and Jim Tracy in a room together, supervised, and just settle this like grownups. Does it serve anyone's interest to let a situation linger where two major league baseball players can't even be in the same city?

Piazza's got a beef - he's been hit by Mota two years in a row. Mota's got a beef - how mature was it for Piazza to go after Mota as he was walking away from the Mets' dugout toward the exits at Vero Beach last year and start grabbing his neck? Sure, if Mota hit Piazza with the pitch intentionally, Mota's in the wrong and should be punished. But you have to deal with the residual anger.

I know there are people who go to the ballpark who look forward to fights breaking out, but I'm telling you, with the injuries and suspensions, it ain't worth it. Just make peace. Believe me, these days, we need all the peace we can get.

Probably, though, it'll just fester. The Dodgers finish their stretch of six games with the Mets in seven days with the Mexico City trip this weekend, then don't play New York again until May 6. By then, Mota will have probably proven his value to the team, one way or another. And then, we'll just see...

P.S. I just watched the video. Two comments:

1) Mets general manager Steve Phillips' contention in the press that "the catcher set up inside, way inside, on both pitches, and it was pretty clear the catcher knew that Mota was going after him" isn't borne out. David Ross set up on the inside corner of the plate, low, where you would set up any number of times during a game. The pitch came in about two feet higher and two feet further inside.

2) When Piazza gets angry, his eyes are freakin' wide. You really have to see it. (Four minutes of footage is available at MLB.com.)

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