February 13, 201311:44 a.m.
"He doesn't want to come back because he thinks the fans will boo," former Dodgers Manager Tom Lasorda, the godfather to Piazza's brother, told The Times last month.
Piazza did himself no favors on that score in his new book, "Long Shot." In the book, he blames iconic Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully for turning fans against him during the contract stalemate that preceded his trade to the Florida Marlins in 1998.
Piazza, who was eligible for free agency after the 1998 season, said he hoped to stay with the Dodgers but set a deadline of Feb. 15 to reach a new contract. In the book, Piazza wrote that Scully asked him about the deadline in a spring interview.
"He wasn't happy about it," Piazza wrote. "And Scully's voice carried a great deal of authority in Los Angeles."
Piazza wanted $105 million over seven years. In the book, he said the Dodgers made a take-it-or-leave-it offer of $76 million over six years, said he would have signed at $79 million, and suggested the team leaked that it had offered $80 million.
At $80 million -- or even at $76 million -- Piazza would have been the highest-paid player in the game. Dodgers fans took notice that spring, as Piazza wrote.
"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."
Piazza ripped the Dodgers in a 1998 opening day interview with The Times. In the book, he said that interview did not play well with the L.A. fans, and neither did the fact that he failed to drive in a run as the Dodgers opened the season with a four-game losing streak.
"On top of that, Vin Scully was crushing me," Piazza wrote.
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