Padres to Hear Patter of Little Feet

There is little sentiment in baseball, particularly when it comes between your team winning and losing. For the Dodgers to advance in post season play this year, they first have to win the National League West or at least be the National League wild card. Since the other two National League divisions are considered stronger, winning the West is therefore critical.

Hence it is good news old Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza has signed with the division rival Padres down the road. Last year Mike threw out only 10 of 92 baserunners - worst in the league. Rather than being an off year, it was fairly typical of his big league record.

No mistake, Mike is a great hitter, a great guy, handsome, well spoken and all that. Its just that he can't throw runners out. Years ago, his pop told anybody who would listen it was because of the pitchers who couldn't hold runners on.

Funny thing is, the pitchers were doing a better job with anybody else wearing the tools of ignorance.

When Mike was a Dodgers player, he was a king. Even if he wasn't, Tommy Lasorda would have made him one, but it wasn't necessary as Mike got there on his own.

Now he's a Padre. The "King" is dead, long live the King, now in the Dodgers case Dioner Navarro.

It wouldn't have made any difference last year, because the Dodgers couldn't steal a base even if the Venus de Milo was catching for the other side. Cesar Izturis was okay at the top of the order, but he couldn't steal effectively.

This year, the Dodgers have both Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton, who can and will steal. When the Dodgers play the Padres, if Piazza is catching, the other six men in the lineup will become instant basestealers as well.

Consider it a lock Grady Little will not refrain from sending runners against catcher Mike Piazza. It ain't cruel, its just part of the game.

Just as opposing teams ran wild against Mike was in Dodgers blue (or any other bad throwing catcher like brother Phillips a year ago), it is not considered bad form to return the favor.

This new slight advantage will be enough to keep the Dodgers in several games they would have been out of a year ago. It just might be enough to put the Dodgers over the top this year.

One take all gifts in whatever form they come in, just as other teams took generously from the Dodgers a year ago.

If old Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro were around, he'd notice that all the hours he spent working with Piazza to catch the ball, stand up, take ONE step and throw were largely wasted all these many years later.

Mike would follow Roseboro's advice dutifully on the back fields. Then when the real game began, Mike would catch the ball, take TWO steps, throw - and give up a stolen base. Piazza's failure to execute the Roseboro lessons finally cost Roseboro his job with the Dodgers.

Over the course of a couple of years, Rosey wasn't the only Dodgers hand to lose his job over trying to do something with Piazza, who wanted to do things his way (which mostly was take another thousand cuts in the batting cage).

When differences were discovered, who do you think the grey eminence Tommy Lasorda would side with? You bet your bippy.

So we will wish Mike Piazza well in his continuing endeavors, but reserving final delivery until Dodgers are arising and dusting themselves off from second and third base this year.

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