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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Piazza's Homer Dents Some Cars, but Not the Rockies

September 22, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

One afternoon in early June, Mike Piazza hit a pitch against St. Louis into the back of the Dodger bullpen. Piazza's teammates protested that the home run carried more than the 419 feet computed by IBM, claiming they feared for the safety of their cars in the players' parking lot behind Dodger Stadium's left-field pavilion.

"I was glad I rode with somebody else today," Todd Worrell joked, back when he had a sense of humor.

In Sunday's twilight at Dodger Stadium, Piazza did hit one that could cause a teammate to spend his day off at a body shop, bouncing a third-inning changeup by Colorado's Frank Castillo off the left-field roof and into the parking lot.

Pittsburgh's Willie Stargell twice hit balls over the right-field pavilion, once in 1969 (506 feet, 6 inches) and again in 1973 (470 feet), but no one had hit the ball out of the park to left field. Piazza's 37th home run of the season, a career high for him, was his longest ever, measured at 478 feet.

There would be no repeat of Saturday's eighth-inning embarrassment, when Piazza started his home-run trot only to watch the ball bounce off the top of the right-field fence and back into play.

Piazza made sure on this one. Castillo must have thought he was pitching in the thin air of Coors Field.

It could have been another shot heard around the world, one that inspired the Dodgers to a win and a winning streak.

Instead?

"It's a footnote now," Piazza said.

His two-run home run, followed by a solo home run by Raul Mondesi, gave the Dodgers a 5-1 lead. The game should have ended there. The Dodgers lost, 10-5, and fell two games behind San Francisco with six remaining.

"He hung me a changeup on 2-and-2," Piazza said, talking about his home run because he was asked, not because he wanted to. "I wasn't sitting back. But as soon as I saw it out of his hand, I sat back and . . . That's about as far as I can hit it, I guess.

"It's nice, but, obviously, bittersweet."

*

"We've got to do some soul-searching," Piazza said after Sunday's loss. . . .

Maybe that's what Tom Lasorda was doing a few hours earlier when he appeared at Crystal Cathedral with the Rev. Robert Schuller. . . .

Lasorda, who turns 70 today, looks fit enough to return to uniform, although he says he needs knee surgery. . . .

If Mike Sciosca becomes the Tampa Bay Devil Ray manager, speculation is he will take Lasorda with him as the bench coach. . . .

I'd like to see Brett Butler play more. . . .

So apparently would Dodger fans, who gave him a standing ovation when he pinch hit Sunday to lead off the ninth inning. . . .

The most activity he can count on all week comes today at 12:30 p.m., when he's scheduled to sign copies of his book, "Field of Hope," at Planet Hollywood in Beverly Hills. . . .

When Colorado first baseman Andres Galarraga and second baseman Neifi Perez collided Saturday and let a pop up drop, Fox announcer Tim McCarver blamed pitcher Jamey Wright for not calling off Perez. . . .

It couldn't have been that Wright had trouble shouting over the crowd because, McCarver pointed out, Dodger fans aren't very loud. . . .

I guess they're like Ohio State fans. . . .

Coach John Cooper seems to hear them only when they're calling for his head. . . .

It was a good weekend's for college football's Bowl Alliance, which doesn't want to see No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Pasadena on Jan. 1. . . .

The Pacific 10's Washington Huskies lost and the Big Ten's Penn State dropped to No. 2 after beating Louisville by only 57-21. . . .

When Peyton Manning began his career at Tennessee, he had to live up to the expectation he would be the next Heath Shuler. . . .

When he begins his pro career, he will have to prove he's not. . . .

This is not a second guess. I said when the Raiders lined up that they shouldn't go for two points with a 12-6 lead in the second quarter Sunday. . . .

They failed, and lost to the Jets by one point. . . .

Of course, with Cole Ford kicking like he did Sunday, maybe Joe Bugel's decision was the high-percentage one. . . .

Before rival Rupert Murdoch had the idea, Ted Turner met with Paul Tagliabue about bringing an NFL team to Los Angeles. . . .

Turner already had a name in mind, the California Bears. . . .

He didn't know it had been taken.

*

While wondering what Jimmy Johnson thinks of Trent Dilfer now, I was thinking: I can't bring myself to feel sorry for the Raiders, Skip Hicks is as good a candidate as anyone for the Heisman Trophy, no one in the history of tennis could have beaten Pete Sampras in the second and third sets Sunday.

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