It was cold at Citi Field on Monday night, but the weather probably didn't have much to do with why Mike Piazza cut out early. Shortly after he caught Tom Seaver's ceremonial first pitch, Piazza headed for the exit, according to the New York Times' Joshua Robinson, which was odd since Seaver and other old Mets were being quite generous with their time and thoughts about the new digs.
According to the Mets, Piazza is a "private person" who just wanted to get home to his wife and kids. That may be, but it's hard to believe that the recent publication of a book about Roger Clemens didn't play a role in Piazza's decision to hit the exits.
In "The Rocket Who Fell to Earth," Jeff Pearlman wrote that Piazza admitted using steroids during his career, albeit to "unidentified" reporters, and that his use was an open secret around the league. The book also delves into the curious case of Piazza's back acne which has been raised as evidence of his drug use on more than one occasion. Piazza has denied all requests for a comment on the book.
All of the evidence is circumstantial, but given all we know about the last 20-odd years it's all too believable. Piazza, like any player who has neither admitted using steroids nor tested positive, carries the impossible burden of proving a negative. That makes avoiding the issue a smart play, but it won't make the issue go away. Few of those other players are considered one of the greatest hitting catchers who has ever played and a surefire Hall of Famer, which means that Piazza's steroid use is going to remain a subject of great interest.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.