WATCH: “They’re there right now.” Mets Broadcaster Howie Rose Says the Amazins’ are 2015 Contenders; Howie Also Talks about Mike Piazza’s PED Speculation and This Year’s Hall of Fame Inductees
By Neil A. Carousso
Flushing, NY — Prior to the middle game of a three game series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Mets at Citi Field on July 11, I sat down with Howie Rose, who has been in the Mets broadcast booth for 20 years on both radio and television, to discuss the 2015 Mets team and the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2015 with that part of the interview airing during WRHU-FM’s Hall of Fame coverage in Cooperstown, New York this weekend.
“They’re there right now,” Rose said when asked if the Metropolitans can contend for a playoff bid in 2015, despite being second-to-last in runs scored, just ahead of the Chicago White Sox. “There are enough bats here so that with their pitching as good as its been, they should be able to compete,” said Rose.
The 61-year-old sports broadcaster has seen the game evolve over the years from the “steroid era,” when there was an abundance of sluggers in the game, to baseball dominated by stellar pitching with young arms like Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets and 2015 all-star game starters Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers right hander Zach Greinke, to name a few.
“It’s a pitchers game right now,” remarked Rose, adding, “There are good young hitters in this game; they just need to develop a few more of them.”
On the topic of the aforementioned “steroid era,” former Mets catcher Mike Piazza came to mind, not because he is highly suspected of using performance enhancing drugs, but because he has been held out of the Hall of Fame after three years on the ballot.
“I feel there’s an inevitability to Mike Piazza going to Cooperstown,” said Rose. “He’s part of an era where everybody’s under some suspicion and I think he’s somewhat victimized by that.”
In the video above, Rose also recalls Piazza’s eighth inning home run that brought a sold-out Shea Stadium crowd to their feet on September 21, 2001, the day baseball returned to New York after the tragic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Howie, who called the game on Fox Sports Network, remembers it as an “Americana” moment.
Meanwhile, Rose addressed the 2015 Hall of Fame class, the largest players class inducted in 60 years.
First thing that comes to mind when Rose thinks of Long Island, New York native, 20-year Astro Craig Biggio is “consistent.” Biggio is 21st all-time in hits with 3,060, along with a .281 average and 291 home runs.
He called Randy Johnson, 2nd in strikeouts all-time with 4,875 K’s, “imposing,” adding he was “as intimidating as a pitcher as perhaps there ever was in the game.” The “Big Unit” has the 22nd most wins all-time with a record of 303-166. He played 22 years with seven teams, where he threw one perfect game, as a member of the D-Backs, against the Atlanta Braves in May 2009 to become the 17th pitcher in history to throw a perfecto. Johnson also pitched 100 complete games.
Pedro Martinez, one of three pitchers in this 2015 class, pitched 18 years and dominated the game in 1999, when he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA for the Boston Red Sox. Pedro was also in Queens for four seasons, although injured for some of his time in blue and orange.
“I think my favorite memory of Pedro had nothing to do with performance as it did attitude,” Rose said, while he recounted a story in which the sprinklers went off in-between innings at Shea. Pedro, who was the starting pitcher that day, was the least affected by the situation, according to Rose, who points out how routine oriented and superstitious baseball players are, especially starting pitchers.
Meanwhile, John Smoltz, who’s former Atlanta Braves teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were enshrined last year, along with his manager Bobby Cox, will be inducted in Cooperstown on Sunday. Being in the National League East, Smoltz faced the Mets as both a starter and closer often.
“I kind of look at him as a pitching version of Craig Biggio,” remarked Rose. He excelled in two totally different ways just as Biggio did at two totally different positions,” Rose said continuing, “I, again, tip my cap to someone who was able to A, recover from adversity, and B, show an almost unparalleled, with the exception of [Hall of Fame pitcher] Dennis Eckersley, to an extreme in two different areas that are very very hard to do.” “[Smoltz is a] no doubt Hall of Famer in my mind.”
The Mets are two games out of first place behind the Washington Nationals, going into tonight’s head-to-head match-up in the nation’s capital. After a three-game series in Washington this week, the two NL East teams will play at Citi Field in a weekend series next week.