By Murray Chass

June 15, 2012

The moment of truth is set for Mike Piazza. His book, “Long Shot,” is scheduled for publication next February, the publisher, Simon & Schuster, said Thursday.

About six hours after my column about Piazza and other steroids suspects was posted on this site, an aide to Bob Bender, the book’s editor, called with the answer to the question I asked a day earlier. Because the book had been in the works for three years or so, I sought to learn its status.Mike Piazza2 225

Now I know, and while I am not a conspiracy theorist, I smell a conspiracy here.

The only question relevant to pre-publication is does Piazza write about steroids and if so, what does he write? No one is giving away that information. But sometime last year a Piazza associate said he would cover his entire career, whatever that means.

It seemed unlikely that the former catcher would admit to steroid use and jeopardize, even for an $800,000 advance, his chances of being elected to the Hall of Fame. The publisher, however, will not issue the book until after the Hall of Fame results are known.

Craig Muder, the Hall’s communications director, said no date has been set for release of the results but noted that the announcement usually is made between Jan. 5 and 15. Voting ends Dec. 31.

Maybe Simon & Schuster has innocently planned the Piazza publication for soon after the announcement for marketing purposes, but it might just as easily have agreed to a post-election publication to insure that the book would not keep Piazza out of the Hall.

If, on the other hand, the book includes a steroids admission, all I can say is shame on Piazza and his publisher. With that possibility in mind, though, the voters would be wise to withhold their votes from Piazza until a future election. He will have 14 more chances.

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