By Michelle Ioannou and Danny Abriano
It may have been a drizzly night, but it was all smiles at The National Italian American Foundation‘s gala.
The event honored the Mets’ newest Hall of Famer, and Italian American, Mike Piazza. Fellow special guests in attendance included St. John’s Coach Chris Mullin, former MLB third baseman Bob Aspromonte, and former MLB Managers Ken Aspromonte and Bobby Valentine. Yes, we witnessed a Piazza – Valentine reunion, and it was as glorious as you could imagine it was.
We got a chance to catch up with our favorite disguise wearing former manager Bobby V. and spoke about how the Mets’ experience in 2015 might help them should they return to the World Series this season.
“You can’t teach experience,” Valentine said. “A lot of those guys had the experience to be in New York and be in the World Series. And I think that that’s gonna help.”
As far as whether Terry Collins might manage his bullpen a bit differently should the Mets return to the Fall Classic, Valentine was understandably non-critical, saying that “it’s easy to manage a game after it’s over.”
Piazza, who served as a guest instructor for the Mets during Spring Training, spoke about the state of the team, the development of Michael Conforto, and the multitude of injuries that Travis d’Arnaud has suffered.
“I’m happy for the fans,” Piazza said. “It’s a great time to be a Mets fan but they have a lot of work to do.”
Regarding Conforto, Piazza noted that he knew he had a really nice swing by watching him during Spring Training and that the Mets should be extremely pleased by his progress.
When the subject changed to d’Arnaud, Piazza pointed out how hard it is for catchers to stay healthy. “You have to have a lot of luck,” Piazza said, explaining that d’Arnaud will “learn how to become more durable.”
Piazza called Noah Syndergaard‘s slider “almost unhittable” and offered the highest of praise when asked what his approach would be against Syndergaard if he was still playing: “To survive, I guess.”
All in all, it was a terrific event held at Cipriani on 42nd Street. It included a silent auction where we saw autographs from some of our favorite current Mets Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom, as well as autographs from Bon Jovi and Adam Levine.
The feel in the room was that everyone was excited to be there, and very proud of their Italian heritage. The National Italian American Foundation held a beautiful gala, with beautiful honorees.