2007_01_piazzapads.jpgIf you were a 17-year old looking to meet Mike Piazza, your childhood idol and favorite baseball player, what would you do? If you're Ryan Leli, you make some fake press credentials, sneak into Shea Stadium, participate in some Q&A with Piazza, and then pose for pictures. That's what Leli, from Head of the Harbor, did last August when Piazza was visiting with the San Diego Padres. Padres officials became suspicious of Leli when he asked Piazza to pose for a photo with him. The would-be reporter was only arrested when he attempted to gain press access to Shea a second time (!).

Yesterday, Leli received the sentence for his stunt. He pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation, has to pay a $1000 fine, 10 days of community service, and is banned from Shea Stadium, Keyspan Park, and the Mets' Spring Training facility for three years. The punishment does seem especially harsh for Leli, who "just wanted to meet" his hero, but Gothamist does have to agree with Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz, "This is a message to anyone who thinks they can impersonate a press person and sneak in."

We wonder if the security personnel manning the press gate received any punishment. They let a 17-year old with a camcorder (because all reporters for NBC carry a camcorder to take video) and a forged press pass into Shea Stadium. While anyone that goes to a Mets game knows that security can be less than thorough, there seems to be some serious flaws if all it takes is a fake press pass to gain access to the players locker room. No news on whether Leli will take his camcorder and fake press pass on the road to follow the Mets.

In other Mets news, Carlos Delgado is putting family before team. Delgado and his wife are expecting their first child on around the April 1st season opener for the Mets. He's quoted as saying, "My child comes first."