Former baseball star Mike Piazza has a new memoir out titled “Long Shot” wherein he addresses gay rumors, steroids rumors, and, most interestingly, his rivalry with pitcher Roger Clemens. Why “most interestingly”? Because Piazza reveals he had a revenge fantasy wherein he would beat up Clemens using karate.
It’s totally understandable that Piazza would want to unleash his fury on Clemens. The pitcher beaned him during a 2000 regular season game, a 98-MPH fastball at his head that Piazza says could have killed him if he hadn’t turned at the last second. Piazza couldn’t go after Clemens then, for obvious reasons, but he fantasized about getting his revenge.
Piazza tells how he mapped out a plan for revenge — taking karate lessons and visualizing the next time they would go at it.
“I would approach with my fist pulled back. I figured he’d throw his glove out for protection. I’d parry the glove and then get after it,” Piazza writes.
He would get his chance in October — when the upstart Mets met their crosstown rivals in the World Series. The coming confrontation between the Mets’ 12-time All-Star catcher and the Bombers’ hard-case hurler was the talk of the city.
The climactic moment came at Yankee Stadium, during Clemens’ fourth pitch to Piazza in the first inning of Game 2. The sizzling fastball sawed Piazza’s bat into three pieces, with a shard flying toward the mound. Clemens picked up the splintered barrel and, inexplicably, chucked it in Piazza’s direction as the hitter ran down the first-base line.
“What the f–k is your problem?” Piazza, still holding the handle of the broken bat and walking toward the pitcher’s mound, asked Clemens. But Piazza went no further — and never realized his dream of revenge.
“There were complications,” he recalls. “The least of them was the realization that Clemens was a big guy, and I stood a pretty fair chance of getting my ass kicked in front of Yankee Stadium and the world. That was a legitimate concern.”
There are two parts of this story that are hilarious to me. One is that Piazza fantasized about taking karate classes, but I guess never actually took them? The other is that he refers to himself wussing out on national television as a “complication.”
Even if he would’ve gotten beaten up by Clemens (yeah, like teammates/umpires wouldn’t have intervened in time), at least he would’ve stood up for himself. Even Don Zimmer had the guts to try to fight Pedro Martinez despite being old and decidedly unathletic.
Granted, during his playing days Piazza was a svelte 6’3″ 200 pounds while Clemens was a hulking 6’4″ 235 pounds, so if it came down to it, Piazza probably would’ve been beaten up. Still, though. Clemens roid-raged out twice on him, and could have seriously injured him both times. Forget being the bigger man. You have to get revenge. Have to.
I, for one, would be totally fine with Piazza rolling up to wherever Clemens is these days and unexpectedly smashing him in the face to right these past wrongs. If ever there was a way to guarantee induction into the Hall of Fame, this would be it.