Mike Piazza’s desire for revenge over rival Roger Clemens once saw the Mets catcher take karate lessons to prepare for the next time the pair met.
That’s according to Long Shot, Piazza’s new memoir that’s apparently every bit as opinionated as you’d expect. As well as discussing crucial home runs, alleged steroid use, and rumors that he was gay, Piazza writes extensively about his confrontations with Yankees hurler Clemens.
The story behind this story: During the 2000 regular season, Clemens whacked Piazza in the helmet with a 98mph fastball. The incident enraged Piazza, who recalls in his book:
“I truly believe that if I hadn’t gotten my head down at the last instant, Clemens’ two-seamer would have struck me in the eye and possibly killed me.”
Clemens later contacted Piazza in the Mets dugout to apologize, but Piazza was in no mood to make up. He writes:
“I grabbed [the phone], threw it and said, ‘Tell him to go f–k himself.’ […] Roger Clemens had near-perfect control. I wouldn’t have batted an eye if he had just brushed me off the plate – of course that’s what he said he was trying to do… But to stick it in my forehead, that’s another story altogether.”
Enraged, Piazza began plotting his revenge on Clemens. The catcher describes in Long Shot how he would constantly think about his next confrontation with Clemens, and even took karate lessons to ready himself for the encounter. Piazza writes:
“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.”
The Mike Piazza revenge plot didn’t have to wait too long for an airing. The pair met later that season in the World Series and, sure enough, ended up in another stand-off. On this occasion, Clemens’ fourth pitch to Piazza in the first inning of Game 2 smashed Piazza’s bat into three pieces, with a shard flying back towards Clemens. Clemens immediately picked up the broken piece of bat and threw it back in Piazza’s direction.
Piazza, still holding his shattered bat, approached the mound and barked at Clemens, “What the f–k is your problem?” Alas, his revenge went no further than that, so where was the karate? Piazza reveals:
“There were complications. 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.”
Will Mike Piazza’s revenge ever be carried out? It’s hard to say, though Piazza and Clemens still don’t seem to be best buddies. Only last July, Piazza’s wife, former Playboy pin-up Alicia Rickter, said Clemens was experiencing ” ‘roid rage” when he chucked Piazza’s bat back at him.
You can watch the Mike Piazza and Roger Clemens bat-throwing incident below: