Piazza, Clemens and The Fight That Never Happened

Updated 2/14/2013


piazzaTo this day, I don’t know beyond a doubt what Clemens was truly intending or thinking. He’s never said anything different than he said that night. There remain questions only he can answer. But with the extra clarity that comes with time, perspective, and video, I’ll go this far: there should have been a fight.

It hadn’t been possible in July, when I was lying on my back with my head ringing like school was out. In October, though, it was not only possible but — circumstances be damned — it was in order. 

Item one: Clemens threw a broken bat in my direction. Item two: I walked toward the mound and asked him what the f— his problem was. Everything was in place, except that item three never happened. It should have been Roger saying something like, “Get your sorry ass back in the f—ing box.” Or saying nothing; just giving give me a look, a gesture, any small, subtle, actionable trace of defiance. If he does that, we’re brawling. If he does that, the whole thing makes sense and continues down its natural path. I was right there. But I had my parameters for fighting on the field, and the World Series was sure as hell no time to set them aside. Before I could take a swing at him, it was imperative that Clemens note my objection and issue a proper invitation, a verbal or visible “go f— yourself.” Instead, he turned to the umpire and babbled on about the ball.

He screwed up the script. He sabotaged my payback. I won’t repudiate my response, for all the reasons and mixed signals I’ve discussed; but looking back on it now, whether I kicked Roger’s ass or he kicked mine, there should have been some closure.

Without a fight that night, revenge would be hard for me and the Mets to come by. Clemens wouldn’t pitch in Shea Stadium — where he would not only have to face a hostile crowd but would have to bat — for two more years. And he wouldn’t pitch again in the 2000 World Series.

I was emailed a link, by the publisher of Long Shot, to a chapter from the new book. It was quite compelling and I wanted to share a snippet with you. It was fascinating and compelling to say the least, and you can read the rest of it here.

I was one of those BBWAA members who cast my vote for Mike Piazza. I concede disappointment in his admission in his autobiography he took androstenedione, but only because it further lends to speculation he might have used PEDs. Let me explain.

From andro to steroids is the logical, but unsubstantiated conclusion. Once again, Piazza denied using steroids, but this certainly won’t enhance his Hall of Fame chances. Piazza received over 50 percent of the vote, but still was far short of induction. Part of that percentage was from my vote, and for that I still have no regrets.

My criteria was there was no admission of steroid use; he never failed a drug test; was not mentioned in the Mitchell Report; and nobody accused him on the record. There was only the subject of columns pointing out his back acne. To me, Piazza had the statistical career to warrant induction and the acne is only innuendo. As a journalist, I don’t operate on speculation.

Andro was not a banned substance by MLB when Piazza claims to have used it, nor was it illegal. Steroids, however, are different in that before they were banned by MLB, they were illegal in society without a prescription.

Regarding PEDs, Piazza wrote:  “Apparently, my career was a story that nobody cared to believe. Apparently, my success was the work of steroids. Had to be. Those were the rumors. … It shouldn’t be assumed that every big hitter of the generation used steroids. I didn’t.’’

Of course, Piazza could by lying. Lance Armstrong lied. Pete Rose lied. Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa lied. It wouldn’t be a shock, but for now I believe him and do not regret giving him my Hall of Fame vote.

About John Delcos 577 Articles
I am an active member of the BBWAA and have covered Major League Baseball in several capacities for over 30 years, including 18 in New York working the Mets' and Yankees' beat. I also covered the Baltimore Orioles and the Cleveland Indians before that. Today I am a freelance writer and social director for several media outlets and a Senior Editor for Metsmerized Online.