Sunday, February 10, 2013

Piazza memoir: I took karate lessons in preparation of fighting Clemens

Excerpts from Mike Piazza's new memoir "Long Shot" were published by The New York Times yesterday and in it, the former Dodgers and Mets All-Star confronts rumors about being gay, taking steroids and lastly — his rivalry with Roger Clemens.

In the book, Piazza admits that he steered clear of steroids but used androstenedione — the same controversial supplement that Mark McGuire used — during a stretch of his playing days.  Piazza says he stopped using the supplement before it was banned by MLB.  He also admits he experimented with amphetamines until they were outlawed.

On his sexual orientation, and rumors his dalliances with models and Playmates were just a charade, Piazza said. "If I was gay, I'd be gay all the way."

The 44-year-old Piazza doesn't hold back when it comes to his grudge against Clemens for beaning him  with a 98 mph fastball during a July 8, 2000 game and then for the infamous bat-throwing incident against the Yankees in the World Series (see video) that same season.  Piazza goes into detail about the storied rivalry in The New York Post:

“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,” he recalls.

The Yankees hurler called the Mets dugout to apologize during the game, but Piazza wasn’t hearing it.

“I grabbed [the phone], threw it and said, ‘Tell him to go f--k himself,’ ” Piazza said.

“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.”

In the book, 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.

Piazza would get his chance in the 2000 World Series — when the underdog Mets met their crosstown rivals in the Fall Classic. The highly anticipated confrontation between the Mets’ 12-time All-Star catcher and the Yankees flame throwing hurler had New York City buzzing.

The climactic moment came at Yankee Stadium, during Clemens’ fourth pitch to Piazza in the first inning of Game 2. The righthander's fastball shattered Piazza’s bat into three pieces, with the top part of the bat flying toward the mound. Clemens picked up the splintered barrel and, inexplicably, threw it in Piazza’s direction as the batter 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 followed through on his plan for revenge.

“There were complications,” he writes. “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.”

Now we know.

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