In case you missed it Mike Piazza finally unveiled his book recently, titled “Long Shot” in reference to the fact the borderline Hall of Famer was drafted in the 62d round of the Major League Baseball‘s First Year Player Draft of 1988 (and even then only as a favor to his father, a childhood friend of Tommy Lasorda’s).
The thing is rather forgettable, but it did have a few interesting tidbits concerning Piazza’s well-chronicled “feud” with one Roger Clemens.
Ted Berg of USA Today talked about some of the “sillier” excerpts from this piece of fine literature about a week ago:
But perhaps the biggest – or at least the silliest – bombshell to come out of the book so far is the news that Piazza actually took karate to prepare to fight Roger Clemens on the field during their infamous beanball feud.
According to the NY Post:
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.
Parry the glove! He had his whole strategy all planned out! Outside of Izzy Alcantara, it’s hard to say any baseball player has ever put so much forethought into on-field fisticuffs.
Only when faced with Clemens in the 2000 World Series, after Clemens inexplicably threw a shard of a broken bat at Piazza’s knees, Piazza – the 6’3″, 200-pound, perpetually bearded, home-run smashing, muscle-bound stud – got cold feet.
“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.”
It was a decision over which he still beats himself. “It was not only possible but — circumstances be damned — it was in order,” he said. “It was the story of the Series. I couldn’t deliver a punch.”
Say it ain’t so, Mike. You mean to tell me you were willing to risk suspension during the World Series – i.e. “circumstances be damned” – and the only thing that stopped you was that Roger Clemens was massive and terrifying and probably snorting like a bull? C’mon, guy. Why even bother learning karate?
The whole thing is just plain laughable, but I do respect the fact that Piazza was honest enough to own up to what most athletes wouldn’t have. Namely fear.
One of my better friends often asked me why people didn’t ever charge the mound on Clemens and my exact response was always “because the dude is freakin’ big man.”
But it was only a matter of time before some reporter stuck a mic in front of Clemens face in order to elicit a response to the book…
…And that time has come.
Without further ado, “The Rocket’s” response (courtesy of the Houston Chronicle) was as follows:
“He’d have to stand in line. I think there was about three guys on the Yankees that wanted a piece of me more than (he) did. He’d probably have to get in line.”
Clemens also noted that rather than martial arts training, Piazza needed speed training:
“He needs to go get with Jesse Owens or somebody on his speed, I think. He chased some dude around the spring training site one time, didn’t he, or something? …”
That was undoubtedly a direct reference to the time Piazza charged the mound on former battery-mate Guillermo Mota but wasn’t anywhere near fleet of foot enough to gt so much as within arms reach of the guy.
Any way you cut it, I feel robbed.
I’d have given vital parts of your anatomy (I reserve vital parts of my anatomy for such things as fine scotch and Wendy Peffercorn) to have seen Piazza attempt to put on his best Ralph Macchio imitation as the big ol’ Texan tried to remove his limbs one at a time.