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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mets legend Mike Piazza spills on Clemens, gay rumors and steroids in new memoir

So Mike Piazza admits to having used greenies, andro, Vioxx, Dymetadrine and Ephedra! LET’S THROW HIM OUT OF THE HALL OF FAM...oh, wait.

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.”

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.”

Repoz Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:04 AM | 47 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4366420)
I don't read these ghost written athlete books, but from the excerpts Piazza goes into a fair amount of detail on various subjects.
   2. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:23 AM (#4366426)
On the gay rumors:
Piazza believes the persistent whispers that he was in the closet began after Mets manager Bobby Valentine said in a 2002 interview that Major League Baseball was ready for an openly gay player.

“The whole episode was such a strange, incredible phenomenon . . . I still don’t get it.

“I don’t know where the rumor came from, although I’ve heard many theories, including one that I suppose makes the most sense to me, involving a former teammate and his agent.”

Piazza doesn’t name the instigators, and is vague about how the rumor spread from there. He felt compelled to address the gossip publicly, telling reporters, “I’m not gay. I’m heterosexual. I can’t control what people think. I can say I’m heterosexual. I date women. That’s pretty much it.”

Questions about his sexuality bothered him less than the insinuation that he was somehow phony. “I found it hugely insulting that people believed I’d go so far out of my way — living with Playmates, vacationing with actresses, showing up at nightclubs — to act out a lifestyle that would amount to a charade,” he writes. “If I was gay, I’d be gay all the way.”
Classy with a slight, adorable touch of meathead. I think I'm a Piazza fan.
   3. The District Attorney Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM (#4366429)
Yup, I liked "If I was gay, I'd be gay all the way" too.

This was also amusing, I guess just because it didn't happen to me:
One of his best-known girlfriends was Debbe Dunning, the actress who played the “Tool Time” girl on the hit comedy “Home Improvement.” One Halloween night when Dunning came over with a pumpkin and her dog, Piazza decided to break off the relationship.

“There was screaming and crying and then the Tool Time girl waffled my ass,” he recalled. “I hadn’t taken a punch like that in a long time.”
But wow, does this strike me as a tremendously stupid thing to say, much less publish in a book.
“I certainly don’t dispute that Latin players are entitled to the same dreams and opportunities that I had, but I’m sorry: when they arrive on US soil, the onus isn’t on the American players to learn Spanish,” he writes in his memoir. “It’s on the Latin players to learn English.”

Tensions between Piazza and Latin ballplayers simmered more than once during his 16-year career.

Piazza describes “some kind of weird Hispanic conspiracy against me, almost like a secret brotherhood, a Latin mafia-type of thing.”
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4366432)
There was screaming and crying and then the Tool Time girl waffled my ass.
Sentence written in book published by major house.

And, yeah, that "weird Hispanic conspiracy" bit is incredibly strange. I get the sense that this book is legitimately honest, especially for a celebrity autobio. An honest take on a less-than-examined life is often fascinating but rarely without uncomfortable moments.
   5. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4366434)
“If I was gay, I’d be gay all the way.”

When you're a gay,
Be gay all the way
From your first #*()*&^
To your last dying @%#$!#

MCoA nails it, I think.
   6. AJMcCringleberry Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4366435)
the Tool Time girl waffled my ass.

This isn't going to stop the gay rumors.
   7. Srul Itza At Home Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:39 AM (#4366441)
"If I was gay, I'd be gay all the way" made me think of this
   8. dejarouehg Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4366444)
this strike me as a tremendously stupid thing to say,


There is and has always been a tension between the latin and non-latin players, especially in the minor leagues. Not exactly breaking news. That Piazza feels there's a specific conspiracy against him may be a little extreme.

Many caucasion players believe the latin pitchers are cowards because of their perceived propensity to be headhunters without having to deal with potential retribution at the plate. (I assume the overwhelming number of them are relievers.)

The battle between Mota and Piazza was as racially based as anything else.

   9. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 10, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4366446)
When you're a Met, you're a Met all the way.
   10. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM (#4366450)
When you're a Met, you're a Met all the way.

Until you can't field--then you sign as an A
   11. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 10, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4366462)
New York Post's version of The Holy War:

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.”

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.”


New York Times' version, which fills in the blank:

As for his clashes with Clemens, Piazza reiterates in detail all the events surrounding their confrontations and concludes that there should have been a fight in the 2000 Subway Series after Clemens threw a broken bat in his direction just months after he had beaned him. But, Piazza writes, Clemens then confused the situation by simply asking the umpire for another ball, rather than being confrontational. “He screwed up the script,” Piazza writes. “He sabotaged my payback.”


   12. Eric Ferguson Posted: February 10, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4366470)
I like Piazza more than I did two minutes ago.
   13. Tripon Posted: February 10, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4366475)
I'm surprised that the ghost writer didn't clean up Piazza's language.
   14. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: February 10, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4366476)
“I don’t know where the rumor came from, although I’ve heard many theories, including one that I suppose makes the most sense to me, involving a former teammate and his agent.”


Later in the book, he refers to this teammate as Gilberto Shalomar.
   15. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: February 10, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4366513)
Yeah, that's some good excerpt. Actually makes me somewhat interested in the book, rather than not at all.
   16. just plain joe Posted: February 10, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4366520)
Yeah, that's some good excerpt. Actually makes me somewhat interested in the book, rather than not at all.


It sounds like it is a book I would gladly read if I found it in the library, but would not buy.
   17. Bob Tufts Posted: February 10, 2013 at 01:55 PM (#4366523)
I don't know about the Hispanic conspiracy and never saw "Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy".
   18. Jason Michael(s) Bourn Identity Crisis Posted: February 10, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4366540)
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.

Piazza got to later catch Clemens in the 2004 All-Star game, and I suspect was able to get a measure of satisfaction (if not outright revenge) as the Rocket gave up 6 runs in a single inning of work. I have a feeling Piazza is too much of a professional to tell the hitters what was coming next, but I wouldn't hold it against him if he did.
   19. robinred Posted: February 10, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4366550)
Yeah, I agree with what people are saying here, in that the book sounds like "Mike Piazza" more than "Ghostwriter presents sanitized version of Mike Piazza." That is not enough to make me want to read it, but if the whole book is like that, then I would give Piazza some credit there.
   20. GregD Posted: February 10, 2013 at 03:28 PM (#4366564)
Piazza's viewpoint on learning English is standard-issue NE Italian-American. (Obviously not universal.) He and Joey Vento should run a talk show.

In my subjective experience, NE Irish-Americans are more conservative but less worked up about immigration (perhaps because more of them have direct or imagined connection with ongoing waves of immigrants, a good number of whom don't have papers) while Italian-Americans are less conservative but much more worked up about immigration.
   21. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: February 10, 2013 at 04:16 PM (#4366595)
   22. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: February 10, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4366598)
Hmmm. The Latin mafia* thing... During Piazza's day as a Dodger, the clubhouse was notoriously divided, and incidents I remember were American-vs.-a foreigner**.

* - We should keep it real, and from now on refer to this as La eMe.

** - With the exception being union rep Brett Butler against scab Mike Busch.
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 10, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4366603)
I like Piazza more than I did two minutes ago.


Funny; I like him less. Not that it matters.

How do people see his andro/amps confessions hurting him? That can't help him, and will probably serve as final evidence to some that he used steroids. But to me, once a player uses amps, the issue of whether he has used steroids is rendered moot since amps are a performance enhancer also. Of course, I don't care whether a player used PEDs at all, but that's how I see the more narrow issue of amps vs steroids.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: February 10, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4366615)
One Halloween night

Completely unimportant but a strange phrasing. Generally there's only one Halloween night per year and this one happened in the year he broke up with a "famous" girlfriend. I mean I could see "One Saturday night" but this should just be "On Halloween". Maybe they mean a night near Halloween.

Dunning came over with a pumpkin and her dog

Bestiality is one thing but squashophilia is just sick!
   25. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: February 10, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4366624)
I find the vague rumblings about the inappropriateness of the "Latin Conspiracy" comment amusing. When a guy writes an honest book, you find the thing that doesn't jibe with conventional wisdom and criticize him for it. If he writes a book devoid of anything that is possibly offensive, he gets callled out for being dishonest, dealing in cliches and uninteresting.

You can't have it both ways. Its as if you want the guy not only to tell you what he really thinks, but to think in the way you want him to.
   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 10, 2013 at 04:53 PM (#4366630)
as someone who has a fair number of mexican pals dating back to my days at the cannery nobody can hold a grudge like them

i admire that in a culture. the ability to maintain a grudge

if piazza got the brand of anti-whatever that wasn't going away any time soon. like never.

   27. Greg K Posted: February 10, 2013 at 04:55 PM (#4366633)
You can't have it both ways. Its as if you want the guy not only to tell you what he really thinks, but to think in the way you want him to.

Well you kind of can. "I like that guy, he expresses his thoughts honestly. That one thought of his seems kind of silly." Doesn't seem to me to be an unfair pair of statements.

EDIT: I should add that I mean that in a broad sense. I have absolutely zero knowledge of Piazza-Hispanic relations, though it certainly sounds like he's been involved in his share of intra-team tensions.

I think it's also possible that the "tremendously stupid" comment was referring to the fact that Piazza makes his claim about saying the onus is on Spanish-speaking players to learn English, not for him to learn Spanish and then ruminate on a "weird" (presumably he means something akin to inexplicable) Hispanic conspiracy against him.
   28. McCoy Posted: February 10, 2013 at 04:59 PM (#4366636)
Doesn't seem to me to be an unfair pair of statements.

Sure but you also have to expect what the end result of pairing those statement together will be which is bland "celebrities" that explain nothing and say nothing of value.
   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 10, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4366642)
srul

the link was amusing. the call me maybe spoof was ok as well.
   30. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 10, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4366646)
of course the cookie monster/call me maybe parody reigns supreme

i miss the cookie monster around here. fun poster

   31. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 10, 2013 at 06:03 PM (#4366694)
How do people see his andro/amps confessions hurting him? That can't help him, and will probably serve as final evidence to some that he used steroids. But to me, once a player uses amps, the issue of whether he has used steroids is rendered moot since amps are a performance enhancer also. Of course, I don't care whether a player used PEDs at all, but that's how I see the more narrow issue of amps vs steroids.

I like it a lot, actually. To the extent that HoF voters are willing to engage substantively with reality, it's a push in the right direction.
   32. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 10, 2013 at 06:11 PM (#4366702)
How do people see his andro/amps confessions hurting him? That can't help him, and will probably serve as final evidence to some that he used steroids. But to me, once a player uses amps, the issue of whether he has used steroids is rendered moot since amps are a performance enhancer also. Of course, I don't care whether a player used PEDs at all, but that's how I see the more narrow issue of amps vs steroids.

"Theoretically if people cared about something in the way I would care about it if I cared about it, they would react in this way."
   33. McCoy Posted: February 10, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4366708)
He's simply tempering the eggs with his admission of andro/amp use.
   34. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 10, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4366722)
I think I'm a Piazza fan.


A few decades ago, the phrase was "friend of Dorothy."
   35. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: February 10, 2013 at 08:21 PM (#4366767)
Piazza got to later catch Clemens in the 2004 All-Star game, and I suspect was able to get a measure of satisfaction (if not outright revenge) as the Rocket gave up 6 runs in a single inning of work.

"Psst! Ichiro! Fastball!"

I so wanted this to be true. Still do.
   36. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: February 10, 2013 at 09:22 PM (#4366791)

Sure but you also have to expect what the end result of pairing those statement together will be which is bland "celebrities" that explain nothing and say nothing of value.


aka Derek Jeter
   37. Bruce Markusen Posted: February 10, 2013 at 10:27 PM (#4366827)
This sounds like an honest book from Piazza. I think I'll buy a copy.
   38. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: February 10, 2013 at 10:33 PM (#4366829)
You know which athlete had a very honest (and entertaining) autobiography? Dennis Rodman. Fun read and didn't spare much.
   39. shoewizard Posted: February 11, 2013 at 12:59 AM (#4366869)
Mike Piazza Spills on Clemens Gay Rumors


Different ways one could read that headline.

While Piazza's views on immigration and race relations may not be as enlightened as some here might like, I can see where it might be frustrating for a Native English speaking catcher who does not speak Spanish to function properly if working with a number of latin pitchers with limited English, especially if he perceived those pitchers he was working with were resistant to improving communications in English. Sorry, but if you decide to immigrate to a primarily English speaking/educated country, and you need to work with primarily English speaking people, it's a good idea to learn the language and not feel entitled to the point that you feel everyone should be bending over backwards to communicate with you in Spanish. I don't know if that was the case, but from reading the excerpts and the thread, I get the sense that this is the way Piazza perceived things. Why that is, I don't know of course.

I'm gonna get killed for this post, aren't I ?
   40. LargeBill Posted: February 11, 2013 at 01:11 AM (#4366873)
So, do I have to buy Piazza's book to find out if Clemens is gay?
   41. GregD Posted: February 11, 2013 at 01:42 AM (#4366877)
While Piazza's views on immigration and race relations may not be as enlightened as some here might like, I can see where it might be frustrating for a Native English speaking catcher who does not speak Spanish to function properly if working with a number of latin pitchers with limited English, especially if he perceived those pitchers he was working with were resistant to improving communications in English. Sorry, but if you decide to immigrate to a primarily English speaking/educated country, and you need to work with primarily English speaking people, it's a good idea to learn the language and not feel entitled to the point that you feel everyone should be bending over backwards to communicate with you in Spanish. I don't know if that was the case, but from reading the excerpts and the thread, I get the sense that this is the way Piazza perceived things. Why that is, I don't know of course.
Here, I think it's important to separate the baseball immigration issue from the broader immigration issue.

More broadly, I agree with you that it seems sensible for people who move here to learn English, and luckily recent waves of immigrants have done exactly that at basically exactly the same rate that Piazza's Italian immigrant forebears did. People who are older have slow learning curves but pick up some, people who are children pick up a lot, children of immigrants born here are as fluent as the rest of the population.

When you get to baseball, though, your statement gets fuzzy because of the statement "not feel entitled." They're major league baseball players! Of course they feel entitled! They aren't waiting outside a Home Depot to get cash work; they didn't sneak across the border. They were brought here by huge corporations to make those corporations rich and themselves rich.
   42. Austin Posted: February 11, 2013 at 01:52 AM (#4366878)
#39 - No, that's quite fair. If Piazza went up to those pitchers and said something like, "Hey, look, it's been a struggle to communicate on the mound lately, and for both of our sakes we need to work on that. Frankly, I think it would make more sense for you to work on your English rather than me on my Spanish, because it's something that would probably help you work with the coaching and training staff, not to mention in your everyday life even outside of baseball" - then I think that would be pretty reasonable. (However, given that he's one of only ~2 catchers and he has to work with a slew of pitchers, it realistically might be more sensible for him to learn Spanish rather than ask a whole bunch of pitchers to learn English.)

Obviously, that's a huge "if," and I doubt that Piazza was nearly so tactful about it. It is pretty rude to say, "Hey, bud. You're in an English-speaking country. I ain't gonna bother spending the time to learn Spanish, so you'd better work on your English." He really would have been better off at least offering to meet them somewhere in the middle, as a sign of respect if nothing else. When you want to improve your relations with a group of people, it usually isn't productive to proclaim that the onus is entirely on them to put in the effort. If you offer a reasonable compromise, you will probably be met quite receptively, and the relationship should turn much less frosty. Then again, with the massive egos and machismo generally found in clubhouses, I'm not quite sure how well these normal rules hold up. Perhaps being willing to compromise is interpreted as a sign of weakness. In that case, I'd posit that the manager and other non-players need to lay out in explicit terms what each group needs to do.
   43. akrasian Posted: February 11, 2013 at 02:25 AM (#4366881)
I wonder how much Spanish Piazza actually speaks though - he did play winter ball in Mexico, and actually attended the Dodgers' Dominican Republic academy to learn to catch. Is he a hypocrite that never learned any Spanish, or did he make an effort to learn, and is upset that some players coming to the US make less of an effort, even though they spend more time here than Piazza did abroad?

Edit: I also wonder if perhaps poor experiences when he was the lone gringo intruding at the Dominican academy contributed to any conflicts he had later on.
   44. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: February 11, 2013 at 03:17 AM (#4366886)
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.”

Piazza vs. Clemens, career: 25 PA, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 1.395 OPS. That's pretty punchy.
   45. shoewizard Posted: February 11, 2013 at 04:15 AM (#4366887)
When you get to baseball, though, your statement gets fuzzy because of the statement "not feel entitled." They're major league baseball players! Of course they feel entitled! They aren't waiting outside a Home Depot to get cash work; they didn't sneak across the border. They were brought here by huge corporations to make those corporations rich and themselves rich.


The vast majority come to the USA as teenagers and rattle around the minors for a few years though. There are exceptions of course, like the cuban defectors. But the norm is what was certainly the case with the Martinez brothers. They didn't get off the airplane and go straight to the majors to become stars.


He really would have been better off at least offering to meet them somewhere in the middle, as a sign of respect if nothing else. When you want to improve your relations with a group of people, it usually isn't productive to proclaim that the onus is entirely on them to put in the effort. If you offer a reasonable compromise, you will probably be met quite receptively, and the relationship should turn much less frosty.


Absolutely. If Piazza offered to spend an hour a day teaching English to the pitchers he worked with, imagine how different things might have been.

BTW, I have spent 24 of the last 34 years, more than 2/3 of my adulthood living in a foreign country with a difficult language to learn, and many dialects to deal with. I learned the language early on, and couldn't imagine how crappy life would be here if I didn't. I have also spent a lot of time during my busy career working with people to help them improve their English, regardless of my position or standing in the companies I've worked at. It's amazing how appreciative people are when you reach out to help a non native user of the language draft a difficult e mail or letter . (Our business is conducted mostly in English, and 100% when dealing with the USA offices of course).

So while I'm not a star baseball player, I've experienced what it's like to not know the language where I chose to live and work, and I overcame it. It's doable, and just because a guy is a talented baseball player is no excuse not to do it as early as possible. OTOH, I'm sure Piazza could have handled things a whole lot better.



   46. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: February 11, 2013 at 06:27 AM (#4366894)
I'm gonna get killed for this post, aren't I?

You are history's greatest monster.
   47. God Posted: February 11, 2013 at 08:59 AM (#4366910)
If it's really a communications issue, then it's funny how he didn't ##### about having to catch guys like Nomo, who also didn't learn English.

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