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Going batty

Clemens-Piazza flareup still talk of the town

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Posted: Monday October 23, 2000 7:43 PM
Updated: Tuesday October 24, 2000 2:14 AM

  Roger Clemens Roger Clemens winds up to sling the barrrel end of Mike Piazza's splintered bat. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Once Mike Piazza called Roger Clemens "unstable" and baseball began an investigation, it was clear where this day was headed.

So on a travel day that required no travel, there was only one topic at Shea Stadium and both teams agreed: The image of Clemens throwing the jagged barrel of Piazza's bat was sure to be the lasting image of this World Series.

"This is definitely going to be torture if you have to watch that time and time again," New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said Monday.

"If the Mets win, I think they're going to use that as a motivation for coming back and beating us. ... And if we win, it's still going to be a major part of it," he said.

Said Piazza: "This is a situation that has taken prominence over the ballgame, which is unfortunate. But that's the way it is."

The Yankees lead 2-0 in the Subway Series, with Game 3 Tuesday night. Orlando Hernandez, 8-0 lifetime in the postseason, pitches against the Mets' Rick Reed.

Torre made two lineup announcements, both which normally would attract a lot of attention.

MLB investigates Clemens
Baseball is starting an investigation into Roger Clemens. The game's officials want to know more about his tossing of a bat barrel toward Mets catcher Mike Piazza during Game 2 of the World Series.

Clemens was not ejected, but Sandy Alderson, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office, has not ruled out discipline.

Umpires concluded that Clemens, who beaned Piazza on July eight, did not deliberately throw the bat at him.

Click here for full story. 

With no DH to work with, he said Jose Vizcaino would start at second base in Game 3, leaving Chuck Knoblauch on the bench. Torre also said Denny Neagle would pitch Game 4, rather than David Cone.

Yet on this afternoon, as Yankees owner George Steinbrenner gave Clemens a hearty pat on the back during workouts, those moves caused little stir.

Instead, all the talk concerned Clemens throwing a chunk of Piazza's shattered bat within two feet of the Mets star in the first inning, causing the benches to empty in Sunday night's 6-5 win by the Yankees.

Clemens claimed the whole thing was accidental, and that he was merely being emotional.

"This is the World Series, it shouldn't overshadow what we're trying to do," Clemens said. "I've done that before -- I've thrown the bat at the batboy."

"There's no intent there," he repeated, for about the hundredth time. "I wish it had been Mike Bordick's bat. The only thing strange was that it was Mike (Piazza)."

The Mets were still seething at Clemens, having seen him bean Piazza on July 8 at Yankee Stadium.

Mets DH Lenny Harris said he spent the rest of Sunday night's game "trying to hit a ball right off his forehead."

A day later, Piazza seemed uncertain what to think.

"He seemed extremely apologetic and unsure and confused and unstable," he said. "Now that I have had time to think about it, I do believe his actions should be looked at by Frank Robinson or whoever is in charge of conduct."

Fact is, Robinson, baseball's dean of discipline, had already started to look into the matter. Clemens could face a fine, although many seemed to think a suspension was highly unlikely.

Torre said he had no problem with baseball investigating.

"I welcome that. I mean, I do. I talked to Frank Robinson this morning," he said. "He asked me what I thought and what I saw and what I felt. I think to be thorough about it, that's probably the right thing."

Torre sharply backed Clemens' version late Sunday night that the incident was not intentional. The manager said he needed his wife to calm him down later at dinner.

Given a day to think about it, Torre did not change his stance, though he said he could see why the Mets were angry.

"I can understand their comments," he said. "Understand that Roger is wearing our uniform, and we're going to go overboard to back him, not necessarily agreeing with everything that happens, OK?

"I don't condone what he did. But again, I still hold to the fact that he didn't throw it at him, OK?" he said.

Mets manager Bobby Valentine did not say Clemens deliberately threw the bat at Piazza. But asked whether he agreed with Piazza that baseball should look into the altercation, he responded, "Yeah, I support my catcher, totally."

No surprise, with the Clemens-Piazza flareup becoming the talk of the town, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani even addressed the issue. Being a lifelong Yankees fan, he reaction was predictable.

"I can't imagine he would throw at him, otherwise, he would ... get himself thrown out of one of the most important games of his career," Giuliani said.

Related information
Vizcaino to get another start in Game 3
El Duque vs. Reed in World Series Game 3
Game 2: Mets' rally comes up short in 6-5 loss
Benches clear during first Piazza-Clemens at-bat
SI's Pearlman: Clemens his vintage self, in more ways than one
Bobby Valentine isn't too hot on the idea of Roger Clemens throwing near his All-Star catcher. (334 K)
Yankee skipper Joe Torre says Roger Clemens wouldn't risk getting pulled from the game. (513 K)
Roger Clemens allegedly attempted to apologize to Mike Piazza. (328 K)
Torre hopes New Yorkers don't get too caught up in the "bat throwing" incident. (216 K)
When Roger Clemens doesn't challenge hitters, he loses games. So when he challenges them, does that make him bad? (199 K)
Mike Piazza thinks there may have been some intent on Clemens' part. (198 K)
Piazza knows a hitter cannot back down in the box, even when facing chin music. (185 K)
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