- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 24, 2000

Roger Clemens took a page from the Bill Clinton Manual for Testifying when he was asked if he was throwing the errant piece of Mike Piazza's bat back at Piazza in the first inning of Game 2 of the World Series.

"There was no intent," Clemens said over and over again.

There were no sexual relations either. Right.

What exactly do we mean by intent? Do we mean that Clemens did not intend for the sharp piece of Piazza's broken bat to bounce off the ground and lodge inside Piazza's throat? OK, I believe that.

Everything else is open to debate.

Clemens said he didn't see Piazza jogging up the basebath when he threw the bat. This from a guy who, before the series began, said this: "When I'm on the mound, I'm serious about it. Physically, I'm going to try to beat you. Mentally, I'm going to try to beat you. Emotionally, I'm going to try to beat you… . I'm seeing more than dugout to dugout… . I'm seeing the hitter and the umpire and the catcher."

But he didn't see Mike Piazza right in front of him.

Then he said he thought it was the ball, not a piece of the bat, that came flying at him and that was why he threw it. "I thought it might have been the ball at that time," Clemens said.

So, naturally, what do you do if you are a major league ballplayer with 17 years of experience? You throw the ball away?

Also, this is a man who, since he was a little boy, has probably pitched in nearly 1,000 baseball games and thrown more than 100,000 pitches, a man who has probably held a baseball in his hand more than any other single thing. And he doesn't know the difference between a ball and the head of a bat?

"I didn't know if it was the bat or the ball," Clemens said.

This is a very confusing game, this baseball stuff balls and bats flying around.

Maybe he thought a reporter threw the bat from the press box. Yankees manager Joe Torre might have thought so. He kept insinuating that the press created this whole Clemens-Piazza feud.

That's how bad a guy Roger Clemens is. He can make Joe Torre look bad.

Clemens has no one to blame but himself for all of the accusations. If it was any other Yankees pitcher (save for reliever Jeff Nelson, the jerk who once tore up an anti-Yankees banner that an Orioles fan had at Camden Yards), no one would have immediately assumed he was throwing the bat on purpose. If David Cone threw it, no one would have grilled Torre after the game about his motives.

Clemens has earned himself rightfully so the sort of reputation that immediately assumes the worst. Then again, he turned around after that and pitched another tremendous game, allowing no runs and just two hits and striking out nine over eight innings. He may be a jerk, but you would love to have him be your jerk, pitching for your team.

Unless you are Orlando Hernandez, tonight's starter for the Yankees for Game 3 at Shea Stadium. El Duque will become El Kabong because I'm betting that the first time he steps in the batter's box tonight he's going to get one in the ear. He will pay the price for Roger Clemens' emotions.

Much has been written about the way Torre set up Clemens' starts so he would not pitch at Shea, which meant he would not have to bat because there is no designated hitter in the games at the National League park. The Mets made it clear Clemens could expect retaliation for hitting Piazza in the head in an interleague game this summer.

Now, after the bat-flinging incident, any Yankees pitcher likely will do.

Not only do the Mets have an anger hangover, they are also facing some questions about team manhood, wondering why Piazza didn't come after Clemens, wondering why someone on the team didn't run out and take a shot at Clemens.

It would have been a mistake. Someone could get hurt and be lost for the series or suspended. Plus, I don't care how strong Piazza is Clemens would have made him eat that bat if he wanted to.

But in the macho protocol of baseball, the Mets came away looking a bit like sissy boys. You can be sure that is eating at them.

There will probably be some sort of apology or something today from Clemens. This has taken on a life of its own, and something will be done to try to diffuse it before the teams take the field. Fat chance.

This is what we wanted, though. This is the Subway Series, with all the raw emotion and drama that has been a tradition of New York baseball.

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