Clemens, Piazza join sides

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I’m a firm believer in the old saying, &uot;Forgive and forget.&uot;

But sometimes it’s hard to live by that advice.

Houston Astros veteran pitcher Roger Clemens and New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza will attempt to set aside their ongoing feud for one night next week.

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Throughout their stellar Major League Baseball careers, Clemens and Piazza have made numerous appearances in the All-Star game. On Tuesday, the big leaguers will make their first appearance from the same dugout.

Clemens will more than likely be the starter for the National League with Piazza behind the plate giving him the signs. Given their difficult history, it should be an interesting game of pitch and catch.

For the past four years, Clemens and Piazza haven’t seen eye-to-eye on the baseball diamond. But they’ve come close to giving each other black eyes.

In 2000, Piazza sustained a concussion after being hit in the head by a Clemens fastball, who then pitched for the New York Yankees. As if the &uot;Subway Series&uot; wasn’t heated enough, the two added fuel to the fire.

Much controversy surrounded the incident. Mets manager Bobby Valentine and many fans believed Clemens deliberately beaned Piazza. In a statement, Clemens did admit to wanting to pitch inside to the hard-hitting catcher, but said the beaning was accidental.

Prior to being hit, Piazza had homered in his previous three games against Clemens. Many believed that was the reason for Clemens’ inside pitch that sent Piazza sprawling.

The same season, the two rubbed each other wrong once again when Clemens literally went batty on Piazza.

During game two of the World Series, Piazza shattered his bat on an inside fastball on a 1-2 count. The ball flew into foul territory down the first base line and the head of the bat flew toward Clemens on the mound. Because Clemens didn’t know where the ball went off the bat, he began running to first just as Clemens caught the bat and launched it into foul ground on the first base side, just barely missing Piazza.

After the bat passed by Piazza, he started walking toward Clemens, trying to confront him. The exchange was brief because Clemens ignored Piazza as he asked for a new ball not to mention the altercation cleared both benches.

In an interview Thursday evening on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Clemens was asked why he and Piazza didn’t get along. He dodged the question and simply stated that he had no beef with the catcher.

Both Clemens and Piazza will say the right things, the things the commissioner wants to hear, but only they know the truth.

Will there be a heartfelt makeup session prior to the first pitch? Or will the two just tolerate each other long enough to make it through the game?

No one knows.

I’m sure the two will act in a professional manner. I know Piazza probably doesn’t want to catch Clemens and I’m sure Clemens doesn’t want to take signs from Piazza. The game will probably bring back memories of both incidents even though both have tried to forget. Not necessarily forgive.

If you ask me, they need to grow up and play the game. There are minor leaguers that would love to be in their cleats.

Adam Prestridge is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. He can be reached at 382-3111, ext. 122 or by e-mail: