16 February 2014

Putting right what once went wrong...

A couple of nights ago, MLB Network ran the 2000 episode of Baseball's Seasons.  I watched the first 20 minutes or so with a sense of dread, as I knew what was coming: the single incident in my history of Mets fandom that makes my blood boil the most.

When it comes to fan-driven emotion, I've never been as steamed as when Roger McDowell and Lenny Dykstra were traded, but to be fair, I was only about 16 years old at the time.  I've gotten over that.

The bottom of the 2nd inning of Game 7 of the 1988 NLCS pissed me off so badly, I didn't even watch the middle innings.  I think I turned the game back on around the 7th or 8th inning.  Seriously, how do you play somewhere in the neighborhood of 1400 defensive innings and save your absolute worst one for Game 7 of the LCS?  But there again, I was subject to the jacked-up emotions of a teenager, and the sting subsided with time.

No, the Mets moment that still sticks in my craw more than any other is the infamous Piazza-Clemens incident from Game 2 of the 2000 World Series.  Roger Clemens THREW A FREAKIN' BAT SHARD at a baserunner and got away with it.  And not just any baserunner, either: Mike Piazza, the guy who absolutely owned Clemens prior to Clemens throwing a fastball at his head earlier in the summer.

I started to put my thoughts on this to the (now only proverbial) page right after I watched Seasons and relived the rage yet again, but quickly found something else to do.  However, having just read Faith and Fear's venture into alternate history, I just can't help myself from venting a bit.

Above: Bat-Sh*t Crazy Mother-F***er
First off, why in Hades was Clemens not ejected?  Was it because his aim was off?  Had the bat actually struck Piazza, would it have been handled differently?  And what's up with his lame "I instinctively thought it was the ball" explanation   Since when in MLB is throwing the ball at the baserunner a thing?  Was Clemens also simultaneously having a flashback to playing schoolyard wiffleball?

But let's put those questions aside for a moment.  For whatever reason, no umpire darted over to Clemens and tossed him.  So now we have the face-off between Clemens and Piazza.

Right here is where at least some small measure of satisfaction could have been achieved.  Never mind changing the outcome of the game or the Series, I'd give anything to go back in time and see Mike Piazza knock the hell out of Clemens with a right hook to the jaw.  Would the Mets still have lost the Series?  Probably, but I wouldn't be nearly as mad about it 14 years later knowing at least some justice had been served that night, rather than Clemens going down in history forever as the winning pitcher on the night he acted like the 'roided up jackass he was.

I'm not saying Piazza didn't do the right thing.  By all standards of decency and sportsmanship, he did.  He was the bigger man and walked away.  However, the "right" thing isn't always the "necessary" thing.  I still maintain to this day that moment--Clemens committing an atrocious act toward the Mets' franchise player and getting away with it--firmly and permanently established the Yankees as the all-powerful bully in that Series and left the Mets intimidated beyond repair.

Piazza did the right thing, and the Mets lost in 5 games anyway.  Suppose he doesn't do the right thing, and for one brief moment in time, Roger Clemens is lying on the Yankee Stadium turf with the Mets star standing over him like Muhammad Ali over Sonny Liston.  The message is definitively sent that the Mets aren't taking any crap.  Of course a brawl would have immediately ensued, resulting in multiple suspensions.  Maybe Bobby Valentine even pulls a Tommy Lasorda/Jay Howell move and gets Piazza's own suspension reduced to nothing, and the invigorated Mets make the most of the chaos for the remainder of the Series.

Eh, probably not.  But again, the Mets lost in 5 anyway.  It sure would've been nice to at least have had that one glorious moment of satisfaction.

A guy can dream....

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