Mike Piazza has Moved on From his Feud With Roger Clemens and Claims He was Never Tempted to Take SteroidsFebruary 15, 2013 – 8:15 am by Steven Cuce
The release of Mike Piazza’s autobiography occurred this week where the former catcher wanted to tell the story of his career. Piazza reveals a behind-the-scenes look at his feud with Roger Clemens, the rumors about his sexuality and his opinions on performance-enhancing substances along with a slew of other topics.
Mike Piazza joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss the reason behind writing his book, his recollection of when Roger Clemens threw a bat at him, not regretting that he didn’t fight Roger Clemens, his press conference after the Neal Travis story in the New York Post, being bothered by the gay rumors and not being tempted to take steroids.
For someone who was always private why the book? What was the process?
“Well I think the more I thought about it … I was talking with Danny Lozano [his agent] and he said, ‘You have a very interesting life, an amazing career,’ and he said, ‘A guy like you has to write a book.’ Ultimately, starting with the Dodgers and getting traded and coming to New York, it’s been an amazing story of hurdles and mountains and setbacks and frustrations and elation. I kind of wanted to share it with everyone. I really did, and it was a very fun process and a lot of memories. As you could tell by looking at it, it’s really almost impossible to make that up, so I felt like I really wanted to tell people about it.”
Recount with us the crazy World Series moment in 2000 when Roger Clemens threw the bat at you?
“It’s important for me to note that I definitely moved on. This is not something I carried on for a decade. It’s just the more I look at … everywhere I go, that is all people ask me about. I figure, you know, what here is the story. It really comes down to that — here’s what I was thinking at the time. Basically just wanted to give people an insight of what I was thinking, but like you said, from being hit during the summer in the day/night series and being very honest about it. I broke the code because ultimately you’re supposed to say it is part of the game, and I was not in that mood. I was very honest, almost too honest about it, and told the story. You remember the energy in that stadium was palpable. You could cut it with a knife. This game is hard enough to play when it’s just balls and strikes. Your errors and runs and just, especially in New York, I can’t describe it.”
Do you regret that you didn’t fight Roger Clemens?
“You know, that is tough to say. I felt like, at the time, I handled the situation as well as I could. It’s during the World Series. I think the biggest regret or the biggest thing I get bothered with is I hit an amazing home run off Jeff Nelson in that game that nobody talks about, and that guy, for me, was one of the toughest pitchers I’ve ever faced for a right-hander. He was nasty. I don’t know if you remember that guy. I faced him a couple of times and I was thinking, ‘There’s no way I can get a hit off this guy,’ and I said to myself, ‘I am just going to cheat to an inside fastball because I cannot touch his slider,’ and he threw me an inside fastball and I hit it off the foul pole. I think Jay Payton hit another home run and we almost came back. Again, so if I got thrown out of the game I would have never hit that home run. Looking back maybe. I am sure a lot of people were critical that I didn’t slug him there or we didn’t have a fight, but looking back it seems to have been the right decision.”
Talk about going through the press conference for the Neal Travis story in the New York Post about your sexuality?
“Yeah, I documented all the events leading up to that. I can’t explain it Mike. It kind of took on a life of its own. It was one of those things that maybe — it’s strange in New York. One week they had me dating a starlet I had never met and the next week I was gay.”
Did the gay rumors bother you and did they take a life of their own in the ballpark?
“There’s just some things you can’t control, but as you mentioned it and I documented that some things in this city just takes on a life of its own. I can’t explain it. I really didn’t think it would get to that point. The reason why I addressed it was because it had just become a big situation in the clubhouse and there was some confusion. I had to somewhat laugh about it. I really did. [Mike Francesa: Did it bother you?] It bothered me that it was becoming such a huge thing that I had to address. I can’t describe it. Even to this day I really don’t have answers to it. It was just one of those things. Sometimes in New York a non-story is a story and that was just one of those non-stories.”
Were you ever tempted to take steroids?
“Not really. I really had too much respect for the game. It was just not something that came into my awareness. It was just something I didn’t think about. Everything I mentioned as far as the andro and the anti inflammatory, most of those things are available in the training room. The one thing I mentioned, Vioxx, has been banned because it’s caused heart attacks, so I hate to say this sometimes. As I said, playing sports is sometimes not a healthy lifestyle choice, and if some of these medications and drugs are not there I don’t know if there would be too many guys on the field, but as far as going over the line? No, it’s just one of those things where I had too much respect for the game and the supplements I took were available over the counter, in the stores. Once I realized they were becoming scrutinized I knew I had to stop them. Back then we were awfully blind as well. It wasn’t always so black and white. It was a little grey and the culture change as far as when I was young, weightlifting was not in baseball. It was discouraged. It was like you are going to get muscle bound and then all of a sudden guys in the 1980s started getting bigger and stronger and they started realizing weightlifting did help your power. It evolved and guys today are still doing supplements. It’s more regulated and we didn’t have that. We didn’t have a system to help us check out what we were taking nutritionally.”