Piazza and Clemens—United in Their Revilement of "The Story"
by Mike Carminati
As the media keep promulgating the only All-Star Game story they can wrap their twisted, little minds around, that Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza, erstwhile antagonists, are now battery-mates, they are creating a common enemy (the media) that is driving the two together in a way that hasn't been seen between such once-foes since FDR, Stalin, and Churchill did shots of Stoli at Yalta while dividing up the world.
Tim McCarver, who eagerly pounced on Roger Clemens during the seventh game of the ALCS last year, is seen—accurately—by Clemens as the main culprit:
"I get tired of it, I'm sure Mike's tired of it," Clemens said. "And again, the guys at Fox, some of the guys, I don't know who's behind it all, and McCarver talks about it all the time and beats it with a dead horse and he's kinda reckless, a little reckless with the words, which bothers me, too."
In that game Pedro Martinez beaned Karim Garcia in a walk situation in that game and then threatened Jorge Posada in the fourth. In the bottom half of the inning, a high middle-of-the-plate fastball from Clemens almost drew ultra-sensitive Manny Ramirez to the mound, emptied both benches and bullpens, and preceded an impromptu event, the first annual Don Zimmer toss, by the innovative Martinez. As far as I was concerned the Red Sox came off as cowardly bullies and Clemens at worst, an innocent bystander.
And yet Fox had the archival footage of Clemens hitting Piazza in the head all cued and ready to go. McCarver eagerly narrated the irrelevant piece. This drew protests from the guest player-analysts (I think it was Bret Boone), and that sort of squelched it much to McCarver's chagrin.
I don't know if reckless is the right word, but he's headed in the right direction.
Now, McCarver is leading the charge to make this non-story into "the story" of the game:
"unprecedented, fascinating ... the most compelling story line in the game. I don't think anything will happen, but I make no apologies for thinking these are unusual circumstances and that this is a big story."
It's not exactly unprecedented. Remember the famous Bud Harrelson-Pete Rose brawl in the 1973 NLCS? Here's a reminder:
Well, Harrelson moved on to the Phils as a role player in 1978. He retired after that season but was lured out of retirement when the Phils needed a utility man and they caught him playing softball. While Harrelson had been gone, the Phils made a big change. They had signed free agent Pete Rose for the then-unprecedented salary of "Three point two milly-on dollars" (thank you, Chico Escuela). So guess who was wearing Harrleson's number 14? Yep. Harrelson returned, selected number 15, and made no more mention of his past encounter with his new teammate (he also had the only 100+ adjusted OPS of his career).
So what do they expect to happen? Piazza will fire the pitch back at Clemens' head when his back is turned? Piazza will approach the mound to discuss pitch selections and the two will start to brawl? What?
I heard that this is the first time a 300-game winner is pitching to a 300-home run catcher, which would make it interesting if true, but is unrelated to "the story".
At a time when there are interesting stories in every division and four of the six divisions have leads no greater than two games, the press can only talk about a four-year-old story. Anyway, wasn't this resolved when they faced each other in the World Series that year?
According to Fox Sports president Ed Goren, their ultimate wish is for a wistful reconciliation:
"I hope Mike wears our mike and goes out to the mound before the game, pats Roger on the butt and says, 'Go get 'em, bulldog,' What can I say? I'm a romantic."
If by "romantic" you mean a loathsome individual, then you're right. So enough already! Drop the story. Find something new and interesting. Timmy Mac, do your job and cover the story. Don't create the story.
Besides, according to the immensely entertaining Debbie Clemens site (thanks to Murray for the link), Roger has trouble a-brewing closer to home. According to her bio, "Debbie is a busy mom, an avid golfer, and of course, a Yankee fan!" So is Debbie Clemens just a lazy web master or is she trying to tell the world that she didn't favor the Rocket moving on to the local Astros this year? Is she sick of having him leaving the toilet seat up and of his always eating her Hagen Das?
It sounds like a story right up Tim McCarver's alley. There you go, Tim, let the feeding frenzy commence.