Not Intent, Team

by Ross Friedman

<!-- Article Starts Here --!> I don't know if Roger Clemens threw the bat at Mike Piazza on purpose or not. Only Roger Clemens can truly know that. I think we can all agree on that. I think we can also all agree that Clemens is a bit out there. He's not the sanest person in the world. Another thing we can definitely agree on is that he threw a great game. Finally, most people seem to be able to agree that his punishment fit the crime. A $50,000 fine, but no suspension.

What I am going to argue is that Roger Clemens intent is not the issue. The issue is team, and how the Mets proved they are not as much of one as the Yankees with the bat throwing incident.

First of all, even though it was extremely early in the game, it was obvious that Clemens had his good stuff. Right there that should have been enough of a reason to start something with Clemens and try to get him tossed from the game. However, what was much worse, was this was Roger Clemens throwing a bat at the Mets best player. Throwing a bat at the same player he hit in the head with a baseball less the four months prior to this incident. And they let him get away with it.

Not only did he get away with it, but it may have made him better. It is commonly thought that you have to be able to be comfortable in the batter's box to hit effectively. Could any Mets hitter have been comfortable the rest of the evening? All of a sudden they know there is a pitcher that may try to kill any of them at any point, and with a 98-mph fastball, Clemens was armed to do so.

So what should the Mets have done? Well, any discussion on that has to start with Mike Piazza. Many have called Piazza a wimp for letting Clemens throw an object at him again. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. However, I firmly believe that Piazza did exactly what he had to. He kept himself in the game. The Mets are not nearly the team without Piazza as they are with him, and this is the World Series, they needed him to stay in the game.

Therefore, it was up to Piazza's teammates to protect him.

I remember watching a New York Rangers game once. A player (I forget who) tried to pick a fight with Wayne Gretzky. Within about two seconds, Rangers' goon Jeff Beukeboom was beating up on this guy like you wouldn't believe. Message sent.

The Mets have enough spare parts that somebody could have and should have gone after Clemens. All Lenny Harris talked about after the game was wanting to punch Roger Clemens in the mouth. Then why didn't he? His opportunity was right then, right there. If Harris went after Clemens we all know Clemens would have fought back (and almost definitely would win the fight) and both players would have gotten ejected. Lenny Harris for Roger Clemens, that's a good deal. Plus, they would have sent a message, we won't take you going after our best player.

When the Mets Armando Benitez was with the Orioles, he intentionally threw at the Yankees Tino Martinez. It was the second time he did such a thing. Tino was visibly very upset, but is not the type of person to charge the mound. So some of his teammates did it for him. Graeme Lloyd, the lanky lefthander, came running out of the bullpen and went after Benitez. It was an incident that brought the Yankees together as a team, and they went on a great run afterwards. They showed that they were a team and were going to stick up for one another.

Mike Piazza is the Wayne Gretzky of the Mets right now (this is not saying he is as great as Wayne Gretzky). He's the best player the Mets have, and a lot more important than Tino Martinez was to the Yankees then. The Mets needed to defend their guy.

After the game when everybody was asked about the incident, every Yankee stood up for Clemens. I don't think there is any doubt that many of them did not agree with what he did, and that many would have loved to speak out against him. Derek Jeter has been on the wrong end of a couple of Roger Clemens fastballs, as was Scott Brosius. However, Clemens is their teammate now and they were going to defend him.

Somebody should have defended Mike Piazza. That would have gotten Clemens out of the game, and perhaps the Mets end up winning that game. If they won game three, as they did, that could have put them up 2-1, and maybe we have a different World Series altogether. But for that to have happened, the Mets needed to work on their teamwork first. <!-- Article Ends Here --!>

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