Commentary

Clemens avoids queries on case, Pettitte

The Rocket, appearing at charity event in CT, did make joke about Mike Piazza incident

Updated: February 12, 2011, 8:13 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Even with a potential prison sentence looming for allegedly lying to Congress about his purported use of performance-enhancing drugs during his baseball career, Roger Clemens still can joke about throwing a shattered bat at Mike Piazza during the 2000 Subway Series.

"I just remember my form being really good when I threw the bat," Clemens said at a charity event for the Connecticut Sports Foundation on Friday night. "My form was impeccable. I fielded it perfectly. My arm angle when I whistled it on-deck was a little low."

Some in the audience paid as much as $25,000 to have a private autograph session with Clemens, David Cone, former Mets manager (and current ESPN analyst) Bobby Valentine and other 2000 World Series participants more than a decade after the Yankees beat the Mets in five games.

[+] EnlargeRoger Clemens
AP Photo/Evan VucciRoger Clemens' reputation is in tatters as his court case proceeds.

As security shuttled Clemens from one room to the next to meet fans, two reporters approached Clemens, but he declined to answer any questions about his current predicament or former friend Andy Pettitte and Pettitte's recent retirement.

Leading up to that World Series, the majority of the attention was focused on the Clemens-Piazza saga. After Piazza had owned Clemens throughout his career, Clemens beaned Piazza during a regular-season game at Yankee Stadium.

During the banquet, Clemens reiterated that after he hit Piazza, he called over to the Mets' clubhouse to check on him. Clemens didn't finish the story, but it's been reported previously that Piazza did not accept Clemens' call.

"I think I pitched 24 years in the major leagues and I think I missed up above the shoulders three times," Clemens said. "Just like I tell any kids or any professional or anytime I get to talk in public, you don't pitch inside to hit people."

With both the local and national media fixated on the rematch prior to Clemens' Game 2 World Series start, Piazza broke his bat in the first inning. Half of Piazza's bat landed at Clemens' feet as Piazza ran to first base. Clemens inexplicably fired the bat at Piazza.

"I remember his words were like, 'Dude, what's up?'" Clemens said.

Both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown.

"I ran onto the field and I had no idea what to think; it seemed a little silly to me at first," said Valentine during a news conference before Friday night's event.

Don Zimmer, who was the Yankees' bench coach at the time, knew that with what had transpired leading up to the Series, the bat throwing would not be perceived well.

"It just looked bad after he hit him in the head," Zimmer said.

Immediately afterward, Clemens claimed he thought the bat was the ball, but he never explained why he would throw it at Piazza's feet.

"The sad thing about it is that's kind of what everybody remembers," said Mike Stanton, a Yankees reliever at the time. "Roger actually threw a great ballgame after that."

After not being ejected, Clemens threw one of the best games of his World Series career. He hurled eight scoreless innings, striking out nine in the process.

On Friday in Clemens' perjury case, reporters were provided the subpoena issued to the House committee that he is accused of lying to about the use of performance-enhancing drugs during his baseball career. Clemens' legal team requested summaries, notes and memoranda related to the hearing on PED use in Major League Baseball. These notes include talks with Pettitte.

During the open auction, a photo of Clemens and a personally autographed jersey and baseball raised $4,000 for the Connecticut Sports Foundation, which aids cancer victims.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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