On the occasion of Roger Clemens’ indictment for what seems to have been flagrant lying to Congress, Joe Posnanski looks back at how the pitcher handled another moment of crisis, after he threw a broken baseball bat at Mike Piazza during the 2000 World Series:
It’s fascinating. Piazza is looking right at Clemens and yelling at him. But Clemens is not looking at Piazza. He’s trying to get Reliford’s attention. He’s trying to explain that he didn’t REALLY throw a bat at Mike Piazza. No. Even as the players gather around and Piazza is getting angrier, Clemens is STILL trying to get to Reliford, even tapping him on the shoulder just as everyone gathered close. When other umpires gently pushed Clemens away from the pile, he then talked to THOSE umpires, no doubt telling them he was innocent too.
Clemens readily admitted this after the game. “I told Charlie the umpire that there was no intent,” Clemens said. “Fired up and emotional, yeah. But I had no idea Mike was running. There was no intent.”
That Roger Clemens could throw a bat directly into the path of Mike Piazza on television, during a World Series game, for tens of millions of people to see, and, instantly and vehemently believe that he could convince the umpire and everyone else that he didn’t mean it might give us just a small peek into the inner workings of the man.
Clemens is not a con artist like Pete Rose, who kept calculating and recalculating the limits of the lies he could get away with. As Posnanski points out, Clemens invited himself to go in front of Congress, then went out of his way to give testimony contrary to the evidence. The facts may seem to be against him, but Clemens has made sure to act like a person who sincerely believes Roger Clemens is innocent.