16 years ago today, Roger Clemens hurled a jagged bat shard toward Mike Piazza
The 2000 World Series featured a dream matchup — the Yankees vs. the Mets in the battle for the pride of New York and the baseball world.
Dubbed “The Subway Series,” there was plenty of drama already infused in this showdown of crosstown teams, but a couple of star players sure added to the intrigue in Game 2, on Oct. 22, 2000.
The Mets' Mike Piazza strode to the plate with two out in the first inning to face Roger Clemens. Piazza watched two strikes go by, then took a ball. The next pitch ran in on Piazza's hands, and he swung, sending the ball foul and shattering his bat. The broken barrel careened in the direction of Clemens, taking a big hop up into his stomach area. Clemens caught the barrel and then violently winged it toward the first base line, just a couple of feet in front of where Piazza was running out the ball.
Benches cleared as Piazza and Clemens had words for each other before order was restored.
By itself, this dust-up would have raised eyebrows, but adding fuel to the fire was an incident from earlier in the season. During a July interleague game between these teams, Clemens had hit Piazza in the head with a fastball. The hit knocked Piazza to the ground, and he had to leave the game, later saying he thought it was an intentional act by Clemens.
The same debate was struck up after the bat throw. Had Clemens thrown the barrel in the direction of Piazza on purpose? Was it a response to Piazza's accusation on the bean ball? Or was it just a reactionary move not well thought out?
You can imagine how both sides felt. The Mets felt it was intentional. Yankees manager Joe Torre and Clemens himself both dismissed the notion. “I had no idea Mike was running on the foul ball,” Clemens said, according to the New York Daily News. “There was no intent there.”
Whatever the truth, Clemens and the Yankees got the last word. Piazza grounded out in that at-bat and went 0-for-3 against Clemens on the night. Clemens went eight innings in the game, allowing just two hits and striking out nine. Piazza would homer off reliever Jeff Nelson in the ninth to spark a rally that came up just short in a 6-5 loss.
Two days later, Clemens was fined $50,000 for his actions, which Major League Baseball deemed reckless, regardless of his intentions.
The Yankees would then take two of three games at Shea Stadium to clinch the World Series title, their last in a run of three straight and four in five years. Clemens didn't pitch again in the series, and he and Piazza wouldn't face each other again until another interleague game in June 2002.
This year's World Series begins Tuesday night on FOX. Game 6 of the NLCS between the Cubs and Dodgers is Saturday night on FS1, with coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.