Highlights from “Long Shot:”
The 44-year-old makes no bones about holding a grudge against Clemens for beaning him during a July 8, 2000, game, and for the infamous bat-throwing incident later that season against the Yankees during the World Series. Piazza tells how he mapped out a plan for revenge — taking karate lessons and visualizing the next time they would go at it. “I would approach with my fist pulled back. I figured he’d throw his glove out for protection. I’d parry the glove and then get after it,” Piazza writes. “There were complications,” he recalls. “The least of them was the realization that Clemens was a big guy, and I stood a pretty fair chance of getting my ass kicked in front of Yankee Stadium and the world. That was a legitimate concern.”
“I was into power, not prison,” he said of illegal steroids. The strongest concoction he admits taking was androstenedione — also called “andro,” a muscle-building supplement bought over the counter at nutrition stores in a “Monster Pak” that also contained creatine and amino acids. When andro was found in Mark McGwire’s locker in 1998, Piazza said he decided to phase it out of his own regimen. In 2004 the FDA banned it. Piazza admits that every team had a treasure chest of drugs. “I used Vioxx because it was an intense anti-inflammatory and it made me feel good,” he writes in the book, which is set to go on sale Tuesday. “When I caught for 22 straight days and could hardly drag myself out of bed to get to the ballpark, Vioxx picked me up. I’d sing, ‘It’s gonna be a Vioxx morning.’ ” Piazza admits he took “greenies” — stimulants that were once common in baseball — usually in his coffee. But they made him too jittery. He preferred Dymetadrine, a light asthma medication that sends more oxygen to the brain. He also used Ephedra, an over-the-counter fat burner. It was later added to the banned list.
Questions about his sexuality bothered him less than the insinuation that he was somehow phony. “I found it hugely insulting that people believed I’d go so far out of my way — living with Playmates, vacationing with actresses, showing up at nightclubs — to act out a lifestyle that would amount to a charade,” he writes. “If I was gay, I’d be gay all the way.” One of his best-known girlfriends was Debbe Dunning, the actress who played the “Tool Time” girl on the hit comedy “Home Improvement.” One Halloween night when Dunning came over with a pumpkin and her dog, Piazza decided to break off the relationship.
As a 14-year-old traveling with Lasorda’s Dodgers to Shea Stadium — Piazza’s first trip ever to the ballpark — the teenager walked into the clubhouse. “Most of the team was watching a porno film. There was one little TV in the training room, and they were all crowded around it,” he recalls. “I have to admit that coming from the straight-laced, deeply Catholic background that I did, it was a little unsettling. “I didn’t tell my mother.” Piazza made the big show in 1992, and women noticed. The rookie of the year, then playing for the Dodgers, felt he had a rock-star image to live up to, but his Catholic upbringing was getting in the way. “Obviously, premarital sex was morally objectionable to the Catholic Church, which, like my very Catholic mother, was still a major influence in my life,” he writes. “On the occasions when I did step out, I made a point of going to confession afterward.”
I love Mike Piazza. He’s the best Mets player of my generation. The best hitting catcher of all time. And he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. But the excerpts from this book just scream “I’m a big gay steroid user.” If you’re gonna admit to using Andro, Vioxx, Greenies, ephedra and talk about your treasure chest of pills. you might as well admit to the steroids. Because nobody on earth is gonna think you just stopped and drew the line at anabolic steroids. Its the exact same tactic McGwire used to take when he’d openly leave Andro out for everyone to see hoping that they’d think he used that and not steroids. If Mike thought writing a memoir and confessing to rampant drug use was going to help quell the rumors about him using PEDs, I’m not so sure he thought that through.
As far as the rest of it – talking about taking karate lessons to fight Roger Clemens, being afraid to watch porn, not believing in pre-marital sex, and going out of your way to talk about how you “lived with Playmates and vacationed with actresses” – just makes me think Mike was so, so gay. Overcompensating talking about Playmates and banging Heidi from Tool Time. Saying how he went to confession after banging chicks. I don’t care one way or the other. About being gay or not or even doing steroids or not. But I just can’t imagine this was Mike’s best effort at squashing either of those rumors. Quieting steroid rumors by saying you did tons and tons of drugs and quieting gay rumors by saying you took karate lessons and felt you were sinning every time you had sex with girls. Just wouldn’t have been the direction I would have gone.
PS – If banging Heidi from Tool Time makes you gay I would be as gay as they come.