There's no way to be objective about this: Mike Piazza is one of our favorite baseball players of all time. The heavy metal-loving, Playboy bunny-marrying slugger was a 12-time All-Star and undoubtedly the greatest offensive catcher in baseball history—and he gave the Mets some of his best years. At the same time, rumors that he used steroids have haunted him his whole career, to the point that he narrowly missed making the Hall Of Fame on his first try, despite never being directly linked to PEDs. A month after that snub, Piazza is about to release a memoir, Long Shot, and the NY Post got a sneak peek—below, we've picked out our six favorite quotes, about everything from his hatred for Roger Clemens to yelling at Axl Rose to those persistent gay rumors.
Mike Piazza Fucking Hates Roger Clemens: After Clemens almost beamed Piazza with a 98-mph fastball to his helmet during a July 8, 2000 game (“I truly believe that if I hadn’t gotten my head down at the last instant, Clemens’ two-seamer would have struck me in the eye and possibly killed me”), Piazza literally planned to get his revenge. “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. He even took karate lessons in anticipation! But in the end, he couldn't go through with it when he got his chance during Game 2 of the 2000 World Series. "I stood a pretty fair chance of getting my ass kicked in front of Yankee Stadium and the world. That was a legitimate concern."
But Mike Piazza Isn't Afraid To Yell At Axl Rose: After a Guns N’ Roses concert, Piazza, who was drunk on vodka, yelled at Axl Rose for wearing Rangers, Knicks and Yankees jerseys on stage during the show...but not the Mets. “I’m obliterated. I go, ‘Hey, yo, Axl! What the f--k, man? Like, you know, you think you could’ve mixed in a Mets jersey?’ ”
Mike Piazza Didn't Do Steroids, Because He Didn't Want To Go To Prison: While he admits to taking was androstenedione, a muscle-building supplement bought over the counter that was popular with many baseball players in the '90s, he denies taking anything stronger. “I was into power, not prison," he noted. He also admits to taking non-PEDs, like Vioxx: “I used Vioxx because it was an intense anti-inflammatory and it made me feel good.”
Mike Piazza Is Not Gay, Because If He Were Gay, He'd Be Really Gay And Proud: Piazza isn't sure how the gay rumors started, although he thinks it was maybe an ex-teammate and his manager who started it. Either way, it annoyed him a lot: “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.”
Mike Piazza Dated The "Tool Time" Woman, Until She "Waffled" Him: Before he married Playboy playmate Alicia Rickter in 2005 (they have two kids now), Piazza dated a lot of women, including Debbe Dunning, the actress who played the “Tool Time” girl on Home Improvement. They had a rough break-up on Halloween one year though: “There was screaming and crying and then the Tool Time girl waffled my ass,” he recalled. “I hadn’t taken a punch like that in a long time.”
Mike Piazza Is A Little Paranoid About Hispanic Players: Piazza has some strong opinions about the influx of Latin players in the MLB; he thinks they need to learn English, not the other way around. But it gets weirder: Piazza describes “some kind of weird Hispanic conspiracy against me, almost like a secret brotherhood, a Latin mafia-type of thing.”