Mets Take High Road in Clemens Situation

After two years of verbal jousts and controversy, the stage was set. Unlike last year when the Yankee's rotation was altered to avoid it, Roger Clemens was pitching at Shea Stadium, where he'd have to step to the plate against Met pitchers. A media frenzy counted down the days until the Mets would have the chance to get their "revenge" on Roger Clemens.

The initial crime: Hitting star Mike Piazza in the head with a fastball and then later in the year, during the World Series, throwing a shattered bat in Piazza's direction while he ran towards first base. The buildup was immense, but the way it would play out was up in the air.

After two uneventful, scoreless innings for each team, Clemens led off the third inning for the Yanks. Estes immediately threw at him, just missing his buttocks with a fastball. Immediately both sides were warned, preventing possible retribution by the Yanks. Clemens was struck out and the Yanks went down quietly. Despite missing Roger, Estes sent a message to Clemens and the Yanks, a message saying that the Mets will not bow down and allow their players to be abused.

Whether or not Estes meant to hit Clemens can be debated endlessly, however, it cannot be argued with that it set a tone for Estes' and the rest of the Mets' day. The fastball that was sent Clemens way may have shaken him up, as the Mets scored a run on a mental mistake by Clemens when he failed to cover home after Shawn Estes bunted Rey Ordonez over from second base to third. Ordonez, seeing that no one was covering home, never stopped running and gave the Mets the lead.

Clemens did not pitch well the rest of the way, letting up a 2 run homer to Shawn Estes and a solo shot by his nemesis Piazza.

The way the Mets handled Clemens today showed a touch of class on their side. Estes did not throw at Clemens head, so obviously he was not intending to hurt him. Thus, Estes was able to send a message without endangering a man's life, something Roger Clemens needs to learn how to do. In a game that the Mets HAD to win, they put aside all the hype and were able to get to Clemens in a more important way, on the scoreboard.

In addition, in a time when many were calling for an all-out brawl, the Mets did not try to provoke Clemens or any of the other Yankees. Neither Estes nor Piazza evened glanced at Clemens while they were circling the bases after their home runs. The Mets have gotten themselves into fights before after glaring at an opposing pitcher after a home run, most recently when former Met Todd Zeile glared at a Marlins pitcher after he hit a 3 run home run. Much like their situation with the Yankees, the Mets and Marlins were involved in a bean ball war with the Fish.

When the book is written on the great rivalry between the Mets and the Yankees, it will certainly include the Piazza-Clemens feud. That chapter will include the big hit Shawn Estes got off Roger Clemens, but the ending of it will describe how Estes didn't hit Clemens, and for that he put the period on the chapter of the Piazza-Clemens rivalry.

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