During the 2000 regular season, Clemens struck Piazza in the helmet with a pitch, giving everyone a juicy subtext for the next time they met — later that season in the World Series. The New York Post (spolier alert!) has read the book for Piazza's recollection:
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.
He would get his chance in October — when the upstart Mets met their crosstown rivals in the World Series. The coming confrontation between the Mets’ 12-time All-Star catcher and the Bombers’ hard-case hurler was the talk of the city.
Karate lessons?! Only, that darned Clemens didn't cooperate again. In Game 2, Piazza broke his bat, Clemens picked up the barrel and infamously threw it back at him, as if Piazza had somehow done it on purpose. It was so awkward, apparently, that Piazza pulled any of the punches he might have been planning:
“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 butt kicked in front of Yankee Stadium and the world. That was a legitimate concern.”
Based on how the excerpt is written, it's hard to say if Piazza actually took the karate lessons or he simply considered taking them, though he claims to have been ready to fight. Regardless, the image of Piazza using some half-learned martial arts on Roger Clemens in the middle of the World Series is the only thing that would have made the broken-bat moment more surreal.