This is a guest blog by Pat Lay.
Ali vs. Frazier
Mayweather vs. Pacquiao
Godzilla vs. Mothra
Piazza vs. Guillermo Mota? No, it wasn’t exactly the next fight of the century, but today marks eighteen years to the day that The Pizza Man delivered a fury pie. Hold the anchovies.
While not as iconic as the Piazza/Clemens dust-up of the 2000 World Series, tensions had been brewing between Piazza and the Dodgers reliever since the prior spring when Mota plunked Piazza in the hip. Mike let his hands do the talking as he grabbed Mota by the scruff of his jersey before being separated by teammates. Round 1, undecided.
3/12/2003 After being hit by a pitch thrown by Guillermo Mota in a spring training game, Mike Piazza charges the mound. pic.twitter.com/yJ3nRcI2lF— This Day in Mets History (@NYMhistory) March 12, 2021
But we’re here to reminisce about round 2, a literal generation later. Let me set the scene for you. It’s March 12th, 2003, bottom of the sixth as the Mets trail LA 10-1 with no outs. Mota throws inside to Mike, nearly missing his hip. I can remember anger visibly boiling up inside a usually restrained Piazza. What happened next was the most busch league act I’ve ever seen on a baseball diamond.
Guillermo Mota tried to take Piazza’s head off.
Am I being dramatic? Sure. Am I a bit sour because Mota went on to win TWO World Series despite being suspended TWICE for PEDs? I guess it depends on who you ask. Long story short, Piazza charged the mound looking for retribution and Mota...stood his ground? Valiantly landed a haymaker before Piazza obliterated him? Nope. He threw his glove at Mike and ran away.
The LA Times quoted Mets Manager, Art Howe as saying, “The guy ran like a scared rabbit when the man came after him...He can backpedal faster than I can run forward.”
Regardless of who you root for, we can all agree that cowardice has no place in this beautiful game. I was lucky enough to witness Mike Piazza’s last game in person, and that’s what I’ll be celebrating today. Let’s just hope these two don’t run into each other any time soon.
For a full breakdown on the Piazza-Mota feud, I recommend checking out this LA Times story.