|Monday, June 17
Updated: June 18, 11:10 PM ET
Mets fire back at Dibble's anti-Estes stance
ESPN.com news services
But after learning that ESPN baseball analyst Rob Dibble questioned Estes' toughness and called him a "clown" on Baseball Tonight, the Mets struck back Sunday.
"He was the most unprofessional player to ever play, or one of them," Mets manager Bobby Valentine told the New York Daily News, referring to the former relief pitcher-turned-commentator. "He threw bats in the stands, threw balls in the stands, fought with his manager. When he hit people it was because they hit a home run off him, not protection for his teammates."
In the weeks leading up to Clemens' first appearance at Shea Stadium since drilling Piazza in the helmet two seasons ago at Yankee Stadium, the big question was whether the Mets would retaliate when the pitcher finally came to bat Saturday.
Instead, the Mets did their most damage when Clemens was on the mound. Estes, who was still in San Francisco when Clemens drilled Piazza, hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning and Piazza connected for a solo shot in the sixth. The Mets won 8-0, with Estes striking out 11 in seven innings for his third victory.
Dibble, a relief pitcher for seven seasons in the major leagues -- all but one in Cincinnati, where he was one of "The Nasty Boys" -- said Estes should have hit Clemens, even after he missed and both benchings were warned, and that the left-hander probably lost the support of his teammates.
Estes chose not to fire back, saying he did not see Dibble's broadcast.
"I don't care. Whatever. It's one man's opinion," Estes told the Daily News. "I'm more concerned about the guys I play with and their feelings on it. I think everyone is more optimistic than anything because we beat a good team, we needed a win and we got it, and hopefully it'll springboard us into the next month."
According to the Daily News, not one Met agreed with Dibble that Estes had lost respect or support in the clubhouse, whether they were asked on or off the record.
"[Dibble] was unprofessional and uninformed. He said there was no retaliation after Mike got hit," when in fact Glendon Rusch retaliated immediately by hitting then-Yankee Tino Martinez, Valentine said. "This is the reason people switch off ESPN, because you have people with no knowledge of the game or the English language presenting the game we love."
Valentine lamented how sports television is becoming a venue for controversy, rather than informed analysis.
"When I was in uniform with him in Cincinnati (as a coach in 1993) he was known as anything but an enforcer," Valentine told reporters. "But he was known for what he's known for now, as a big mouth."
Said Mike Piazza, "I just wasn't impressed (with Dibble's remarks). He's entitled to his opinions, but I think he was just trying to say something controversial and self-promoting. But if you're going to respond to him you might as well sit by talk radio and analyze every call. That's what I'd equate him with."