In case you're unaware, Chris Perez (Indians closer) has started a firestorm with comments he made following Saturday nights win over the Miami Marlins. Perez entered the game in the 9th and buzz-sawed the Marlin batters with ten pitches (nine strikes) taking them down in order to close the game. Unfortunately, he opened his mouth after, starting with this...
"I was tired of getting booed at home so I figured, 'I'd better throw some strikes.' You can quote that." referring to his last outing on Thursday night, an Indians 6-5 victory over Seattle in 11 innings. Perez
pitched a scoreless 10th, but was booed when he put two runners on base.
He continued "They booed me against the Mariners when I had two guys on. It feels
like I can't even give up a base runner without people booing me. It's
even worse when there's only 5,000 in the stands, because then you can
hear it. It pisses me off."After I struck out (Mariners catcher, Jesus) Montero, the mock standing applause just adds to it... You see their true colors."
He closed it out by blaming Indians fans for the team not being able to sign high profile free agents with this doozy "Guys don't want to come over here and people wonder why... Why doesn't Carlos Beltran want to come over here? Well, because
of that. That's part of it. It doesn't go unnoticed, trust us. I'm not
calling out the fans. It's just how it is. That stuff is reserved for
road games. We don't want to deal with that crap. Here, good fans are supposed
to help you try to get through the inning and say, 'Hey, you're only one
pitch away. Hey, it's all right.'"
He was then interviewed this morning before today's game, and even VP Mark Shapiro released a statement about the Perez comments from Saturday night.
This morning: "In 2010, I wouldn’t have said those comments. We deserved to get booed,
we deserved for nobody to be here. But we’ve been building up for this
season and we’re good. We have a good team. We haven’t even played our
best ball and we’re in first place. It’s been years building up and
Thursday was the last straw for me. I had it on Thursday and yesterday
was my first time to talk."
He went on "It’s not a good atmosphere. It’s not fun to be here. Especially when
you’re not playing well or not getting that many hits or you’re not
pitching well. Baseball is supposed to be fun. At the end of the day,
this is a game. It’s a child’s game, I understand that. But if you have
the choice to go an atmosphere where it’s fun every day, like
Philadelphia or some place like that where every day it’s fun just to go
there, that helps you get through some seasons sometimes, some games.
In August, when it’s 100 degrees out and you come back from a West Coast
trip and you’re tired, that energy can help you push through a couple
of games. Maybe it gets you a couple wins here or there. It makes a
difference, it really does."
And about fans hatred toward the ownership "I think some of it is the media. Some of it is the fans. They want a
winner. I think some of the ownerships in this city aren’t accountable.
There are a lot of reasons. The economy. I’m not stupid, I understand
the economy is bad around here. I understand that people can’t afford to
come to the game. But there doesn’t need to be the negativity. I don’t
understand the negativity. Enjoy what we have. We have a first-place
team. How many teams in the country would want that right now?"
Finally "School is out now. The last three days have been amazing weather. The
fans are going to come. I know that. It’s just a slap in the face when
you’re last in attendance. Last. It’s not like we’re 25th or 26th. We’re
last. Oakland is out-drawing us. That’s embarrassing."
I was going to leave this topic alone after my few quick tweets late last night, but reading about people supporting Perez and even hearing (I can't see it because I live in Charlotte) that Bruce Drennen took to supporting Perez on "All Bets are Off" tonight... well, I snapped.
Chris Perez needs to shut his mouth and throw strikes. Don't worry about the fans in the stands or what other owners of professional franchises in the city are doing or not doing. Let me break a few things down for you, Chris.
You say you understand the economy and that your not stupid. I read two comments from you this morning that scream to the contrary. Do you know what it costs for a family of four to go to a Major League Baseball game? Tickets, food, kids wants souvenirs, parking, gas... Most fans get to the stadium once a year, and if they have a large family maybe not at all. So if you understand the economy and are not stupid, wouldn't you realize that if Mr. Dad and his wife want to take the kids to a ballgame and spend that kind of money, they aren't typically going to want to do it during the week (kids have school the next morning) and when the weather is completely unpredictable in Cleveland, Ohio. So you say you're not stupid, then support why people wouldn't want to come to the yard on a Tuesday night in April... That's called talking out of your you-know-where, Chris.
The question of ownership was brought up to Perez and he blamed everyone except the ownership. Good move, Chris! Those are the people who sign your paychecks so I understand you don't want to lash out at Larry Dolan. Well, let me do it for you and in the process explain why your comments prove that you are, despite your claims against such, stupid.
Chris, when Larry Dolan bought this team, he promised we would stay on course with winning. Nothing is guaranteed and we all know that, but a return to the basement dwelling 80's Indians that were so bad that Hollywood made a "against all odds feel good underdog becomes a champion" movie about the team was almost a near certainty to not happen. Again, nothing is guaranteed and we all aren't, dare I say stupid, and realize that anything in the world of sports can happen. And since you know so much about our sports history, you know what I'm talking about after watching Ernest Byner drop the ball in Denver or John Elway go 98 yards at Municipal Stadium when on both occasions things looked wrapped up. You should know a little since you admitted to having watched the 97 World Series and witnessed the most dominating closer in the game blow a one run lead in the ninth inning of game seven and send it to extra innings where our beloved would eventually succumb to a game winning base hit from a rookie named Edgar Renteria.
I bring this up because when Captain Larry took control of the Indians ship there were really only a few question we all wanted to know: Would we be spending top dollar to keep homegrown talent? Will we be (within reason, certainly not like John Hart during the Dick Jacobs days) chasing free agents to better the roster? And, most importantly, if this team is in a pennant race, will you allow Mark Shapiro the ability to spend some money making trades to get the pieces to put the team over the top? The answers were yes, yes and emphatically yes.
Since the day Jacobs Field was turned into "Larry's LaLa Land" what have we seen? We've seen a hardworking scouting staff get young talent. We've seen players grow and emerge into All-Stars. We've seen Cy Young winners. We've seen a playoff series that should have sent us to a World Series that would have certainly been won over the Colorado Rockies. And those are all great things. All reasons to be proud of and support this team we all love so much. But what has happened with those guys? Why are the Indians not in the playoffs every year and, most importantly, where are those World Series rings and when was the championship parade the city so desperately desires as a result of all those good things?
The truth, Chris, is that ownership has squandered those things. Due to ownerships payroll demands (we must assume since why else would these moves be made) the Indians front office traded (TRADED!) in back to back seasons the American League Cy Young winner. They traded away All-Star and huge fan favorite Victor Martinez. They have a gem at shortstop in Asdrubal Cabrera and they signed him to a two year (two years?!) offer... conveniently just about how long Derek Jeter has left patrolling short in the Bronx. When the team was a bat away from being potential AL front runners, Larry gave the go-ahead to a trade for a huge player that would really add pop to the lineup and protect Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez... 40 year old Kenny Lofton. We all rallied around The Jake and "Jacobs Field Magic"... and he sold the damn name to an auto insurance group. Spend some money on some free agents? Forget it, we need to buy the equipment for Snow Days! The team was in first and still hanging around in July last year, badly in need of a corner outfielder... they acquired Kosuke Fukodome from the Cubs. Awesome, Chris! The guy is so good, he's hitting .175 for the White Sox this year.
I know, I know, I know. They traded for Ubaldo Jimenez. Think they plan on resigning Ubaldo when his contract is up? Ask Cliff Lee or CC Sabathia. They didn't even want to pay Carl Pavano... or did they trade him... either way it reeked of a cash dump, like always. And you can theorize, and it isn't a stretch, that by trading Alex White and Drew Pomeranze to the Rockies for Jimenez, they may have saved themselves the fan backlash of seeing another big arm become a financial tragedy in a trade.
So what is our response? Sit like sheep and keep filing into the stadium, spending money we don't have so the guy in the owners box can get richer while we keep saying "man, wouldn't it be great if they'd have kept..."? No, Chris, our response is the only way we can affect change and that is by not buying into the product. And spare me this "We're in first place!" garbage. Everyone is in first place in April and May. Everyone still has hope and a chance in April and May. Be in first place in late July or August, September. That's when it matters.
And believe me, when Larry Dolan starts allowing Mark Shapiro to shell out some cash for some top level talent in free agency (even one!) fans will be there. Look up toward the right field mezzanine. See that "455"? That's consecutive sellouts! Let me know when the promised lands of Philadelphia and St. Louis, where the fans really support their teams, are anywhere even close to 455. Hell, let me know when they are anywhere near 55!
Another thing: "At the end of the day, this is a game. It’s a child’s game, I understand
that. But if you have the choice to go an atmosphere where it’s fun
every day..." Grow up! The child's game you and I love so much ceased to be a "child's game" for you the day you put your name on a contract and became a professional player. I don't know many eight year old's getting 4.5 MILLION to play this "child's" game. So suck it up. If you get booed, guess what, we have that right! You know why, cause you're a professional ball player and we paid our money to see you play! If we go to the theater and see a play and it sucks, we boo. Same thing here! I don't think you'd hear the actors crying about the town the theater is in and fan support for the show. "Wow, nobody wants to see our play... maybe because it sucks?" Maybe because the guy who owns the theater won't fix the holes in the seats? Maybe because we were promised Leonardo Dicaprio and instead got Sly Stallone?
What to me is really funny is the way he backtracks this morning and, essentially, explains why the fans haven't been to the stadium thus far this season. He cites the weather and economy. Again, how can you claim to not be stupid yet you know the answers to the reason you are bitching? And the other big answer to your complaint you can't discuss because those people can fine or suspend you. I'm almost wondering if this "lash out" isn't actually geared toward ownership in a backwards way.
People also should know, this isn't the first time he's made derogatory comments about Cleveland
fans. It's just the first time he's done it with a microphone in front
of his face. Anyone on twitter for a while can tell you about the uproar
he caused when he supported LeBron James after "The Decision" on his
Perez also likes to talk about the Browns. He mentioned "I think some of the ownerships in this city aren’t accountable." and we know he means Randy Lerner and the Browns. He has made comments on his twitter page many times about the fans supporting the Browns and not coming out full force for the Indians. Chris, you just don't get it. Cleveland is a football town. Always has been and always will be. That doesn't mean there isn't room for other sports franchises in Cleveland. It just means that in Ohio, specifically north eastern Ohio, football has always been king. Look at the turnouts and the talk about our high school programs, let alone the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're in a football town. I'm sorry. Deal with it! And as far as Randy Lerner goes: If Randy Lerner could buy a Super Bowl, he'd do it. He wouldn't worry about the bottom line or his profit margins, he'd just do it. So for as many times as he may foul things up and get it wrong, we always know it isn't because he's interested in bleeding us dry of money to pad his pockets like Larry Dolan is. That's earns him a pass. Don't like it? Too bad. It's our city. You're just a guest.
Mark Shapiro weighed in on Perez's comments this morning as well. One of Shapiro's comments that really stood out to me was "One of the unfortunate aspects of our current owners is the timing of
when they bought the team. I think that, to be judged through the lens
of the mid-90s teams is unfair." Ok, fair enough. But if you hadn't gone the bargain basement route (see my paragraphs above) we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Kenny Lofton? It wasn't 1997!
Shapiro towed the company line when asked for a statement "We as an organization clearly disagree with him. We appreciate our fans,
we respect our fans. We certainly want more to come and we’re working
extremely hard to make that happen, but it’s our underlying belief that
if the team continues to play the way it plays and we continue to win,
then more fans will come out. It was about this time last year that more
and more fans began to come." Of course you do. Cause you're not stupid (there's that word again) and realize school is out, the weather is going to get better and the team is in first place. All things that Chris Perez says he knows but is still bitching about attendance and Indians fans.
Here's what I think it all boils down to: Perez is jealous of the Browns. Clearly, this cannot be denied. He may not understand it, but he is jealous of the love this city has with its football team. He also has a sore ass from being booed on Thursday and decided to do the worst possible thing a professional athlete can do and that is open up their big mouth when they are in a highly emotional state of mind. I'd say he's just stupid, but he specifically claims he isn't. He then cites reasons why he isn't. Yet he's crying about the fans. The only possible answers are Browns fan "love" envy and a sore ass.
Now, people supporting him, especially ones saying things like "Well, he could have worded it differently, but he's right" are the worst kind of cattle to me. Just get in with the group, moo and move right along in the herd and eat whatever they shove in your face. Perez's comments were uncalled for and an attack on Indians fans from him that has been boiling up since the LeBron debacle. What part of what he said is accurate but not stated delicately enough? That fans should be packed in the stands in April in Cleveland on Wednesday nights? Because his team jumped out to a decent start and is in first place... in April and early May? If you support Chris Perez's comments in any way shape or form you're not taking a stand and speaking the truth, rather you're a part of the problem. This guy calls you a fair weather fan, trashes our fanbase, and you stick up for him? Why not just stop by his house and wash his cars or take out his trash. Maybe he'll tell you that you aren't cutting his grass straight enough and you can work extra hard to make the checkered lines straight! He's a professional athlete for a team we all love, but that doesn't make him infallible or right in any way. There was a time we all went to bat and would have fought for LeBron James too. Don't buy this garbage. Make him accountable for these stupid statements. If I were at Jacobs Field this week, I'd boo the mention of his name. I'd carry a sign that says "Weather: 70's. Rain: 10%. Kids: Summer Vaca. Team: First place. Being at the yard on a Wednesday night: priceless. Is my presence ok with you, Chris?"
Perez finished up Saturday with this gem "It's a business. You didn't choose to get drafted by Cleveland. I'm in
it for my family. Who knows? I could throw my last pitch tomorrow" If it wouldn't hurt the bullpen, I'd surely be all in favor of you throwing your last pitch in a CLEVELAND Indians uniform.