Perez pouts, rips Tribe fans
With the Miami Marlins and sound-bite jackpot, Ozzie Guillen, in town for a weekend series, one would expect any inflammatory comments to come from the man with the Fidel Castro foam finger. Yet, it was Tribe closer, Chris Perez, who did the shooting off at the mouth, following a 2-0 victory on Saturday against Miami. News broke Saturday night that Perez had plenty to say in his post-game locker room interview, most of which were pointed comments directed at Tribe fans.
Perez is no stranger to irking opposing team members and tweeting critics (AKA “keyboard -tuff guys”) alike, with his edgy, hot-headed temperament. The following quotations are taken from the Chronicle-Telegram’s Chris Assenheimer, who recorded Perez’s shocking statements following a 1-2-3 ninth inning, in which Perez struck out the side to earn his 13th save, in 14 opportunities this season.
Perez led with a whine-fest: “I’m tired of getting booed at home, so I figured I’d throw some strikes today … You can quote that. (Getting booed at home) doesn’t bother me. It (ticks) me off. I don’t think they have a reason to boo me. They booed me against the Mariners when I had two guys on. It feels like I can’t even give up a baserunner without people booing me.”
On behalf of all Tribe fans, boo-hoo. As a professional athlete, one who gets paid 4.5 million dollars this year to trot in with the bases empty and get three outs, you have a duty to possess thicker-than-average skin, especially in a city with 9.3% unemployment. Closer is one of, if not the most, scrutinized positions on a baseball team; so, if you want to collect those fat paychecks for relatively-speaking very easy work, then tone down your hubris and ignore the criticism that comes with the territory.
I actually agree with Perez, with respect to the point that Tribe fans have been harsher than they should on him, as he is tied for 2nd in the AL in saves (13) and possesses a 3.31 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. However, he certainly doesn’t say anything to endear himself to Cleveland fans, and I staunchly condemn Perez’s lack of professionalism, demonstrated by these untimely statements.
Perez continued: “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, or hey, it’s all right.’ And then after I struck out (Seattle’s Jesus Montero), the mock standing applause just adds to it. You see their true colors.”
Yeah, this definitely doesn’t sound like he’s calling out Tribe fans whatsoever. Caught in a brutally obvious contradiction, Perez spins the wheels, as he continues to whine about Indians fans and their jaded sarcasm. Sure, a lot of the criticism fans direct at Perez stems from being part of a championship-starved fan base, but again, one would definitely expect a professional to conduct himself in a manner reflective of his standing. If you can’t deal with occasional boos and the odd condescending applause, then maybe you shouldn’t be in such a high stakes position on this team. Certainly, there are other viable closing options in the ‘pen, some of whom very well may be taking Perez’s job before long, if the club decides that the distracting Cleveland closer isn’t worth the trouble.
And for the record, these postgame comments show Perez’s true colors, which must be flashy neon hues, begging for attention and approval.
He then went on to offer his expert analysis, regarding why Cleveland struggles to reel in big-name free agents: “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. That’s definitely a huge reason. Nobody wants to play in front of 5,000 fans. We know the weather (stinks), but people see that. Other players know that.”
Cleveland had an average home attendance of 22,726 per game in 2011, 24th in Major League Baseball. Sure, Perez is being hyperbolic with his figure of 5,000, but this is a blatant slap in the face of Indians fans. Instead of running his mouth about how poor weather and low attendance keep high profile free agents from coming to Cleveland, Perez should’ve just stopped at expressing his displeasure with unjust boos.
There are two pressing points to add to this snippet of Perez’s rant: firstly, the real reason Beltran went to St. Louis is because he’s 35 years old and wants to win a championship, therefore he likely thought it logical to go to the team who won it all in 2011. Sure, as Perez later correctly points out, Cleveland’s small-market payroll is always going to be a major bulwark to overcome in the free agent fishing hole. But, what’s his point? What is Perez trying to accomplish —aside from gaining favorability from his ingrate home fans— with these comments, especially after a dominating win for a first-place team?
The second point that needs addressed is the timing of this sobfest. Perez mentions several times in his postgame comments about the proverbial ‘5,000 fans’ at home games in Cleveland this season; yet, the attendance for Saturday’s game was 29,799 and on Friday it was 29,378. So, again, why now? All avid Indians followers are embarrassed by Cleveland’s last-place ranking in home attendance this season, but we’re still only roughly seven weeks into the season, so why draw national attention to the early-season attendance issues? Relief pitchers are supposed to have short memories, but Perez seems hung up on his opening day blown save.
My personal favorite quote from Perez, following Saturday’s win: “At the same time, I’m here. I’m here to win. I’m here for my teammates and I want to bring a championship to Cleveland, to do my job and help the team win. I think I do a pretty good job of showing that on the field. I don’t think I bring any undue attention to myself. I’m out there for the team. In big wins, I get excited and I’m like a kid again, because it’s fun.”
Oh, where to start. This string of deluded, tactless sentences shows a lot about Perez’s character. Common sense would dictate that one shouldn’t rip home team fans for not showing up and being too insensitive toward him, then, in the very next breath, offer some hackneyed sports cliché about how he’s trying to bring a championship to Cleveland. Chris Perez could obviously care less about his teammates or the team’s success, instead opting for much more important points, like self-glamorization and tweeting his song of the day. One could even argue that this tirade is a plea for management to trade him, a wish that many Tribe fans are likely now pining for, as well.
Easily the most hilarious line of the outburst comes when Perez says that he doesn’t bring any undue attention to himself. In addition to his past twitter battles and brush-ups with opposing team members over Perez’s tendency to show up opposing players, his self-authored personal description on the top of his Twitter page is capped off with “Just a normal guy with an arm like a f****** cannon”. Real nice, Chris, very family appropriate. And, yeah, I can’t fathom why anyone would intimate that you bring undue attention to yourself. Stupid fans.
In closing, this situation must be swiftly addressed by Tribe management. As a professional athlete, you don’t badmouth your home fans and put your teammates in a thorny predicament, especially after an impressive win for a team in first place. For, if this public relations debacle goes unaddressed, it will surely become a distraction to the team. That’s the central theme to Perez’s emotionally-charged comments, a profound lack of professionalism.
It’s not that his comments were completely unfounded—attendance has been dreadful and fans have been particularly short-fused with Perez— it’s that he chose an inopportune time to pick a fight with the fans and demonstrate a complete lapse in judgment. Act like you really are a professional and quit picking fights on the internet. Even Ozzie Guillen had the wherewithal to rise above the online fray, as he recently announced that he’ll no longer be tweeting.
Not necessarily in reference to the fallout of these comments, Perez said, at one point, “Who knows? I could throw my last pitch tomorrow.” How right you might be, Chris. For, the customer is always right; and in this case, the customers are the very fans who you’re caustically chiding over freedom of expression.
I hate the argument that fans make about not going to the games because they think they'll fade. That's a valid reason to not purchase tickets now for a game in August (same reason I'm month-to-month on my MLB.tv), but it should be more like incentive to go to games now, when they ARE meaningful.
Anyway, Perez said a lot of what a lot of players and management wished they could say but knew they couldnt because of the PR nightmare it would be. I guess he just took one for the team lol. Seriously though, he was brutally honest and spot on. But as an athlete and public figure being honest is not always the right approach....sometimes just keeping quiet and not sharing how you really feel is the only thing you can do.
League Park...you may be right the Indians are in the worst division in baseball and may be a bad week from falling out of 1st into third. But why not just enjoy it for what it is? Why do a lot of people just sit on the sidelines expecting the worst and in some cases hoping for the worst so they can be proven right? My gosh how I miss the days of when people just simply enjoyed their team was winning and had a chance....but the fansbase in this town has become so cynical and full of anger that we are always looking for the worst to happen. If that is the case, then why bother following these teams? Where is the fun in that? The internet, talk shows, ESPN, etc have really eroded fandom in sports where there is WAY too much negativity. I don't recall so much hostility with teams 20-30 years ago.
Your logic assumes that, because people are spending money at a Casino, the local economy is ok. Are you insane?
There have been numerous studies that have proven your supposition inaccurate & illogical.
To wit: 'In the study, the researchers note that lotteries set off a vicious cycle that not only exploits low-income individuals' desires to escape poverty but also directly prevents them from improving upon their financial situations"
Or this - 'According to a 2008 study, reported by PBS, households that earn less than $13,000 a year spend a staggering 9% of their income on lottery tickets."
Add to this that Nevada has the higher unemployment rate in the US it's safe to assume that, just because Person A spends $ at a casino, it doesn't mean Person A has a lot of money.
Use common sense.
Well written by the author, by the way. Like/dislike the stance, greatly entertaining.
We beg for athletes to be candid & open. Until they are, and we tell them to shut up, do your job, and collect your millions. Can't have it both ways.
This article was beyond terrible. Sure, the anti-CP points are obvious, but there is such a grey area with the attendance dynamic, a grey area Adam ignored/neglected to point out.
The 5k thing was tongue in cheek, hardly something to write 2 paragraphs about. (the worst: "Real nice, Chris, very family appropriate" regarding the twitter paragraph. Cause that's what truly matters: someone's twitter handle.)
If anything, I was of the belief that CP's comments were more of an indictment on the management than the actual fan base (sans the booing comment, which was, indeed, petty).
This team has the potential to make the playoffs. Clamoring to trade away our best bullpen arm (and a pitcher who has been lights out since his opening day collapse) in the midst of a playoff run is beyond foolish & childish.
But when a player who is obviously more insecure than he lets on blasts the fans because he was booed several days previously, and chooses to do so after a game where the attendance was solid and he left the field to cheers, well, "out of touch with reality" seems too tame a characterization for the timing as well as the substance of the comments. But then, these are professional athletes we're talking about. Guys who are paid to do a job, and to the best of their ability regardless of circumstances. Contrast that with attending fans, who are not paid, and in fact, are out money win or lose. Guess which outcome they'd prefer when leaving the park with pockets a little lighter. So they put a little pressure on Chris...it's understandable. I thought it came with the territory of being a highly paid professional in a high stress job.
But Perez's transgressions concerning attendance and booing are nothing compared to undermining the organization by intimating that playing for the Indians is "not fun," that no one wants to come to play here, and basically everyone feels that way. Can you imagine the number of players slinking out the room having been brought into the discussion by our brilliant closer? (The same guy, by the way, who questioned the manhood of the Angels when they beat him with a bunt. Oh yeah, he's a smart one. He's also said today that baseball would be more fun in a place like Philadelphia. Yes, Philadelphia! Blow a couple of saves there, my man, and get back to me on that one.)
A smart player would recognize that the Tribe's attendance woes are complex, and in no small part due to the huge public relations hole the team has been trying to dig its way out of for a couple of years now. Whether the organization deserves the public standing it suffers can be debated by reasonable people (I think not) but what is not debatable is that there is no constructive benefit that can come from Perez's comments regarding Beltran, free agency, or whether it's "fun" playing in Cleveland. They are divisive, inflammatory, and counterproductive. They will have a lingering effect on perceptions by fans and others elsewhere. Make no mistake, Perez's remarks were repeated nationally, and were the subject of national talk shows today. To this point, nobody nationally has noticed or cared that the Tribe is in first place or last in attendance, but now, thanks to Perez's incendiary comments, here we are. And this is helpful how....?
Self-indulgent and insecure, Perez says he doesn't care what the fans think of him, but the truth is, he knows that the boos signal that while he may have the gaudy save numbers, he doesn't possess the full the trust of fans, and likely not the organization either (and not now, more than ever). It's not like the Tribe has been negotiating any long term deals with Chris, and maybe that's what's really under his skin, seeing other teammates deemed to be the core signing extensions (kind of flies in the face of your argument, eh, Chris?) and down deep he knows that others on the staff can do the cushy job Chris does. I mean, lessee...you can either be Pestano coming in with men on the bases and the game hanging in the balance you can be the guy making millions coming in with no one on and anywhere from a 1 to 3 run lead. Yep, I'd be worrying if I could be easily replaced in that job too. "F****** cannon", Chris? Try "F****** big mouth"...it's much more accurate.
Here is the proof:
And supermoon, Boston would probably trade Yuke for Perez in a heartbeat. Yuke's skills started declining last year, and he's hurt and doing worse in '12. I think one broken down former Red Sox player is plenty right now.
The fact of the matter is..having small crowds to play in front of doesn't inspire..Having a sold out house does inspire. Anyone saying otherwise is kidding themselves.. How does a team get a full house.. they WIN. Cleveland has now owned or shared first place in their division for 26 consecutive days, and CP is a big part of that... Does Chris Perez help the Indians win.. damn right he does.. He is currently tied for second in the MAJOR LEAGUES in converting save opportunities (only Jim Johnson of the FIRST PLACE Baltimore Orioles has more).. What is CP's number one job requirement: Converting save opportunities.
Now as far as the Booing subject: Fans pays their money and are entitled to BOO.. Boo'ing CP, imho, is misplaced.. He's not the problem.. he's a ray of light in an otherwise dark hole that represents all the OTHER professional sports franchises that call Cleveland home..
Now I do agree that Perez should have been traded in the offseason. He wasn't going to be though as there were plenty of closers on the fa market. Trade him now? Do it because Pestano is ready and not due to the backlash from his comments. For Youkillis? I dunno - id rather find a bat under team control for a few more years.
(Btw the story was LeBron, before he took his talents to South Beach tried to recruit Chris Bosh to come to Cleveland. Bosh said no thanks. Cleveland sports teams have to overpay to get free agents to sign w/ a Cleveland team.)
As for the fans booing him, deal with it Chris. It is part of the game. Go play in New York and see how they treat you. new York is the king of "What have you done for me lately" city.
The turn out is beyond embarrassing low. I understand games can be pricey but like all things its a matter of budgeting.
Side note we did offer the highest money to Beltran and he did decline to come, so its more than money
What he did is not smart, calling out the fans never is, but to me it does not make it any less true
He has no idea what it is like for a typical family to make ends meet. There are not a lot of families of four who can shell out $200 for an ordinary baseball game. They might be able to do it once a summer, but the big crowds happen when the fans come out to multiple games in a season.
The cost to come to a game is just too prohibative. Retirees? Forget it. They have to worry about keeping their money. College kids just out of school? They have crappy jobs and can't afford a big night out.
I agree the team is worthy of more support. But the reason the attendance is down is not because the Cleveland fans suck. It is a much more complicated issue, which is something that the simple, classless and clueless mind inside Chris Perez's head can't figure out.
CP says other players tell him they don't want to come to Cleveland because the fans don't come out. Hogwash. They'll go where they get the most money. The Indians are never the highest bidder when going after free agents. They'll sign someone if they can get a deal, but they will never be the top bidder. They try to make it appear they are going after someone, but we all know it will never happen because they will not outbid everyone else. Money talks.
We should have traded him over the winter and have Pestano close. We could have gotten the right hand bat we need. How about trading him for Kevin Youkilis? We'd take on more salary, but we'd get a threat in the middle of the order. We'd never miss a beat with Pestano closing.