As Indians fans, we’ve all become accustomed to Chris Perez saying random, sometimes crazy things. He called out fans earlier this season for the poor attendance at Indians games and for booing him. He then got into arguments with the Kansas City Royals after he made comments on Twitter, and waved his hand in front of his face in a “You can’t see me” gesture. He even dissed Kenny Lofton in the locker room, angered by the fact that Lofton didn’t defend his statements about fans publicly. He’s been quiet for a little while now, but all of that changed this weekend in Oakland. That’s because he ended up involved in a confrontation with heckling A’s fans, and the incident is once again gathering national attention. I advise you to check out the link if you’d like the full exchange (plus video!) of the comments between Perez and the A’s fans.
My thoughts on Perez have changed throughout the season. At first, I wasn’t really fazed by his comments, and sort of understood why he was complaining about poor attendance. I certainly understood why some fans chose not to come to the ballpark, but I can see why a player would want to avoid playing in front of an empty stadium. When he complained about the booing it seemed a little bit like sour grapes to me, but still wasn’t anything I was upset or really even annoyed about.
Those feelings changed when he had a go at Kenny Lofton. He acted like a petty middle school girl who is mad that her friend said something behind her back. Lofton has been a part of this city for far longer than you Chris Perez, and believe it or not, he’s also entitled to his opinion. It also doesn’t hurt that Lofton helped take this team to the playoffs a whole bunch of times, while the Indians haven’t finished better than second in the time that Perez has been with the team (although obviously, not necessarily his fault). So while I felt that Perez still had a right to voice his opinion, I was now less indifferent and more annoyed about the situation. “Just shut up already,” I found myself thinking.
Then came all of the business with the Royals. My patience was wearing a bit thin, but there was nothing really wrong with his comments. They were colorful, showed that he had some drive and some passion. That’s not always a terrible thing. However, the Indians have always seemed like a team that likes to keep tight control of its public image (as probably all professional sports teams do). I started to wonder if there wouldn’t be some internal griping about the negative attention that Perez seemed to draw.
With this most recent incident, I’ve pretty much lost all pity and respect for Perez. I know it’s probably pretty terrible to be taunted by opposing fans; but it’s something that happens all of the time when you’re a major league player. If you don’t have the self control to just shut your mouth and walk away, then you at least need to come up with a more witty and humorous response. Barking out a bunch of curse words, and yelling “DUUURRRR, I’M AN ALL STAR DUUURRRR” makes you look like a petty moron. Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur was heckled in Oakland and you know what he did? He threw money into the stands and told fans to buy bacon or beer, and then ordered pizzas for the section on a separate occasion. I’m not saying that you have to feed every douchebag that heckles you, but it’s a way to handle the situation with class and wit.
When Perez made his comments at the beginning of the year, the Indians were a first place team. They’re now a fourth place team that is falling fast; they could be below Minnesota before we know it. He’s free to say what he wants, but I think this kind of thing looks even worse for a team circling the drain. They look terrible on the field every day, and now they’re creating controversy off the field as well. Maybe I’m looking at this the wrong way…maybe we should be thanking Perez. A train wreck off the field is more amusing than a train wreck on the field, and at least this might distract everyone from looking at the actual on-field play of the Indians for a few hours.
UPDATE: Chris Perez is sorry, according to this article on TMZ. That’s right folks, we can now get news about Indians players on TMZ. The link above this Perez story involved the Kardashians.