God bless Chris Perez… Someone had to do it. Someone had to say what no one else seemed to want to say. As it would turn out, that someone ended up being Perez, who this past weekend unleashed a rant about Cleveland fans, getting booed at home, and the general malaise that seems to surround the 2012 Cleveland Indians.
Here’s what he had to say on Saturday following a 1, 2, 3 inning to earn his 13th save of the season in 14 tries. In order to keep in context, Perez was booed on Thursday after allowing two runner to reach base before getting himself out of the jam unscathed.
“I’m tired of getting booed at home so I figured I’d throw some strikes today. You can quote that. 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.”
“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. It’s even worse when there’s only 5,000 in the stands, because then you can hear it. It [ticks] me off. I got two guys on. Yeah, my release point was all over the place, but really? I’ve got two guys on. They haven’t even scored yet and you’re booing me? You’re saying, ‘Get this bum off the mound.’ Come on. The mock standing applause just adds to it. You see their true colors. It doesn’t bother me; it [ticks] me off. I don’t think they have a reason to boo me. It doesn’t go unnoticed — trust us. I’m not calling out the fans. It’s just how it is. … Nobody wants to play in front of 5,000 fans.”
I have to say that I whole heartedly agree with what Perez is saying. If you’re going to boo a player, boo them when they deserve it, you know… after they’ve gone and effed everything up. Don’t start booing a player in the middle of an inning when they’re trying to get through a tough inning. Sure you can question why he’s in and mumble about how Acta should take the guy out, but when it’s time for the pitch to be thrown, forget about everything else and get behind the guy.
Perez wasn’t done though. The Indians played a game yesterday and it gave Perez an opportunity to clarify his stance when questioned by reporters what he meant by his comments after Saturday’s game. This is what he had to say.
“I don’t have an ulterior motive. I’ve been here since 2009. I was one of the first trade pieces when the team signaled they were going to start rebuilding. So, I’ve been here. 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.”
“I’ve talked to ex-players, guys that we have released in recent years. It’s the consensus pretty much. 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.”
“I think some of it’s the media. Some of it’s the fans. They want a winner. I think some of the ownerships in this city aren’t accountable. There are other reasons. The economy. I’m not stupid, I understand the economy is bad. 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? You think the Tigers are happy? They’re in third place. You might think, ‘Oh, they can turn on that switch.’ It doesn’t work that way. We’re in first place. Enjoy it. We could be in last place. We could be the Royals or the Pirates and haven’t won anything in 20 years. We’re not. Enjoy it. I don’t understand the negativity.”
Perez didn’t hold back… at all. He let it be known his issues with his and the team’s current situation. Honestly, I completely agree with him. I think the negativity would be easier to deal with both from a fan perspective and as player if the stadium was sold out each and every game like a Boston or a New York. Yes, people would micro-analyze everything and fly off the handle, but at least they’d be behind you. In this current environment, that’s not the case.
You see, people would rather bitch and moan about everything from the ownership and their lack of spending to the player’s skill level (or lack their off) and their marketability. Why does any of it matter!?!? Why is everyone so hung up on things that don’t matter!?! Yes, I understand that the constant rebuilds and the trading away of top talent for minimal returns grows old, but this team is in first place! Not frist from the bottom… first from the top. They have done everything you could possibly ask for, but because this team doesn’t resemble the 1995 juggernaut they are discredited. That’s bull crap.
This is your team Cleveland. This current roster of 25 guys, love them or hate them, is your team. Albert Belle and Carlos Baerga aren’t walking through that door anytime soon to come save the day. Jim Thome is a Phillie…again. Omar Vizquel is a Toronto flippin’ Blue Jay for crying out loud. Move on already.
Everyone wants to continue to look at what the Indians have given up yet they fail to realize everything they’ve gained. Look at some of the players on this current roster. Most, if not all of them, were acquired via trades. Again, why the hang up on what was? I just don’t get it, I really don’t.
So yes, while the things Chris Perez said were a bit harsh and probably a little out of line, they needed to be said. Someone within the organization needed to call out the fan base and let them know they aren’t living up to their end of the bargain. That being show up, cheer for the team, and help motivate them. After all, the Indians have done their part, aka field a first place team.
The balls in your court Cleveland. If you disagree with what Chris Perez had to say over the weekend, then show him you’re not at all what he says you are. I don’t mean come to the ball park and boo the hell out of him. What I mean is pack Progressive Field, get loud, and help the Indians beat the Tigers over the next three days. This is one of the biggest series of the season and one in which the Indians can put some serious distance between themselves and the Tigers.
It’s time to stand up Cleveland. It’s time to stand up and get behind this team already. This could be the team we’ve waited decades for. Why waste it?