Thursday, June 28, 2012

Perez at it again, and his timing couldn't be worse

Indians closer Chris Perez has crazy facial hair, "an arm like a f*ckin cannon" and the moxie of ten similarly sized men. What he doesn't have is a filter between his brain and mouth. At times, such glibness can be refreshing, particularly in an era when modern athletes are largely PR-programmed robots with cut-and-paste responses to most media inquiries.

Alas, this is not one of those times.

In an interview with The New York Times on Monday, with the Indians sunk in another valley of what  has been a queasily up-and-down campaign, Perez rehashed his controversial comments from earlier in the season about the Tribe's poor attendance.

"It's head-scratching. It's just — they don't come out." Perez said.  "But around the city, there's great support. They watch it in the bars. They watch it at home. They just don't come." 

The Tribe's fiery, incredibly dark and edgy closer wasn't done there. Perez also questioned Cleveland's farkakte fealty to everyone favorite fractured franchise, the Cleveland Browns:

"That's what I don't understand," Perez said. "Their whole thing is, 'We want a winner.' Well, why do you support the Browns? They don't win. They've never won. They left. You guys blindly support them. I don't understand it. It's a double standard, and I don't know why."

And an interview about Cleveland sports these days would not be complete without someone tsk-tsking fans for rooting against LeBron James in his courageous quest for a title, because that never, ever gets tiresome and I hope to keep hearing from the sports' world's moral arbiters for at least the rest of the calendar year:

"Why cheer against a guy that's not even in your city anymore? Just to see him fail? Does that make you feel good? I could see if the Cavs were in the championship, but that's their mentality."

Someone, either Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, or an anonymous 16-century Chinese philosopher, once stated that it's "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."

Not saying "Pure Rage" is stupid, but the timing regarding his latest comments on Cleveland fans smacks of a fellow who shoots his yap first and asks questions later. The Indians barely looked competitive this week against the Yankees - maybe Perez got bored cracking sunflower seeds or measuring dicks or whatever it is relief guys do in the bullpen when they're not pitching, and felt the need to drum up some excitement during the boring middle of the regular season.

Whatever the reason, Perez's comments were not needed, not right now. The Indians are playing some of their worst baseball of the season, and this guy is once again pointing fingers at Clevelanders for not believing in Wahoo Clause?

Sure, the Tribe is technically in the thick of the AL Central race, but their off-season of inactivity is very much coming home to roost today. They're failing in all facets of the game from day to day, but last year's most glaring need, the offense, was not addressed by Tribe brass, and that transparent lack of ambition and/or  disposable income has turned many casual fans from the game. The league's unbalanced financial playing field is a "baseball problem," but when it comes to free agents, management is not willing to take any risks after getting burned by Jake Westbrook, Travis Hafner, Kerry Wood, et. al.

Put simply, the Indians needed to address a deficiency every Joe Six-Pack parked in front of the tube could recognize. Instead, the front office did nothing but waste money on a gimpy outfielder with the career life expectancy of a mayfly, and are now paying the price both on the field and in the stands.

Winning, real winning, not this hovering around .500 fake-o winning, would solve some of those attendance problems real quick. Maybe not 455 straight sellouts-type sexiness, but a nice 10-game win streak would gain the attention of a city sick of hearing about That Guy in Miami (TGiM) and what awful people we all are.

Hell, some of what Perez said has validity.  The local loyalty to the Browns is an ongoing mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes. And yes, we do "want a winner," Chris. The Tribe still has to prove it can fit that mold. Until then, Perez needs to keep doing what he does best, and STFU otherwise.