Many at this site have been some of the biggest supporters of Chris Perez. Until today I would have considered myself among them. As always, I only speak for myself and not everyone at this site, but today – assuming the reports are true – I can’t support Chris Perez. In his Indians Insider column from the 27th, Paul Hoynes wrote that Perez told a team official that he “would talk to reporters, but only if two reporters were excluded from the interview.” Opinion is a fluid thing in this life, and considering what has happened with the Indians, Indians fans, and Chris Perez over the last two years, he’s way out of line this time. More importantly, it’s time for the Indians to step up and do something about it.
Chris Perez had the luxury of mostly being right in the past. He was out there getting guys out, piling up saves for a team that was in first place and had lackluster fan support. He didn’t want to sit idly by and not speak his mind about it and I prefer my athletes say something interesting rather than nothing at all. In a world of “one day at a time” quotes, Chris Perez was doing good work. When he was “caught” on YouTube cursing out some fans in Oakland, I supported him then too. He didn’t know he was being recorded and those two guys dared him to talk, which he did. Some thought Perez came off looking like a punk, but I felt like those two Oakland fans deserved the tongue lashing. Yes, Perez kind of put his foot in his mouth with regard to the Carlos Beltran free agency, but other than that I felt good having Perez’ back.
I can’t say that I feel good about that today, assuming what Hoynes said was true. The speculation is that Perez was referring to Hoynes and ABJ writer Shelden Ocker as the two that he didn’t want to be included in his talk with reporters. That’s where my support ends. Chris Perez can say what he wants and largely have my support. He can not say anything and largely have my support. When he starts acting like a spoiled child with unrealistic control issues, I start to have a problem.
Athletes have lots of control over their careers. The way I see it, Chris Perez has three choices in this specific scenario.
He is welcome to not talk at all
He can say what he wants to the reporter pool as credentialed by the team he pitches for
He can pick one guy and just talk to that reporter
The rest is a childish attempt to try and ostracize two reporters because he has some kind of vendetta for the way they covered a story. Presumably it’s a vendetta for the way they covered a story about an embarrassing situation that Perez and his wife found themselves in – almost absolutely of their own doing, by the way. It’s the height of immaturity and makes him look incredibly small.
Chris Perez does not get to control the pool of reporters that cover the Cleveland Indians. He doesn’t get to kick out guys like Shelden Ocker and Paul Hoynes who have been covering the Indians for nearly 30 years each. Those guys are hired by their papers and granted access to cover the team by the Cleveland Indians. They have a responsibility to their employers and the readers of their work. They have a responsibility to the team to be professionals and if the team has a good relationship with them and grants them access, then they have the right to cover the team just like everyone else. At this point I’m unaware what Chris Perez is so upset about with regard to their coverage of him, but if it’s so outlandish and out of line, I would expect the team to address it with the two reporters, as they credential the media.
It’s time that Chris Perez is put in his place. He’s a good pitcher and Indians fans are lucky to have him in the bullpen, but he’s seemingly got no perspective in something that Scott Raab and I have been talking about for the last month. He’s a short timer. Every player – to some extent – is a short timer. These teams, these fans, and yes, even these beat reporters, have been here longer than Chris Perez has been in existence. Hoynes and Ocker will most likely be here covering the team after he’s gone too. To act this way shows a lack of respect to the institutions that are in place that make him such a wealthy guy.
I really don’t want to play that card where fans say “we pay your salary” because to say it like that in an ad hominem way is reductive and childish. But it is reductive only because when you really put it all out there and explain it fully, it is the truth. Chris Perez is part of a world that exists around him and largely what used to be a breath of fresh air and honesty has now molded and decayed into a sense of unrealistic entitlement. Perez needs to be made aware of it. I’d expect the Indians organization to do that and fast.