By Jason Keidel
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Oliver Perez, our favorite piñata, is back in the news. As always, he slides in slowly, like one of his hanging curveballs, with his own delusional bent.
“I think why I’m here has always been as a starting pitcher,” Perez said from the Mets’ spring training complex. “I have to focus about the team.”
That would be a first, Ollie.
Perez pitches like he’s on a morphine drip. New Yorkers accept the agony of defeat, not apathy in defeat. Despite the sheen of Madison Avenue and NYC’s reputation for opulence, our town was built on blue-collar grit. And Perez is antithetical to that ethic.
It singes the sensibilities of a sane person to watch Perez loaf around for $36 million while someone you know toils for ten bucks an hour. That contract, perhaps more than anything else, is the face of the Omar Minaya regime. Some folks accused Minaya of signing players because of their language, but it was their logic that got Minaya fired.
It’s hard to imagine that Minaya was so myopic that he employed free agents based on ancestry. He just didn’t get the job done, and signing Perez became the avatar of his failure.
But now Perez, through some miracle (or Tony Robbins mantra) is ready to redeem himself!
The fact that he magically found his mojo in a contract year tells you everything. It’s not a new concept for a player to play harder in the dusk of his old deal, but a pro athlete generally hustles from whistle to gun.
Not Ollie, who showed up fat for a few spring trainings, who refused to return to the minors to work on his mechanics, who, to the disgust of mankind, refused to join the team on a trip to Walter Reed to comfort our wounded heroes.
I wrote a column about that infamous team trip (“Three Blind Mets”), sans three teammates. Carlos Beltran, though wrong to refuse, at least had a conflicting charitable commitment. Luis Castillo? No excuse. His explanation was weak, like his play, like the popup that squirted out of his glove against the Yankees.
But there’s something to Perez that speaks and reeks of indifference. He doesn’t give a damn. Not only didn’t he show up for our troops, he was defiant in his disrespect. “I don’t answer anything about outside the stadium,” was his response when asked about his absence. He really said it.
The Bernie Madoff drama is real and really bad for business. Too many folks claim to know not only the extent of the damage he did, but also that the Wilpons knew all about it. Such speculation is fruitless. But it’s also a pretext to bash a baseball club that has won just one title in forty years. The fan base is ornery enough without Perez’s deranged declarations about his place in the rotation.
Sandy Alderson leads a front office front-loaded with brain cells. Alderson should already know that New Yorkers won’t watch the Mets if Oliver Perez is pitching. Unless he pitches for the opponent, the Citi Field sun should never shine on his behind again.
Feel free to email me: Jakster1@mac.com
Can you stomach the idea of Oliver Perez in the Mets’ rotation? Sound off in the comments below!