Chris Perez Takes On the Fans–Take Three
By Christian Petrila
Chris Perez made headlines with something he said.
This time, it was a viral hit on YouTube filmed by an A’s fan. The video depicted another fan inOaklandheckling the Indians closer to the point where Perez interrupted his fly-ball shagging to go and give the heckler a piece of his mind.
In an expletive-laced tirade, Perez let the fan know exactly what was on his mind. Among the “topics” covered, Perez pointed out that he had more saves than the entire Oakland squad, as well as the fact that he just came off his second consecutive All Star selection when the fan insisted on telling him that he (stinks).
I don’t have to remind you, dear readers, that I have not once disagreed with anything Perez has said or done. Spoiler alert: This case is no different.
Perez said before the team’s game Monday against Seattle that the same fan had been heckling for four years. After years of the verbal abuse, he finally cracked.
He immediately came under fire for “not acting like a professional.” Shouldn’t that be a razor that cuts both ways? It’s the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. If the fan is going to yell profanities at Perez and his teammates, he should have no problem with someone returning the favor. Instead, he tried to pin the entire blame on Perez when the usher came by to check the situation. He was saying things like, “Are you hearing what he’s saying to me?” and “He’s the one swearing. Not me.” Buddy, I’m not sure if you realize, but your friend with the camera was recording long enough to catch you yelling equally profane things at Perez.
This “acting like a professional” stuff drives me crazy. Professional baseball players play baseball. Professional kindergarten teachers preach manners and common courtesy. How can anyone say Perez didn’t act like a professional? Where in his contract does it say he can’t interact with fans, regardless of manner? He’s not prohibited from being vocal with a fan. It’s not like he sucker punched the fan. It’s not even like he verbally threatened the fan. He just spoke out and dropped a few F-bombs in the process.
It was a no-win situation for Perez. If he stands by idly and does nothing, he gets scrutinized for not defending his players. If he responds, he gets vilified for not acting like a professional. Frankly, I would’ve rather had Perez go on a verbal rampage like he did. It shows that even though the Indians have had the rug pulled out from under them and morale is low in the clubhouse, someone still has the fire to defend that “Cleveland” across his chest.
Why can’t players defend themselves? Just because a fan paid money for a ticket means he or she is immune to any and all consequences? By no means am I saying heckling should be taken out of the game. Miami Marlins outfielder Bryan Petersen once tweeted, “Good hecklers are funny. Bad hecklers are annoying.” I’m sure Perez would’ve gotten a kick out of this guy had he been one of those “good hecklers.” Instead, he was what I like to call “persistently obnoxious.” Not only that, but we don’t know what else this guy has yelled at Perez before. How do we know he didn’t threaten Perez at one point? How do we know he didn’t insult his family? Maybe it’s just me, but if someone started yelling those types of things at me, profane language would be the least of the heckler’s worries. Someone would have to restrain me from running into the stands a la Ron Artest in 2004. I’m sure Perez wouldn’t have said anything had it not been such a long-standing issue.
What nauseates me the most about this incident is how planned it was. I’m willing to bet any amount of money that the guy with the camera has tried to catch a player melt down before, because I’m sure the guy heckles other players. Finally, the camera man got lucky and happened to catch Perez in the act. If you go to a baseball game with the intention of catching a player doing something wrong, then I highly suggest you reconsider your fanhood and your life. Go to a game to enjoy America’s pastime, not to aggravate the opponents. Otherwise, you’re no better than those tabloids at a grocery store’s checkout line that I’m positive you like to ridicule. (Figuratively speaking, of course).
So I’ll ask all the questions again. Why is Chris Perez getting blamed for standing up for himself and his team? Why is he getting chastised for using the same type of language as his heckler? Why is it wrong that he got fed up after four years of merciless heckling? How did he act unprofessionally when his profession is a ballplayer?
So for the third time this year, I’m siding with Chris Perez. Disagree with me all you want. That’s what the comment section is for. I just have trouble finding Perez at fault for anything in this whole mess.