The Twitter account for closer Chris Perez was no longer active Monday night. Perez, one of the more accessible and open Cleveland Indians players, apparently had enough ugliness.
Perez was vilified on Twitter immediately after giving up a solo home run in the ninth inning Monday in an eventual 10-8, extra-inning win. Perez had blown a save on Saturday after giving up two solo home runs in the ninth. The Indians won both games.
Evidently that didn’t matter to the Twitter boors, who let Perez have it in no uncertain terms. He was vilified in profane and ugly ways even though Vinnie Pestano and Joe Smith both gave up home runs, as well.
Clearly, the loudest tweeters do not represent all Indians fans. There were some statements of support, and Perez generally has been treated well at games.
But the absurdity of the way Perez was treated on Twitter defies a lot of conventions, starting with the presumption that people should be treated civilly.
Clearly there is some impression on Twitter that because it’s not face to face, and sometimes anonymous, anything goes and the nastiest statements can’t hurt.
Any public figure takes a risk with a Twitter account. It brings good, and it brings bad.
In Perez’s case it’s a shame that he has withdrawn. It just doesn’t seem like it should get to this point. Among the reasons it wasn’t warranted:
Performance: Perez has pitched 16 innings this season and given up four runs. That’s an ERA of 2.25. When he gave up two solo home runs on Saturday, it ended a streak of 12 appearances in a row without a run. He blew that save Saturday, his second of season. He has saved six games. The previous two seasons he saved 39 and 36 games. He’s a two-time All Star, and the past two seasons he ranked fourth in the American League in saves. And people get on him for giving up a home run on Monday, in a game the Indians won?
Accessibility: There is no more stand-up guy in Cleveland sports than Perez. Win, lose, blown save, save . . . he always answers questions and faces the media. When he blew a save a year ago in the season opener, he was there to answer questions. When he saved the next 24 in a row, he was there to answer questions.
Candor: Indians fans didn’t like it when Perez called them out for not supporting the team a year ago, and evidently some still don’t like it. But what Perez said was honest, and it came after he had been booed for allowing baserunners who didn’t even score. Frustration? Probably, but the next morning he was there in the dugout to make sure people understood his point. What were his points? The Indians were winning and not drawing. Check. He didn’t understand why the Browns drew with their awful performances. Check. He didn’t understand why folks didn’t just enjoy the fact the Indians were winning. Check. After he said it, he closed three games in a row against the Tigers, all Indians wins.
Teammate: Poll Perez’s teammates, and they’ll all say they like him. More important, they appreciate him. Perez is one of the league’s best closers. He had a problem Monday, and manager Terry Francona summed it up aptly.
“That’s the nature of the game,” Francona said. “When you’re in that role, you give up a home run, it’s glaring. That’s part of pitching at the end of games. The good part is he feels good and he’s done it before. He’ll be a big part of what we do.”
In one sense, Perez being off Twitter isn’t horrible. It takes away some negatives, removes a potential source of annoyance.
But the shame of it is that the many fans who enjoyed Perez on Twitter now won’t be able to interact. They lose something. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s something.
The Indians are in first place and have won 18 of 22.
Yet when it comes to Perez and Twitter, the loudest and ugliest seem to have won.