Indians have to suspend Chris Perez
The Indians must suspend Chris Perez.
He earned it.
He earned it by representing the Indians — the team, the organization and its fans — in a classless, boorish way with that “discussion” with the fan in Oakland. (For those that missed the news, Perez was caught on camera over the weekend in Oakland engaging in a pregame argument with an A's fan, directing a series of expletives toward the fan before asking that the fan be removed and walking away.)
Perez needs to hear the team's message, loud and clear.
What he did was vile and crude.
The Indians should never want a player representing them on the field, in uniform, the way Perez did.
Suspend him, even if it's just for a couple games.
This does not exonerate the fan, who clearly wanted to annoy and harass Perez into just what happened. Fans taunt endlessly these days, and they get away with it. The fan may have been relentlessly obnoxious prior to the video. He's may be at home today, celebrating his little “victory.” Let him live in his small world; Perez can stay out of it.
Problem is Perez gave this oaf what he wanted: Attention.
Let's also not pretend it's the first time something like this happened. Fans taunt players into this kind of thing way too often, as if the price of a ticket gives someone license to be a loudmouth bully.
What the fan did matters, but it doesn't excuse.
The Oakland A's organization can handle that guy, and if he crossed any lines the team should handle it.
The Indians can handle Perez.
The fan does not play for the Indians, does not represent the team and its fans. Perez does, and he let them all down. He may have had his reasons for his angry response, and the reasons may be convincing, but his behavior was wrong.
Perez has to walk away. He didn't. It was caught on film, and it's embarrassing to the Indians.
Suspend him simply for not acting the way a professional should act.
That's the first issue.
The second is the way Perez addressed the fan, which should cause the Indians some concern about his long-term future with the team.
That is because he made the most me-oriented statements imaginable.
In response to being heckled, Perez asked: “What's my salary?”
He pointed out he was an All-Star.
He said he had more saves than the entire Oakland A's team.
Wonderful. In response to a fan, Perez talks about how great he is. This is logical? It almost seems like one of those moments when a person is cornered and then reveals what they are about.
Perez in the past has come across as a team guy, a guy who criticized the Indians fans for not buying tickets because he cared about the team.
He seemed, briefly, to galvanize the team.
Now the team is losing and he pulls out the “what's my salary” card? As if the holy dollar is what matters, as if the fact he makes more money than the fan makes him better.
Maybe it does matter, to him.
This is a really shocking response. If that's what it's about to Perez, maybe the Indians need to discuss his future with them. Maybe he revealed himself for what he truly is.
Perez has been such a cooperative, stand-up guy that you want to not believe it, but it sure comes across that way in this situation.
It might be a good idea for the Indians to remind Perez of the only man whose jersey number has been retired by Major League Baseball: Jackie Robinson.
As the first African-American in baseball, Robinson put up with more and heard more than Perez will ever dream of.
He handled it with grace and silence. The same is no doubt true of former Indian Larry Doby, the first African-American in the American League.
Their silence was infinitely louder than the garbage that came out of Perez's mouth.
Perez embarrassed Robinson's memory, all of baseball, the Indians, its fans and the city.
He needs to hear a message, and the team needs to send it.