The Wife was up for the Fourth of July weekend.  We watched dribs and drabs of the Phillies series, in between trips out to the harbor by Shore Road, and to the movies (Public Enemies is a sound purchase to make with your cinema dollars; I had problems with it, but in all, a sound purchase), and to the barbecue grill.

It’s not the sweep which bothered me this weekend.  The Mets loked listless versus the Pirates on a make-up day; I’m not interested in writing another post about how these guys should suck it up and catch pop-ups, nor am I interested in writing another post on “leadership.”  They could’ve shown some offense but didn’t.  They could’ve been seven games out by now but aren’t. 

The Mets don’t see the Phillies again until August 21st.  Moving on.

The red caps bothered me, but not to the extent that I wished temporary and sudden illness on myself.  If this is to be A Thing, I wish the Mets luck next year in playing a team on Memorial or Independence Day that doesn’t regularly wear red.  Washington in May; Philadelphia in July.  And on this note: I saw no recognition of Flag Day.  Then again, there was enough figurative blood spilled at Yankee Stadium on Flag Day.  I’m sure if Johan could trade those nine earned runs for a novelty lid, he would.

(By the way, anyone notice the Jays had red caps, but with Canadian flags as the logo fill?  Way to celebrate Canda Day, fellas; I feel compelled to point out that it fell on Wednesday, but… meh.)

No, what bothered me, to the point that I’ve now come to dread this coming Wednesday, is the news that Oliver Perez will be making his first start off the disabled list that night.  I have a ticket to this game against the L.A. Dodgers.

No.  Please, no.

I’ve taken to licking subway seats.  I’ve threatened men thrice my size with death for walking within ninety feet of me.  I thought about dropping my bowling ball (an orange-and-blue thing I call Little Stevie) on my bare foot.  Then picking it up, and dropping it on my other bare foot.

Because I will go to the game.  I won’t NOT go to the game.  Because I have a ticket, and because I paid money, and because it’s the Mets, I will go to the game.  But knowing I’m going to watch Oliver Perez pitch is really making me reconsider the vaccinations I received as a child.

I am not being hyperbolic.  I am not.  I am not.  I am not.

Buy into whatever hype you must to watch an Oliver Perez start: he wins the big games.  When he’s on, he’s electric.  He’s a lefty and really more fun to watch than John Maine (that nugget comes from a “non-partisan baseball fan” friend, and to this day I don’t get, or care to get, the comparison).  I will not be drinking whatever Kool-Aid you want me to be smoking.  The train has sailed.  Semper crap: Lord save me from Oliver Perez.

Why so vitriolic?  Because I can hold a grudge.

Friday, September 28, 2007.  A friend (Oby) working as an operations manager for a plumbing company calls me and tells me he has three free tickets in Loge, six rows off the pace, behind home plate, for that night’s game against the Florida Marlins.  I took them all, because I’m a Mets fan and I don’t turn down tickets and I have friends who are Mets fans and less fortunate than I.  The call was made at 3 PM; by 5 PM, the other tickets were spoken for and we were all set.  My boss let me leave early, saying, “Go ahead; it’s all hands on deck out there tonight.  Good luck; let’s go Mets!”  He’s been a Yankees fan since the ’50s, but another example of a Yankees fan that doesn’t wish death and destruction on the team in the Senior Circuit.

I head out with Oby, my sister, and a colleague from work.  My colleague was born in Vancouver; this would be his first baseball game.  Shea could’ve levitated with the collective energy of the fans that night.

And then this happened.

I was an Ollie supporter when the game started.  I was an Ollie supporter after the first inning.  He rewarded my support with a 1-2-3 second inning.

Then the third inning.

A single to Byung-Hyun Kim (the pitcher).  A Hanley Ramirez double.  Hits Dan Uggla with a pitch to load the bases.  Gets the force-out on Jeremy Hermida; Kim is out at the plate.  One out, bases still loaded.  Miguel Cabrera strikes out.  Two out; bases still loaded.

He hits Cody Ross with a pitch.  A run scores.  He hits Mike Jacobs with a pitch.  A run scores.  Matt Treanor, by the grace of Hickox, is called out on strikes.  4-1, Marlins.

Oliver Perez jogs off the mound, and hops over the first base line to the dugout.

Carlos Beltran got the Mets back into fighting shape with a two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning.  Marlins 4, Mets 3.

Then the fourth inning.  Two out and no one on in the top of the fourth inning, to be precise.

Hanley Ramirez singles; Dan Uggla singles but the throw moves them to second and third.  He walks Jeremy Hermida.  Miguel Cabrera then hits an RBI single that plates two.  That ends Ollie’s night; he hops over the foul line on his way back to the dugout.

Six earned runs.  Three HBPs.  Two walks.  A home run.  Garbage.

I’ve since seen Oliver Perez pitch a 3-1 gem against the Yankees.  I’ve also seen him pitch horribly for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, and seen him get rocked by the Red Sox in the second exhibition game at Citi Field.  I’ve also read about his less-than-stellar performance against the CHARLOTTE STONE CRABS (caps intended).  But I was done with Oliver Perez on September 28, 2007. 

I screamed bloody murder when he won his arbitration case.  The remains of a shredded pillow–rended when he got his three-year deal–have long been carted away.  Yes, all for September 28, 2007, though he’s committed quite a few baseball-centric atrocities since.

That was a big game; he is not a big game pitcher.  There is no Good Ollie or Bad Ollie; there’s just Ollie, a broken clock that’s right twice a day but wrong the other 86,398 times.

I don’t hate Oliver Perez; I have a deep-seated, intense, burning dislike for Oliver Perez as a baseball player.

I used to work at a public school, and one of the many things I learned as an administrator is how to spot b.s. artists.  They have some talent and always a klatch of people pulling for him.  But when faced with difficulty, they’ll let the occasion slide away rather than rise to it.  Their core is consumed not with the desire to be excellent, but the desire to survive a situation they can’t believe they’ve found themselves in.  I struggle with this myself, honestly.

I’ve struck this pose, and this pose, and this pose.  (While I’ve also struck this pose, I’ve never done it wearing such a snazzy jacket.  Kudos, Johan.  Kudos.)

So don’t b.s. a  That man goes out onto the mound with the pitching minder’s equivalent of the Marine Corps Band whispering in his ear, a crowd of people who’ve seen him squander goodwill through lack of focus and conditioning, and a team that NEEDS him to be a competent mid-level starter.  And he wants out.  I can tell he wants out.  Every painfull
y incompetent dissembling post-game interview tells me he wants out.

When he wins, he doesn’t want out.  Of course not.  Winning feels good.

But there is a disconnect between the desire to win and the desire to generate the consistent ability to win.  And boy, do I wish I just happened to be projecting, and this was all in my head.  But no.  I know from b.s. artists.  I don’t like to pay money to see b.s. artists.

However, I have.  Therefore, I will.  I will not be doing what I usually do when I go to games.  I’m not writing the season off and I’m not hoping for a loss, but I’m going under fan protest.  Given the abject horror that was September 28, 2007, and the maddening inability to play to potential since, my conscience should allow me to skip this one. 

I wish the Mets employed priests and set them up in confessionals on the Queensboro Plaza 7 train platform.  “Bless me, Father, for I shall sin by walking downstairs and heading back home.  I simply can’t go to a game and drink enough beer to forget who’s on the mound.”

If someone can send this to Oliver Perez and point me in the direction of the man if he’s angry enough to take me out, please do so.  I really don’t want to go to this game, and will take a punch to avoid it.  But with my luck, the one time he’ll MEAN to hit someone, he’ll miss.