Post by Taryn “The Coop” Cooper
Oliver Perez and I have had a volatile relationship.
It all started on his very first start with the Mets. I was already upset for losing Xavier Nady (the Six Degrees of Duaner Sanchez in effect, the Mets have never quite recovered with the Curse of the Lefty Masher), and not to mention my liver was already hating on me for drinking on Jose Lima game days. I mean, if there was a time to buy stock in Anheuser Busch, then was the time.
Anyway, I’ll never forget his first start, as I documented in one of my earliest and most well-received posts at my now-retired blog My Summer Family, “Why I’m High On Oliver Perez.” One could argue now that I would have been high to have supported Oh Pea, as I called him, but back then things were different. I saw in him something worthwhile. I thought he was ballsy. I thought he was nuts, but in a good way (turns out he’s mostly suffering from delusions of grandeur now). And most of all, he was an underdog, someone I could get behind. Like the Mets have always been to me and to most of us who follow them as religiously as we do.
I come not in praise of Ollie nor to bury him. I come to talk about what could have been, and sadly he’ll never live up to that potential since it turns out he is f’ing crazy. Like, certifiably insane. But what was more insane: Ollie’s attitude over the course of two seasons (like refusing AAA assignments and hamstringing the team by making them a 24-man roster instead of 25) or the fact that the Mets outbid themselves and gave him a three-year deal in the first place? I mean, I often wondered why I have Stockholm Syndrome regarding Steve Trachsel. I defended him during his tenure on the Mets, I’ve defended him after the fact (but I stopped defending him WHEN he was on the team after his miserable start in the 2006 NLCS). But with Ollie, it was easy to cut ties. Because I saw that he was in this relationship for himself.
Steve Phillips was given a lot of flak for not going hard or seriously after A-Rod even after giving the 24+1 philosophy as to why the Mets shouldn’t pursue him. While I agree with that (since I dislike A-Rod with an intensity of a million suns), at least you get what you pay for with A-Rod. Oliver Perez, when he says stuff like, “I think I’ve got more in my career,” you just want to smack him upside the head. Really, dude? And you couldn’t find a way to harness what’s worked for you in the past on the Mets? Get lost! And don’t let the door hit ya’!
I have to give the Mets credit though, or most importantly the new brass headed up by Sandy Alderson. Just because they happen to be paying you a lot of money doesn’t absolve you from playing poorly. They were willing to give him a chance but the idea of sunken costs isn’t foreign to them. On that end, I never thought the Mets would cut ties with Oh Pea before the end. I wanted them too, but I didn’t think it would happen.
It’s funny how I didn’t have a Stockholm Syndrome associated with Oh Pea. I guess it just reminds me of how the bloom is off the rose with such a promising team not five years ago. Oliver Perez is emblematic of the Mets’ performance in the last five years. All the overpromising and underachieving that this team has done since then couldn’t prepare them for the crash and inevitable burn they’ve done since 2006. Think about it: Oliver Perez overpromised in 2007 and again in 2008. Then he was his own worst enemy in getting the contract he wanted, when he should have signed an extension that would have in a sense taken the pressure off. In a way, he’s always underachieved as to the talent level that is actually there. He gets his big contract, then what? He falls to “injury” in 2009, then refused to get help in 2010 effectively hamstringing the team. It’s almost like he was Charlie Sheen – just living in this delusion little paradise where everyone else was wrong, and he was the only one who knew what was best for him.
Now his release is emblematic of where the team could go. We’re going to cut dead weight, these last few moves have told me. We’re not going to care about the dollars that are owed, you simply won’t play because you’re being paid. We’ll have guys on our team who want to do right by the team.
It just saddens me that it had to end this badly Oliver. Au revoir, adios, dasvidania, ciao, Ollie. I won’t miss you, but I’ll miss the promise you had once upon a time that made me think you were truly someone special.