Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chris Perez Fumes after "The Walkoff Bunt"


"It was a bad baseball play that happened to work out. I don't want to say it was bush league. But you never see that. Ninety-nine percent of hitters in that situation would rather win the game with a hit, not a bunt.  "It was a stupid play that just happened to work."

The 2010 season was still in its infancy and the Indians were on the West Coast playing Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Indians had left Cleveland with a 6-6 record and had played a three game series in Minnesota and Oakland,  and had one last game to play in Anaheim.  The Tribe was 3-5 on the road trip and was playing a getaway game against the Angels prior to the long flight home followed by a nice day off back in Cleveland..  

The game (recap video) did have its moments, including Angels manager Mike Soscia being ejected for arguing whether Hideki Matsui swung on a pitch that hit him and a video review of a double by Lou Marson, which was upheld.  The Indians took a 3-0 lead into the sixth inning where Angels CF Torri Hunter would hit a long 3-run home run off Indian starter Jake Westbrook to tie the game.  The real memorable part of the game occurred in the 9th inning when the Angels would mount a rally. 

Joe Smith would come in to pitch for the Indians and Torri Hunter would greet him with a leadoff double.  Indians Manager Manny Acta would have Smith intentionally walk Hideki Matsui and then replaced Joe Smith with lefty Rafael Perez to face Kendry Morales.  Rafael Perez did his job and got Kendry Morales to ground into the double play.  With Torri Hunter standing at third, Acta decided to issue the intentional walk to Juan Rivera and bring in Chris Perez to face Howie Kendrick.  When Kendrick stepped to the plate he noticed that both first baseman Russell Branyan and 2b Luis Valbuena were playing deep.  Kendrick just had to push the ball past Chris Perez and the winning run would score, which is exactly what Kendrick did.  After the game Perez uttered the quote that would touch off a firestorm of negative attention toward the Indians righthander....the most inflammatory comment was:

"It was a bad baseball play that happened to work out. I don't want to say it was bush league. But you never see that. Ninety-nine percent of hitters in that situation would rather win the game with a hit, not a bunt.  "It was a stupid play that just happened to work."

In response to Perez comments, Angels outfield Prospect Chris Pettit issued the following tweet which was quickly taken down:

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Some articles were written that debated whether the play was a breach of baseball etiquette.

The game recap in the eyes of HalosHeaven, whose headline captures the feeling of many after the game,  is included here: (recap)

Even a plane ride home and a full off-day spent reading or hearing himself being described as a whiner or a crybaby wouldn't deter Perez from his stance.  Perez quotes from the Plain Dealer on April 30, 2010:

What's everybody so mad about?" Perez said in the Tribe clubhouse Friday afternoon. "Are they saying he should have bunted there?

"I don't see how what I said was whining or sour grapes. One of their reporters asked, 'Is that a good baseball play?' I said, 'No, it's not a good baseball play.' If it was a good baseball play, more people would do it, right? How often do you see that, honestly? You just don't see a walk-off bunt."

More than a few critics thought Perez disrespected Kendrick. Perez said nothing could be further from the truth.

"Kendrick's a good hitter, and I give him all the credit," Perez said. "He did an excellent job of executing. The bunt was perfectly placed, and it needed to come on the first pitch to keep that element of surprise. He pulled a fast one on us and won the game.

"At the same time, that doesn't mean the play was right. What if he had popped up the pitch to me? Then he has to face his team and say, 'I bunted instead of trying to get a hit.' It worked out, though, so he looks great."


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Later in the 2010 season Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones would lay down a walk-off bunt in the 11th inning of a game against the Mariners.  The video link and the game recap by CamdendChat are included below:

BALTIMORE WINS ON WALK OFF BUNT (VIDEO)

BALTIMORE BUNT RECAP - CAMDEN CHAT

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