It ain’t easy being a Cleveland sports fan. And the perpetual frustration in the stands appears to be spilling onto the field.
“Different owners,” the outspoken pitcher said via MLB.com when asked about why the Tigers are winning and Cleveland is not. “It comes down to that. They [the Tigers] are spending money. He [Tigers owner Mike Ilitch] wants to win. Even when the economy [in Detroit] is down, he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it.”
Perez took aim at general manager Chris Antonetti, too.
“It’s not just ownership. They don’t make trades. It’s the GMs. It goes hand in hand,” Perez said. “Josh Willingham would look great in this lineup. They didn’t want to [pony] up for that last year. That’s the decision they made, and this is the bed we’re laying in.”
Perez has a point. According to USA Today, the Tigers are fifth in the majors in payroll ($132.3 million) while the Indians rank 21st ($78.4 million). Cleveland has ranked 15th or lower in payroll every year since 2002, when their $78.9 million payroll was ninth in the majors.
Currently sitting in fourth place in the American League Central, the Indians went 5-24 in August and are closing in on their fourth consecutive losing season. They last made the postseason in 2007 when they fell to Boston in a seven-game ALCS.
Antonetti told reporters, again via MLB.com, that the Indians “strongly disagree with Chris’ comments.” But he admitted that the team is “not satisfied with our recent results and our entire organization remains committed to fielding winning teams and that is the standard by which we will continue to operate.”
One of Cleveland two 2012 all-star selections, Perez has criticized the fan bases for the Indians — for lack of attendance — and the Browns. He was fined $750 in April for a “reckless” post on his Twitter account following a bench-clearing incident during a game against the Royals. The 27-year-old is tied with Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan for the fifth-most saves in the majors with 34.
“What really concerns me is that in the ninth inning, when he needs to save the game, he comes in and gets it,” Indians manager Manny Acta said when asked about his closer’s comments. “The rest of the stuff, we handle it internally.”
None of Cleveland’s major professional sports franchises has won a title since the Browns stunned the Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship game. So it’s understandable that both fans and players feel the need to let off some steam from time to time. Maybe this is Perez trying to land a “get out of town” card.