Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bringing Neifti Perez to Justice

First posted at Big Dave on sports

Its time we stop disputing if rules were broken and become united in recognizing a cheater for what he is and erase any mention of him from baseball’s archives. Anyone who so blithely ignores the rules of sportsmanship has no place among the game’s greatest players, should be recognized for any achievement, or receive a single Hall of Fame vote.
It is time we wipe Neifi Perez from the record books forever.
This three-time drug test failure, who has used the advantage of illegal substances to lift his career numbers to the heights of Mariano Duncan and Tito Fuentes, needs to face the wrath of an unforgiving nation, and see all his ill-gotten gains besmirched from this great game.
In 1992 Perez was signed by the Colorado Rockies while playing in the Dominican Republic. I decree that Mr. Perez reimburse his signing bonus, which I believe was the cost of a plane ticket, and pay the scout who signed him all medical bills he accrued from drinking the water at the field where he first saw Perez play,
By 1998 Perez had cheated his way to the majors, ending the career of Walt Weiss in Colorado. Weiss, who was on a Hall of Fame path with the Rockies, averaging six homeruns and 30 runs batted in a season, was regulated to the deep woods of baseball, late 90’s Atlanta, ending up withering as the starting shortstop for two years for a team that won over a hundred games, was the starting shortstop for the 1999 All Star team and played in a World Series, while Perez thrived in Colorado leading the league in at bats while hitting a scintillating .280.
1999 was also the year that Perez tantalized the world with his assault on Mark McGwire’s newly minted homerun record. It was July 3, 1999 when people began to take Perez’s run seriously as he went yard twice at Coors Field against the Padres, taking both Woody Williams and Matt Clement deep, giving him seven by the all-star break.
Perez’s assault on McGwire’s record was the talk of Denver for the rest of the season. By the time he hit his 11th against Jason Schmidt at the start of September people were convinced that his hitting 59 homeruns in 27 games was as good as done. It wasn’t until the last week of the season when someone calculated that it would not be possible for him to hit 58 homeruns in ten days did the dream die. But still there was that one magical summer that led Mike Lupica to write his best summer: “Me, Neifti, and My Son Who No Longer Speaks to Me.”
Then came the terrible events of 7-25-01 when the former Kansas City Royals General Manager Allan Baird traded a washed up, slumping slugger, Jermaine Dye, to the Rockies for Perez. It had only been two years earlier when Perez became the 112,614 player to join the 10-10 club hitting 12 homeruns and stealing 16 bases, and, remarkably, he was on the pace to do it again. But Perez, unable to adjust to not playing in the thin mountain air, and perhaps not being able to find a supplier, slumped to hitting .241 with only one homerun. Dye was immediately traded to the A’s where, between there and the White Sox he played in four consecutive postseasons culminating with the World Series MVP in 2005. Baird would lose his job four years later. Maybe Baird, influenced by Perez’s amphetamine inflated numbers into making a disasterours trade, is due the money he would have been paid the past two years if the Perez trade led to his firing. The tentacles of amphetamine abuse in sports even reaches the front office.
Perez continued to struggle in Kansas City and was released in November of 2005, and then on New Year’s Eve Perez got a holiday gift he could never have dreamed of, he was picked up as a free agent by Balco Across the Bay, the San Francisco Giants.
Being near Balco paid almost immediate dividends for Perez who homered September 13, 2003, off of Glendon Rusch for his only homer of the season. Of course adding power subtracts speed and Perez only stole three bases that season, but the Giants gladly traded speed for the 31 clutch runs he knocked in.
In August 2004 the Giants decided to go in another direction, talent, and Perez was again cut adrift. He managed to wash up on the shore of last refuge in the majors, the Cubs.
Maybe Balco gave him a going away gift because Perez managed to hit .372 in 23 games for the Cubs earning him another season.
He pushed Ramon Martinez out the door to become the Cubs full time shortstop in 2005. He fell just short of the covered 10-10 club that year falling one homerun and two stolen bases short. He was also proudly a member of one of the most disappointing teams of the 21st century.
His number slumped in 2006 as he struggled to reach the two homerun one stolen base club, but his fortunes turned when he slipped past dozens of GM’s asleep at the switch and was able to go to the American League Central Division leading Tigers on August 20. He promptly led them to a wild card berth.
He made it into a playoff game and two World Series games going hitless.
Then in 2007 this cheater was finally brought to justice. On July 25 he failed his second test for amphetamines, earning him a 25-day suspension, and August 4 he was suspended for 80 games, apparently needing amphetamines to do the gardening and mow the lawn.
So Perez is at the end of his brilliant career. He may have fallen 36 homeruns short of the 100-homerun clubs, which would make him a virtual lock for the Hall of Fame, if this were 1914. An obviously stunned Tiger team then went on a run overtaking the Indians for first place in the American League central.
So Neifti has finally met justice and the world of baseball is safe again. Maybe we can never make it up to those who suffered from his drug use, the scout who signed him, Walt Weiss, Allan Baird, Ramon Martinez, the Cleveland Indians who felt the brunt of the Tigers’ post Neifti surge, but at least the game is clean again.
And we can concentrate on the achievements of our clean athletes like Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield.
Our national nightmare is over. The mighty Neifti has been struck out.

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