A long, losing season needs its subplots and surprises to keep things entertaining. And if you’ve been following the 2010 Cleveland Indians on Twitter this year, you’ve probably found entertainment in the recent creation of closer Chris Perez’s Twitter alter ego, @PureRage_Perez.
The real Chris Perez is on Twitter at @ChrisPerez54. But as of this writing, the real Perez has 54 less followers than the fake one.
Thanks to the cooperation of both Chris and Pure Rage, I was able to gain unprecedented access into the minds and lives of both men, and it is my pleasure to share the results with you here. Below are 13 questions I posed to each Perez, followed by their respective answers.
Your job, as reader, is to distinguish which answer, A or B, came from the real Chris Perez. I’ll post the answers in the comments section below. An early hint: Pure Rage is addicted to grape Gatorade, while the real Chris Perez prefers red.
1. This whole thing started because Chris Gimenez said you showed “pure rage” in a save you converted against the Yankees a few weeks back. Are there other situations in life in which you show pure rage?
A. Not really. I’m pretty easy-going. Not happy-go-lucky, but I roll with the punches. Except when it comes to baseball, when I get on the field. I don’t get mad in traffic or mad at my dogs when they chew up stuff. But on the field, I take it personally. Pitching is one of the most selfish aspects of baseball. It’s up to you. If you give up that big hit, that’s on you, because you made the pitch. It sucks. You feel like the whole world is watching you. So I take it personally.
B. A better question would be are there other situations in life in which I refrain from showing Pure Rage? And the answer is no. As a side note, going forward I would like Pure Rage to always be capitalized.
2. What do you do to get fired up before an appearance?
A. Nothing gets me fired up. I’m pretty calm before I pitch. But I take my warmup throws, and my last one I try to throw as hard as I can. I grunt as the catcher’s throwing it back. That kind of gets me in the zone.
B. Do you remember in the movie Pearl Harbor, when the bomber dudes had pictures of the boats they were to destroy? I do something similar with pictures of the opposing players. Except I pay a cartoonist to draw little discussion bubbles coming out of their mouths saying mean things about me.
3. Any rituals that get you ready for a game and an appearance?
A. I really don’t have a ritual. I don’t have a stretching ritual like Mariano. I sit down in the bullpen, watch the games, watch the hitters. I’m in the bullpen the whole game. I never understood closers who stay in the clubhouse until the late innings. I like to get a feel for the game and what the umpires are calling and what the hitters are doing, rather than having the bullpen coach or bullpen catcher telling me. If it’s a close game after the sixth, I cut out talking to anybody and just focus.
B. As has been well documented, I fuel up on mass amounts of Grape Gatorade. I occasionally get into Slim Jims if it’s really needed. Usually this is done in complete darkness while listening to either Pantera or Elton John. I also do my best to dominate every single game we play out in the bullpen, especially Monopoly. (I use the thimble as my marker by the way.) I have yet to lose any game we’ve played, except when Raffy Perez brought Ouija. I don’t mess with that witchcraft crap.
4. Is there anything that opposing players do while you’re on the mound that makes you angry?
A. If a hitter does a fake bunt kind of a thing, trying to get a first-pitch ball, that makes me mad. And sometimes a guy… well, one guy, in particular, [Nick] Swisher takes forever to get into the box. He has his whole routine down pat. It doesn’t matter if he’s coming up with the bases loaded or leading off the inning. He just takes his time. That kind of gets me mad.
B. No, not really. Well, I guess I get a little riled up when they take practice swings, adjust their helmet, adjust their batting gloves, look at the third base coach for signs, blink, breath, stretch, rub dirt on their hands, ask the umpire a question, talk to my catcher, try to bunt, swing away, take a pitch, hit a foul ball, look at me or call timeout. I guess I am a pretty tolerable guy!
5. What angers you more? Walking somebody, or giving up a hit?
A. I’d rather walk a guy than give up a hit. To me, giving up hits means they’re actually touching you and can beat you. When you’re walking people, it’s on you. If you walk a guy or two, it feels like you’re just a mechanical adjustment away.
B. I’d say C: Letting the batter live.
6. What is the key to being a good closer?
A. Just living in that moment. A lot of stuff can happen quickly in a one-run or two-run game. You just have to be able to bear down and live in that moment. It also helps to be a strikeout pitcher who can pitch away from contact. A lot of times you can’t afford to give up a fly ball or a groundball. Some guys can be closers, but they don’t have the stuff where they can miss bats late. And obviously, you have to be able to bounce back from tough outings.
B. I guess having good pickup lines. You can’t close on a woman unless you have a good opening line. I don’t really understand why you are asking me this question, I am already married.
7. Does intimidation come into play?
A. I think there’s something to that. I know when I first signed and got in pro ball, I was taught that the hitters can pick up when you’re going good and feeling it, and they can pick it up when you’re going bad and hesitant. You don’t want the hitters to be comfortable. Anything can disrupt that comfort. If somebody’s worried about this guy coming in with this hair and beard and that distracts him, that’s an advantage that I have.
B. Absolutely. Unless you intimidate and scare those workers at Subway, you are not getting any extra pickles.
8. Do you ever peek at your velocity while you’re on the mound?
A. I do. It’s not every time, but some days when I don’t feel I threw that good in the bullpen, I want to make sure I know what I’m working with. If I have my best stuff, I can challenge guys and go right after the big part of the plate, whereas some days, if I don’t, I need to know I have to hit the corners and throw more sliders. Also, if I throw one really good, I like to look back and see what it was. It’s easy at our place. I can just turn around, look like I’m getting some rosin, and it’s right there.
B. Don’t have to. I usually just look at the urine stains on the batter’s pants for reassurance.
9. Velocity-wise, where do you like your fastball to be?
A. When I’m throwing 95, I feel I can pump it up and get higher if I need to, but I also feel I can really hit my spots and make it tough on them. I get good movement on 95. For some reason, 94 is pretty flat, 96 is straight and 95 has got the movement.
B. If I throw it at the batter and he has time to move out of the way, it isn’t fast enough.
10. What products do you use on your hair?
A. I like the cream stuff. Whatever shampoo has cream in it. That makes it nice and fluffy for the next day. I also wear my hat backwards before the game. That gets it flowing the right way. I comb it to get all the knots out, then put my hat on to get it flowing. I have to have it just right when I throw. I can’t have it in my eyes or anything.
B. I see what is going on here. You want me to perjure myself, a la Roger Clemens. Well, for the record (in my best Rafael Palmeiro voice) I have never used performance-enhancing products on my hair, period. I don’t know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never.
11. You’ve really cultivated a nice look for yourself. I remember when they traded for you, you were clean-shaven and you looked like you were about 18 years old. Where did your current look come from?
A. It’s funny you say that, because coming up in college and in the Minors, we couldn’t have more than two days’ growth. No goatees, nothing. Until you got to Triple-A. So my second big-league Spring Training, I was the youngest one in camp, I think. And my agent actually said to me, ‘You know, Tony [LaRussa] and [Dave] Duncan are kind of old-school. They see the young guys and just put them aside, so maybe you should grow some facial hair.’ So I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll try to.’ So I grew this goatee thing. It didn’t help me stick around, but it made me look older, and it just went from there. I did good, and I kept it for a while. This year, I told my wife I would grow the beard to keep my face warm in the cold weather. I had a good start to the year, and it happened to stick. No reason to change. My wife doesn’t mind it. She says I just need to trim it.
B. Ever heard of James Carville? I told myself I would never look like that bald yay-who.
12. You said last year that you wanted to start playing the guitar. How’s that coming?
A. I’m not very good at it. I have a good teacher in the bullpen in Scott Radinsky. He told me electric is a lot easier to get the notes down and learn how to play. So I might get an electric this offseason.
B. Yeah I said that when I heard there was a chance my new catcher was going to be Carlos Santana. I went out and bought all this really nice guitar stuff preparing myself to learn from a guitar god. When I found out it wasn’t the same Carlos Santana, I decided to try a new and cheaper hobby. Twitter.
13. Your wife is due to give birth to a baby boy this offseason. Any names in mind, other than Little Pure Rage?
A. I do not like alliterative names or names that are two first names. That rules out any name that begins with P, including Perez. That being said, I like to lean on history for things like this. There were guys named Babe, Honus, Yogi, Three Finger, Rollie, Oil Can, Shin-Soo, Orel, Catfish, Dizzy, and Enos, and they all turned out to be Major League Baseball players. I think we will go one of those.
B. Maxwell Alexander. I wanted Maximus, for obvious reasons. “Gladiator” is a good movie. But you have to pick your battles. But I get to pick the girl’s name. That was our deal.