Hey, Dodger fans? Guess who just retired 4 straight big leaguers in 1.1 perfect innings in the Dominican Winter League Final? If you said Carlos Perez, you’re two things. Right, and probably a heavy drinker.
For those of you who don’t remember, Perez was a Dominican lefty on the Expos, known for being a promising young pitcher and infuriatingly animated on the mound. His career started brightly, and in 1998, the Dodgers traded for him to supplement their pitching down the stretch. And supplement it he did. 4 wins, including a couple of complete game shut outs, led to a lucrative contract extension and boundless optimism among fans (yours truly included) about the future.
And then…well, nobody really knows what happened. Never overpowering to begin with, Perez lost about 8 miles per hour off of his fastball. No longer able to keep hitters honest, his once formidable breaking stuff was getting teed off on, and that was the beginning of the end.
Some guys age gracefully and decline slowly. For others, the end comes rapidly, and it’s often ugly. After a particularly ugly outing in 2000, Perez went ape…uh…poop on a Gatorade cooler, nearly braining teammate Darren Dreifort who was minding his own business nearby.
2000 was Perez’ last year in the big leagues. For years and years, he was a punch line, as well as a cautionary tale to GM’s looking to reward promising young pitchers with lucrative contract extensions. And then, the memories started to fade. Other pitchers with seemingly bright futures faded away. Rick Ankiel, though to be fair, he did one of the more remarkable things in baseball history, transforming himself from a failed pitcher to a semi-successful big league outfielder. Dontrelle Willis… I’m sure there are others.
Let’s fast forward to today, January 21, 2014. If someone with a cruel sense of humor decided to create a baseball Trivial Pursuit game with a bit of a dark side, one of the questions may be, what do major leaguers Emilio Bonifacio, Engel Beltre, Erick Aybar, and Juan Francisco have in common? The answer would be, they were retired in order by the 42-year-old Carlos Perez. Yes, that Carlos Perez. Bonifacio and Francisco…they went down on strikes.
Baseball is a weird, yet fascinating game. But if Perez somehow parlays this into a minor league invite, I’m not watching it anymore.