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Where’s the coverage of the Mariano Rivera spitball incident?

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ESPN dedicated a brief article to it on its website.

The MLB Network didn’t mention it.

The official site of Major League Baseball acted as if nothing surfaced.

Today’s media has a tendency to squeeze every, last drop of juice out of a story that it can. Sportscenter is the epitome of that. The coverage of Brett Favre’s return last year is perhaps the best example.

Yesterday, ESPN featured a segment on Tennessee Titan’s coach Jeff Fisher. At a charity event on Tuesday, Fisher wore a Peyton Manning jersey, stating, “I just wanted to feel like a winner.” His team is 0-6. While the situation is worthy of a few laughs, it was brought up on every show and debated over. Would it effect his team? Was it the right thing to do?

It was a small piece of news, and got more time than it should have.

On the other hand, the Mariano Rivera spitball incident was, despite its tremendously controversial material, a blip on the big networks’ radars. Video had the game’s best closer spitting on, or near, a baseball. Still photos seemed to purport that the spit hit somewhere near the baseball.

Where was the coverage? Was it squashed before it got too big?

I smell conspiracy. Seriously.

Rivera looked awfully suspicious before spitting. He looked towards second, then peeked over towards third before hawking one in the general vicinity of the baseball. FOX then cut from the scene in quick fashion.

There’s a whole lot of attention on the blogosphere regarding the incident, the reactions ranging from: “Spitballs are thrown using vaseline, not spit!” to “Angels fans are f****** idiots.”

And my answers to that are as follows: A) The spitball is called the spitball for a very good reason and B) Yeah Angel’s fans may have latched onto something menial as the scapegoat for their performance against the Yankees, but they have the right to question the video.

But perhaps everyone is paying attention to the wrong aspect of this story.

And that is, where is the story?

Did the spit hit?

Did the spit hit?

Even if the spit didn’t hit the ball, per se, it certainly came close. To the naked eye, it looked like some of it hit Rivera’s hand. Anyone over the age of six can control where they spit, thus making this pretty explosive evidence that maybe, just maybe Rivera was trying to do something.

Major League Baseball released a statement hours after the video surfaced before clearing him of any wrongdoing. After that, it was water under the bridge.

Considering that MLB umpires have proven they can’t see much of anything (see: prior blog) and that the 45,000 fans in attendance were hundreds of feet away, what makes this news blasphemous enough to reduce it to a non-story?

I smell conspiracy.

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What happened to…1995 All-Star Carlos Perez?

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Field of Greed.The 1994 Major League Baseball strike left such a sour taste in my mouth that I couldn’t stomach the game when it finally returned in April 1995.

The period between the onset of the strike and August 1998 (when the home run record chase heated up) symbolizes a truly “dark” period in baseball for me.

It’s as if it didn’t happen. It’s blacked out.

There were a ton of memorable moments I missed. When the Montreal Expo’s Pedro Martinez pitched nine no-hit innings before giving up a hit in the bottom of the 10th on June 3, 1995, I wasn’t watching. When New York Yankee David Wells pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins on May 17, 1998, I didn’t care.

I missed superstar’s prime years. Greg Maddux’s 19-2, 1.63 campaign in 1995. Edgar Martinez’s .356 clinic in Seattle in 1995. Ken Griffey, Jr.’s last healthy seasons.

I missed the game’s newest, most electric, characters too.

Carlos Perez is the best example of that.

Perez, a left-hander, burst onto the scene in 1995 with the Montreal Expos. He quickly became a fan favorite, known for his Mark “The Bird” Fidrych-like antics on the mound. When he threw a strike, he pumped a celebratory fist. When he struck someone out, he’d punch them out along with the umpire. Perez would sometimes jump in the air, spin, and do all of this in unison. And while his routine was cause for controversy among opponents, it made him incredibly popular.

So when Perez started the 1995 season 7-2 with a 3.26 ERA, he was a natural choice for the National League All-Star team.

Perez didn’t change his schtick for national television. When he came into the game during the bottom of the seventh inning, he promptly gave up a single to Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, Jr. That didn’t stop him from pumping his fist on a called first strike to the next batter, Kansas City’s Kevin Seitzer. When he got Seitzer to fly out, he reveled in the moment, a blur of spinning, yelling, and fist pumping. The announcers ate it up and so did the fans.

Once a sensation, now a scumbag.By the time Perez left the game, recording just one out while walking one and giving up one hit, he was a sensation.

During the second half, Perez made 12 more starts, finishing the year 10-8 with a 3.69 ERA.

And while Perez pitched admirably for the rest of his career (1 1/2 more seasons with Montreal, then two full seasons with the Dodgers), that All-Star game would certainly be the high point of his career.

At the end of the 1995 season, Perez was accused of rape and sodomy in Atlanta, Ga.

He missed all of 1996 with a shoulder injury.

He never again posted a win/loss percentage over .500.

In a July 1999 game as a member of the Dodgers, Perez walked the Pirate’s eighth, ninth, and leadoff batters. He was pulled from the game and received a mock standing ovation from the crowd of nearly 30,000. Once in the dugout, Perez lost his cool, ripped a bat from the racks and proceeded to beat a water cooler. He hit it 14 times on his way to becoming an ESPN punchline.

He attacked and strangled a flight attendant on a Dodger’s team charter in 2000.

He was convicted of drunk driving later that year.

He somehow accrued two more rape charges, but managed to avoid jail for any extended period of time.

Perez has continued to pitch sporadically for most of the past decade in the Dominican Republic and he even made an appearance in the World Baseball Classic. As recently as 2004, Perez was extended an invitation to Spring Training with the Detroit Tigers.

It’s believed that Perez has burned too many bridges, raped too many girls, or done too much stupid crap to make a return to the majors despite still being fairly effective. Once of the brightest talents in the major leagues, Perez deserves his reputation as nothing more than short-tempered water cooler beater.

What happened to…the guys Jose Offerman hit with a bat?

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On August 14, 2007, Long Island Duck’s player and former major leaguer Jose Offerman hit a first inning homerun in an Atlantic League game against the Bridgeport Blues. In his next at-bat, Offerman was plunked in the calf.

Offerman charged the mound with bat in hand. He hit Blue’s pitcher Matt Beech, breaking his finger. He also connected with catcher John Nathans, hitting him in the head.

Offerman was arrested at the ballpark and charged with felony assault. He received two years accelerated rehabilitation. Offerman was suspended from the Atlantic League indefinitely, but not from all of baseball. He is currently coaching the Licey Tigers in the Dominican Winter League.

Matt Beech is out of baseball, not because of the injury sustained that night, but because he was already 35-years-old at the time of the attack.

John Nathans is out of baseball, however, because of the injury he sustained that night.

Nathans attempted to stay in the game, but once back behind the plate, he began dry heaving. The stadium lights became especially harsh, too. Between innings, Nathans passed out in the dugout.

He has not played since.

His life has changed dramatically. Instead of catching fastballs and breaking balls, he works at a desk as a paralegal. Even in such a limited physical activity job, Nathans has trouble focusing due to the effects of that night. He claims that the attack is responsible for daily headaches, bouts of nausea, and dizzy spells. He can not move or bend without some sort of discomfort.

In February, Nathans sued Offerman for $4.8 million. According to the Boston Globe, the lawsuit isn’t for money but for “making someone accountable for their actions.”

According to multiple sources, Offerman has publicly apologized but never reached out to either player injured in the attack.

Written by dylansharek

May 14, 2009 at 11:44 am