How much should we hate Roberto Perez today?
Last night, White Sox pitcher (and N.C. State alum) Carlos Rodon entered the ninth inning with a perfect game: 24 up, 24 down. The 25th batter, Josh Naylor, grounded out to first, and it was the kind of thrilling defensive play that always seems to occur when a no-hitter or perfect game is thrown:
That brought up Roberto Perez, batter no. 26. To call what happened next anticlimactic is, itself anticlimactic. This is the climax of all anti-climaxes. It sucked:
Watch through the slow-motion part, as Perez just kind of stands there as the ball hits him.
Now. NOW! It is not easy to move out of the way of a major league pitch, or is it obvious where a breaking ball like that will end up. All of which makes it hard to condemn Roberto Perez. Did he stand there on purpose, hoping to get hit by the pitch in order to break up the perfect game? According to him, not only was he not trying to get hit by the pitch, but he didn't even know Rodon had a perfect game!
It should be noted that we've seen this kind of thing before, and not too long ago—in one of the most egregious examples of getting hit on purpose, Jose Tabata dipped his elbow into a Max Scherzer pitch with two outs in the ninth in order to break up a perfect game. Watch that borderline criminal act here:
However, what Roberto Perez did is clearly not the same. He never actively leaned into it. Still...STILL!...he didn't jump out of the way. Do that, and you at least give Rodon a puncher's chance at finishing off a piece of history. The more you watch it, the more you change your mind, and even now I find myself wondering if it's just my frustration at Rodon losing the perfect game that makes me want to blame Perez.
All things considered, I don't think we can keep much hate in our hearts for Perez. His first at-bat this afternoon will be very interesting, but my guess is that even the White Sox will give him a pass. You can't prove anything, so you can't really retaliate. And the whole thing is mitigated by the fact that, despite losing the perfect game, Rodon's start had a very happy ending: