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Weird Baseball Headlines for a Weird Week

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OLIVER PEREZ: NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT

When the Mets brought in Oliver Perez to pitch on August 30 during their 9-3 pasting by the Braves, it marked the wayward lefty's first appearance in a ballgame since August 1, when he pitched two innings against the Diamondbacks during another blowout Mets loss. That gave him a total of two outings and three innings for the entire month of August.

In fact, since July 21, when he was activated off a lengthy stint on the disabled list (technically for an injury, but mostly for refusing to be demoted to the minors for his horrible pitching), Perez has been in all of four ballgames, and has been credited with all of 5 1/3 innings pitched.

Opie's salary this year is $12 million. Prorated over the six month baseball season, that comes to $461,538 a week, or roughly $66,000 a day. So, between July 21 and August 30, Perez pitched 5 1/3 innings and made $2,706,000 - or a little over half a million bucks ($507,692.30 to be precise) per inning of work.

His numbers for these oh-so precious innings? 8 hits (2 of them homers), 6 runs, 6 walks, and 3 strikeouts, for a cumulative ERA of 10.13.

Forget Cy Youngs. Give this man the Platinum Mop Award. He's certainly earned it.

MANNY RAMIREZ: NO HABLA NOTHIN'

On Monday, after slugger Manny Ramirez was claimed off waivers by the White Sox from the Dodgers, he flew to Chicago for a news conference and promptly asked coach Joey Cora to act as his interpreter - even though he's never demonstrated the need for a translator during any private interview or mass media gathering at any time before in his entire 18-year career in the big leagues. Moreover, when someone asked about cutting his famed dreadlocks to be more in line with White Sox dress codes, Ramirez snapped, "that's stupid question" - before Cora even translated it.

Maybe Ramirez liked manager Ozzie Guillen's recent tirade about how Asian players get treated better than Latin players, and figured he needed a little more cultural respect. I mean, though he was raised in New York City and attended high school there and made a big deal about formally becoming a US citizen a while back, he was born in the Dominican Republic.

If stuff like this keeps up, maybe Bud Selig should consider making Esperanto the official language of MLB. At least it'll level the communications field.

BILLY WAGNER: TAKE THIS RECORD AND SHOVE IT

Having covered Billy Wagner during his tenure with the Mets, I can tell you firsthand that the veteran relief pitcher is a standup guy on all fronts. Last Friday, the Braves brought him in to get some work during a 7-1 loss to the Marlins, and while on the mound Wagner notched his 1,170th strikeout, passing Jess Orocso as the all-time strikeout leader for lefthanded relievers.

After the feat was noted on the scoreboard, home plate umpire Tim McClelland and Atlanta catcher David Ross both attempted to get Wagner to toss the ball into the dugout. Wagner not only declined, but was visibly pissed about it. He kept using the same ball, and when a Florida batter dribbled it near the third base line, Wagner deliberately threw it into the stands. (The Braves still retrieved it for him).

Afterwards, Wagner was still annoyed. "It's stupid," he told reporters. "Who in their right mind makes a big deal out of doing something they're supposed to do in the first place? I'm out there pitching in a (bad) game; we're getting our butt kicked. It's not worth it to make a big deal out of that. That's embarrassing."

Wagner's admirable team-first attitude reminded me of the 1981 World Series between the Yankees and Dodgers when, in the middle of Game Five, New York's Dave Winfield singled to left and immediately asked that the ball be taken out of play so he could keep it as a souvenir. You see, up to that point Winfield was 0-16, and he wanted a memento of his first-ever World Series hit. Naturally, he never got another one, finishing up with a woeful .045 batting average (1-22) as New York fell to LA in six games.

The baseball gods do work in mysterious ways, don't they?

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