Same "Ol" Story for Oliver Perez and New York Mets?

Louis WebbCorrespondent IMay 6, 2008

It's always hard for us in New York when the Mets are on the West Coast because the games start at 10:00 PM.

Yesterday evening I was flipping between House (the latest season just isn't as good, is it?) and the Red Sox-Tigers game, wondering if my fanaticism and insomnia would win out over the knowledge that I had to wake up at 6:30 in the morning. Should I stay up and watch the Mets game?

I eventually decided, since I had a few other things to finish up anyway, to go to bed and watch it the next day. I fell asleep unaware of what was happening in Los Angeles.

I was on the subway coming home to catch the encore when I happened to espy the sports page of some good-for-nothing rag of a newspaper. It had the unbelievably witty headline "Same 'Ol' Story" with a picture of Oliver Perez crouching down with his hands on his head.

Needless to say, I was miffed that my hopes for a pleasant afternoon of watching the game had been Wainwrighted (I'll explain later).

But, because I am a diehard fan, I watched the game anyway. I didn't get home in time to see the first two runs, but I watched the rest of the game, waiting for the collapse I knew would come.

However, it didn't come. Perez never collapsed. It wasn't the same "Ol" story. He let up a few home runs, true, but he didn't look awful. It wasn't anything like his last start. In fact, I don't think he's pitched this well since April 19 in Philadelphia.

I know what you're thinking: he let up five runs! Here's what I've got to say: two, and walks.

What has Perez's problem been over his last few starts and over the course of his career? The answer is control. He walked three or more batters in every start this season, except in his latest start and his first appearance back on the April 2.

Imagine if he let up the three home runs, but with five walks. Then instead of two solo shots and a two-run-homer, you'd have a pair of two-run shots and a three-run-homer, or even a grand slam.

I'd rather have him throwing strikes than giving up free passes. He'd only given up one home run this season before yesterday, but he still managed to let up a heck of a lot of runs. Why? Because he walked batters, and I think yesterday's start was a step in the right direction.

Am I the only one who remembers game seven of the NLCS in 2006? (I know Mets fans don't really like to talk about it; in my personal vernacular, "Wainwright" is a verb that means "to crush, as in destroying hopes and dreams.")

Perez pitched six innings of one-run ball on three days rest. And what about last season? Sure, he had his bad starts, but he also posted a 3.56 ERA and struck out 174 batters in 177 innings.

So it isn't the same "Ol" story. Perez is moving in the right direction. Yesterday he gave up a lot of runs on a few mistakes, but that's better than a lot of runs on a lot of mistakes. 

Ever analyzing arm aptitude,