Good Riddance Troy Percival
Chris O’Meara / AP
Well you knew in the bottom of your stomach that the baseball world had not seen the last of the bottom feeder known as Troy Percival. You knew that for all the garbage Rays fans had endured over the last two seasons from Percival he would again rise from the ashes after he got his millions from the Rays. People like Percival always seem to find another angle or level to stay in the game.
Is there really another team out there that desperate for a closer (besides the Rays) to consider a relief pitcher who pitched a total of 67 innings in two seasons for his last team? And on Thursday, when Percival could “officially” declared himself a free agent, Percival wasted no time informing MLB of his intentions this off season. So why am I so upset about a guy who is no longer our problem. Who will now be someone else’s problem and have no financial or physical worth to this team.
Honestly, I do not want to see another set of baseball fans go through the same garbage we have the last two seasons. The buck has to stop here with Percival. At first I thought this MLB announcement was a misprint. Does Percival really feel he can rip off another team for a few million dollars without anyone calling BS after the way he showed his “professionalism” with the Rays. Percival threw only 67 total innings as a member of the Rays, and might be remembered more for what he did not do, than what was accomplished on the field.
Sure he took a few more strides up the All-Time Save list ladder while with the team, but he sacrificed team unity in the Bullpen and abandoned his team when they needed a veteran presence. He was weirdly admired by Rays Manager Joe Maddon for his past fire and brimstone, but that fire and that zeal were just embers when he played here in Tampa Bay, unless you called into question his abilities, then you got a fireworks display from Percival.
And while injured, Percival’s “Greta Garbo” routine of wanting to be alone and rehab away from the team medical staff actually surfaced before he even donned a Rays uniform. Just ask the Detroit Tiger medical staff and fans who saw a total of 26 games and 25 innings from Percival before he went down for the count during the World Series season. He went on the DL that season and still collected his playoff share before finally leaving the team. Hmm, he did the same thing here in 2008, and stayed on the Rays roster the entire 2009 season hoping for a last payday if the Rays got to the playoffs.
And lets not forget his short stint as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals Bullpen when most thought he might be making a return to greatness, but instead threw only 40 innings in 34 games with zero saves. I guess considering that we got at least 32 saves out of his old body before the clunker again hits the skids should be viewed as a positive. But it is what he did on the mound and in plain sight of all of us that still makes me never trust someone like Percival. His “me first” mentality gnawed at me and fueled my personal dislike for the guy.
Maybe the first strike on his character came when I saw him out on the beaches at an Italian restaurant with someone extremely younger than his wife having some dinner. The way he acted in public did not show the social decorum usually associated with a professional athlete. It was not as if someone went up to him in the middle of his antipasto and asked for an autograph. He was rude to his own dinner guests. But maybe that is his personality. Maybe he is a rough and gruff guy by nature.
And his second strike while with the Rays was his outburst after a Sunday afternoon game in which a home fan innocently kept Evan Longoria from catching a foul ball near the Visitor’s dugout and impeded the play by getting his hand on the ball and not letting Longoria make an easy out for the home team. After the final out of the game, Percival was seen barking out blue streak of words to the guy and his young son. That kind of actions might only be considered professional in the WWE.
And his third strike in my book has to be his boorish behavior of getting vocal and confrontational with the usually cool Maddon on the mound. Earlier this season in Baltimore, the most recent “Percy” moment was there for everyone to see as you yelling directly at Maddon in plain view of the television cameras. That to me is a total lack of respect for his Manager, and a move you would expect in the dugout,not on the mound in front of a stadium of people.
I am not discounting his injuries while he was here with the Rays, because he did have back and knee situations even during his first season with the team, but they seemed to disappear right after the season when he came to St. Petersburg to be examined by the Rays medical staff and collect his playoff money. He got a share of the pie because of his veteran status, but after the final home game in 2008 he was no where in sight during the Rays playoff run.
In 2008, Percival made three trips to the disabled list and managed to get 28 saves for the Rays before finally shutting it down for the season. He appeared in 46 games for the Rays and battled a hamstring strain twice before some loose cartilage in his right knee put him out for the rest of the year. And about that time he began his disappearing act to California to see his own doctors and chiropractors besides the Rays medical staff.
And the 2009 season started with a bit of optimism since he got some work done on his knee during the off season and he told the media he felt better physically then he had for a long time. And that was a good indicator of things could be on the upswing for the Rays. But on May 22, Percival threw his last pitch as a member of the Rays. That night he was put on the disabled list for a bout of shoulder tendinitis and was not seen on the bench again for the Rays.
What he has done as a member of the Rays might get him promoted to the top of my Rays former players garbage list with Gerald Williams and Vinny Castilla. Yeah, to me Percival was up there in that realm of grumpy, old players who own self worth was way above their team’s own well being and chemistry. You would think a guy with all that post season experience and positive roles with championship teams would want to boost his teammates, but Percival was no where to be found during those moments.
Percival might have done great things to the com
munity in Southern California that we do not know about, and he might be a local hero to fans and people in that community. But to us here in Tampa Bay we are hopefully saying goodbye to the likes of you Troy Percival for the last time. Please do not let the door hit you on the way out, and yes, I am bitter and disappointed in you as a player and as a man.
I really was excited when you first signed, but that quickly turned to disappointment as I got to see how you acted and reacted with fans and people during your time here. When you first got here I thought we had the first real closer personality here since Danys Baez and Roberto Hernandez, who are still the top 2 closers in Tampa Bay Rays history (thank goodness).
But the thing that further put you in my personal doghouse was the fact that you did not have a personal integrity to be here when the Rays Foundation gave away your 1970 Chevy Chevelle in a raffle during the 2009 season. You were not here to drive the car onto the field or even present the keys to the winner.
It would have been a truly classy move to be here and present the keys to a car you rebuilt for the Rays Foundation, then donated it to the charity. But as we have learned in the last two season here in Tampa Bay, the words “classy” and “Percival” have never seemed to go together.