Sandy Koufax Is Trying to Save the Mets One Lefthander at a Time - NBC New York

Sandy Koufax Is Trying to Save the Mets One Lefthander at a Time

Can Koufax fix what ails Ollie Perez?



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    Mets fans have had plenty of reason to be upset with the way the Wilpons have run their team over the last few years and you can sympathize when they make pleas to have someone else buy the team and restore it to its occasional glory. There is one thing that Fred Wilpon has going for him, though, and that's his friendship with fellow Brooklyn boy Sandy Koufax.

    Every year, the Mets get to trot Koufax out at Spring Training where he watches the pitchers throw, makes some suggestions and then recedes back into the ether from whence he came. It always grabs headlines -- sportswriters love to write about Koufax -- and unlike most Mets moves, those headlines are positive. Monday was one of those days and Koufax was tasked with trying to make something good happen with Oliver Perez

    It's a sensible idea. Koufax was once a young southpaw who could throw hard and tantalize the baseball world before falling apart because he didn't seem to have much idea about what happened with the ball after it left his hand. Eventually, Koufax figured it out and went on one of the greatest six-year runs the baseball world has ever seen. So, just tell Perez how to do that and, bing bang boom, the Mets are riding a wave to the World Series.

    Oh, if only wishing made it so. Koufax (and Randy Johnson and a few others) give hope that Perez can have his moment in the sun after massive struggles, but there are a lot more examples of guys who never figured it out and whose names don't evoke stammers from great-grandfathers 45 years after they threw their last pitch.

    If it were as easy as telling someone to do this and not that, we wouldn't be telling the same story about Koufax tutoring a younger version of himself yet another time. Give the lefty whisperer credit for persistence, though. He's still trying to find a way to unleash the talent that Perez has in his arm, even if the route to success is growing more opaque with every passing year.

    "You can't control the ball unless you can control your body. He's got a great arm. People pay too much attention to delivery. Pitching is throwing. It's precision throwing. ... Sometimes delivery is overrated. You're throwing, and that's the basis of it. You don't want to change what you do. I think people need to have some sort of delivery, but delivery shouldn't interfere with your ability to throw."

    In other words, accept with simplicity everything that happens to you. It didn't work out all that well for Larry Gopnik, but perhaps Ollie will prove himself to be a serious man yet.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for