Tuesday, October 19

From SoSH: Re: 10-19-04 Sox make history (Pt.3)

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. As the clock ticked past 11 o’clock last night, Jose found himself on his knees, hands folded in a moment of humble prayer. He had already spent the first seven innings sipping Guinness and chewing nachos at a tavern. For the second seven he returned home, lest anyone mistake his nervous fidgeting for a seizure and call 911. (Note: Would 911 come if you called them during that game? If so, they’d have the game on in the ambulance right?) Inside his North End tenement, Jose took to doing everything he could to release his nervous energy as the game progressed. In the eighth inning, it was pushups, situps and curls. For the ninth and tenth, Jose went to ironing. In the eleventh, he clipped his fingernails and toenails. (Note: If Johnny Damon can clip his toenails during a playoff game, why can’t Jose?) By the end of the eleventh, every muscle was toned, every shirt neatly pressed and every hangnail trimmed away…so Jose paced for the next three innings. He walked back on forth across the cold, cracked linoleum of his living room/kitchen floor not even daring to tie the drawstring on his pajama pants, lest it somehow affect the knuckleball.

Then with David Oritz at the plate in the 14th Jose had a revelation. He should kneel as if in prayer. Jose had done this during both of the Patriots’ Super Bowl winning field goals, the second on a foul and sticky bar room floor, and it had worked. Why not now? So Jose got down on his knees and folded his hands. To say he prayed, might be a bit much. Praying for sports victories seems absurd and shallow to Jose. In fact, if there is a just and merciful God, it seems like the sort of thing that might piss him off. But still Jose humbled himself in anticipation of Ortiz’s hit. Had the game gone to the 15th, Jose might have been on to self-flagellation or a vow of silence. (Note: Jose was a little disappointed with how the game ended. Jose’s brother had vowed to shave his beard into a chin strap if Ortiz hit another walk off homer. Hopefully, the single is worth at least an Abraham Lincoln.

But Ortiz came through. The Sox came through, and so we head to game 6; we return to the Bronx. Where will Jose find himself at the end of this game? Doing Thai Chi in a bar room? Astral projected in to Yankee Stadium? Watching TV and smoking peyote in a sweatlodge. Perhaps, just this once, religion is the answer.

2. Eric Kneel’s Page 2 column today was good. Really good. In fact it was so good that Jose is going to steal the concept, if not the content, for KEY 2.

Imagine you’re Jon Lieber right now.

Imagine you're Jon Lieber today, this minute, with the ball in your hand and the curtain about to go up.

You've never been here before. The lights, the millions of fans the pressure that comes with being the goat and failing in the biggest moment of your life. It's all new to you, and you have no idea how to handle it.

You keep thinking about the Yankee mystique, hoping that it will overcome your own weaknesses. But deep down inside you know that it can’t. You remember lying in the hospital wondering if you’d ever pitch again. You remember thinking about this day and wondering if you could stand the pressure.

And you can't believe your bad luck. You shouldn’t have to do this. You were supposed to start Game 2 of the World Series. A game 2 you can handle, there are no consequences, but a game 6? Those are not for the faint of heart, and you are the faint of heart.

You're Jon Lieber. And you can’t relax. You need a valium or a drink or a hooker, but you can’t get out of bed. What if your sinkers don’t sink? What if your curves don’t hook? You keep screaming inside your head “WHY DO I HAVE TO DO THIS???” And the answer comes…Your teammates failed you. They put you in this position. They set you at there, but will they be blamed when you fail tonight? No, when you fail, you will be alone.

You seethe over the attention received by A-Rod and Jeter. You envy Mussina’s good looks. You hate Kevin Brown because he’s a d*ck. You know in your heart of hearts that when you fail, Steinbrenner, who once received you so warmly, will toss you to the curb like so much garbage.

You are Jonathan Ray Lieber and you’ve never been so scared in your life.

You are Jonathan Ray Lieber and everyone in the world outside of New York is rooting for you to fail.

You are Jon Lieber and you went to the Yankees for the money. You thought it would be easy, but it’s not. It is the hardest thing you’ve ever done.

You couldn’t sleep last night. Breathing was a burden. When you close your eyes you see David Ortiz, when you open them the light seems blinding.

You are Jon Lieber and you are going to fail. You are Jon Lieber and there is nothing you can do.

3. So what if no team has ever come back from down 3-0 to tie a series at 3-3 before? There are lots of things that are happening for the first time in history today. A few examples:
-This is the first time “actor” Chris Kattan has ever had a 34th birthday.
-This is the first time Ronald Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis has ever sued the Salvation Army.
-This is the first time that a Boston Herald headline “Curse This” has ever infringed on Jerry Remy’s copyright before.

All around the world, there are first birthdays being celebrated, first communions being received, first aid being applied and first class being flown. Today is a day of firsts. And the Red Sox evening the series will be but one among many.

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.


Anonymous said...

First class keys.


Anonymous said...

Jon Lieber's arm is the branch the Red Sox Kitten Nation is digging up and ripping the back off of. We will prevail tonight and we will previal tomorrow night, even if it means that Pokey Reese starts game 7.

Anonymous said...

One more first for tonight. The first time the winning pitcher will have on a "magic shoe".

Anonymous said...

Cool. I did ironing during the game last night too. Got about a week's worth done.

Anonymous said...

Your Aunt Carol here in Atlanta connected me to your site -- and it's TRUE all of it...the anxiety, you can cut with a knife.

i wish you peace in these next 8 or 9 or 10 or...hours. this just may be the year -- why NOT us?