Wednesday, October 6

From SoSH: Re: 10/05/05 Game Two of the Real Season

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

1. Well this is quite a bit better than last year at this time. Actually, last year Jose was one of the lucky ones. While the rest of you were struggling through 12 or 13 (Note: See Jose doesn’t even remember) gut wrenching innings before a crushing end at 3 AM, Jose was wandering the streets of Antwerp blissfully unaware of the tragedy that had unfolded. While you cried and wailed and battled the horrors of sleep deprivation, Jose sipped café au lait and nibbled on hot Belgian waffles glistening with butter and dusted in confectioner’s sugar as white as Larry Bird in January and as pure as AC Green at the age of 43.

Of course, Jose would have given anything to be one of you, crying in his last beer of the night/ first beer of the morning, but Jose had cleverly scheduled a 16 day European Odyssey for a period that included most of the first round of the playoffs. There Jose was, by himself in one of Europe’s great historical cities, a center of art culture and the despicable world wide diamond trade, and all he could think of was the outcome of a baseball game 8,000 miles away. Each hour that passed gnawed at him. Jose would set up little milestones he needed to pass, lest his box score lust overwhelm the charms of the continent.

“Just one more guild hall and then Jose will find an Internet café,” he would promise himself. “Just one more Cathedral. Just one more museum.” But like his hunger for Belgian Mussels, Jose’s hunger for a score could not be sated by anything but the genuine article. Jose found an Internet Café on a side street and entered cautiously, knowing that what he was about to learn would shape his disposition for the rest of the day. He plunked down his two Euros (Note: which equaled about $35 at the time) and sat down at the terminal. Which site to enter? Yeeessssss. The score scrolled across the screen…it scrolled across Jose’s eyes, scrolled through his optical nerve into his brain and then scrolled down his spine and settled in his gut. And there it sat. Sat like a swallowed bowling ball, heavy, indigestible, an inexplicable, crushing weight at the center of Jose’s very being.

Did Jose read a description of the game? He imagines so, but does not remember. All he remembers is staggering through the once friendly streets of Antwerp, suddenly aware that everything looked gloomy and sad. Had it been raining all day? Jose saw the sights and walked the walks, but he was unable to escape the singular thought that was lodged in his brain, repeating over and over like George W. Bush at a debate and relentlessly on message, “F’n Red Sox. F’n Red Sox. F’n Red Sox. F’n Red Sox. F’n Red Sox.”

The next day saw Jose visited Aachen, Germany, the ancient capital of Charlemagne’s Frankish empire, a city that holds what it claims are segments of the true cross, alleged burrs from the crown of thorns and reliquaries containing what are almost certainly parts of Charlemagne’s corpse. But Jose will forever think of it as the place where he learned that the Red Sox had dropped game 2 to the Athletics. The story of this day is too similar for Jose to repeat it in great detail. Jose will only note that a very good doener kebab, does more than anything else to heal the agony of defeat.

But we all know that the story did not end there. This is not a story of joy, or at least pride before the fall. The Sox rallied from their disastrous start and took the series. Jose learned of the game 3 win at a hostel in Belgium with the slowest Internet connection on Earth. The day before Jose’s departure (Note: Or was it the day of?) Jose sat in front of that damned screen for 45 minutes trying every Web site he could imagine, hoping that the computer would connect to just one for long enough for Jose to learn the outcome of game 3, to learn if there was anything on this Earth left to look forward to (Note: Aside from family, friends the Melendezette, Spideman 2 and Wrestlemania). In the 44th minute, one lonely sentence emerged from “Nixon homer lifts Sox.” Victory. That was all Jose needed. The Red Sox lived.

But this presented Jose with a new challenge. His plane was scheduled to arrive in the middle of game 4. Provided the plane landed on time, a speedy navigation of customs would be essential to catching the final innings. The travel gods (Note: Many of whom are also weather gods)cooperated, and the flight arrived on schedule. As soon as the dreadful Air France crew allowed, Jose deplaned (Note: Deplaned is one of the funniest words. We really need a special word for this? Yet more evidence that the English Lexicon is too big and Newspeak was a great idea. Okay, not really.) and sprinted through the terminal like Johnny Damon smelling an infield hit or Derek Jeter smelling a chance to have his picture taken.

While Jose’s fellow tourists seemed taken aback by his aggressive running., the customs personal seemed to understand his mission. They knew there was a game on. Jose was spared the normal questions about whether he had done drugs abroad and was processed as quickly as possible. Even when Jose saw his psychotic former downstairs neighbor in the immigration line, he resisted the temptation to point out that she was a dangerous, crazy person who should probably be taken to Guantanamo Bay as a precaution. (Note: She used to throw pots around her apartment at all hours and would yell “Gigolo Ho!!!” as Jose came up the stairs. Jose always felt that the fact that women pay him for sexual favors is no reason to call him a gigolo. Actually, Jose strongly considered leaving the apartment for a week once and leaving his stereo blasting “Just a Gigolo.” That seemed a bit extreme though, so he just had her evicted.)

Jose’s father, who is not much of a sports fan, unexpectedly met Jose at the airport and whisked him to the Hilton where we watched the Sox come from behind and the Patriots defeat the Titans. Aside from the one Southern visitor who asked if the barkeep could change to the NASCAR race, it was perfect.

But what was the point of this Jose Melendez travelogue? Won’t you get all this in the KEYS TO BELGIUM? Well, yes, but the point is that this year we are all experiencing something sweeter than chocolate dipped waffles, more satisfying than mussels dipped in butter and more foreign than a Flemish speaking city – we are experiencing the Red Sox’s inevitable march towards history.

2. Jose’s favorite moment of Game 1 was, without a doubt, Doug Mientkiewiecz’s two out suicide squeeze to score an insurance run. Jose loved it because it was absolutely ruthless. In the world, as a general rule, Jose is opposed to ruthlessness. This is probably not a bold position, but Jose feels strongly that ruthlessness is bad in most areas of life. He does not respect it in politics, or business or social relationships. He regards it as mean and unnecessary and arrogant. He wouldn’t even see the Broadway show Ruthless, and he thought Ruthless People was a mediocre movie. However, in the context of playoff baseball, the equation is reversed and the offensive becomes the indispensable. You want Stalin running your baseball team, you want J. Edgar Hoover, hell you even want Dick Cheney. You want someone who does not care about propriety, who does not care about the rules of polite society and who is obsessed only with winning.
The funny thing is that the suicide squeeze suggested that Terry Eurona might just be a little ruthless. That’s right Timid Terry. If you had asked Jose yesterday morning to compare Terry to a President, Jose would have said Jimmy Carter, but now the answer is Richard Nixon. Jose half expects to hear that there was a third rate burglary of the Angles locker room this evening.

3. Jose has a major scoop. Did you know Curt Euro started today’s SoSH game thread? Yesterday’s too. That means that he is in a position to call Jose a liar and an idiot for what he is about to say. (Note: Though according to Johnny Damon, idiocy would make Jose fit right in with these Red Sox.) Jose thinks there was no ankle injury. Jose thinks that Curt knew his afternoon was near an end, so after a bad throw, he decided to pretend he had tweaked the ankle, not in order to get out of the game, but in order to get out of appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live. There, Jose said it. In Jose’s opinion, Curt is holding out for that precious guest shot on Nightline.

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


Manchild said...

Jose, I feel your pain. For I, (or, For the Manchild, if I were to ape your third-person, which I was doing before being a Keys reader, unlike other writers (Eric Neel, I'm looking at you)) have also been abroad during crucial playoff moments. But, not for the Red Sox. For the Calgary Flames. They were in the middle of their Stanley Cup run while I was in Asia. I would often retreat from the pristine, sandy beaches of Thailand to the lobby of the hotel, where I would sit for minutes and minutes, about 60 of them or so, and anxiously watch the Sportsline gamecast. But, unlike baseball, hockey is far from universal. You try explaining to Thai hotel lobby workers, who know very little that's not their home, Titanic, or Michael Jackson, that you are watching a hockey game score.
Keep up the good work Jose, keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

After many typos in yesterday's keys, it is good that Jose seems to be in postseason form today - no typos I could see.

Anonymous said...

Your 15 minutes are officially up Jose Melendez.

ApeRobot said...

Dearest Jose,

Someone as well-traveled as you should know that the nickname "Curt Euro" is factually incorrect. The shilling is a British coin, and the U.K. still uses pounds and pence and shiznit.

Also, I am surprised that you did not mention Belgian frites in your latest blog. They are delicious -- arguably more delicious than legit, melted-sugar-coated Belgian waffles, which smell a lot better than they taste. Not unlike grape Chap-Stik(TM).

- Marty Barrett

Anonymous said...

In defense of Jose and Curt Euro, I believe the Schilling (spelled with a "c" like our pitcher, was an Austrian unit of currency which actually has been replaced by the Euro.

ApeRobot said...

Re: Schilling: OK, I have been humbled.

But still, no mention of Belgian frites? Come on now.

Anonymous said...

I think the Angels are the USSR of MLB -- between the predominance of red, a player named Vladimir, and a manager who is a Scioscia-list. Beware of their commie thunder sticks, Red Sox Nation!