Saturday, October 23

From SoSH: Re: 10-23-04 The Beginning Of A New Era

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

First things first. Before we dive into this special World Series edition of KEYS. Jose has some business to attend to. Longtime SoSHer RomeroRomine, who is currently working as a civilian at a military compound in Iraq, asked his brother, who is, by a remarkable coincidence, Jose’s friend Jamie, to request that Jose send along his huzzahs from the Middle East. So from RomeroRomine, "Huzzah to the Red Sox, Huzzah to SoSH. It is on." And from SoSH to RomeroRomine, we all appreciate the work you are doing over there. Be safe.

1. Ladies and gentleman. Hello and welcoooommmmeee to Fenwaaaaayyyyyy Paaaaarrkkkk!!! And now it’s time for the Maaaiiinnnn Eeeeeevvenntt, a battle set for best of seven falls. Introducing first in the gray with red trim. the Best of the Midwest, the Battling Birds, the nine time champeeennss of the woooorrrllllldddd, The St. Louis Cardinals. And their opponents, in the white with red trim, the comeback kids, the band of idiots, the six time champeeeeenns of the wooorrlldd (Note: Damn it, we won 1904 by forfeit) the Boooosssttooonn Reeeeddd Sooooxxxx!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Note: Can we start calling Fenway the Idiot Box? Jose thinks we should.)

That’s right, with apologies to the Simpsons, this ain’t no town series, this ain’t no county series, this ain’t no region series, this ain’t no nation series, this ain’t no continent series, this ain’t no hemisphere series. This is the WORLD SERIES!!!!! And whoever wins it is going to be the champion of the entire world. Will the winner be the champion of Yemen? You bet. Liechtenstein? Sure thing. The Marianas Trench? Uh huh. Even the seas will be under the domain of the winner of this series. Lava men, mole men, morlocks whatever else lives beneath the Earth’s crust, the winner of this series will be the champion of them all.

And the Red Sox have a serious advantage in this series. History suggests that Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa cannot win a World Series without the help of a natural disaster, After all, his superior Oakland teams were swept in 1988 and 1990 by the Dodgers and Reds respectively. His only win came in 1989 in a Series disrupted by the San Francisco earthquake. His problem is that this time his opponent IS the natural disaster. Gary Sheffield told us so.

2. There is broad agreement that the Achilles Heel of this fearsome Cardinals team is its starting pitching, which, to be generous, consists of a bunch of nobodies. But actually, it’ even worse than that. Jose has obtained shocking evidence two of the Cardinals’ four starters may not even technically exist. The Cardinals’ four starters are Woody Williams, Matt Morris, Jason Marquis and Jeff Suppan. Earlier in the year, Chris Carpenter was also a starter, Notice anything odd about that group of five? That’s right, three of the five have first and last names that begin with the same letter. This is the trademark of none other than comic book legend Stan Lee. Think about it. Peter Parker is the Spectacular Spiderman. Reed Richards is Mr. Fantastic. Sue Storm is the Invisible Girl/Woman. Scott Summers is Cyclops. Otto Octavius is Dr. Octopus. Matt Murdoch is Daredevil. Bruce Banner is The Hulk. Curt Connors is the Lizard. Warren Worthington is the Angel/Archangel. You get the point.

Remember the expectations for St. Louis at the beginning of the year? Everyone knew they could hit, but their starting pitching was deeply suspect. As a result everyone picked them to finish third in the N.L. Central. Tony LaRussa is a smart guy. He knew his pitching was suspect, so he hired Stan Lee to create three pitchers to shore up his rotation. They’ve been successful thus far (Note: Except for Carpenter who was effective until he was pulled due to injury/irreparable flaws in his story arc) because opposing hitters have not realized that they do not exist. Hitters keep swinging and missing at pitches that aren’t there. (Note: On the other hand, when hitters do connect with these phantom pitches the word "KAPOW" or "BAM" magically materializes on the field.) So remember, Red Sox hitters, as long as you remember that Woody Williams is not real, that Matt Morris is as fictional as Hello Kitty, they can’t hurt you. Need more proof? Look for the dialogue bubbles around Williams’ during the post game press conference.

What’s that you say? Lot’s of major leaguers have alliterative names? What about Darren Dreifort, Rick Reed, Ugueth Urtain Urbina and even our own Mike Myers? Isn’t that all the more proof? After all, Mike Myers as Bill Simmons always reminds us, is a fictional character from the Halloween films. Ssssssshhhhhh…We don’t want Larry Walker or Jim Edmonds to know.

3. Cardinals fans are widely regarded as among the best in baseball and have been known to travel to road games dressed as Catholic Cardinals. In the spirit of neighborliness and good sportsmanship, Jose would like to offer a warning to Cardinals fans that come to Boston so dressed. Boston has not been so friendly to Cardinals of late. Cardinal Law was driven from the city (Note: And we can only hope these Cardinals will follow his lead). Also, don’t be surprised if you’re accosted by people demanding to know why you are closing their church or turning a blind eye to all manner of abuse. Other than that enjoy the game.

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

Thursday, October 21


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

1. There has now been article after article, after article about Curt Euro’s medical condition, the experimental sutures in his foot and his extraordinary game 6 performance in the ALCS. He is being compared favorably to Willis Reed, Larry Bird and Kirk Gibson. And actually, he outdid them all. But there has been another story of injury an anguish overcome because the good of the team demanded it; it is the story of Jose Melendez.

The morning after the Red Sox’s dramatic game 5 victory, Jose awoke with a sharp and intense pain in his left elbow. It was as though someone had struck it with a hammer or possibly a pipe wrench. When he straightened it, it hurt. When he bent it, it hurt. When he did noting, it also hurt. And in the event that anything touched it, it the pain had Jose screaming like A-Rod after a correct call at first base. Over the course of the morning the elbow grew red and swollen. It filled with fluid, became hot to the touch and the pain became more constant and driving.

Jose knew something was wrong, But thankfully he knew what to do, take four Advil and ignore it.
He pounded out the now famous "You are Jon Lieber" KEYS through the pain , and the Sox went on to win game 6 on the strength of Curt Euro’s brilliant effort.

Jose awoke the next morning to even greater pain in the elbow and some evidence that the soreness was spreading. Jose fought through the day again, wrote the KEYS and watched the Red Sox’s greatest win in 86 years. After the KEYS were posted that day, Jose thought about going to the doctor, but determined that the risk that he might be given "medical care" that would stretch into game time was unacceptable. He resolved to gut it out through the night.

Jose knows that the injury affected the KEYS. Twice he used "too" instead of "to" and typos spread like Chicken Pox, but damn it this was the ALCS, and Jose’s team was counting on him. Besides, had Jose not written the second guessing would have been unbelievable. Tony Castrati would have questioned Jose’s heart. Eric Kneel would have questioned his testicular fortitude. "Sixty percent of Jose Melendez is better than 100 percent of anyone else," the critics would say. "If he cared about this team as much as he cares about next year’s contract, he’d be out there."

And so Jose was out there and he delivered. He rejected a preset word count, choosing instead to write until he could write no more eventually working past 1,000 words each day. Frankly, if one looks at the quality of his KEY 3s, he probably should have been yanked after 600. He could seek medical care after the ALCS, and he did. "You have cellulitis," said the doctor. In another day or two it would have been in your blood. Then you’d be very sick and in the hospital. You’re lucky you came in when you did."

"Jose is lucky it wasn’t a best of nine series," answered Jose.

So Jose was sent off to Mass General Emergency Room for three hours for intravenous antibiotics. His stay had two highlights. First, they evacuated the emergency room after a security guard was forced to use pepper spray to restrain a violent patient in the psych emergency ward. It was Jose’s own little taste of playoff pandemonium. Second, while waiting in the hall with an IV in his arm, Jose had a lovely conversation with a young Tufts student in a Red Sox T-shirt, who had broken both feet while celebrating the Sox’s win in Kenmore Square. Apparently, she had climbed atop a sausage stand. Once there, the best idea seemed to be jumping off. It was not the best idea. So let this be a lesson to all of Jose’s fans. When Jose wins the Pulitzer, please riot responsibly.

So the bottom line is that Jose is now on antibiotics for ten days and bed rest until Monday. That means an alcohol free World Series (Note: Isn’t this like an R rated movie with no nudity?) Also, Jose is not supposed to do anything with his left arm, including typing. So Jose is writing this and KEYS for games 1 and 2 one handed, and frankly Jose is no longer the efficient one handed typist he was in his teenage days.

2. But there was a baseball game last night and it had nothing to do with Jose’s medical problems. The big shocker (Note: To almost everyone except Jose) was that DLowe truly was transformed. Now and forever, or at least until the regular season starts next year, he is the Paranoid Android no more. Truly, he is Megatron. In fact, when he comes out to pitch from now on, they should play the Transformers theme. You know "The Transformers, more than meets the eye. The Transformers, Robots in disguise. Red Sox face their battle to destroy the evil forces of the Yankees" (Note: Oops, Jose means Cardinals or Astros now.) Also, every time DLowe gets the third out of an inning they should play the Transformers "change of scene" music …. Da da da da daaaaayyuupppp.

3. Another big story last night was Johnny Damon’s spectacular night at the plate following an awful series. Everyone who had suggested that Terry Eurona should have benched him for "The World’s Most Perfectly Sculpted Jew" or Dave Roberts now admits they were wrong and that Eurona made a wise choice. But let’s be honest, It was an easy choice. Anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of the New Testament knew that Johnny was going to be resurrected.

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

Wednesday, October 20

From SoSH: Re: 10-20-04 Sox make history (Pt.4)

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

1. “If man is 5, if man is 5, if man is 5, if man is 5. Then the devil is 6, then the devil is 6 then the devil is 6 then the devil is 6. And if the devil is 6, THEN GOD IS 7, THEN GOD IS 7, THEN GOD is 7!!!” Surely, the Pixies of Boston must have been anticipating this situation when they wrote those words in “Monkey Gone to Heaven.” In game 5, our Boston Red Sox overcame the limitations of men with their superhuman performance. In game 6, they overcame the 55,000 bloodthirsty devil worshipers in the Bronx. And tonight, in game 7, they have but to embrace the deity, to pursue oneness with God, to seek peace and enlightenment. So give Kevin Youkilis a hug. He is the only god in the stadium and he is on our side…in fact, he’s under contract.

More on last night: Jose loved the sight of NYPD Blue manning the field after the Yankees fans went mad with rage over MLB Blue’s decision to make two correct calls.

“How dare they judge us fairly?” thought the Yankee partisans. “Are we not still the New York Yankees? Why should we suddenly be subject to the rules of the game? If we wish to strike a pitcher than we shall. If we think the oppositions should play with only five fielders is it not our divine right? The slap was but a just and righteous punishment for interfering with his social betters.”

The conventional explanation of the police in riot gear is that they were there to protect players and umpires from the whims of an animalistic and potentialy violent crowd. That is a lie. The constabulary in riot shields, armed with nightsticks and nine millimeter handguns had not come to protect the Red Sox from the fans. Why would they need to? Twenty-five Red Sox are men enough to whoop the entire city of New York if needs be. No, they fuzz was there to protect the Yankees from the Red Sox. Why? Because only the force of arms, only the full and fearsome power of the state could even hope to deter the Red Sox colossus.

Yes, Gary Sheffield was right when he called the Sox a “walking disaster.” The Red Sox are a volcano erupting with fury, liquidating all that stands before them. The Red Sox are a hurricane, battering and brutalizing the Yankees, pausing for a moment before the onslaught begins anew. The Red Sox are a tidal wave, washing away everything in their path. The Red Sox are a meteor strike, coming out of nowhere to lay waste to the land.

In fairness, the Yankees are a disaster to—they are a tornado. They emit a lot of wind, but in the end they mostly just suck.

2. At this point it appears that a certain DLowe the Paranoid Android will be starting game 7 for the Red Sox. One imagines that the Yankees sluggers must be rubbing their hands together with glee in anticipation of DLowe’s seemingly inevitable short circuit. This is good. Jose loves surprises.

You see, there’s a funny thing about robots—they change. With human beings, what you see is what you get. To quote legendary boxing trainer Cus D’Amato by way of Ron Borges, “A man born round don’t die square.” Kevin Brown will always be Kevin Brown. He came out of that goat a yokel with a tendency towards implosion, and he’ll die a yokel with a tendency towards implosion. ARod will always be ARod, a scared little girl who would be happier brushing her hair and looking in the mirror, than contributing to here team. And Jason Giambi will always be Jason Giambi. No, wait. He completely changed who he was with chemicals. Bad example. So let’s substitute this one. Gary Sheffield will always be…no…he doesn’t work either. One more. Tanyon Sturze will always be Tanyon Sturze, the shame of Worcester, a natural born Devil Ray who expects to lose and then ensures that he does.

Robots, by contrast, are never just robots. Robots can be born round and reforged so they are square or rhomboid or whatever. They change; they upgrade. They are deconstructed and rebuilt. What you see is never what you get. When the Yankees go to bat in the bottom of the first tonight, they will be looking for a neurotic little droid; they will have prepared for a neurotic little droid, but they will not find him. Instead, they will find a robot transformed. DLowe will be Megatron, ready to transform into a gun and launch bullets across the corners of the plate. DLowe will be Voltron, ready to combine five other robots into an invincible power. DLowe will be the Iron Giant, a visitor from another world who to quote Sam Melendez “may fall apart but always comes back together.” It is game 7 of the ALCS, and the Yankees feel safe behind their impenetrable Maginot line.

3. Immediately after Keith Foulke’s game ending strike out of Tony “Nice Guy Finishing Last” Clark, Jose made two phone calls. The first was to his brother.

“Sam,” Jose said. “Jose thinks he is going to write about 800 words tomorrow on A-Rod’s mincing, limp-wristed slap that even a ten-year old girl would have been embarrassed to dispense.”

The second call was to Jose’s friend Jamie.

“Jose,” Jamie said. “The best analysis I heard of tonight’s game came from my girlfriend Sara. As soon as they showed the replay of the A-Rod play, she remarked ‘You know, A-Rod runs like Phoebe from friends.” Poof, the 800 words was completely gone. What could Jose say, how many volumes would it take for him to capture the perfection of that characterization? (Note: Maybe A-Rod didn’t know he was doing something wrong? Maybe he just thought that slapping is what “slap hitters do.”)

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

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.

Monday, October 18

From SoSH: Re: 10-18-04 Sox make history(Pt.2)

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

1. It is curious that Jose has less to say after last night’s fantastic win than after Saturday night’s horrific loss. Even coming up with that last sentence took 15 minutes. Jose supposes that there is more humor in the tragic than in the divine. That’s why Dante’s Inferno is such a laugh riot and Paradiso is such a drag. But if that is the price of victory, Jose will gladly be unfunny on seven more occasions this year.

After last night’s win, Jose doesn’t even care that the Kingston Trio sang the national anthem. (Note: Though couldn’t they have had “Theo and the Trio” join them for Charlie on the MTA?) (Additional Note: Even thought the Kingston Trio was a ridiculous choice, it was still a huge upgrade over the Cowsills. It’s like upgrading from John Burkett to…well not Curt Euro, but maybe Balki Arroyo.) We do appear to be moving further backwards in time with the anthem though, don’t we? Jose assumes that tonight we’ll have Mozart out there saluting America. Then, if we make it to the World Series, We’ll have Og the Caveman pounding it out on a sheepskin drum.

Last night’s game was theater of the improbable. DLowe the Paranoid Android pitched passably and ended each inning with a hearty exhale, and an “I can’t believe I got out of that inning look” instead of giving the look during each inning. Curtis Leskanic, who only the night before was about as effective as a tee, looked like the second coming of Lee Smith. The Red Sox even used a stolen base to tie a game. Yes, these are strange, strange days.

There’s been a lot of blame assigned in this series but Jose would like to give out a little credit to some of last night’s unsung heroes. First, he would like to give the Melendezette credit for realizing that hairy legs were not working in game 3 and shaving. Kevin Millar apparently had the same idea, in switching from the “facial pubes” to the neatly trimmed goatee. Jose doubted you both, but you proved him wrong. Second, Jose would like to give credit to his friend Audrey who brought a picture of her choking out Derek Jeter to Jose’s apartment, and lo and behold, choke Jeter did. Finally, Jose would like to thank Wes Chamberlain who the Red Sox acquired in exchange for Paul Quantrill in 1994. That set in motion the chain of events that led to Quantrill surrendering the game winning shot in the 12th last night. Wes Chamberlain, Jose thanks you for finally, finally contributing something to the Red Sox.

2. Let’s see. Jose couldn’t get up early and work on KEYS because he didn’t get to sleep until about 2:30, and Jose has a really busy day, so he can’t spend too much time writing at the office…soooo…well, lets just switch to default settings and that means shredding Tony Castrati.

What TC says: “The challenge remains considerable, the chance at ultimate victory highly improbable.”

What TC means: The mountain is high the valley is low, and you’re so confused, bout which way to go.

What TC says: The goal is to ensure there will be a game at Yankee Stadium tomorrow.

What TC means: After the Red Sox win, I will yell Goooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllll!!!
like that Spanish speaking soccer guy, Andres Cantor or whoever.

What TC says: “And never have the Red Sox been happier to take them one game at time.”

What TC means: According to my sources, the Yankees wanted the rain out replayed as part of a double header yesterday, but the Red Sox objected saying that it was “a really f’ing stupid idea.”

What TC says: “Added the Sox manager: ‘We did a lot of things to hang on.’”

What TC means: Terry Francona (sic) has one of those posters of the kitten hanging on a tree limb with the caption “Hang in there baby” in his office. He brought it out before the game and repeatedly told his players “Be the kitten. You are the kitten. You hear me Lowe? You’re the god damn kitten.”

What TC says: “There was tension and there was drama”

What TC means: Unlike Friday night when they replaced the rained out game with a David Arquette movie. That’s the best you can do FOX?

What TC says: “Is this a series now? It is still too early to say.”

What TC means: Five games is more a progression than a series in my mind.

What TC says: The Yankees outplayed the Red Sox in Games 1, 2 and 3, and they took the Sox to 12 innings in Game 4. There really is not much else to it.”

What TC means: And yet I managed to stretch it to 500 words.

What TC says: “At this time of year, the laws apply to everyone.”

What TC means: Yup, had O.J. committed murder in October he would have gone to prison, but he did it in June when the laws don’t apply to everyone, so he walked.

3. New York can have its Nicholsons and Spike Lees. You want celebrities? We’ve got celebrities up the wazoo right here in Boston baby!!! The stands were so thick with celebs that Jose didn’t need to be at the game or even have television point them out for him to pick out a few. Look over there!!! There’s former State Senator, Candidate for Governor and candidate for Lieutenant Governor Warren Tolman looking sharp in a traditional blue Red Sox cap. And who’s that over there? Why it’s Attorney General Tom Reilly wiping the sleep out of his eyes. No accusing the Red Sox and Major League Baseball of being a massively corrupt enterprise for you tonight Mr. Attorney General. Nope, tonight you just wallow in it.

You can see why Fox didn’t bother to mention that these celebs were in attendance. When you have names this big, you don’t need to name them. (Note: speaking of celebrities, did anyone else notice Brookline High Valedictorian Conan O’Brien at game 2, wearing some random non-Red Sox cap? Conan, if you’re going to go to the games, represent.)

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

Sunday, October 17

From SoSH:Re: 10-17-04 The Sox make history

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

1. Everything about last night’s game was just wrong. Jose knows you don’t need him to tell you that, but he needs to say it. It was wrong like the Simpsons being preempted for the People’s Choice Awards, wrong like Ben Afflek continuing to get lead roles in movies and wrong like the WWF making John Bradshaw Layfield champion. Everything about this game left one feeling disturbed, unsettled and dirty. And it wasn’t just that the Red Sox couldn’t get anyone out (Note: Though this was most of the problem.) It was everything.

Jose really didn’t want to write today. It just seemed like such an unpleasant task to revisit the game. (Note: In fact SoSHer lushess255 who is one of JOSE’S PEOPLE, and took him to the game last night, suggested that Jose escape this task by using as KEYS "1. Pitching 2. Defense 3. Hitting." Actually not a bad idea as a "change up." Jose was thinking about doing it, but then the rant bug overcame him.)

The problems started with the national anthem. It was performed by the Cowsills, or something like that, who are apparently a Newport based family of musicians on whom the Partridge family was based. So after they sang the anthem, they sang their biggest hit which was the song "Hair" that his been a bit of a theme for this year’s wacky, hirsute Red Sox. Jose always thought that was from the musical "Hair," and maybe it is, but whatever. It would have been one thing if they’d played "Hair" while showing the montage of crazy Red Sox antics that usually accompanies it on the jumbotron, but they did not. Instead, the Cowsills stood there looking worn, burnt out and completely alone.

Aren’t there at least 600,000 musical acts in New England that would have been a better fit? Jose thinks he can name at least 200,000. And Jose’s not just talking about the big one’s, Aerosmith, The Pixies and so on. Jose would have been happier seeing Big D and the Kids Table, Dogzilla or the Allstonians up there. For that matter the Belmont High School Marching band would have been a better choice.

It got worse. The Cowsills were wearing Red Sox jerseys numbering 1 through 5. Normally, Jose could have lived with this. But not this time. Not when the trio of Dom DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr and Johnny Pesky threw out the first pitch. Bringing them out was a good choice, but all Jose could thing about was how Bobby Doerr must be noticing that his number, his RETIRED number, was on the back of a Cowsill. This did not bode well. Why not give Yaz’s number 8 to Lenny Clarke? Or Ted Williams’s number 9 to Jordan Knight? Or Joe Cronin’s number 4 to Maura Tierney? (Note: Okay, Jose could live with that and you could to.) Or give Carlton Fiske’s number 27 to Duke of Dorchester Pete Doherty? This was bad, bad, bad. And it got worse.

Jose will not dwell on the actual things that went on in the game, for if he started to list them, this KEY would be about 25,000 words. Frankly, about the only thing that went right was the guy from the State Police who sang "God Bless America." Jose’s is usually anti-God Bless America at ball games, he finds it deeply cynical, but this guy was amazing and was the only Bostonian on the field to show and balls last night. Suffice it to say that unless the Red Sox turn it around today, the KEYS TO THE GAME 2004 book (Note: which will be available shortly after the season on Jose’s site) will have an ending slightly less cheerful than Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

2. During the rainout Jose learned from his friend Audrey, who is Chinese, that her father’s unpronounceable Chinese first name means "The Surrender of Italy." Jose finds this fascinating. Apparently, he was born in 1943 to a Chinese Nationalist Army General. Jose doesn’t know for sure, but he believes that "The Surrender of Italy" was named in anticipation of the eventual Italian surrender in World War II.

This has given Jose an idea. In the unlikely event that a child is born to him before the end of this series, he will be named "The Red Sox Make a Historic Come Back From Three Games Down to Win the ALCS." Of course, that only works if it’s a boy. If he has a daughter she will be named the much more feminine "Mariano Rivera Blows a Save in Game 7 of the ALCS and Picks Up the Loss While Simultaneously Throwing Out His Elbow So He Can Never Pitch Again." Mellifluous isn’t it?

Either of these names will be great unless the child ever falls down a well.

3. Jose spent the game last night sitting next to perhaps the two drunkest and most obnoxious people in all of Fenway Park. (Note: Jose isn’t saying that there weren’t people who were drunker, but he’s pretty sure anyone drunker was unconscious.) These two fellows were fairly cogent when they first sat down, and almost interesting, but as the beers kept coming and coming they descended into incoherence. Their commentary devolved to shrieking "Reeeeeeeeeeeeddddddddddddddd SSSSSSSSSSoooooooooooooxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" in high pitched squeals and tormenting a couple of Yankee fans nearby with warnings of grotesque violence to come, screams of "Yankee Slut" and threats of assault on the female fan. Somehow this failed to inspire the Sox to a miraculous comeback.

It did, however, attract the attention of Fenway Park Security and the Boston Police Department, who, quite rightly, came to escort these gentlemen from the premises. Of course, one of them was having none of it and decided to go into passive resistance mode, falling to the ground and allowing his face to be dragged along it. Gandhi would have been proud. Frankly, it was the highlight of the evening. The funny thing though, was that as drunk and incoherent as these two guys were, they were still ten times as insightful as Tim McCarver.

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