Wednesday, November 10


It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE.

Jose has tried writing about politics, and it’s okay. He’s written about travel; it’s not bad. As he struggles to adjust to writing KEYS without daily Red Sox games to serve as muse, he’s been asking his friends and family for ideas, and boy have the ideas come. Sam Melendez suggested KEYS TO FARTING and the Melendezette offered KEYS TO THE PROPER USE OF LEMON JUICE IN COOKING. These are both fine ideas, but somehow they fail to truly inspire Jose. No, it’s baseball Jose loves, and baseball that drives him, and thus today, Jose returns the national pastime (Note: And more importantly Jose’s pastime) to its rightful place in the KEYS.

1. Scott Boras is so cool. Jose just thinks that his insane demands are awesome. He’s like a super villain taking to the airwaves to demand some insane ransom. The only problem is that unlike in the comic books, some crazed owner will actually pay the ransom. Would the comic book President ever give Lex Luthor $10 million per year for five years with a no trade clause? Hell, no…He’d let Superman work it out (Note: did Jose really just reference DC Comics? Jose has purchased about 5,000 Marvel comics since his last DC Comic, man is Jose being disloyal right now.) But this is not a comic book and in the real world, the super villain seems to win far too often.

But to Boras it isn’t evil. (Note: At least Jose imagines that Boras doesn’t sit in his office cackling about his evil plans. But maybe he does?) No, Boras calls it negotiating. Jose doesn’t know too much about negotiating, but most of what he knows come from a popular little book called "Getting to Yes." "Getting to Yes" talks a lot about making "win-win" scenarios in negotiations. Jose suspects that Boras shares the same approach to "win-win" negotiating as a union guy Jose knows who said "To a company. win-win means I win twice, and you lose twice."

Boras does deserve his reputation for getting absolute top dollar for his clients, but boy it sure looks like he secures that top dollar at the expense of everything that makes life worth living. As Jose recalls from his one semester of micoreconomics, there exists a concept called "utilities," the idea that there are units of pleasure or enjoyment that one can take from certain activities or experience, and that those units must be balanced against money and other values. Jose is pretty sure that for Boras, the only source of utilities is money. To him, a dollar is worth a dollar, and everything that is not a dollar is worth zero dollars. Time with family? Worth zero. Playing in a great baseball town? Worth zero. Winning games? Zeeeerrrooooo. A legacy? Well, that’s worth…let’s see…one, two, three…nope, still zero. His philosophy appears to be – if it ain’t worth a dollar, it ain’t worth sh*t.

We all know Boras got ARod a huge contract that put him in a setting where he was completely miserable. What Jose wonders is, how miserable a situation would Boras put one of his clients in order to get the maximum contract? If the Nippon Ham Fighters offered Varitek $11 million per year for six years, would Boras get him to sign there? What if an eccentric Dominican millionaire (Note: Pedro?) offered him $12 million a year to play on his Dominican League team? Better yet, what if an eccentric billionaire who loves to pitch for fun offered Varitek $15 million per year for seven years to just be his personal backyard catcher? Boras would pressure Varitek to take it right? If the billionaire threw knuckleballs would he need to pay more?

2. And then there is the matter of Pedro’s contract. Jose, of course, saw the offer scrolling across the bottom of a TV screen on Sunday and became convinced that the Red Sox had signed Pedro to the 2 year $13 million per year plus a club option deal. But, he wasn’t completely sure, so he and his brother Sam put on the radio while they were driving to Walden Pond in order to confirm Jose’s suspicion. The lead story was the Patriots.

"I don’t think they signed him," said Sam.

"No, no," replied Jose. "They’re just giving the Patriots their due by mentioning them first on the Sports flash." Then they gave Celtics news.

"See, they didn’t sign him," said Sam.

"Umm…they could just be waiting until after the break," said Jose. Then the announcer moved on to news that BC Football would be ranked number 21 in the country.

"Okay," Jose conceded, "It looks like they didn’t even resign Sandy Martinez today, much less Pedro Martinez."

So that presents the question of the day: Are the Red Sox such a big story today that even resigning Sandy Martinez would beat out BC Football as a headline? Jose says yes. Of course, Jose also thinks signing Senator Elect Mel Martinez would and should beat out BC Football.

3. There has been a tremendous amount of publicity given to Curt Euro’s toughness after he used 12 million dollar man technology to battle through a jellied ankle and pitch brilliantly in game 6 of the ALCS and game 2 of the World Series. While some lunatics had doubted his toughness and claimed he was exaggerating, for instance that woman at the Baltimore Sun who Jose refuses to name (Note: Or who Jose can’t remember the name of), Jose had never doubted it…until today.

According to the Herald, Euro had three hours of surgery to repair the sheath around his ankle tendon and will now be resting the ankle for one month and then undergoing 4-6 weeks of rehab. Three hours of surgery, sounds pretty bad doesn’t it? Well, at least until you consider the fact that Celtics swingman Paul Pierce just had SEVEN hours of surgery was back the NEXT DAY and hit the GAME WINNING SHOT. If Curt Euro was a real tough guy he’d be starting in the Dominican winter league or something tomorrow and throwing a one hitter.

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

Monday, November 8


It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE ELECTION AFTERMATH.

1. Jose has been thinking about what to write in this space for days now. Jose had a plan for what he was going to write. He was going to write about how John Kerry’s victory had made Boston Winnerstown, USA, about how Boston was home to The Super Bowl Champions, World Series Champions and President of the United States of America. Jose was going to guarantee that the New England Revolution would take the coveted MLS Cup and lament the fact that only the second place finish of Boston Rob in Survivor All-Stars had kept us from sweeping every competition in the country. (Note: And perhaps Jose would have mentioned that by marrying Amber, the winner, Rob had cleverly hedged his bets…winning by losing.)

But that set of KEYS will never be written. Nor will Jose write one of those woeful self-pitying pieces about how the Kerry defeat was a rejection of the entire region. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, Jose doesn’t really care. We conquered the rest of the country in both baseball and football; they don’t have to like us—they need only fear and envy us. So Jose will not be writing victory KEYS, nor will he write self pity KEYS. Instead, Jose is writing these KEYS…these right here.

Jose though hard about writing these KEYS at about 5 AM the morning after the election when a certain nameless right wing propaganda organ called Ohio, and thus the election, for Bush. Jose had gone to bed at about 12:30 fearing the worst and hoping for, well maybe not the best, that seemed unrealistic, maybe hoping for a long drawn out legal battle. He woke up at 5 AM, and saw the sad news. He really did think about writing right then and there, but he delayed. He thought about writing after Kerry conceded too, but again he delayed. Jose delayed because frankly what he was feeling at the moment was not funny, and certainly unlikely to appeal to Jose’s many readers who have political views quite different from his own. (Note: Libertarians, Republicans, Greens, Stalinists, neo-Stalinists, post neo-Stalinists, etc.)

Jose could have written about how the country had voted for increased elderly poverty, for tax cuts for billionaires, for poison in the air, for the persecution of gays and the rollback of women’s rights. Yes, Jose could have written about any of that, but he didn’t, because it is simply not funny. (Note: Maybe air pollution is a little funny if the pollutants have silly, rhyming names like chlorofluorocarbons. Elderly poverty, by contrast, is rarely funny.) And as a liberal all Jose has left is funny. It’s not that President Bush is some buffoon who is an easy subject of fun (Note: He may or may not be said buffoon, but that is not the point). Rather, since the Republicans have seized the presidency, the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court and most governorships, all liberals are left with his humor. That and the Governor’s Office in New Hampshire. Whooppee!!!
The simple fact is that impotence, both political and sexual is the mother (Note: Or would impotence be father? Or is it just a completely inapt metaphor?) of all humor. Why are there so many Viagra jokes? Impotence. Why does Poland possess the world’s greatest store of Russian jokes? Impotence, of the political variety. When one is completely powerless beneath the thumb of a political oppressor, jokes must often substitute for guns. (Note: An example from Jose’s father’s travels in Poland is "As we drink our Vodka, let me honor it with a traditional Polish toast…Here’s to the Russian Navy…Bottoms Up!!!) (Additional note for Jose’s many Russian readers: You guys are great sports. And of course your Navy would not build the bottom or "hull" of a boat on the top or "deck." Jose both saw and read "Hunt for Red October," and he knows you guys are badass.)

So Jose will refrain from vicious political attacks about the Republicans’ cronyism, hatred of the poor and fiscal irresponsibility. Instead, he will stick to lighthearted humor about the Republicans cronyism, hatred of the poor and fiscal irresponsibility. Also more jokes about the fact that the President and Vice President and named "Dick" and "Bush" respectively, those have a certain quiet, dignified causticity. But seriously, you Republicans won fair and square (Note: If viciously), and you are great sports. Now please don’t tap Jose’s phone.

2. There has been a lot of talk about whether President Bush’s 51% tally in the popular vote constitutes a "mandate." Everywhere Jose turns he hears people asking "Did President Bush win a mandate?" "Does President Bush now have the mandate that he lacked four years ago?" Frankly, Jose is a little confused. Why does President Bush want a man date? Jose was almost sure that Bush won all of those "moral values" voters by campaigning explicitly against homosexuality.

3. So let’s see, George W. Bush got elected in 2000 (Note: Sort of) running against peace and prosperity. Then in 2004, he got reelected running on war and economic stagnation. So what does this mean? The way Jose sees it, if this trend continues, by 2008 we’ll be at war with France, China and Freedonia and using box tops from Cookie Crunch Cereal as our official currency and George W. Bush will be elected President for Life with 115% of the vote. In fairness, since the Democrats don’t seem to be able to win by presiding over piece and prosperity or opposing war and economic stagnation, it seems likely that if a Democratic President were to usher in world peace and give every new baby a Rolex and a case of 18 year old scotch, he would still lose in the electoral college. As best, Jose can tell, we Democrats are simply not that good at this whole "running for office thing."

(Note: So those are Jose’s election KEYS. They’re over with now, and Jose is glad. Jose needed to write on the subject, but at heart he is truly a uniter and not a divider, particularly not a long divider, so look forward to tripartite commentary in this space on unifying subjects like the designated hitter, arbitration and the Rule V draft.) (Additional Note: If President Bush proposes something called the "Rule V draft" in Congress, don’t be fooled. It will have nothing to do with minor league prospects.)

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