Friday, December 17



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

1. There are a lot of things in the world of baseball that could disturb Jose Melendez today. He could be disturbed by the fact that ESPN told him that Randy Johnson was headed to the Yankees last night. (Note: Of course, ESPN was lying, but it still didn’t feel too good. It’s like someone telling you a friend was seriously injured in an accident, and then saying he was just kidding. Sure you’re relieved that there was no accident, but you’re scared and disturbed by the fact that someone would make up such a mean spirited lie.) He could be disturbed by the fact that Tim Hudson, the best available pitcher is gone to the Braves. (Note: Sorry to the good people of Hudson. Jose appreciates your effort. Can you change your town’s name to Sheets or Burnett now?) (Additional Note: Is it true that the town of Mt. Washington, Massachusetts was named in honor of the Patriots signing mountainous defensive lineman Ted Washington in 2003?) He could be disturbed that Pedro is taking some odd shots at the Red Sox on his way out. He could even be disturbed by the growing evidence that the only members of the 2004 squad who will be there to hoist the flag on opening day will be Kevin Youkilis and Johnny Damon. (Note: Though as long as Little Crespo isn’t there, Jose can deal.) But Jose doesn’t sweat the small stuff, no sir.

What really disturbs Jose is the revelation in the Faith Rewarded DVD that David Ortiz’s favorite television program is Friends. Pardon? Friends? Seriously?

You are David Ortiz, the Dominican Jimmy Foxx, Big Papi scourge of the Yankees, king of the post season, ravager of right handed pitching…Friends? People used to fear you in the batters box. Pitchers hands would tremble, opposing fans would weep. When Jared Washburn came in to face you in the game 3 of the division series, do you know what he was thinking?

“I am terrified of this man. Terrified.”

Do you know what he’ll be thinking next time?

“I wonder if David sent a get well card to Matthew Perry when he was in rehab.”

Do you know what Paul Quantrill thought in game 4 of the ALCS before you cranked the game winner?

“This guy is a monster, a clutch monster, and I don’t like my chances.”

And now?

“Most guys like Monica or Rachel, but I bet David likes Phoebe. Yup, he seems like a Phoebe guy. I bet he likes how she plays the guitar and loves animals.”

This is a big problem, and it needs to be addressed right away. (Note: Big Papi gave Scarface as his favorite movie. How is it even possible for someone to have Friends as his favorite TV show and Scarface as his favorite movie. The only more ridiculous combination Jose can think of would be Full House and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.)

So here’s what Jose proposes: Ortiz needs to find a new favorite TV show. Friends is off the air anyway, so it’s time. And no it can’t be Joey. Jose thinks it should be something that fits in with his style of ball, something like “M*A*S*H.”

2. Let’s talk a little bit about the proposed Randy Johnson deal. Jose’s initial reaction is that the Yankees are trying to get taller, so if the Johnson deal falls through, look for them to go after Derek Lowe or possibly Acie Earl.

But wait, there’s more. A lot of people have wondered why Johnson has been so insistent that he go to the Yankees. Jose has a theory. Back in 1995, when Jose worked at Fenway concession stand 7, he saw Randy Johnson walking through the tunnels wearing a Beastie Boys shirt with the sleeves cut off. So here is Jose’s theory: Johnson wants to go to New York because that’s why the Beastie Boys are from.

Now that we know this, Theo should be able to counter it. First, he should point out that the Beastie Boys are on tour a lot and probably don’t spend that much time in New York any more. Second, he should offer Johnson the opportunity to hang out with Boston’s own Bel Biv Devoe if he comes to the Sox, because they are not on tour a lot, and probably do spend a lot of time just hanging around. (Note: Though under no circumstances should Theo offer Johnson the chance to hang around with the Cowsills.)

3. According to the Boston Globe, Dr. Bill Morgan, who performed the experimental surgery on Curt Euro’s ankle will “be leaving his post as the club’s medical director.” Jose has a few ideas for replacements:

Dr. Frankenstein: Maybe he can build a number two starter out of pieces of Matt Mantei, Lenny Dinardo and Euro “Tikka” Malaska.

Dr. Strangelove: Since the ownership seems intent on blowing the team up, maybe he could help.

Dr. Doolittle: The ability to talk with the animals seems like it would help a lot with this group.

Dr. Strange: One of only two people on this list who is an actual medical doctor, though as Jose recalls his surgical skills were lost in an accident, which in turn led him to seek his magical powers.

Dr. Doom: Never mind. His desire to take over the world would put him in direct conflict with John W. Henry, if we are to believe what some anonymous third hand sources tell us.

Dr. Who: In addition to having helpful time travel abilities, could do a great rendition of “Who’s On First.”

Dr. Nick Riviera: He would seem to be a god fit for a team that is committed to not overpaying staff.

Dr. Hawkeye Pierce: He’s from Maine so he’s probably a Sox fan, and he’s the best surgeon in the whole 4077. This also gave Jose an opportunity to work M*A*S*H into a single KEYS twice.

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

Thursday, December 16



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

1. When Sox ace Pedro Martinez announced that he would sign with the New York Mets, the clouds burst and the rain fell on Red Sox Nation. Then, when Curt Euro declared the following day that he would not be ready for opening day the rain came down in sheets (Note: But lamentably not Ben Sheets), like God himself, was hurling buckets at the city of Boston.

“When it rains it pours,” moaned the Red Sox fans as their formidable pitching duo disappeared.

Well, Jose hates to be the bearer of more bad news but…well…let’s put it this way…Jose just saw some guy with a beard ushering animals by the twos on to a big wooden boat about 100 cubits in length.

Here’s the news: Jose Melendez may not be ready for opening day. As loyal readers may recall, Jose battled heroically through a painful infection in his left elbow during the second half of the ALCS and the World Series. The first course of antibiotics did a great job of rolling back the infection’s progress, but much like the Yankees pitching staff, it lacked a knock out blow. So Jose took a second course of antibiotics that ended a few days ago. Again, the antibiotics are issuing late game walks and failing to hold runners. One bloop single and the infection may return in full.

The bottom line is Jose cannot guarantee that he is going to be ready for spring training and even opening day. It’s not that Jose can’t write through it, after all, he’s writing right now. But this is different, it’s the off season; the competition and the demands are less fierce. Writing three or four times per week is nothing like the wearing grind of the regular season. Once he starts writing day in day out, that bad left elbow might really hurt Jose’s ability to work the left side of the keyboard. Words with “w” are going to be difficult, and he might have to lay off “q” words completely. Can Jose be effective without the letter “q”? Clearly he can’t be as effective. After all, if he can’t cite Carlos Quintana, does he really have all of his weapons?

The question is whether the Sox can stay competitive if Jose has to take the first month off in order to return to full strength. Can the Sox survive with Dario Veras or Josias Manzanillo writing KEYS? Jose knows that no one wants to contemplate that, so it might be time for Theo to make a move for an obscure Latin reliever. Maybe he can pick up Eduardo Villacis from the Royals.

2. Welcome to the ER, bitch!!! While most Sox fans are sorry to see shortstop Orlando Cabrera go, the signing of Edgar Renteria has been widely heralded as an excellent move. How excited are Sox fans about signing the former All-Star and gold glover? Very excited. So excited, in fact, that according to Jose’s sources, residents of the Martha’s Vineyard resort town of Orlando, Massachusetts have decided to rename their town “Edgartown.” That’s dedication. (Note: It looks like Bostondirtdogs got in an Edgartown joke first. Nuts. Well, Jose has to give credit where it is due.)

In related news, the residents of Martinez, Massachusetts have changed their name to “Belchertown” as part of an effort to encourage the Red Sox to replace Pedro Martinez by bringing righty Tim Belcher out of retirement. Hopefully, their efforts will be less successful than that of the residents of Hudson, Massachusetts.

3. Jose hasn’t said too much about the John Ha-lama signing yet, but basically he likes it. Ha-lama is left handed, he’s versatile and he will increase the profile of the “Free Tibet” issue in the Boston metropolitan area.

Also, this is good for deity diversity on the team. We now have Jesus Christ, a Greek God and a reincarnation of the Budhda all playing on the Red Sox. Now if we can just sign an alien to represent the scientologists, we’ll be all set. Tom Werner is a Hollywood guy; Jose bets he can find one.

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

Monday, December 13



It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE WINTER MEETINGS.

1. Jose is sad. Jose, is just really, really sad. The Red Sox have caused a lot of sadness in Melendezville over the years, but this is different. The 2003 ALCS was a sort of sadness mixed with rage and a deep burning pain, sadness wrought by fire. When Roger Clemens left for Toronto it was a stinging sadness, like being slapped in the face by someone for whom you cared. When Mo Vaughn left for Anaheim, it was an empty, lonely kind of sadness, like the end of a relationship where things had gotten so bad, where the distrust was so complete, that no reconciliation seemed possible. This sadness is different. Pedro is different.

There is no bitterness, no anger, no sharp pain. All that remains is warm memories of good times, and sadness that there will be no new memories, that the warmth and goodness are gone. Pedro will not come out of the bullpen with his arm dangling and still pitch six shutout innings again, he will not strike out 17 Yankees again, he will not don a Yoda mask in the Sox dugout again, he will never salsa dance on the Fenway turf again.

If Roger Clemens was a bad breakup, if Mo Vaughn was a bad breakup, then Pedro is a good breakup. Have you ever ended a relationship where you were still in love, where there was warmth and good times, but it just couldn’t be sustained? Where fundamental differences in what each of you wanted out of life and out of a partner made staying together simply impractical? Jose has. And he was right to do it…and so were the Red Sox…and so was Pedro.

And it hurts. And it’s lonely. And it so, so sad. But it is the right decision…for everybody. But you recover with time; you fall out of love. You find someone, new, you find someone better. And the sadness stops, and the dull ache melts into the continuum of physical sensation and all that remains is those warm, happy memories.

Thank you Pedro Martinez. Red Sox nation enjoyed the time we spent with you, we’ll never forget it, and we’ll miss you, but we just didn’t have a future together. We wanted different things. You wanted four years, we wanted financial flexibility. And love? Love is wonderful but one of the most foolish myths of American society is that love conquers all. Love conquers a lot, but not all…and it sure can make one stupid, but not guaranteed fourth year stupid.

So good luck Pedro. We’ll miss you, and we wish you well. We’re sorry it needed to end, but this is the right thing for both of us.

2. According to a variety of sources, the Red Sox are making a serious play for Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado. The Sox’s decision to pursue Delgado represents a stunning change of direction for the Red Sox. After getting burned by Venezuelan first baseman Carlos Quintana (Note: Touted by some as the Latin Wade Boggs, branded by others the Latin Sam Horn, and in reality closer to the Latin Brian Daubach) and reliever Carlos Reyes, the Red Sox appeared to have sworn off Carloses (Note: Or is it Carlosi?)for the past six years. Apparently, that era may be coming to a close. On the upside the, Red Sox have still avoided all players named Scott since the 1990-2001 run where Scoot Cooper, Scott Fletcher, Scott Hatteberg ensured that there was always at least one underperforming Scott on the team. (Note: This was also the time when the Patriots had Scott Sisson and Scott Seychules. Just about the only Scotts we didn’t have in town were Byron Scott playing for the Celtics and figure skater Scott Hamilton playing for the Bruins. Also, Scott Harshbarger lost his bid for Governor.)

(CORRECTION: Okay, there have been lots of other Scotts, Sauerbeck, Williamson...Jose was just lost in his grief about Pedro.)

3. Now a final note regarding the great Pedro Martinez. David Ortiz revealed potential for a future career as an agent when he stated "Pedro ain’t going to no Mets." We all that he was using a double negative because English is his second language. Dead wrong. He was playing us. Ortiz knew exactly what he was saying, and he was right – Pedro ain’t going to no Mets. He IS going to the Mets.

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

Sunday, December 12



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

Today KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE comes to you live from our nation’s capitol, Arlington, Virginia.

1. Jose got very excited last night because led him to believe that the Red Sox had signed St. Louis shortstop Edgar Renteria to a four year $40 million package. It’s not that Jose misread, it’s that he was mislead. Yes…yes, that must be it.

Apparently, this is not the actual case. The Red Sox have only made an offer, which is a shame, because Jose was fully prepared to start in with a few Renteria jokes to set the tone.

For instance, Jose was going to bid a fond farewell to the Orlando Cabrera era. Yes, we all enjoyed yelling “Welcome to the OC bitch” (Note: All due credit to whoever came up with that line, God knows it wasn’t Jose) whenever OC would make one of his slick plays with the glove or drive an improbable two out double, but Jose thinks that we can all agree that this is an upgrade. After all, the OC entertaining as it may be, (Note: Which is to say not entertaining at all. Joes has never watched the OC, but he can tell.) is basically a trivial tribute to and affirmation of all that is decadent and deviant in American culture. But now we have replaced the OC with ER. ER is not only four time gold glover and superior shortstop, but also represents a high point in American television – he represents the heroic efforts of doctors and nurses in a big city emergency room as they struggle to save their patients while simultaneously struggling to save their own personal lives. He also represents Maura Tierney’s return to prime time television and the fact that the guy who played Kubiak on Parker Lewis Can’t Lose can still find work. What’s not to like? (Note: The blood. Jose Melendez is not crazy about blood, so he seldom watches ER, but still…)

So Jose joins with all of Red Sox Nation in hoping and praying that in the next day or two, he will be able to say “Welcome to the ER, bitch.”

2. So the Red Sox gave a two year deal to a 41 year old pitcher. Jose knows it sounds bad, but trust Jose, you need to hear the rest and think it through before you flip out. He’s not just any 41 year old pitcher, he’s a 41 year old pitcher who is chronically overweight, has a bad attitude and may well be an alcoholic. Also, he hates Fenway Park and has expressed an interest in heading the demolitions crew should the Red Sox ever take crowbar to steel. See don’t you feel better now that you know the whole story?

Signing Wells for two years for $8 million with the potential for him to earn $10 million more in incentives is the sort of the deal that not only raises eyebrows, but causes eyebrows to become fuller, thicker and more lush in order to be more noticeable as they are raised. There are a lot of Sox fans walking around today looking like Michael Dukakis or Frida Kahlo. Yes, Theo has earned a lot of faith and a lot of good will by putting together a WORLD SERIES CHAMPION team, but Jose is still a little wary of this deal.

Everyone says that Wells will fit in perfectly with the Red Sox “bunch of idiots” concept. Now, Jose likes people with extremely low IQs as much as anyone, but is it possible that the Sox are starting to take this approach a little bit too far? Instead of focusing on skill, age, and conditioning, is it possible that the Red Sox are only looking for people with limited mental faculties? If that is the case, is it possible that a Jose Canseco signing is just around the corner? What about a comeback from Mike Greenwell?

You can see why Jose is concerned. So in order to prevent these sorts of dangerous moves from happening in the future, Jose has a simple suggestion. Instead of acquiring idiots, the absolute lowest end of the IQ spectrum, maybe the Red Sox should start acquiring morons…people who are still very stupid, but not quite as stupid as idiots. After all, if they are looking for elderly pitchers who aren’t terribly bright, Roger Clemens is still available.

3. The Wells signing seems to preclude the possibility of the Red Sox making a serious run at former Pawtucket pitcher Carl Pavano, who is reportedly headed to the Yankees for $42 million. Jose is basically glad that the Sox are not signing Pavano. Not only does Jose feel like $40 million for four years is excessive for an oft injured starter, Jose is deeply wary of “men” who spell Carl with a “C.” Jose just finds the “C” to be soft and effeminate, perhaps lacking in toughness, unlike the stark and rugged “K” practically oozing manly virtues like ruggedness, independence and strength. It says something that when one googles “famous carls” the first links are to Carl’s Jr.

Think about Karl Marx versus Carl Jung. A revolutionary philosopher versus a psychoanalyst who constructed the idea of the collective unconscious. A man whose ideas fueled revolutions versus a man whose ideas fueled pretentious undergrads and even more pretentious grad students. Who do you want as your number two starter?

Think about Karl Rove versus Carl Levin. The evil mastermind of the Bush campaign (Note: God how Jose hates him) versus the bland yet annoying Senator from Michigan. Rove may be a clubhouse cancer, but he always brings the gas.

Karl Popper versus Carl Sagan. The Author of “Open Society and its Enemies,” the scourge of Plato and even his fellow Karl, Karl Marx up against the man who brought astronomy to the masses? Karl Popper would be “billions of billions” of times better then Carl Sagan on the mound. (Note: Jose recalls that Dave Barry is the master of the billions of billions joke, so this should be regarded as an homage, rather than an Eric (K)neel style swipe.)

So there’s your evidence. With their money, the Yankees will be acquiring a man whose name is a dubious testament to his potential. After all, who would you rather have Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes a man whose name spells his toughness out loud and clear or “Crazy” Carl Everett, a man whose name spells out his craziness. You make the call.

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