Thursday, September 15

9/15/05 -- Jose Goes for 13-1

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

Jose used to love rain delays. For the six years Jose lived in Kenmore Square a lengthy rain delay was his entrée to a cheap and enjoyable night at the ballpark. Jose would sit in his apartment drinking beers with friends or watching television, all the while keeping a close eye on the status of the delay. If the delay exceeded two hours, Jose would walk down to Fenway as soon as the game restarted. He’d pay his $12 for a bleacher ticket and then sit anywhere he pleased. Back in those days, the bleachers were cut off from the rest of the park, but as the crowd dwindled from 30,000 to 15,000 to 5,000 no one much cared where Jose sat.

Sitting in premium seats on the first baseline or behind home plate, Jose did what any bleacher bum would do in that situation, he made an ass of himself. One night he and friends taunted strip club loving Angles first baseman Mo Vaughn with a rendition of Foxy Lady every time he came into the field. When Vaughn reached on a single, Jose yelled, “Mo, if you steal second Jose will buy you a lap dance.” The slugger, one of Jose’s all time favorite Red Sox, looked over at Jose as if considering the offer, and then turned away. He did not attempt to steal second.

It’s too bad, really. The one time Jose went to The Foxy Lady, Mo Vaughn was there. Jose really would have bought him that lap dance if he had swiped the bag. But this rain delay was not all fun. No, sir. The copy of Flaubert’s Sentimental Education that Jose had brought with him in case the rain began again took a soaking, making a dense novel even more dense.

Another time, Jose went out for a game against the Blue Jays that had two rain delays consuming three and one-half hours. By the end of the second delay, there were fewer than 1,000 fans in the park and Jose sat behind home plate blowing into some sort of a brass horn that another fan had smuggled in. Otis Nixon could hear everyone asking about his cocaine habit. The game was actually called at 1 AM on account of the heretofore unknown American League curfew, to be completed the next day.

Bu today, on this dreary wet day, Jose already has tickets for the game. Rain delays are no longer his friends. Jose has had to learn to stay out of the park until after the delay. God forbid he should get stuck drinking watery six dollar beers for two hours. Jose loves the North End; he loves living in a real neighborhood and away from the throngs of students. But on days like this, days when the rains wash away the throngs of fans and leave only the die hard and deranged, Jose misses his life in Kenmore Square.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Wednesday, September 14

9/14/05 — Wells vs. Half the Man Wells Is

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

Baseball has emerged as the predominant metaphor in the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Chief Justice nominee John Roberts.

Roberts began the analogies by comparing judges to umpires who call balls and strikes rather than pitching and hitting. Jose is not sure whether this is a commentary on his judicial philosophy or the woeful state of the Supreme Court softball team.

Senator Joe Biden of Delaware then continued the metaphor by pointing out that the strike zone is defined as from the elbows to the knees by Rule Two of the baseball rulebook and that umpires may not change it, and can only judge whether the ball is in or out of it. Apparently, Biden doesn’t watch much baseball these days or he would know that much like the Constitution, the strike zone is a living thing constantly changing from era to era, umpire to umpire and, in some cases, from inning to inning.

Biden went on to compare questioning Roberts to pitching to Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. To be honest, Jose has no idea what this analogy means, but he assumes that it means that Roberts will get off to a brilliant start as Chief Justice, be compared regularly to John Marshall, and then, after signing a deal to become Chief Justice of Mexico’s Supreme Court, will miss the better part of most sessions with injuries while still occasionally showing his old brilliance.

Since it doesn’t appear that the evasive nominee will be answering any non-baseball questions, perhaps Senators should take Biden’s lead and ask questions only in baseball terms. (Note: Though this isn’t really that bad. Jose went to a State House hearing yesterday that involved lengthy discussion of where to get the best hot dogs and fried clams in Massachusetts. Really. Even worse, Jose may try a few of these places out this weekend.)

Jose has transcribed this portion of today’s hearing.

Q: Judge Roberts, in the 1999 American League Championship Series umpired Tim Tschida ruled Jose Offerman out even though Chuck Knoblauch clearly failed to tag him. If you had been the chief of that umpiring crew, would you have overturned that call?

Roberts: Senator, on the one hand, I think that decision was a misinterpretation of the facts of the case. On the other hand, I have enormous respect for precedent.

Q: And what precedent would that be?

Roberts: The precedent of the Yankees getting all the calls in big series. If would refer you to the case of Baltimore v. Jeffrey Maier.

Q: So then when two calls, a home run call, and the infamous “slap” call were reversed during the 2004 American League Championship Series to harm the Yankees, you would say that the umpires ignored precedent in reversing those calls and were therefore mistaken?

Roberts: Not necessarily. On the one hand, this call did depart from past rulings. On the other hand, as the top umpiring crew in baseball they have the authority to reinterpret precedent.

Q: So, in your opinion, did the umpiring crew rule correctly in the 2004 case.

Roberts: As it is quite possible that the Red Sox and Yankees may meet in post season play again during my tenure, and in that event it is highly likely that Alex Rodriguez will slap some one again, it would be prejudicial for me to answer this question.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Tuesday, September 13

9/13/05 -- Antipope Clement XV vs. Downs

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

Randy Johnson awoke one morning to find himself transformed into an enormous bug. Overnight, he had become a great gangly creature with cruel crooked limbs and angry snapping mandibles framed by wiry hairs.

Even in the cool September air, the blanket on his bed seemed suffocating. He struggled to be free of it driven by a lust for the crisp air, but by another desire as well, the desire to feed on the scraps of human existence. He could smell the kitchen garbage a floor away, and it called to him. Was it always so strong?

The blanket grasped him like a net ensnaring his the spiky structures on his six legs. Five of them he freed, but one could simply not escape. He pulled and pulled against the blanket until suddenly his leg tore right through it sending him sprawling on to the floor.

“Free,” he tried to say, but the English phonics would not come. Perhaps because he no longer had a tongue, the word sounded far different than it should have. It sounded like “Get that god damn camera out of my face.” But in a guttural rumble.

What was worse, he was not free. A completely different and totally unanticipated problem had presented itself. In his haste to liberate himself from the blanket, he had thrown himself clean off of the bed and on to his back. For a proper man, recovering from this supine position would be of little difficulty, but Randy Johnson was not a proper man. He lay there with his six legs in the air wiggling helplessly as he rocked on his hard exoskeletal shell.

For the longest time he continued to wiggle his legs, imagining that if only he wiggled them enough, he would eventually right himself. This would not happen, of course, but Randy Johnson, even before becoming a bug, was none too bright, and certainly not the sort of chap who would be dissuaded from doing something for the hundredth time just because it hadn't worked the first 99. But eventually even he tired of his futility.

Trying a different approach, he began to sway his legs from side to side, creating a constant rocking of his shell. When the shell swung to its furthest extreme in one direction he would shift the weight of his legs in the other direction. Over and over he repeated the motion, the arcs of movement growing larger and larger until-a snap-he had torn his rotator cuff, of perhaps three of his rotator cuffs, or whatever the insect equivalent is, but with the last effort as the tissues frayed, he swung his legs with such violence that he righted himself with a thud.

“Are you up Randy?” his wife yelled up in response to the thud.

“No, no,” yelled Randy Johnson, afraid of what she would think. But in his guttural bug voice it ended up sounding like. “My God I hate Alex Rodriguez. He's such a prick.”

“I know Alex is an SOB,” replied his wife. “But do we have to talk about him first thing in the morning?”

Suddenly, he heard the soft clomp of slippers on stairs. His wife was coming up to the room. Up to his room. Invading his cold and his dark. Her arrival was inevitable.

The doorknob turned with a gentle squeak. As her slender finger flipped the light switch, Randy scrambled under the bed, away from the horrible burning light. A thin trail of green ooze marked his path.

“Randy,” his wife complained. “Why do you always flee when the lights come on? Come out from under there this instant.”

Randy pondered his options. They were few. Either she could see him now, or she could see him a few minutes from now. There would be no escape.

“I can't come out,” he moaned.

“Why not?” she answered. How odd that she could understand him.

“I've been transformed into a giant bug.”

“Randy that's ridiculous. Come out now. I insist.”

“Yes… okay,” he yielded.

He slunk out from under the bed, each step sending fire up his damaged joints.

“See I'm a bug,” he cried.

“I'm not really seeing it,” she answered nonplussed.

“I'm hideous vermin.”

“Well yes, but you look kind of the same to me.”

“But can't you see that I have six legs?”

“Oh yes, now that you mention it. But otherwise. I fail to see the difference.”

“I've become a hideous giant insect. I'm ugly and disgusting,” he wailed.

“If anything, I'd say you look a little bit better she responded.”

And so began the metamorphosis of Randy Johnson.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Friday, September 9

9/9/05 — 1st Place Sox vs. 2nd Place Yankees

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

The curtain rises.

(The scene is a beach on the California coast, February 2005. A tall, gangly man is walking down the beach with a metal detector.)

Aaron Small: I’m never going to make it as a big league pitcher. It’s just not going to happen. I’m 33 years old. I’ve got a career ERA of 5.49, I’ve only pitched 218 big league innings in the last 10 years, and baseball-reference.com gives Rocky Coppinger as one of my comparables. Rocky broke in two years after me and he had the good sense to retire four years ago. It’s time for me to face the music and realize that I’m just not good enough to be a big league pitcher. So I might as well accept the fact that looking for treasure by metal detector is my new career now.

(The metal detector begins to beep furiously. Small drops to his knees and begins to dig.)

This is big. This is really big. One good treasure find now, and I won’t have to worry about ever pitching again. I wonder what it is. Gold? Platinum? The plate from Don Zimmer’s skull?

(He grabs hold of something and begins to pull. After much effort, he pulls out an old brass oil lamp.)

Great. A ratty freaking lamp. That’ll get me maybe two dollars at the Salvation Army. Well, something’s better than nothing, I suppose. I’d better brush it off.

(As he brushes it, a cloud emerges from the lamp, a cloud that coalesces into a turbaned and mustachioed human form with wisps of vapor where legs should be.)

What the hell?

Genie: I am the genie of the lamp. You have awakened me, and now I am bound to grant you three wishes.

Small: Excuse me?

Genie: Do you not know how this works? Do you not watch movies or TV?

Small: Only Home and Garden TV… and Lifetime. Is it on either of those channels?

Genie: What about Kazaam? Have you seen Kazaam?

Small: The one where Shaquille O’Neal comes out of the boom box?

Genie: Exactly.

Small: No.

Genie: (sighs) Look, the drill is that by rubbing the lamp, you have won three wishes. The only rules are that I can’t make anyone fall in love, I can’t raise the dead, I can’t grant more wishes and I can’t reverse the outcome of the 2004 ALCS.

Small: Sweet. What’s the catch?

Genie: The wishes all come with a terrible curse.

Small: Sounds good, can I start now?

Genie: Yes. What is your first wish?

Small: Well, for my first wish, I have this terrible jock itch on my balls; I wish that it would go away.

Genie: (Nods his head, there is a poof of smoke.) It is done.

Small: Hey, that’s great, my balls don’t itch anymore. Wait something feels weird.

(Looks down his pants)

What the hell!!! Where did my balls go?

Genie: You said you wanted to be rid of your jock itch.

Small: But I didn’t mean to get rid of my balls.

Genie: You should have been more specific.

Small: But that’s crazy… I’m… I’m a freak now… I can’t believe I have no balls.

Genie: You’re part of the Yankees organization aren’t you? You’ll fit it fine. Are you ready to make the second wish?

Small: Hmm… I could wish for my balls back, but you’re right having no balls does make me a real Yankee. So what to wish for next. I know, I know. I’m a really big history buff, so what I’d love to do is to have a chance to get to know Columbus. Hear about the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, all of that good stuff. But wait… I need to be specific… so let’s see how to phrase it. I want to get to really know Columbus, but I don’t want to get stuck back in 1492, and I want to be able to do the whole thing in English.

Genie: (Nods head, poof of smoke) Your wish is granted, you will spend considerable time in the Columbus Clippers organization this year, not in 1492 and you will only speak to your English speaking teammates, causing some to brand you a racist xenophobe.

Small: No!!! No! No! No! Christopher Columbus… not the city. You know, Cristobal Colon.

Genie: Consider yourself lucky that you didn’t ask to spend time with Colon. You might have ended up spending copious amounts of time with Bartolo Colon, and he has terrible gas. You have one wish left.

Small: Geez… already. Only one more wish? I need to stop messing around. OK. Here goes. Even though I’ll be spending some time in Columbus, I wish that in 2005 I be the best starting pitcher on the New York Yankees.

Genie: (Nods head, poof of smoke) It is done. You will be the best Yankee starter in 2005.

Small: Really.

Genie: Really.

Small: Better than Pavano? Better then Wright? Better than Mussina? Better than Brown? Better than Randy Johnson even?

Genie: Yes.

Small: So will my fastball be faster, my curve sharper, my changeup sneakier?

Genie: No.

Small: I don’t get it then. How will I do it?

Genie: Pavano, Wright, and Brown will all be hurt for most of the year. Mussina will be mediocre before getting hurt and Johnson will be curiously ineffective. Heck, even Wang will get hurt.

Small: My… my God what have I done?

Genie: Exactly what you asked to do. Now I take my leave.

Small: Change it back.

Genie: No. Loser.

(He transforms into a column of smoke, returns to the lamp and the lamp jumps off the beach and into the sea.)

Small: (Doing his best Darth Vader at the end of Revenge of the Sith imitation) Nnnnnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blackout.

For today's full KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Thursday, September 8

9/8/05 — Jose Struggles, Sox Do Not

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

Today’s sonnet game summary:

Ode to the game on September 7, 2005

Two outs, none on and Balki gives up runs,
In innings number one and number two,
You’d think the Boston Red Sox would be done,
But then again, upon further review,

If ER hits a pop up that sneaks in,
As three defenders try to run it down,
And Papi checks his swing, flashes a grin,
Potentially it turns the game around.

If Balki sees his cutter’s got no cut,
And throws instead a sneaky, subtle change,
Jose begins to feel it in his gut,
And more so when Gabe Kapler shows his range.

Tonight the Red Sox shall complete the sweep,
Then to New York to take the Yankees deep.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Wednesday, September 7

9/7/05 — Balki vs. Santana

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. Jose is proud to present a new feature in today’s KEYS. The sonnet game summary. Why a sonnet? Because the only other sorts of poems Jose can write are haiku and limericks and both of those are way to short. Frankly, someone should write an epic poem about this team. They could call it the Red Soxiad or something, and then trainer Chang Lee could translate it in to Japanese. (Note: Why isn’t anyone writing good epic poems anymore? Is it a lack of a market?)
Ode to the Game on September 6, 2005

It went four hundred fifty seven feet,
And gave the Sox a win of three to two,
Tim Wakefield pitched a game that was complete,
Which left the team with nothing else to do,

Big Papi was the story of the game,
Rewarded with a plaque of humble wood,
An icon that will sanctify his name,
And states that he is better than just good.

The best clutch hitter ever on this team,
To clutch at bats what Miles was to jazz,
He’s settled all debate upon this theme,
By finally surpassing even Yaz.

If one at bat would save the whole of Earth,
Jose will take Ortiz, for what it’s worth.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Tuesday, September 6

9/6/05 — Jose Goes for 12-1

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

1. If you had it all to do over again would you change a thing? Would you have looked both ways before crossing the street? Would you have looked before you leapt? If you are the Boston Red Sox, the answer, apparently, is no. Given a second chance to play yesterday’s game against the White Sox after the initial contest was called with the score of 5-2, the Red Sox did not change a thing and bowed 5-3.

Jose supposes there is something sort of admirable about this, about the Red Sox willingness to accept what has happened, to refrain from fantasizing about changing the past. One can be reasonably sure they would be good time travelers. They wouldn’t screw up the space time continuum by trying to change events or anything.

Still, failing to change the past means accepting the consequences for the future. This was like wagering the rent on black, letting the wheel spin, losing, being given a second chance and then picking black again. It is like John Kerry saying that if he could rerun the 2004 election, he would let the Swift Boat ads linger just as long without a riposte. (Note: Or George W. Bush saying he would do things the exact same way in Iraq. Oh… he really did do that.) It is like offering the French a do-over on World War II, and then watching as they leave the Maginot line as their primary defense. “Ah, but monsieur, it is invincible,” they would say. And what about you? If you had the chance to go back and skip over this KEY and go directly to the second key would you? Yes, you probably would, but you are not the Boston Red Sox.

For more KEYS visit www.wallballsinlge.com

Friday, September 2

9/2/05 — Minor League Battle, DiNardo vs. Maine

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

1. Jose is sick. And it’s not some BS made up illness like Fenway Fever or the Vaughn Eshelman Flu (note: remember Wade Boggs’ unwillngness to face the unfamiliar lefty in 1995?). The way Jose figures it, he probably has either Western Equine Encephalitis or East Nile Virus. But not to worry, those two aren’t nearly as severe as the illnesses from the opposite directions.
To make matters worse, this is the first KEYS Jose is writing on his brand new computer, and making the switch from PC to Mac, Word to AppleWorks seems certain to result in some problems. It’s like making the transition from reliever to starter midseason. Jose should really be getting himself stretched out before he writes a full KEYS on this thing. You know, writing 100 words today, 250 on Sunday, 500 on Tuesday and then and only then giving a go at a full KEYS maybe a week from today. But with the season winding down, Jose just doesn’t have that much time to waste. The team needs him now.

Now you may be asking “Jose, what good can a Jose who is not only sick, but also getting stretched out possibly do for us?” Jose does not know. He only knows that he needs to try. For God’s sake Leonardo DiNardo is starting tonight. It’s not like the Red Sox can win this game on their own.

Besides a DiNardo start is always something to tune in to, as he is the first Red Sox pitcher since Rafael Bettancort (note: did he ever actually play for the big team?) to be named after a teenage mutant ninja turtle.

Ugh… that was pretty terrible. Much like the Red Sox starters for the last three nights, Jose has looked weak, really weak early. But can he now turn it around?

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Wednesday, August 31

8/31/05 — Wakefiled vs. Guy We Got Euro For

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

1. Sometime in the second inning of last night’s game, right around the time Jose was cutting into the evening’s first steak tip, the phone rang.

“Euro is all done,” said Jose’s brother Sam Melendez on the other end of the line. “I told you so yesterday.”

“Loothh at way,” replied Jose, his mouth full of meat marinated in soy sauce, brown sugar and Coca-Cola.

As he moved from the steak to the green beans lightly sautéed in olive oil and garlic, Jose began to compose today’s first KEY in his head. It would be a dirge, a lamentation. It would be a reflection Curt Euro’s sacrifice of the 2005 season and perhaps the rest of his career so that Red Sox fans could know the goodness of victory just one time. Jose muted the television, put Mozart’s mournful Requiem on the CD player and began to craft a eulogy of sorts as he shoveled mouthfuls of rice dripping with low quality LaChoy soy sauce into his mouth.

“Corinthians tells us that to every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven,” Jose began. “For Curtis Montague Euro, born Curtis Montague Schilling, that season was Autumn 2004 and that purpose was to deliver a World Championship to the Boston Red Sox. But as time evaporates into memory so passes that season, and the purpose, now met, dissolves into the ether.”

And so it went on and on, a melodramatic stew of tired clichés about the cycle of life. Winter of his career, change of life, given us his all, sacrificed for the greater good, throw them all in the pot and let them marinate in the bitter juices of disappointment and loss.

And then Jose paused from his mourning and looked up and through the foggy prism of his tear filled eyes two numbers slithered through his pupils along his optic nerve and directly into his brain. Six and five. Six and five. It was the sixth inning and Tampa Bay still had only five runs, the same number they had when the inning numbered only two… and still the man with the comically bleached hair stood on the mound. But that must mean… Could it be???

And whispering on the wind Jose heard the line from The Serpent and the Rainbow, “Don’t bury me I’m not dead.” Four scoreless innings. Four fragments of evidence that all is not lost, that good things have not yet come to an end. And today, somewhere in Boston, lies a metaphorical grave, empty, a pile of soggy, rocky new England soil to the side. And on the headstone it reads “The Career of Curtis Monatgue Euro 1988— ” There is no second year. Nothing is over.

For the full KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Tuesday, August 30

8/30/05 — Euro vs. Scott “Disputed Province of” Kazmir

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

Second Baseman Euro Bellhorn will, in all likelihood become a member of the New York Yankees sometime in the next 24 hours making him the second member of the 2004 World Champion Boston Red Sox to join the second place club. (Note: This is if you don’t count Ramiro Mendoza who has not escaped the minors and arguably never left the Yankees.) While Bellhorn, like his soon to be fellow Yankee Alan Embree, has badly underperformed this year, it still makes Jose sad to see a player who made such important contribution to the Red Sox championship end up on the Yankees. (Note: Though if the Yankees want to pick up other 2004 Red Sox contributors like Jamie Brown, Adam Hyzdu, or Bobby Jones, that’s cool.) There are, however, a few reasons why this move makes sense for him.

Pinstripes are slimming, and frankly he’s been looking a little chunky.
Once he is required to shave under the Yankees “no facial hair” policy, maybe people will stop coming up to him and saying “You sucked in Deuce Bigalow.”
All he can ever talk about is how he wants to vote for Mike Bloomberg.
No big risk of fans holding “Cano would have had it” signs.
Thought Yankee Mystique meant he would get use of a company Mercury Mystique.
Beats facing tough International League pitching for the rest of the year.
When people always call the Yankees a “classy organization” he thought they were saying that it is a “Lassie organization,” and he always thought that dog was a real hero.

The bottom line is that Euro Bellhorn will always be a hero to Red Sox fans, and we will miss him terribly, though not so much when David Wells strikes him out four times on September 10.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Monday, August 29

8/29/05 — Antipope Clement XV vs. Porn Star Seth McHung

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

Did anyone else watch the MTV Video Music Awards last night? Umm… Jose didn’t (note: really.), but he did catch a few minutes of it while the Melendezette was watching. He was struck by the effort of Diddy to conduct some sort of small orchestra as part of a tribute to Biggie Smalls. (Note: Sean Combs’ conversion from “P. Diddy” to “Diddy” happened the same day as “Jon” Papelbon’s conversion to “Jonathan” Papelbon. It’s really a shame that the rookie’s name change got overshadowed. It should have been Papelbon on the Today Show or Good Morning America talking about how the lack of an “athan” was getting between him and his fans.) Jose was actually sort of impressed. Diddy seemed to have reached a level of conducting competency that put him only marginally below a 16 year-old drum major on his first day of drum major camp, so good for him.

Of course, the dirty little secret is that any group of professional classical musicians, talented amateurs of decent high schoolers are capable of playing with reasonable coherence on their own, with no help from a conductor. That’s how the Boston POPS is able to have those fundraisers where some classical music lover from Dracut is allowed to conduct the orchestra—good orchestras conduct themselves, at least up to high levels of quality; the conductor makes those last marginal improvements that separate good from great.

Jose raises this issue, because there still seems to be a perception that this Red Sox team is like the MTV orchestra—it doesn’t really not a conductor to perform well. That’s what we’ve heard from all of the Tito bashers since the World Series, that anyone could have won with that group, that the players do it themselves and so on. But anyone couldn’t have won with that group, or this group. Could John McNamara? Butch Hobson? Joe Kerrigan? We all know that Grady Little could not have. Hell, if Grady had been conducting in Diddy’s place last night, some violinist would have ended up with a bow sticking out of her eye socket.

This is not to say that Tito Eurona is a perfect manager. His approach to the bullpen can be infuriating (note: though Jose has yet to find a manager who’s bullpen management does not infuriate him), he chooses peculiar days to sit people and his tobacco habit sets a bad example to Boston’s young people, but he is, easily, the best Red Sox manager in Jose’s life time. That is, at least until Jose has the high bid on one of those “manage the Sox for a game charity auctions.”

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Friday, August 26

8/26/05 — Wakefield vs. Johsnon

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


1. Yesterday, Jose’s employer had its annual summer outing. It was nice. We took off at noon, ate nice cold cut sandwiches and went swimming in a pond. It’s not big deal. Lot’s of companies do it. Unfortunately, one of those companies appears to be the Boston Red Sox. That seems like the only reasonable explanation for yesterday’s second straight loss to the woeful Kansas City Royals. The Red Sox must have been enjoying a one day summer retreat. Okay, maybe they were physically at Kaufman Stadium, but did you see any evidence yesterday day that the Red Sox were not on at least a psychological retreat? Is there any doubt that Kevin Millar was imagining himself floating on an air mattress in a pool, margarita in hand? And there was Bill Mueller thinking about a roast beef sandwich with mustard and just a little smidge of mayo. And Manny, well, Manny is always on a mental holiday. The only one who didn’t appear to be taking a holiday was Curt Euro, who was certainly laboring.

So now that the rain out against the White Sox has been rescheduled for Labor Day the Red Sox will be forced to play for thirty straight days. But they shouldn’t complain. The collective bargaining agreement guarantees that there cannot be more than 20 days of play without an off day, and the Red Sox stood by their agreement by taking an off day yesterday.

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Thursday, August 25

8/25/05 — Pitcher Who Gave a Championship to Boston vs. Pitcher Who Gave Herpes to His Mistress

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

1. Tonight marks the return of Curt Euro to the starting rotation a mere 123 days after his last start and almost ten months after his last good start. (Note: Is the 123 days a good omen? Does it mean we’re going to see a lot of 1-2-3 innings?) How long had it been since Euro started? Well, let’s put it this way, the last time he started Jose might have been willing to use the phrases “Sox slugger Kevin Millar,” “non-*sshole Jay Payton or “future Hall of Famer Rafael Palmiero.”

The last time Euro made a quality start, it was game two of the World Series with blood seeping through his sock. But as we all recall, he was brilliant. So brilliant, in fact, that some commentators have suggested that the blood on his sock was an elaborate fraud designed to inflate his heroism and unnerve opponents. While these charges are patently absurd, Jose would believe that batters were a little unsettled to see a man bleeding through his clothes still throwing smoke. So even though he wasn’t faking then, maybe he should now. Perhaps he should grab the old red sharpie and put a few dots on his sock prior to tonight’s start. Better yet, if Curt has a sense of humor (note: according to sources he does not), he should head out to the mound tonight looking like the title character in the final scene of Carrie. Can’t you just imagine a pig’s blood soaked Euro throwing fastballs and splitters? Wouldn’t that give him a huge advantage over hitters?

So welcome back to the rotation Curt. And let Jose give you a tip, if you’re looking for pig’s blood, try Chinatown and avoid the kosher butcher shops.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Wednesday, August 24

8/24/05 — Antipope Clement XV vs. Some Other Bad KC Pitcher

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

According to the Boston Globe, the Red Sox are in the process of applying to make Fenway Park a historic landmark. While winning landmark status would give the Red Sox federal tax credits worth millions of dollars, it does come with strings attached. So should the Red Sox win landmark status, they may well become a marionette not yet visited by its blue fairy godmother.

Renovations of landmark buildings are strictly regulated in order to ensure that the buildings retain their historic character. Even more seriously, some changes already made might need to be reversed. (Note: Jose is almost positive that the last sentence is untrue, but bear with him.) Below are just a few of the issues that could come up if Fenway Park becomes a historic landmark:

*Each Bank of America sign must be replaced with a Bay Bank, Bank of Boston, Shawmut Bank and Bank of New England sign to demonstrate the historical progression of Massachusetts banking.
*Trough urinals to be reinstalled in men’s room in the interest of historical accuracy.
*Height of pitchers mound must be raised to pre-1969 height.
*No designated hitter.
*Johnny Pesky will be required to play shortstop.
*The green monster will be covered in advertisements just like in the old days. (Note: Wait, we’re headed that way anyway.)
*Tom Yawkey’s ashes must sit in the owner’s box.
*Bare knuckle boxing returns to Fenway Park.

So as you can see, there are some real plusses and minuses to seeking landmark status. Sure, Jose would love to see the Moosehead beer sign return, but not if it means that Harry M. Stevens has to return as the concessionaire.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Tuesday, August 23

8/23/05 — Wells vs. Some Bad KC Starter

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

On Thursday night, Jose had the opportunity to speak with a Turkish fellow. Jose immediately went to work asking him whether it was true that “boston” the Albanian term for “watermelon” is Turkish in its origin. (Note: As discussed in July.) It was either that or ask whether the Turkish Twist ride at Canobie Lake Park was really invented in Turkey, so vocabulary seemed like the best conversational option.

The Turkish gentleman said that he believes that “boston” is Turkish in its origin, but that in Turkish itself, “boston” does not mean “watermelon” but rather the field in which watermelons are grown. But he also spoke of a second, more sinister meeting.

In the old days of the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan would keep an executioner with an axe by his side at all times so he could order a complete craniectomy for anyone who came before him at any time and have the procedure carried out without delay. The executioner charged with this duty was known as the “boston.”

And this bit of Turkish parlance is eminently appropriate for our Boston baseball squad as we ease towards the September chill. In the next five weeks, the Boston Red Sox will raise the axe, sharpened through five months of grueling competition, and bring it down on the necks of their rivals. The Angles—Chop—The Blue Jays—Chop—The Orioles—Chop—the As—Chop—The Yankees Chop. One by one they will be forcibly separated from their title hopes by the Boston. (Note: Jose did not list Tampa, Detroit, or tonight’s opponent Kansas City on the chopping block, and he probably shouldn’t have listed Baltimore either. With these teams that are far, far, far out of the playoff picture, what happens to them will be far more akin to drawing and quartering and a long dead corpse than a beheading.)

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Wednesday, August 17

8/17/05 --Wells vs. the Amazing Bonder Man

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

We have a serious problem in Boston, and it’s spreading faster than lice on Jason Giambi. Jose is a big supporter of Mayor Menino and is loathe to bring this up in an election year, but damn it, someone needs to say something. If we don’t take action, it won’t be long before they’ve infested every corner of the city.

Oh…who are they? You don’t know? Really? Jose thought it would have been obvious when he talked about uncontrolled infestations that he was speaking about street mimes.

Let Jose be the first to say that he has nothing against mimes when they are safely locked in invisible boxes, but having them out on the street is just a hazard. In the past week Jose has seen TWO, that’s right TWO street mimes in Boston. That’s an infinite percentage higher than the zero he’d seen in the city previously.

The first time Jose saw a street mime was in New Orleans, The Jazz Machine he was called. He stood there dressed like a hipster with his saxophone and if you dropped a dime, he’d blow a few notes, a dollar would get you a few bars and more might have gotten you a whole song. To be honest Jose isn’t sure. No way he was giving any more than a dollar to any street performance not involving marionettes.

But the two in Boston can’t measure up. There’s one at Fanueil Hall wearing a white tutu and pasty goth makeup who blows fairy kisses using baby powder. She doesn’t even put the baby power in a container that says fairy dust. That’s like Rafael Palmiero taking steroids out of a bottle labeled “illegal steroids” rather than one labeled “mysterious supplement.” She should at least have some plausible deniability.

Then last night Jose saw another woman in white makeup on Boston Common who has some sort of Indian/Hindu thing going. Both mimes shared The Jazz Machine’s “you get what your drop in the bucket philosophy.” They don’t move unless you pay.

The reason Jose mentions this in this space is that the infestation may even have reached Fenway Park. Jose isn’t certain, but he thinks that he has yet to see Kevin Millar move so much as a muscle in right field without someone dropping a dollar first.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Tuesday, August 16

8/16/05 -- Papelbon vs. Robertson

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

1. Jose went out for beers with some friends at 9:30 last night with the Sox up 6-3 secure in the knowledge that there was no way our bullpen could blow a three run lead to the Tee-zhers for the second time that night. As he and his friends sat outside at the Boston BeerWorks on Canal Street a dirty, confused man sucking on a cigarette walked by and yelled at us “You fags ezhnoy a eyam kozet?”

He continued to walk by so we didn’t think much of it. Then, without stopping, he turned his head and again yelled “You fags ejoy the Needymad conzet?”

Apparently, he was asking us if we’d enjoyed the Neil Diamond Concert. It was an odd question, as the concert, which we had no knowledge of, was in progress as we sat there quaffing malt, hops, yeast and water mixed together and allowed to fester. So effectively he was asking us how we were enjoying something that it was literally impossible for us to be a part of. It’s like asking the Yankees how they’re enjoying the 2005 pennant race. (Note: Blah, blah, three and a half games back blah, blah. As long as the Yankees continue to assemble the best set of pitchers 1995 has to offer—Johnson, Mussina, Brown, Nomo, Leiter—they will never be in this race…umm… right?)

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Monday, August 15

8/15/05 -- 2004 World Champs vs. 1984 World Champs

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

Jose was watching a Major League Soccer game the other night (note: or flipping by it to be more accurate) and noticed that the New England Revolution were competing against a club know as “Real Salt Lake.” Jose has two reactions. First, he questions the viability of any league that would put a team in Utah (note: and no he is not making an exception for the NBA). Second, giving bland, white bread Salt Lake the prefix “Real” in order to make it seem more Euro is both curious and amusing.

Actually, Jose sort of likes this about MLS. They know that soccer is not a particularly popular spectator sport in the U.S., at least in part because the overwhelming majority of the best players are from other countries and play in Europe. Moreover, the game is perceived as being foreign unlike basketball, football or baseball. So how do they deal with it? They give some of their teams vaguely Euro names like Real Salt Lake and DC United. Yup, that should help marketing in middle America. They love Europe there! Soccer already has the interest of Euros living in the U.S., so if MLS really wanted to expand their market, they should have given the teams hearty, American names, like the Salt Lake McNuggets or Law and Order: DC Soccer Unit.

The game that should really adopt the catchy Euro names is baseball. Also, players should start wearing all black uniforms. Baseball has no popularity or even comprehension in Europe, even though Europeans with their short work hours and copious leisure time are the perfect audience for a sport whose matches routinely take three hours. So Jose has a few idea on Euro names that major league teams should consider adopting.

· From now on the LA Dodgers should be known as Real LA. This would be in contrast to the LA Angels of Anaheim, who would be known as Fake LA, since they do not play in Los Angeles. Alternatively, whatever team has Rheal Cormier at the moment could take the prefix. For instance, it would be the Rheal Philadelphia Phillies.

· One of the Chicago teams should become Chicago United. This reason for giving Chicago the United moniker is that United Airlines is based there, so there could be a good marketing hook. Better yet, they should merge the Cubs and White Sox and then having a team called Chicago United. It’s time to end the North Side South side divide and really focus on ostracizing the West Side.

· There has to be at least one team with some letters attached to its name that no one really understands the meaning of. Something along the lines of AC Milan of FC Barcelona. Jose’s initial thought is that the Twins should become AC Minnesota, since they always play in an air conditioned dome. Alternatively the Devil Rays cold become FC Tampa Bay, with the FC standing for f*cked company.

The point is that if baseball wants to have a real world cup, it needs to broaden its appeal and Jose can think of no better way to do that then with empty gestures and flashy repackaging.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com.

Friday, August 12

8/12/05 -- Laundry Battle

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

The series of five manhole explosions that rocked the North End last night left Jose understanding exactly what it must be like to be the Tampax Bay Devil Rays—he was completely and utterly without power.

For the second time this year, the power went out in Melendezville, but this time Jose wisely chose not to manage a power outage by locking himself out of the house. But in the darkness and the quiet one has time to think, to ponder the questions that the hustle and bustle of the electronic world leaves no time to contemplate. Things like:

· Jose is so glad there is no game tonight, or he would be missing it.
· If Euro Bellhorn gets released and no one is there to see it, does he make a sound? He’s pretty quiet, you know.
· Is Brian Shouse really still in the majors? And if so is he the same guy as Brian Looney?
· When the Czech and Slovak Republics convert from crowns to euros, will Jose have to talk about Derek Lee chasing the triple euro?
· When will the God d*mn power come back on?


For todyas comlpete KEYS visit www.wallballsinlge.com

Wednesday, August 10

8/10/05 – Balki vs. Ballistic

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

1. The arbitrator who yesterday reduced the suspension of Rangers starter Kenny Rogers for thrice beating a cameraman from 20 games to 13 games has been roundly criticized for being far too lenient on the righty and allowing him to miss only two starts. (Note: In his comments MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said “I am not a happy Commissioner.” Is sounded awkward, almost like he couldn’t say “I am not a happy man” because it would be a lie—because he isn’t a man. That’s right. This confirms Jose’s long held suspicion that like Sam Cassell and Eric Williams, Bud Selig is an alien bent on destroying the human race. Fortunately for us the only way he knows how to destroy anything is with labor strife and poor media relations, so while baseball may be screwed, the human race will probably survive.)

Jose thinks that this criticism is ill-advised and frankly uncalled for. Has it occurred to anyone that maybe, just maybe the arbitrator has made Rogers’ punishment more severe? That’s right. Now, instead of sitting around wondering what the trademark implications would be if he started his own eponymous fried chicken business, Rogers has to go out and get his *ss beat by the Boston Red Sox. How, oh how, is that being lenient?

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Tuesday, August 9

8/9/05 -- Jose Goes for 10-1

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

1. In the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto, a bastion of Zen tranquility in a land of urban sprawl, green netted driving ranges and shrieking cicadas, the landscape is as completely littered with temples as New York is littered with… well… litter. At the age of 13, Jose traveled there on his first trip overseas and was struck by two of the ancient shrines.

The first was Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion, a three story black roofed shrine, the top two levels of which are covered in brilliant gold leaf. The Pavilion sits serenely on the end of a dock, the silence interrupted only by the gentle ripples of the water and the thousands and thousands and thousands of tourists. The grandeur of the Golden Pavilion, its opulence made quite an impression on the teenaged Jose.

The second was Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion, a humble wooden shrine that looks a bit weathered. It is, ironically not silver, and yet retains the name “Silver Pavilion” much as Kevin Millar retains the name “First Baseman Kevin Millar” even though he cannot really play first base. When Jose saw the Silver Pavilion, especially after seeing the Golden Pavilion, he came away a little disappointed. (Note: And the Bronze Pavilion is probably even more disappointing, but either Jose didn’t visit it or there is no such thing.)

While Jose had preferred the Golden Pavilion, the Japanese, his Japanese host explained, tended to prefer the Silver Pavilion. While the flash and glitz of the Golden Pavilion enchants the western eye, the Japanese are drawn to the austere beauty of the Silver Pavilion.

The reason Jose tells you all of this is that he is trying to figure out how new Sox first baseman Roberto Petagine won a gold glove in the Japan’s Central League. After getting his first good look at Petagine last night and watching him let a ball slip through his legs, get turned around on a pop up in foul ground and, as best Jose could tell, have Kevin Millar brought in for him as a defensive replacement, it is clear that Petagine could not possibly have won a gold glove for being a good fielder. (Note: Not that Derek Jeter could have either.) The only possible explanations that Jose can come up with are that either Petagine’s defensive skills have taken a dive so steep that it is typically only caused by rigor mortis, or that the gold glove is not an award given out for defensive prowess in Japan. Jose suspects that since the Japanese know that gaijin like shiny gold things, such as the Golden Pavilion, they hand them out willy nilly to Westerners. (Note: Petagine’s home country of Venezuela counts as the West even if it is underdeveloped.) Has anyone asked Gabe Kapler, “The World’s Most Perfectly Sculpted Jew” if they gave him a gold glove? Jose bets they did. Meanwhile, the actual award for outstanding defensive play is the Silver Glove, which ironically is made of wood, not silver. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

For today's complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Monday, August 8

8/8/05 – Miller vs. Rodriguez

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

1. When today’s KEYS end up sucking (note: and they will) Jose expects, nay Jose demands that you cut him some slack. After all, you’ve all cut Antipope Clement XV slack. Heck, even after Clement missed an entire start, you still let him off the hook for his ho-hum start. “We’re just glad that he’s okay,” you said. (Note: Okay, and Jose said too.)
Well, much like Clement, Jose got his skull cracked, just yesterday in fact, and guess what? Here he is back to work the very next day making his regularly scheduled start. When the boom on his father’s boat cut a graceful arc in the wind and swung squarely into the back of Jose’s head do you know what he thought? Do you?

He didn’t think “I’d better not move” or “am I bleeding?” or even “txfg dfgd rgdf.” No, he thought, how can Jose work this in to tomorrow’s KEYS. Even as he lay on the deck (note: floor) felled by a maritime rabbit punch, Jose was thinking about this feature, about the fans and about how he can help the team.

So when you’re stuck for the next week with KEYS about subjects like: “Tony Graffanino is not really that bad,” “Jeremi Gonzales really is that bad” and “Is Wilton Veras still the third baseman of the future?” remember that as bad as it is, it’s not nearly as bad as six earned runs in five innings, and you let that slide.

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Friday, August 5

8/5/05 -- Balkie vs. Radke

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

1. Man-E-Faces Ramirez sat yesterday following a horrific collision with shortstop Edgar Renteria on Wednesday night. Lest anyone assume that Manny is faking, the Globe printed a picture of Manny’s blood filled right eye on the front page of the sports section. (Note: Jose is eagerly anticipating certain bigots on WEEI claiming that Manny is just wearing contact lenses that create the illusion of blood in order to get out of playing.)

Jose knows exactly how this feels. When he was a sophomore in high school he took a thumb to the eye while playing pickup basketball and ended up with a crimson eyeball for the better part of a month. Jose wavered for a few days between wearing an eye patch and sunglasses to school before finally settling on the sunglasses because they made in far easier to sleep in class.

Here’s what Jose learned from the experience—bloody eyeballs are gross. People are tempted to look at them, but are disgusted by what they see. They unsettle people; they disturb them. This can be a weapon Manny, and Jose urges you to use it. When you step in tonight against Twins starter Brad Radke open your eyes wide and make sure he gets a good look; consider bringing a magnifying glass to the plate so he’ll be sure to see every ruptured corpuscle. If the doctors have proscribed ointment to deal with it, why not put it in while standing in the batter’s box? Talk about how it oozes. Do you think Radke has the constitution to deal with that? This is a psychological advantage Manny. Use it.

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Thursday, August 4

8/4/05 – And Batting Clean Up Roberto Petagine

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

Have you ever had a few too many beers and done something you wish you hadn’t? Not Jose. Never. Well at least not until last night. Jose is ashamed to admit it, but after his fifth or sixth beer he got a little tipsy and… God it’s embarrassing even to whisper it . Uggh…

It’s not that Jose is anti-wave. In fact, he sort of likes it within certain well defined boundaries. The wave is fine whenever the opposing team is batting in the fifth, sixth or seventh innings as long as the Sox have the lead. But Jose, as best he can recall, gave it a shot in the eighth inning with the Sox at bat. Just bad form… terrible.

But there is an explanation for all of this. This was not about starting the wave. That would be lame. This was about starting a delayed wave, which is a sophisticated Dadaist commentary on contemporary mores. Jose’s brother Sam Melendez is the inventor of the delayed wave concept, an idea marvelous in its simplicity. All one has to do is wait until three seconds after the wave goes by and then stand up and do the wave. The Wave, as anyone who saw the after school special “The Wave” about a high school where a history starts a fascist movement called The Wave to show his students that Nazism could happen anywhere, is a metaphor for from the breakdown of individual identity when one submits to the compact unity of a fascist state. The delayed wave is a rejection of complete submission to the dominant strain of social organization without rejecting the organizing principles themselves. Or it is something that is amusing to do while drunk. Both characterizations are good.

Last night we had almost all of section 36 organized to do the delayed wave, and then the idiots trying to start the wave in the sixth inning couldn’t get the job done. Jose was left in the uncomfortable position of trying to start a wave in order to create the possibility of the delayed wave. This is like trying to hit a sacrifice fly as the first batter of an inning. It is simply absurd. And so, the internal contradictions of Jose’s plan collapsed the intellectual superstructure of the idea leaving a smoking intellectual carcass in the bleachers.

(Note: Jose would like to point out that if we had traded Manny last night’s painful collision between Manny and Edgar Renterria would not have happened. Not only, would Mike Cameron have been in the collision rather than Manny, but ER would have been much less hurt, as Mike Cameron’s head is famously soft and malleable.)

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Wednesday, August 3

8/3/05 –Jose goes for 10-1

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

(Note: For those of you who wasked about KEYS merchandise at the Bash it is available here.)1. Now that Man-E-Faces Ramirez has claimed “It’s Just Manny Being Manny” as his own personal tagline, Jose thinks it’s time that we look at the potential marketing opportunities. To that end, Jose Melendez is proud to present some possible ad copy.

“Hi, I’m Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez. I like hitting the ball, hiding in the wall and eating delicious tuna salad. But when I eat my tuna salad, I don’t want it made with Miracle Whip or oil, for me it’s not tuna salad unless it’s made with real Mayonnaise—Hellman’s Mayonnaise. So the next time you’re at the super market remember: Hellman’s—It’s Just Mayonnaise Being Mayonnaise.”

“This is Manny Ramirez of the Boston Red Sox. Like a lot of you, I’m a big fan of the fine arts. But when I want some culture, I’m not looking for pointillism, cubism, Dadaism or any of this modernist crap. That’s why I like to visit the impressionist galleries at the Museum of Fine Arts. Because at the MFA it’s just Manet Being Manet.”

“Shalom. This is World Series MVP Manny Ramirez. The high holidays are just around the corner and you know what that means? Wine. Whenever Gabe Kapler, Kevin Youkilis, Adam Stern or Theo Epstein chat with me about Rosh Hashanah dinner they always ask me ‘Manny, I was thinking about trying a dryer sacred wine tonight. What do you think?’ And I always give the same response. ‘Stick with Manischewitz in delicious concord grape, boysenberry and black cherry flavors. Sure, it’s a sweeter wine, but isn’t sweet how you’d like your new year to be? Remember with Manischewitz, the first name in kosher wines, It’s Just Mani [schewitz] being Mani [schewitz].’”

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Tuesday, August 2

8/2/05 – Jose goes for 9-1

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

1. Strike up the band—

And play something peppy. How about the “Popeye the Sailor Man” theme? Yes, Jose knows you’re a classically trained musician and you studied at Julliard, but this is Jose’s dime and you’ll play what you’re told.

Let Manny be Manny,Though he’s kind of uncanny,Cause he’s still a Red Sox man. (Toot, toot)
Yeah…that’s the stuff.

(Note: Come on. You know that “I am what I am bit was written about Manny. It has to have been.)

Apparently, the Red Sox made several efforts over the weekend to trade star slugger Man-E-Faces Ramirez prior to the trading deadline. Really. Yes, yes, Jose knows it sounds crazy, what with them being in first place and all, but it actually happened.

Jose had no idea, of course, as he tends not to read the sports page, just foolish men distracting themselves with vulgar games to Jose’s mind. But then, while reading the op-ed section of the Boston Globe today, Jose noticed a piece by noted conspiracy theorist Joan Vennochi sandwiched in between the latest picayune jape by Thomas Oliphant and James Carroll’s latest highly literate condemnation of God knows what.

Now, Vennochi has been known to be a little out there, so Jose checked carefully with some of his inside sources, and it turns out it’s true. The Red Sox really did try to trade the modern day Jimmie Foxx.

Even considering trading Manny and prospects for Aubrey Huff and Mike Cameron is a sign of madness. And now that management has acquired light fielding outfielder Jose Cruz Jr., Jose is worried that things could get much worse.

Jose is deeply concerned that Cruz may go on one of those anti-psychiatry rants that his brother Tom has been on lately, and convince Theo and the Magi not to take the meds they so desperately need to escape delusions like the hallucination that the proposed deal was even remotely acceptable. If that happens, who knows what they might do next. They could even do something as irrational as leaving Roberto Petagine in Pawtucket until September call ups.

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Saturday, July 30

7/30/05 – Sons of Sam Horn Bash Edition

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

1. Cut the music—

Jose is a reasonable man. He has an above average IQ. He suffers from no mental illnesses. He has not endured any recent head trauma. So he knows that it is simply not possible that the Red Sox are actually considering trading Man-E-Faces Ramirez AND PROSPECTS for Aubrey Huff and Mike Cameron in a three way deal. (Note: Normally, Jose supports three ways on principle, but this he cannot abide.) He knows this can’t possibly be happening because in order for the Red Sox to actually make this deal, they would have to have reached the conclusion that the consequences of having Manny out of the line up for one game are so grave, so deleterious that the only solution is to get is bat out of the line up for every game henceforth. And that’s just plain silly. In other news from the Two Minutes Hate, the Red Sox have decided to treat Trot Nixon’s strained oblique with leeches and announced that Oceania is at war with Eurasia and always has been.

As Jose left last night’s game (note: with a 7-1 record), he heard a yokel on his cell phone exclaim that Manny had been traded to the Mets. Jose’s heart sank, and his bile rose along with his blood pressure. If Jose’s friend Tom had not learned right then with his new fangled Internet phone that the deal had not been completed, it is quite possible that Jose would have had an aneurysm right then and there and spent the rest of his life wearing a batting helmet while writing KEYS… you know just to make sure he doesn’t get hit by any screaming line drives while he is working.

Look, Jose knows that Manny can be frustrating , but at the end of the day he produces, and as long as he is putting up numbers and not preventing anyone else from putting up numbers, the Red Sox are better, a lot better with him than without him. But Jose should be fair, maybe we should take a serious look at what we would be getting in return in this deal? Let’s see, Cameron is batting .264 with 10 home runs and 32 RBI. Huff is batting .270 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI, so combined that gives them a batting average under .270, 23 home runs and 95 RBI in comparison with Manny’s .273 with 28 homers and 92 RBI. So maybe Jose was completely wrong about this deal. As long as the Red Sox have some mad scientists who can splice Cameron and Huff into one player who equals the sum of his parts, this deal is absolutely fair… IF YOU DON’T THROW IN ANY PROSPECTS!!!!!!!!!! But if the Red Sox do not have such technology, or if they do and it violates all standards of bioethics and human decency, we have to accept that the difference in talent between Manny Ramirez and the tandem of Aubrey Huff and Mike Cameron is so huge that as a practical matter we might as well be trading for Charlie Hough and Kirk Cameron. (Note: Though Jose is talking about Kirk Cameron when he was in Growing Pains at the top of his game, not the dried up has been of Kirk and Company or whatever the heck it was called.)

In the final analysis, this trade is so lopsided, so manifestly bad for this year’s Red Sox that Jose half expects to hear that the Mets have agreed to throw in Center Andrew Lang to sweeten their offer.

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Friday, July 29

7/29/05 – Newsflash: Manny Plays

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

1. Before everyone gets all bent of shape about the story that Manny Ramirez has asked for a trade (note: oops, too late) can we at least consider the possibility that this is not what it sounds like?

Maybe Manny didn’t actually request a trade to another team. Did you ever think about that jerks? Maybe he was simply requesting that Theo trade him a 1984 Lou Whitaker Topps baseball card for a 1991 Bobby Thigpen card. (Note: Or maybe Jose made that trade, it gets confusing.) Maybe, he thought he was calling his broker and demanding that he make some trades rather than keeping his portfolio static? Maybe, he was expressing his support from the Central American Free Trade agreement. See, we don’t really know.

Sure, we could believe the simplest possibility, that he wanted a trade to another team, but doesn’t that seem like we’re not giving Manny enough credit for being the nuanced, complicated man of the world that he is?

And another thing, what’s the deal with all of the demands that the Red Sox stop letting “Manny just be Manny?” In all of the columns voicing this opinion, Jose has not read a single suggestion of who the Red Sox should be pushing Manny to be if not himself. Should he be Mike Greenwell, Tory O’Leary, Bob Zupcic or any of the other bad to mediocre players who played left after the departure of Jim Rice? Is that what people really want? Should he be Alfonso Soriano? Cliff Floyd? Mike Cameron? Any of the other inferior players we could get for him?

Wasn’t Manny just being Manny when he hit the key home run off Barry Zito in Game 5 of the 2003 division series? Wasn’t he just being Manny when he won the World Series MVP?
Actually, he reminds Jose a lot of another Manny – Man-E-Faces, who, as best Jose can recall, was a He-Man character. The deal with Man-E-Faces was that he had three faces each representing a different aspect of his identity. There was the human face that was kind and good and decent, a monster face that was evil and cruel, and a robot face that was mechanical, cold and neutral. To get all of the good things that came with the human face, He-Man and pals needed to put up with the fact that he occasionally became a rampaging monster or a so-so robot. And you know what? They did. They did because it was worth it.

Yes Man-E-Faces Ramirez has multiple faces. Sometimes he’s the fearsome slugger we love, some times he’s the disgruntled, aloof diva we hate and sometimes he’s the clod in the outfield we both love and hate. But does the good outweigh the bad and the neutral? Jose thinks so. So before everyone runs Ramirez out of town, think about those faces, and then think if you really want him working for Skeletor.

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Wednesday, July 27

7/27/05 – Respect Manny’s Right to Privacy Don’t Read This

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

1. It was a rough day for Antipope Clement XV. Not only did he take a line drive off the side of the head, but Jose learned that he is not even the first Antipope Clement XV. Apparently, in 1963 an excommunicated French Canadian named Michel Colin named himself Pope Clement XV in protest of Vatican II. (Note: Or did he name himself Pope in protest of Big Audio Dynamite 2, it gets a little murky.) Since he had been excommunicated, he was regarded as an antipope, a minor antipope, but an antipope nonetheless. Still, Jose will continue to address Matt Clement as Antipope Clement XV rather than increasing him to Antipope Clement XVI. He had a hard day, and he doesn’t need any more stress.

While the accident looked terrible, and must have felt terrible, Jose is very happy to hear that the damage does not, thus far, appear to be serious. Jose had a feeling it wasn’t as bad as it could have been as soon as he noticed that no one tapped Clement with a mallet to determine whether he was alive or not and certainly no one smashed his papal ring.

With that out of the way, we can now focus on the fact that Clement has received no credit for stopping the ball. Sure it went in to left field, but he did a great job of making contact with it. Why is it that what would be called a terrific header in soccer, a vicious headbutt in wrestling or an illegal headbutt in boxing is regarded in baseball as a terrible accident? Sure the ball is traveling 110 mph and can pulverize bone, but that shouldn’t change anything. Jose congratulates Matt Clement on his brilliant header, and hopes that he gets well soon. Also, Jose suggests that next time you try a bicycle kick; it looks cooler and hurts less.

For more visit www.wallballsingle.com

Tuesday, July 26

7/26/05 - Antipope Clement XV vs. Guy Hoping to Record One Out

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

1. Here’s an interesting factoid on tonight’s Red Sox starter. Did you know that he was the founder of the Macedonian Orthodox Church? It’s true, Jose just looked it up and it turns out that St. Clement is the guy. Jose will confess that he is a little bit confused, as Clement was, as best he knew a pretender to the papacy, you know Antipope Clement XV and all, and all that, and thus a Catholic or at least a Catholic heretic, rather than Orthodox Christian. But thankfully Jose has a solution to this seemingly irreconcilable paradox – it’s religion, it doesn’t have to make sense!!!

Jose’s biggest regret from his trip to the Balkans is that he did not have a chance to visit the monastery of St. Clement in Plaoshnik. He would have liked to have lit a candle, laid a baseball at his tomb, done something.

But what implications does this revelation have for tonight’s game? Well, first of all, it turns out that Clement was born sometime between 830 and 839 AD, meaning that he is a little bit older than the Red Sox realized when they inked him to a multiyear deal. This certainly explains his history of scuffling in the second half of the season, so look for Sox manager Terry Eurona to keep him on a short leash tonight. Another major issue is that the Serbian Orthodox church does not recognize the Macedonian Orthodox Church as being autocephalous, insisting instead that it falls under the Serbian church’s authority. So Jose is concerned that when Clement pitches tonight he may have Patriarch Pavle on the brain.

On the upside, the letter K is the same in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, so if one hangs K cards at the game tonight, Clement will still understand what you mean. And even better, the letter B is different so he will have no idea what BB stands for. (Note: In Cyrillic it’s ББ.)

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Monday, July 25

7/25/05 – Wells vs. Waechter

2. Jose is excited about the Red Sox signing of reliever Craig Hansen out of St. John’s University. Not only is it possible that he could pitch in the majors as soon as this August, but it is also possible, or maybe even probable that he could perform his hit single “Mmmbop” with fellow Sox musician Balki Arroyo during the seventh inning stretch some balmy August evening.

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Thursday, July 21

7/21/05 – Sox vs. Bizarro Sox

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

1. As we creep towards the trade deadline, a rumor has emerged that the Red Sox are working on a major three way deal with Minnesota and Florida.

The proposed deal would send Umlaut Mueller and Kevin Millar to Minnesota for J.C. Romero and Joe Mays. Mays would then be shipped along with Balki Arroyo to the Florida Marlins for pitcher A.J. Burnett and, god forbid, Mike Lowell. Let’s break down the possible consequences of this trade.

• A major shift from scripted programming to reality television. By dumping the loveable Balki from “Perfect Strangers” and replacing him with Burnett, the guy who created Survivor (note: or stole it from European television, both are good) the Red Sox are finally casting their lot with reality TV, albeit five years too late. This one has T.V. Tom Werner’s fingerprints all over it.
• Destabilizing the Merrimack Valley. Do you really think that you can acquire Mike Lowell and not Brian Lawrence without repercussions? Not bloody likely.

• Trot Nixon will need a new number. Why, because the Red Sox must, absolutely must give J.C. Romero the number 7 once worn by Ed Romero or all of Ed’s fans won’t be able to bring their old replica jerseys out of the mothballs. Sorry Trot, this has to happen.

For the complete KEYS visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com/index.php


• Improved performance for Wade Miller. With Wade Miller free from the constant distraction of having to explain that he’s the one with no umlaut and no “a” in his name, he will be able to fully concentrate on actually pitching… and maybe even in the first inning.

• Decrease in the price of gas. With Kevin Youkilis becoming a permanent member of the big league club the decrease in trips between Boston and Pawtucket should put a major dent in the demand for gasoline, thereby lowering prices.

Wednesday, July 20

7/20/05 - Tony Graffanino debut spectacular

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez drew some heat yesterday for disappearing into the left field wall of Fenway Park on Monday night and missing the better part of a pitch as a result. When asked yesterday why he had gone into the wall, Ramirez defied the conventional wisdom, that he had gone in to cool down with the help of a mist sprayer, by stating that he entered the wall in order to urinate in a cup.

Assuming that this is true, and why wouldn’t it be, Jose would like to take this opportunity to publicly condemn Major League Baseball. Jose is all in favor of random, unannounced steroid tests, but having them in the middle of the game? That just seems extreme, unnecessary and more than a little bit silly.

For the complete KEYS visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com/index.php

Tuesday, July 19

7/19/05 -- Balki vs. Fossum

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

1. On his recent trip through the Balkans, Jose, never much of a linguist, only managed to pick up only a few words of Albanian. He learned that “po” means “yes” and that “yo” means “no.” (Note: Do Albanians think that Rocky ended with Balboa rejecting dumping his wife with the phrase “Yo, Adrian?” What about Yo MTV Raps? Did they think it was a show protesting the evils of rap music?) The only other words he learned were “Katastrophe,” “catastrophe” in English, which is quite useful in describing the Sox recent performance, and “boston” which means “watermelon.”

Boston does not mean watermelon in all Albanian dialects, just in the Kosovo dialect. Apparently, it also means watermelon in Serbo-Croatian. The term is said to originate from Turkish. Jose found this discovery a bit ironic, as this year’s Boston baseball club has born an uncanny resemblance to the juicy red melon. Much like a watermelon, the Boston Red Sox look from the outside quite substantial, but when one really presses the contents, one discovers that much of the substance of the team, much of what looked so solid, disappears and all that remains is a pulpy red mess.

Jose assume that if Boston is a word for a fruit in Kosovo Albanian, our other rivals’ city names must also mean some sort of fruit. Jose hasn’t looked it up or anything, but he has a few guesses.
New York, Jose presumes, is Albanian for pomegranate, and like the pomegranate, the New York club is excessively expensive, decadent, mostly made from useless material (note: seeds, Jason Giambi, same thing) and when one looks inside, deeply divided.

Baltimore is Albanian for coconut. At first it doesn’t look like it’s going to be any good, but then you crack it open, sample it and discover that it’s a lot better than you expected. Then it gives you the trots, and you realize that maybe it wasn’t so good after all.

Toronto is Albanian for star fruit. Every time you see it, it looks intriguing and even though it was bad the last time you tried it, you think maybe this time it will be different, maybe this time it will be good. It is not, and neither are the Blue Jays.

Tampa Bay is Albanian for moldy, rotten, foul smelling oranges. They look bad, they smell bad and they only get worse with time.

Yes, Jose knows that comparing American League East teams to fruit is absurd, pointless and frustrating, but so is talking about the Red Sox, so fruit it is.

For the complete KEYS visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com

Monday, July 18

7/18/05 – Jose returns from DL

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

1. After an unprecedented 20 days on the disabled list, Jose returns to action today. He rejoins a Red Sox team that has lost five out of six against division rivals and badly needs his assistance. But will he be the same Jose as before his injury? The early results are discouraging.

While Jose professes to feel better than ever, he has not looked sharp in side sessions or simulated games thus far. His grammar has been a little shaky, his quips lackluster and his spelling, never one of his strong suits, has been abysmal. Since he has not yet looked like his old self, there has been some discussion that management, rather than asking Jose to write full KEYS, will have him write relief KEYS for a while, in other words, letting someone else write the first KEY or two and then coming in to write the third KEY if the game looks close coming down the stretch. There are even some rumors that Jose was the first to suggest this approach.
While Jose has offered to do anything that will help the team, some Red Sox have suggested that the idea is foolish at best.

When asked to comment on the situation (note: or even when not asked to comment on the situation) centerfielder Johnny Damon said, “You’ve got a lot of upset people in here. I don’t think he’s ready to be our closer. I think SoSHers like kevlog or Nuf Ced are the choice as the closer. I mean, not only does Jose not have long luxurious hair like me, he’s also not even really Mexican. By the way, did I mention that I love seeing my name in the paper. Not that I can read or anything, but I just like people telling me it’s there.”

Added first baseman Kevin Millar, “If you try to take my starting job away from me, I’ll cut you.”

Also at issue, is Jose’s rehabilitation routine. Rather than go to team physicians, Jose is rumored to have sought care in the Balkans, undertaking a course of treatment that was said to include drinking no fewer that 15 tiny cups of macchiato every day, while fending off questions as to why he did not know that former Albanian Prime Minister Fan Noli is buried in Boston.

Jose would like to address these rumors directly. Yes, he was in the Balkans, but not for himself, for the good of the team. How is it for the good of the team? Well, if studying strategies for bringing a lasting peace to one of the world’s most unstable regions isn’t important to the Red Sox, Jose doesn’t know what is. Do you really think the Red Sox can be successful without successful final status negotiations in Kosovo, a complete implementation of the Ohrid Framework agreement in Macedonia and a dramatic decrease in corruption in Albania? Let us not forget that Ted Williams missed what would have been some of his best seasons fighting in World War II, which was a direct consequence of World War I which started in, you guessed it, the Balkans. So unless you want John Papelbon to end up in the U.S. Air Force right when he’s coming into his prime, cut Jose some slack.

For more visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com/index.php?p=422

Tuesday, June 28

6/28/05 – SKELETON KEYS TO THE GAME

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

Just like his idol Pedro Martinez, Jose is preparing to take a midsummer’s trip to the 15-day DL. Is he hurt? Is he on vacation? Who knows? Is he leaving his team in the lurch? Nope. In order to ensure that there is at least the possibility of KEYS during Jose’s DL stint, Jose has created the SKELETON KEYS TO THE GAME, or as he prefers to call it “A gimmick that in no way infringes on Madlibs’ trademark.

Here’s how it works. Jose is posting a set of generic “skeleton” KEYS below that should be more or less valid for any game. Each game day, another of Jose’s readers can fill in the [BRACKETED WORDS]. If you’re a SoSHer post it in the game thread, if not post it as a comment in http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com (note: the wallballsingle.com link is down for some reason, but it should be up again soon) or email Jose at keystothegame@hotmail.com, and Jose will post it himself when he returns. Or don’t… whatever. Like Jose cares.
So here it goes.

It’s time for [OBSCURE RED SOX PLAYER]’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. Well, last night’s game was [ADJECTIVE]. Sure, the Sox [OUTCOME OF GAME], but what [FIRST NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] really wants to talk about is the performance of [CURRENT RED SOX PLAYER]. He is [BASEBALL ACTIVITY] unbelievably [ADVERB] right now. How [SAME ADVERB] is he playing? [FIRST NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] hasn’t seen a professional athlete perform like this since [PRO WRESLTER] in [YEAR].

The question is, why is he playing so [SAME ADVERB]? Was he bitten by a radioactive and/or genetically modified [ANIMAL OR CARNIVOROUS PLANT]? Is it possible he was struck by a [NOUN]? Or should we apply Occam’s [TOILERTY] and assume that he is simply a very [ADJECTIVE] baseball player.

Whatever the reason, [FIRST NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] would like to make a prediction. If [SAME CURRENT SOX PLAYER] keeps playing like this, Terry Eurona will have to [VERB] him or he will be the [ADJECTIVE] Red Sox manager since [PREVIOUS SOX MANAGER].

2. [FIRST NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] knows that this space is dedicated to following the Red Sox, not the Yankees, but they are such [PLURAL NOUN] that sometimes he can’t help but [VERB] about them. Today [FIRST NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] feels compelled to [VERB] [NAME OF YANKEE, PLAYER, COACH, OWNER OR EMPLOYEE].

Let [FIRST NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] be [ADJECTIVE], that guy’s a [NOUN]. How big of a [SAME NOUN] is he? Well, let’s put it this way, if he was a super villain he would be [SUPER VILLAIN], but without the [NOUN]. Not only does he make like [NUMBER] [CURRENCY] per year, his [STATISTICAL CATEGORY] numbers are lousy. He’s only at [NUMBER] this year. Big deal.

How much does he [ADJECTIVE]? [FIRST NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] would rather have [CRAPPY RED SOX INFIELDER FROM HISTORY] than this guy, and [SAME INFIELDER] be lucky to have [NUMBER] [STASTICAL CATEGORY] if everything went right for him.

3. And on a final note, congratulations to [RED SOX PLAYER, COACH, EMPLOYEE OR OWNER] on his [BASEBALL ACCOMPLISHMENT OR LIFE EVENT] yesterday. There are a lot of [ADJECTIVE] people in baseball, so it’s nice to see one of the [ADJECTIVE] guys get what’s coming to him. [FIRST NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] only wishes that the [ADJECTIVE] reporters in this town would stop being such [PLURAL NOUN] and give this sort of thing the coverage that it so [ADVERB] deserves.

I’m [FULL NAME OF SAME OBSCURE PLAYER] and those are me KEYS TO THE GAME.
So that should give you something to tide you over while Jose is drinking cold beer and… err.. undergoing intensive physical therapy and rehab.

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

For complete KEYS visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com

Monday, June 27

6/27/05 – Balki vs. Millwood

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

1. Wow. The Sox went 6-0 on the road trip. That’s really good. In fact, it’s their best road trip since they had a 9-0 west coast swing in 1977. How good were the Sox on the road last week? Well, let’s put it this way; the city of Lowell is reportedly planning on building a tribute to this road trip right next to the statue of Jack Kerouac.

For more visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com

Friday, June 24

6/24/05 – Sox visit Royal Bank of Scotland Ballpark

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

1. Two years ago, the Red Sox made their last visit to Philadelphia and Grady Little made the decision that should have ended his managerial career. In the late innings of a game wherein the Red Sox blew three saves, the bumbling manager waited until after lefty slugger Jim Thome had hit a game tying homer to bring in lefty reliever Alan Embree even though Embree was already warm when Thome came to the plate. You know the details, so Jose will not bother to review them, unless of course, you blocked it out, in which case Jose will not do you the disservice of reminding you. Suffice it to say, the Philly Phanatic came off looking thoughtful and dignified in comparison with Grady that day.

Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry was rumored to be so upset with Grady’s non-move that he wanted to fire him on the spot. His co-owners and general manager thought better of it, however, and talked him out of making such a rash decision. Whoops. So instead of Little’s career being ended by a foolish decision in Philadelphia, it was ended by an even more foolish decision in New York three months later.

And now, as the Red Sox return to Philadelphia with a World Championship under their belt, Jose wonders what, if anything, current Sox manager Terry Eurona could do this weekend that might match Grady’s mistake two years ago and raise such ire in John W. Henry.

• Let Jason Shiell pitch to Thome just like Grady did. If Jason Shiell was on the roster maybe this wouldn’t be such a big deal. But for Tito to let Shiell pitch to Thome, he would have to acquire Shiell by usurping the power of GM Theo Epstein. Launching a coup seems like it might be grounds for dismissal.

• Bring Alan Embree to pitch to Jim Thome. What a difference two years makes. Okay, maybe doing this wouldn’t make Henry want to fire Tito, but Jose can assure you that at no point in this series will he be screaming “bring in Embree” like he did two years ago.

• Urinate on the Liberty Bell. That’s about as offensive and senseless as Grady’s moves two years ago. Of course, as a championship manager, Tito could probably get away with it.
Hmm… maybe there’s nothing Tito could do that would be as bad. Still, one does have to imagine he’ll be put to the test this weekend. Eurona is not a beloved figure in Philadelphia where he managed for four unsuccessful seasons. According to the Boston Globe, he had to park in different places every day out of fear for his safety, and when he returned as a scout, he had a security detail attached to him.

Jose imagines that the fact that he is now a World Series champion will only serve to further antagonize the Philadelphia hooligans. But Jose thinks that rather than ignoring it Tito should embrace it. When he is introduced tonight and the boos rain down, he should take a page from the late wrestling legend “Ravishing” Rick Rude and say “What I’d like right now is for all of you fat, ugly Philadelphia farm animals to keep the noise down while I put on my championship ring so the ladies can see what a real manager looks like.

They’re going to hate him either way, so he might as well get some shots in.

For more visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com

Tuesday, June 21

6/21/05 – Balki vs. Millwood

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

1. Boston Herald beat writer Jeff Horrigan characterized Sox starter David Wells as putting in “five workman like innings” last night. Since he defined four runs over five innings on what felt like 170 pitches as “workmanlike,” Jose suspects that every borderline incompetent, crooked, or just plain sloppy contractor in greater Boston will be calling Horrigan today to offer great rates on home repairs.

Hi, Mr. Horrigan? My name John Smith. I’m a general contractor, and I’d
like to do some work on your home. What can I do for you? Well, what do you
need? I can have some nice new recessed lighting installed for you. Now, I can’t
promise that the lights are going to work most of the time, but I’m almost
certain that you won’t get electrocuted.

Flooring? Well, I’ll tell you what, a lot of people will tell you that
hardwood flooring is the way to go, but me, I think balsa wood is a more
efficient alternative. After all, the purpose is to cover up the dirt or
concrete or what have you, and balsa will do that just as well as any maple or
oak, plus you can make model airplanes out of your floor if you get bored.

And you want a gas hook up? Sure I can do that for you. But let me tell
you a little secret. Yes, you’re going to smell a little bit of gas, but as long
as you keep the windows open at all times, it’s no problem. Sounds great,
doesn’t it?


And I’m willing to give you a special price. I’ll do this work for you for only $4 million per year for each of the next two years… plus incentives. What kind of incentives? Well, I can get up to an additional $5 million per year, depending on how often I show up to work on the house. How’s that sound to you? Do we have a deal? We do? That’s terrific… I’ll be over next week and will start putting in a workmanlike effort every fifth day.

For more visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com

Monday, June 20

6/20/05 – Sox vs. The Cleveland South Asians

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

1. When the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years last October, countless commentators, pundits and drunks form around the country speculated that baseball would be ruined for Red Sox fans. They prognosticated that the chase, as long and frustrating as it was, would prove far more enjoyable than the actual catch. They were idiots of course, winning is fantastic. It’s better than fantastic, it’s transcendent. Since Foulke tossed the ball to Mientkiewiecz, every day has been a holiday.

Sure there is pleasure to be found in pursuit, and being unfulfilled drives men to devotion, to action and accomplishment, but did we as human beings, not as Red Sox fans, truly need to have the pursuit of an elusive championship as the motivating force in our lives? No, of course not. Each and every member of Red Sox nation has his own disappointments, his own failures that drive him, that haunt him; he doesn’t need 25 strangers to provide him with existential angst.
With his goal of seeing a Red Sox championship met, Jose has been able to focus on the other great unfulfilled goal in his life. When Jose was in kindergarten many moons ago, he was one of the two hot shot readers in his class. The fame, the notoriety… it was brilliant. Jose and his friend Mark both plowed trough the 53 volumes of the “I See Sam” series of readers. (Note: These were either about the adventures of a friendly lion and his animal friends or the adventures of Sammy Sosa and his animal friends, Jose can’t remember which.) Jose and Mark then moved on to the “Monster Books,” a series of readers for superstars that told the story of a little boy and his friend, a big purple monster. Jose flew though the books and found himself with two weeks left in the school year, and one book to go, “Monster Meets Lady Monster.” Then things fell apart. Some punk kid in the other kindergarten class had “Monster Meets Lady Monster” at home, and had not brought it back.

Each day Jose and Mark would go into school and ask “Is Monster Meets Lady Monster In? Is it? Is it?” But the answer was always no. Well, it was always no until the penultimate day of the school year, when the book made its triumphant return. Bu there was a problem, as any story demands. Only one of us could take it home. The tiebreaker, and the book went to Mark, as he was on his second year of kindergarten. So Jose went home bookless, dejected, shattered, wondering if his day would ever come. His impossible dream season had ended one book short of his goal.

Jose went back to the same elementary school the next year, but he couldn’t stand to go ask if he could read “Monster Meets Lady Monster.” It wouldn’t have been the same. He would have felt the same way the Yankees felt winning the 2005 season opener over the Red Sox after bowing in seven games in the ALCS the year before – sort of happy, but ultimately even more aware of the previous year’s failures.

As the years drifted on, Jose tried to put the little paperback book out of his mind and focus on bigger books like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George and the Brothers Karamazov, but the fact that he had fallen one book short continued to gnaw at him.

The book continued to haunt Jose, keeping him from being the truly great reader he could have been. He never had a single year where he read every book assigned to him, not in middle school, not in high school, not even at Boston University. Some reporters even began speculating that perhaps there was a “Curse of ‘Monster Meets Lady Monster.’” They asked publicly if the big purple monster wasn’t haunting Jose. Jose knew there was no curse, there was no evidence of a curse, but the questions were like a tick burrowing under Jose’s skin and into his psyche.
Jose’s mother asked the school if they still had the book when he graduated from high school, she thought it would be a nice surprise, but the school said they had stopped using those books in 1984 or so. No luck.

Then when the Internet took off, Jose thought that perhaps it could bring him the elusive book. The Internet confirmed that the book existed, that it wasn’t some phantasm that materialized from his addled mind, but it offered no copies. Finally, last week, Jose discovered a copy at a used book store for $4.50 on amazon.com. Jose placed his order immediately.

Jose tried to contain his excitement. He had been down this road before, where victory, which seemed certain in one moment, vanished into the ether in the next. The box arrived. The tension was immense. Jose dropped to his knees as if in prayer, folded his hands, crossed his fingers and began to open the box. As it turned out, it is extremely hard to open a well-taped box while one’s fingers are crossed and hands are folded, so Jose got a knife. He carefully cut the scotch tape, peeled back the paper and stared down on a genuine copy of “Monster Meets Lady Monster” written by Ellen Blance and Ann Cook and illustrated by Quentin Blake in 1973.
Jose sat down with the Melendezette, and he read the book aloud to her, just as he would have read it 23 years before if not for the greed and/or sloth of that kid in the other class. It was euphoric. Charlie Brown finally kicked the football, Don Quixote had fought actual giants, Jose Melendez had completed a series of kindergarten readers!!!

But that was two days ago. It is in the past, which as St. Augustine reminds us, does not exist, it only used to exist. What now, Jose asks himself? What now? Reading doesn’t feel the same anymore. For 23 years, Jose had remained literate for no reason other than being able to read “Monster Meets Lady Monster” should the opportunity ever arise. Now that he’s done it, what’s the point? Why should he bother reading now? What does it even matter if he’s literate. It’s not like reading is any fun any more, or that he can learn anything from it. Now that the goal is accomplished ,the process, the tools that it took to accomplish that goal, are moot.

So now Jose is stuck. He is illiterate since he read “Monster Meets Lady Monster,” and he hates watching baseball since the Red Sox won the World Series. What else is there to do? Perhaps he can fixate on the fact that he got cut from little league in 1987 and try to make an American Legion baseball team. But why bother? Even if he succeeds he’ll probably just lose interest in playing baseball and lose his ability to hit. Of course, if he lost all ability to hit, that would leave him pretty much where he is now, so no biggie.

For more visit http://redsox.mostvaluablenetwork.com

Friday, June 17

6/17/05 – The Pirates’ 102 year Boston Boycott ends

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

In some ways this is a tough time of year for Jose. Yes, work is slowing down, the weather is warming up and there’s baseball every night, by all reckoning this should be the best time of year, but it isn’t… not for Jose. As the sweet pollen of summer fills the air, as the choking haze overwhelms the ocean breezes, Jose’s sinuses fill with fluid, his throat constricts and breathing becomes a laborious chore. Every day the simple act of inhaling grows more and more difficult. And with each breath Jose gasps for the little air that will sustain him. Actually, Jose in June bares remarkably similarities to the June 2005 edition of the New York Yankees, with the gasping, the struggling, and the just hoping to hang on. Heck, Jose even uses steroids to treat his allergies.

But Jose knows that in time the struggles will cease, that the air will clear and things will resolve themselves. The Yankees do not know this. They cannot wait. If George Steinbrenner had hay fever the last thing that would occur to him would be that it might just go away, or that it could be resolved with a mild course of medication. No, in Geroge’s world hay fever would require radical steps. First he’d yell at it. “I paid good money for this body,” he’d scream. “And I don’t expect it to react to particles of nothing in the air like it’s a genuine threat.” After yelling failed, he’d remove the offending organ, Steinbrenner would chop his nose clean off, in the mistaken notion that removing the symptom will solve the problem. Finally, he would get desperate; he’d panic and make a trade. He’d go directly to the medical encyclopedia and decide that his best option was to trade hay fever for colon cancer. Yes every action would make the problem worse.

And this is where the Yankees are now readying themselves for a dizzying course of ill advised quackery. By the end of the season, Jose fully expects to see A-Rod and Jeter walking around with leeches attached to their skin.

For the complete KEYS visit www.wallballsingle.com

Wednesday, June 15

6/15/05 -- 1975 World SEries Game 10

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

1. An open letter to Bill Simmons, a.k.a. ESPN.com’s “The Sports Guy.”

Dear Bill,

“I’m Bill Simmons and this is my column.” June 13, 2005, 2:34 p.m. ET

Hmmm... That sounds familiar. Familiar like a Joe Biden term paper. But maybe not dishonest. That can’t have been an accident, can it?

No, you were sending Jose Melendez a message or an enticement. It’s like waving the red flag in front of the proverbial bull, the doughnut in front of the proverbial David Wells or the dollar bill in front of the proverbial Roger Clemens. You used Jose’s meter, his material, his style to get Jose’s attention, to get him to charge at you with his full weight behind him.

But why? Why call Jose out? Why try to show him up in front of the tens, if not dozens of people who would actually understand the message you were trying to send? Was it a taunt? An homage?

The possibility that you are mocking Jose haunts him. You’ve been like a father to Jose, a father he’s never met, spoken with or seen and who would have been like eight years old when Jose was born, but a father nonetheless, and after 28 years of ignoring Jose, this is how you chose to contact him? It’s like you’re Greg Minor. (Note: You have the national audience, you make the Shawn Kemp jokes, Jose is local and will stick obscure Celtics, thank you very much. Besides, Jose has a Greg Minor autograph somewhere and God knows, Minor’s play on the court didn’t make it valuable, so Jose needs to talk him up.)

For so long Jose’s dreamed you would contact him. You know, show up at his office begging for gambling money or a quick fix from the Dunkin’ Donuts next door, but it never happened. Jose even wrote you once or twice, suggesting gags. You remember, don’t you? Jose wrote you suggesting that if Johnny had hit Daniel San with that kick during the skeleton/ Halloween scene, the kick that shattered that sign, he would have killed Daniel and the movie would have been called “The Murder Trial of Johnny Lawrence” rather than “Karate Kid.” Jose knew he couldn’t use it, Karate Kid jokes are your thing, so he sent it to you as a gift, as a sign of respect. But you never answered, and Jose let you drift from his mind... the pain of being ignored was too great.

Just two weeks ago, Jose thought about trying to contact you again. Jose bought 11 unopened packs of Rocky IV trading cards in Rhode Island, and he was going to send you one, because he knows you’d like it. But now? Now Jose is thinking about buying unopened Rocky V trading cards to send you, that’s how agitated he is.

Are we enemies now? Is this like Bruno Sanmartino and Larry Zybysko? (Note: Apparently, Zybysko’s real name is Lawrence Whistler… that’s right, he changed his name to Larry Zybysko.) Will Jose be forced to betray you now and spend the next 30 years referring to himself as “The Living Legend Jose Melendez?” (Note: Okay no one calls you “living legend” so would probably steal your epithet and walk around referring to himself as “ESPN Page 2’s” Jose Melendez for the next 30 years.)

So what is it? What are you trying to say? Is Timmy trapped in a well? Are the aliens monitoring your columns? Are you jealous that ESPN Page 2’s Eric (K)neel had a blurb on the back of the KEYS Book? (Note: Now available in one different language!) Jose and maybe three people on Sons of Sam Horn are dying to know.

Your pal (note: or possibly enemy, let’s see how this plays out),

Jose Melendez

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