Tuesday, February 15


It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.

Congratulations to the Beanpot winning BU Terriers. This is the best day of every year to be a BU alum. God knows it’s not when they pick a president.

1. Jose knows that pitchers and catchers don’t report until Thursday, position players until the following week and bloggers until sometime in May, but darn it Jose is just too excited to wait. This year he’s taking a page out of Pedro’s book and he’s getting to Spring Training early. (Note: Jose’s father’s birthday is in November anyway, so blaming his late arrivals on the birthday party always did seem a little disingenuous.)

Now, keep in mind that this does not mean that Jose is actually going to Fort Myers. (Note: There have always been jokes about whether Fort Myers was named after Mike Myers or even Jimmy Myers, Jose thinks Shaughnessy made that last one, but did anyone ever stop to consider the possibility that it may have been named after former Celtics catastrophe Joe Forte? It makes sense doesn’t it? After all, they named a town in Ohio after draft bust Michael Young.) No, Jose likes to go to poor, cold desperate places on his vacations. This year he’s thinking Kosovo. So unless the Sox relocate their spring training to Novosibirsk or Gary, Indiana, Jose probably isn’t going to spring training any time soon any time soon. (Note: Just kidding. Jose likes cold and poor, but not “Gary, Indiana” cold and poor.) Instead, Jose will conduct spring training from his celebrated North End tenement, where it is decidedly not spring. Jose will just turn the thermostat up to about 80, buy a few flowering plants for around the house, set up a May Pole and presto change-o, spring has sprung.

2. We all know what spring training means for players, ignoring the manger, being thrown from moving vehicles and coming up with odd injuries that knock them out of the line up for three months, but what does it mean for bloggers?

Just like many players, bloggers get out of shape and out of practice during the off season. Now Jose knows what you’re thinking…and it disgusts him. No, but seriously, Jose does know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But Jose, you wrote during the off season. You wrote about Ukraine and the hot stove and magic tricks. How could you be out of shape?”

Well, those sorts of KEYS are all well and good, but they do not exactly get Jose in the shape required for the rigors of the season. Think about it this way. Manny Ramirez may go to the batting cages at Good Times Emporium in Somerville three times a week for 15 minutes, but it’s not exactly the same as taking live batting practice. Since November, Jose’s basically shown up three or four times a week, done some cursory work and then gone home. That needs to change now. For instance, in preparation for the season, Jose is going to need to build up his endurance. Not only will he need better endurance to write every game day, he’ll need better endurance just to be able to get through the Boston Herald sports section. Do you think Jose reads that sort of thing in the off season? Absolutely not. Jose read the Herald today for the first time in months and it left him winded, depressed and discouraged. After all, who needs news on the assassination in Lebanon, when a hero saved a dog from icy waters? If Jose is going to have success this season, he needs to be able to plow through the Herald, the Metro and maybe even the Phoenix without breaking a sweat.

So let Jose give you a brief rundown on the sorts of drills he’ll be doing between now and the first spring training game. (Note: When he’ll be on a strict word count.)

Typing drills: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” It’s an oldie but a goodie. It tests Jose’s accuracy to all parts of the keyboard, as well as his speed. Right now both are lacking. Jose originally wrote that as “The quick brown foz juped over the lazy dog,” and it took him 35 minutes. Jose needs to get that down to about 20 seconds. So there’s some room for improvement.

Reading comprehension drills: As any regular reader of Peter Gammons columns knows, understanding baseball writing can be a challenge, and one cannot mock what one does not understand…unless one is mocking its very incomprehensibility. So Jose has cracked out some old SAT test prep books and is working the reading comprehension sections hard. Can he understand the essay about the difference between economic forecasts and weather forecasts? (Note: This is a real SAT essay from Jose’s SATs…that weather forecasts don’t change the weather is the difference.) What about the essay on symbolism in the works of Jane Austen? If Jose can work his way though anything about Jane Austen, author of his least favorite book ever, Pride and Prejudice, Tony Castrati’s latest drivel should be a snap.

Nickname drills – Jose picks random names out of the newspaper and work nicknames.

Kennedy School Belfer Center Director, Robert I. Rotberg – Red Mountain Rob

House Appropriations Chair, Jerry Lewis – Umm…So maybe that’s a little too easy.

Mayoral Candidate Patricia White – Patricia “Thanks Dad” White. Wait…That’s a Shaughnessy nickname for former Celtics owner Paul Gaston. See this is why Jose has to work on this stuff now, so he doesn’t get caught mid-season and end up having to pull and Eric Kneel.

3. Ultimately, spring training is all about fundamentals, and that’s what Jose has to work on. Much like his beloved Red Sox, Jose was successful despite his fundamentals rather than because of them. While the Red Sox survived consecutive four error games in the World Series, Jose survived numerous outings featuring horrific confusions of “to,” “too;” two” “its” and “it’s” and God knows what else. It didn’t seem so bad at the time, but when one looks at the season as a whole, it’s pretty horrific. Ask anyone who read the KEYS book. Jose knows all of the grammar rules; he just gets a little jumpy sometimes when it’s game time.

But, Jose is one year older now, and maybe not this year, but some year, he isn’t going to be able to get by on his stuff any more. He’s going to have to write smarter, not faster or harder. And getting his fundamentals in line now will make that transition a heck of a lot easier down the stretch.

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.


Anonymous said...

Nooo Jose! This is my favorite website other than SoSH to check everyday, but you don't like Pride and Prejudice? Please explain in a further key! Other than that you rock!

Anonymous said...

Ditto the first comment, Jose....

And I'm sure that the duplicate posting of today's KEYS is just Jose brushing up on his publishing skills, right?

Anonymous said...

Jose should be gratified to learn that the SAT has moved on to far superior reading comprehension passages. The following is taken from the book formerly known as "10 Real SATs":

Jerry was deceitful, but at the time I did not think he was imaginative enough to do any damage. And yet his was not the conventional double life that most White people led in Africa. Jerry had certain ambitions: ambition makes more liars than egotism does. But Jerry was so careful, his lies such modest calculations, that he was always believed. He said he was from Boston. "Belmont, actually," he told me, when I said I was from Medford. His passport said Watertown. He felt he had to conceal it. That explained a lot: the insecurity of living on the lower slopes of the long hill, between the smoldering steeples of Boston and the clean, high-priced air of Belmont.

Anonymous said...


How can Jose not like Pride and Prejudice? Does Jose not see the sarcasm and wit of this timeless satire on social positions?

This cheapens the wonderful feeling of sports superiority associated with Jose's tweaking of non-Beanpot winning schools.

Beth said...

I bow in awe before this KEYS.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't care less about Pride and Prejudice, and you've received more than enough criticism about it.

However, if you want to give your fingers the full letter workout, change "jumped" to "jumps" in your quick brown fox sentence. There's no reason your left ring finger can't keep up with the other fingers, and your left middle finger doesn't need the extra exercise. You may someday need that left middle finger for other purposes.

Doug Beerabelli said...


Thanks for locating the whereabouts of one Robert I. Rotberg, former and deposed President of Lafayette College, in Easton, PA, my alma mater. Rotberg presided over Lafayette during the tumultuous time when there was a severe crackdown in on campus drinking, fraternity frivolity, and freedom of choice in dining plans. He is a beaurocratic empty suit worthy of some anonymous job with the Kennedys. If I ever want to relive my college days, I will put on a rugby shirt, shotgun multiple Milwaukee's Bests, put Tesla on the car radio and drive to Boston area to indulge my rekindled desire to give this guy the finger.

Thank you, Jose!

Eric said...

Pride & Prejudice rocks.

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