It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.
1. Jose has just come to an unsettling realization. Pedro Martinez really isn’t coming to Fort Myers this year. Of course, Jose knew this was going to happen. After all, he characterized Pedro’s departure as being like a "good breakup," like the end of a long and fulfilling relationship between two people who are just headed in different directions. Still, he never fully accepted the idea that once we got 10 days into spring training Pedro still wouldn’t be there. Jose didn’t really notice Pedro’s absence for the first nine days since he didn’t usually arrive until the 10th day, or so it seemed, anyway. But that tenth day? Well, let’s put it this way, one isn’t really the loneliest number 10 is. Sure one is alone, but it knows it. One looks around and there’s nothing even nearby. But 10? Ten gets tricked. Ten gets suckered in. In a 10, the one thinks it has some companionship, some friendship, but sooner or later it’s going to look over and realize it’s hanging out with a total zero. (Note: Actually today is the eleventh day of spring training, Jose thinks, so this is all irrelevant anyway. Actually, even if it was the tenth day it would be irrelevant. Ten is the loneliest number? What does that have to do with anything? Oh yes….THERE’S NO NEWS TO DISCUSS!!!!)
You’d think it would have hit Jose when he saw the pictures of Pedro in a Mets uniform throwing off a mound. But it didn’t quite. It felt more like the first time you see that old girlfriend with another guy. Yeah, it’s a little weird, but you don’t know exactly what the deal is and for all you know this will be their first and last date. Today is more like when she tells you that she’s moving in with him. Sure, you want her to be happy, and you don’t want to be with her, but it’s still a little jarring, okay, really jarring, to realize that the new normal is for her to be living with some other guy.
So there you have it. Jose is jarred. He is rattled and disoriented. He realizes that he won’t be counting off five games from opening day to calculate Pedro’s first start at Fenway, and five days after that to calculate his second start and so on. (Note: In 2001, Jose made an error in his counting and ended up seeing like eight straight Paxton Crawford starts. Okay, that’s not quite true. Paxton Crawford probably never made eight straight starts.)
He realizes that the greatest pitcher of his lifetime is gone, and the Red Sox may not have another pitcher that good in Jose’s lifetime. It is sad, it is disappointing, but it is also the right decision.
2. While Pedro is not in camp, David Wells most certainly is, and at a much better price per pound! And the reporters seem happy enough. Jose is pretty sure that he read the thirty-fifth profile of Wells of the Spring this morning.
Yesterday, Wells brought his son Brandon to camp with him. Jose thinks this is terrific. Not only is Wells showing his love for his family, he’s also showing tremendous devotion to and affection for his teammates. It is just wonderful that he would name his first born son after his teammate Bronson Arroyo.
(Note: Hmmm…should Jose explain this joke. It seems pretty self-explanatory, but when historians look back on this generations from now are they going to understand it? Are they going to say "Wait…the kid’s name is Brandon…Jose must have mistyped the name of the pitcher. It must really be Brandon Arroyo." Nah…only a complete chump would think Arroyo’s first name was Brandon. The joke remains unexplained.)
3. Jose was a little disappointed by Gordon Edes’ bit in his baseball notes column today entitled "Jewry seems to make teams sparkle." Jose got himself all geared up for a story on the tremendous positive impact of having a Jew or two on a Major League team. He was expecting a detailed breakdown on how the Sox won the Worlds Series by fielding the most Jewish team in their history. (Note: Eight percent!!!) But it turns out that the article was about "Jewelry" not "Jewry." What a downer. Now, Jose needs to review those headlines about "Red Sox World Champs" to make sure they didn’t actually read "Red Sox Ward Champs." Wouldn’t we all be embarrassed if after all of the hoopla and parades it turned out that the Sox were only the champion of Boston’s Ward Five?
I’m Jose Melendez and those are my KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.