Sunday, February 6


It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE SUPER BOWL.

I. It’s now a little more than one hour from game time and after weeks of training Jose must now begin the painstaking promise of getting into fight mentality. Why fight mentality? Because every year offers the possibility of a throwdown, an invitation to violence, a battle to end all battles. But Jose will not throw haymakers on the streets of Allston or the working class bars of East Cambridge. No, he saves his fighting shoes for a humble living room in a Boston suburb.

Some years ago, Jose and his brother Sam came to blows during the Melendez family Super Bowl party. Well, maybe not blows, but a series of front face locks and chicken wings anyway. As you know, Jose is not one to resort to violence, but some things are worth fighting for. In this case, it was who would get to recline on the floor against a certain pillow. Jose knows it sounds trivial, even barbaric, but you weren’t there. You don’t know what it was like and don’t you ever, ever dare to judge Jose unless you do.

The people were packed, there wasn’t a chair, spot on the sofa, ottoman or stool to be found. All that remained were spots on the floor, and even those were scarce. A pillow could mean the difference between comfort and modest backache the next day. There was one pillow left and Jose’s brother tried to steal it from him. Or was it the other way around? It doesn’t matter…in situations like that there is no law of man, only the law of the jungle.

Every year since then, Jose’s friends have taunted him, reminded him of the barbarism, of the madness. They have begged for a rematch and Jose has hinted at consenting. Yes, he has used their bloodlust as an enticement to come to the party; and they have come as surely as people flock to the cockfights or pit bull fights or games between the Pacers and Pistons. Jose has never again yielded to the madness, never again allowed the breakdown of the entire social order to rob him of his civility. But perhaps that time will come again, perhaps it will be today. All Jose knows is he must prepare. He must be ready for the day Sam tries to take his pillow again.

II. The Eagle sounds like a pretty tough mascot doesn’t it? After all, Eagles are huge, fierce birds. But is that really what the Eagles’ founders meant when they christened their franchise?

Pennsylvania has always had one of the greatest concentrations of German-Americans in the entire country, the famed "Pennsylvania Dutch," so might one not reasonably assume that when the Eagles were founded, the owners looked to reach out to their Germanic audience with a name that might resonate with them? The German word "Igel" is pronounced exactly the same as "Eagle," but it has a very different meaning. "Igel" is the German word for "hedgehog." (Note: And Seeigel, is a sea urchin.) So is it not possible, just possible that the real mascot of Philadelphia’s men in green is the hedgehog? Probably not, but Jose would like to think so, as he is almost out of material. So let’s assume they really are the hedgehogs and rejoice in the fact that those hedgehogs don’t scare anybody.

On the other hand, Jose must concede that there is a good chance that the mascot really is an Eagle. After all, the German word for "Eagle" is "Adler," and Jose fully expects most members of the Eagles to look addled after the first few downs.

III. Finally Jose offers his pick for the game. Prepare for the point spread to move. Jose has now collected bets from everyone in his pool and can publicly declare his pick without worrying that the information will aid other bettors.

Jose’s pick is Patriots 27 Eagles 24. When Jose looks at the matchups and looks at the records, he feels almost certain that the margin will be much larger. After all, the Eagles had only one more win against a winning team this year than Little Cesar Crespo had RBIs— not many. But Jose, as usual, gets lost in the symmetry. He is seduced by the easy logic that just because something has happened twice before, it will probably happen again. This is why Jose avoids investing in the stock market. He knows that he can’t trust himself to remember that past performance does not indicate future results. Jose would be too tempted to invest in Enron based on their success in the 1990s, or Ford based on their ingenuity in producing the Model T. And yet, Jose picks the Patriots by three. Yes, the symmetry is indeed seductive. Of course, the upside of this is that every time the Yankees get up 3-0 in a series for the rest of history, Jose will be completely confident of a choke.

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE SUPER BOWL.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Jose, on your pick on the Pats by 3, symmetry is indeed important. Dick Melendez should be proud, whatever country he is in right now.

Your discourse on the Eagle is appreciated, how about some "Keys to the BC Eagles 20-0 season"?

Finally, thanks for citing Gregg Easterbrook, notable graduate of Brandeis University. And, come to think of it, what about a "Keys to the Brandeis Women's Basketball Team", 17-2 right now!

Respectfully submitted,

Xavier Hall