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

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.’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

For the full KEYS visit

Tuesday, June 14

6/14/05 – 1975 World Series Game 9

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

1. In the eight inning of last night’s game, (note: at which Jose improved to 4-0) the Mo Vaughn Jumbotron announced that Jason Varitek’s wife Karen gave birth to a baby girl who they named Caroline, ostensibly after the Neil Diamond/Fenway Park classic Sweet Caroline. At least, Jose hopes that’s the reason. The other possibility is that their favorite sitcom was Caroline in the City, and that’s just too horrible to contemplate.

But all in all, this name is a good choice when one thinks of all of the other Fenway Park anthems that they could have named their daughter after. It beats the heck out of Boom Boom Boom (let me hear you say way-ooh) Varitek, Dirty Water Varitek and most especially Tessie Varitek.
So congratulations to the Variteks both on the birth of their daughter and on their shrewd naming skills.

For more visit

Monday, June 13

6/13/05 – 1975 World Series Game 8

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

1. Jose learned a valuable lesson this weekend. Sunscreen is a lot like starting pitching --by the time you know that it isn’t working, it’s already way too late.

When Jose went to Horseneck Beach on Sunday, he thought he was covered. He coated up with Banana Boat SPF 30 spray sun block and got ready to soak up some rays. This was a change for Jose. In the past he had always used cream sun block. He always knew exactly what he was getting with the cream. He knew its upsides, that it could be highly effective at preventing sunburns, especially on the hottest days. But he also knew the downsides, that it was sticky and difficult to spread through chest hair, sometimes resulting in uneven performance, and thus blotchy sunburns.

So Jose made a decision this winter to trade in the cream sun block for the spray. He was all too familiar with the negatives of the cream and from a distance the spray seemed like a better bet. So Jose went into his first beach day of the year with the spray, and everything felt like it was going according to plan. He sprayed when he got to the beach, he resprayed when he got out of the water and his skin remained a pasty white. That is, it remained a pasty white until about an hour after he left the beach when white turned to red more quickly and only modestly less painfully than Russia in 1917. Whoops, too late.

As it turned out, Jose’s new sun screen hadn’t gotten the job done. Under the bright lights, it was flat out ineffective. For the extremely dense among you, allow Jose to spell it out. Pedro and DLowe are cream sun block and this year’s rotation is spray on. Last year’s rotation could be uneven, but it was highly effective when it counted. And this year’s rotation? So far it has been ineffective far too often, and when that has been the case, the Red Sox have gotten burned.

But there the analogy seems to end. When Jose goes back to the beach next week, he will be packing cream sun block. Can he get anything in return for the spray? Probably not, he may just have to swallow the cost of the bottle. But the Red Sox can’t just go back to the cream, Pedro and DLowe are gone, and they aren’t coming back. The question is whether Theo Epstein can find another kind of sun block or whether he is going to have to spend the rest of the year relying on the spray on and getting burned to a crisp.

For more visit