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 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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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

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

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.

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