Monday, December 18

Going Home Again


It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE.

1. In the Tim Robbins film Bob Roberts, a story about a conservative folk singer turned senate candidate, one of the title character’s catchier ditties is a song called Times are Changing Back. It’s a soulful plea for a return to the simple, decent values of patriarchy, segregation and sexual repression.

Well, if you took out the bigotry, misogyny and the yearning for a golden age that never was, that tune could be the brand new, same as the old KEYS TO THE GAME.

After a two year run at wallballsingle that drew more than 100,000 hits (note: and God knows how many walks), Jose returns home to where he started his first blog. The upside of this move is that KEYS T-Shirts, thongs and mugs will finally have the right URL on them again. The downside is that Jose will have to deal with this compu stuff all by himself, and to be honest, Jose knows only marginally more about high technology than Grady Little.

The question is: How will this work out? Despite what Bill Simmons would have you believe, going back to the dame what brung you is not always the way to go. Sure, it worked out well, at least for a while, when the Celtics brought Antoine Walker home, but are we still all feeling good about Doug Mirabelli’s heroic return? Are we all certain that Any Pettitte will get his game back together just because he’s wearing those slimming pinstripes again? And what if Roger comes back?

The point is that when things change, there is a reason that they change. It’s not always a good reason, but it’s a reason nevertheless, and unless that reason has ceased to be, unless it has been removed, a return to the status quo ante is usually not the best idea.

The reasons of course, vary dramatically from example to example. Antoine was traded for Raef F’n LaFrentz, Andy Pettitte’s wife allegedly told him he could stay in New York with his whore or come to Texas with her (note: so is he back with the whore now?), Roger Clemens left for the money, and Jose? When Jose left two years ago it was to try a more polished format, to be part of a larger community of writers. But here’s the problem, Jose isn’t part of a community of writers, he is a loner, in love with the city… Wait, that’s Kevin White. Okay, Jose is a loner in love with his own obscurity, content to make chippy little points about the greatest sport in the world through rhyme and reference and randomness.

And back at his own site, under his own corrugated tin roofed internet shack, he can do it. So welcome to the good old, new KEYS.

After two years away, there's no place like home...

2. According to both Boston papers, the Red Sox’s deal with outfielder DJ Dru (note: yes that is his nickname) is now in jeopardy because Dru failed his physical due to problems with his shoulder. The current plan is to seek a second opinion on Dru’s shoulder before a final decision is reached.

For some pundits this has confirmed their fears that Dru is injury prone. For other it has convinced them that what they always regarded as a bad deal is now and indefensible one. Jose has a different take—outrage. He is not outraged that the Red Sox signed a “soft” player. He is not outraged that Dru failed the physical. Nor is he even outraged that the Red Sox may still make a frighteningly large commitment to an injured player. No, Jose is outraged that Dru gets a second opinion.

One of the very, very few things Jose has in common with some professional athletes is that he too has lost a job because he failed a physical. (Note to prospective employers: It was not drugs or anything that will run your insurance rates up.) And Jose was shocked, because Jose is a really healthy guy, who has never had any major diseases or infirmities. So Jose asked for a second opinion and you know what he got? Another evaluation by the same doctor. That’s right, Jose asked for a second opinion and all he got was the same opinion from the same guy on a different date.

Does this happen to DJ Dru? No, of course not. The guy who is hated by his teammates, who held out when he was drafted, who never gets clutch hits, who has no heart and no hustle gets a real second opinion, while Jose, who types his fingers down to the sinew through skin infections, power outages and the current sad state of professional wrestling gets lip service and a “I’m sorry to tell you this, but…”

And what if the second opinion is favorable for Dru? Do they have to go to a third opinion to break the tie? Is this like a best of seven series where there are four home opinions and three away opinions? Are opinions weighted by some complex Bill James formula that measures a doctors correct diagnosis percentage?

Well, you want a second opinion, Jose will give you one, they should still sign DJ Dru, but get some health guarantees in the contract, and if he doesn’t take it, sign DJ Jazzy Jeff instead, he’s not doing much and he’s got to have a chip on his shoulder.

3. Jose received an unsolicited email from an old Japanese friend, a Hanshin Tigers fan, who had apparently taken a break from looking for the missing Colonel Sanders Hanshin fans threw into the river after their last championship to weigh in on Mr. Matsu.

He offered the following advanced scouting “As you may know, Dice-K defeated Ichiro three times consecutively by strikeouts when they faced each other at the first time. He has ten different types of pitching balls as well as very tough nerves. I expect that he could win more than 20 games.”

While Jose is a little skeptical about the 10 pitches, it did lead him to due a little research on Matsuzaka and guess what he learned? That in addition to being able to throw at least five pitches, he also shares his name with Matsuzaka beef, a beef from the Matsuzaka region of Mie Japan that has a high meat to fat ratio. Presumably, the inverse is known as Wells Beef.

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE.


Pastrami Hernandez said...

If Matsu has 10 types of pitching balls, does he finally replace the famous Saturn nuts that Arroyo took with him when he left?

Jose Melendez said...

It doesn't say that he has 10 balls, only that he has 10 types of balls. We have no idea how many balls he has in total.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jose,

I am happy to say that I am the satisfied owner of the complete set of KEYS books. They occupy a special place on my bookshelf, sandwiched in between other, less amusing, books about the Red Sox.

While putting my new "KEYS To The Game 2006" book in its special place on the bookshelf I noticed that on the binding of the book it says "Jose Melendez's KEYS To The Game 2005" instead of "Jose Melendez's KEYS To The Game 2006". I am wondering if this was an oversight or if this was done purposely in an attempt to pretend that the whole 2006 season never happened?

Kristine Cambria

Jose Melendez said...


You are the first person to pick up on Jose's clever joke pretending that the 2006 season never happened. This joke is so sophisticated, so clever that even Jose was not totally aware that it was going on.

Alternatively, it is one of those computer pictures that one has to look at all unfocused to make it look like "2006"

Either way, Jose thanks you for your purchase and reminds you that all sales are final.