Monday, March 5

No News Is Good News

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO TO SPRING TRAINING.

1. Amazing. We are now five days into the start of spring training competition and Jose has nothing he want to write about. Usually it takes him a good week or two to get sick of the spring training story lines, but not this year. Nope, this year he was tired of them as soon as they started. Ennui, thy name is spring training.

Jose supposes this is a function of getting older. The same story lines cycle year after year. The names change, but the narratives are timeless. They fall into a few basic categories.

  • The phenom: Some highly touted player has come over by trade, free agency or through the farm system, and everyone is a titter about what he might do. This year it’s Mr. Matsu, last year it was Josh Beckett. Earlier than them it was Pedro, Nomar and probably Harry Hooper if you go back far enough.

  • The distraction: We know this one better than any of them. A player says something, or does something that suggests less than total happiness with the team or his role on it, and everyone in the press takes turns lacing into him. This year it’s Manny. The year before, it was Manny. The year before that it was Manny. The year before that it was M. Ramirez.

    Of course Roger Clemens wearing his headphones while Butch Hobson tried to talk to them was way, way worse.

  • Camp tranquility: This is the one reporters hate, the training camp where everything is peachy keen, no one is demanding a trade, complaining about playing time or going to jail. Jose, on the other hand, loves it, because it makes him think of the Sea of Tranquility on the moon, and he loves space stuff.

  • The surprise: Someone comes out of nowhere to have monstrous spring training. Dave McCarty hits a million home runs, Cesar Crespo hits at all, Pat Lennon looks big and menacing, Conner Henry lights it up, that sort of thing. But you know what? They never pan out, ever. Yay Alberto Castillo has an OPS of 1.600 so far, but do you think he’d half any where close to half of that if he got to play in the regular season? Well, his career .OPS is under .600.
    Still, we can dream.

  • The injury: Nomar’s ankle, Jeff Frye’s knee. You know the story, the lineup is set and then someone has to go and blow out an important body part. Jose hates this story line. Still, if we have to go through this story this season, please let it my Doug Mirabelli’s arteries.

  • The weird injury: A cousin of the injury, this category can be just as devastating to a team yet at least offers some comedic value. Famous examples, include Yankee killer Vaughn “Eshel-K” Eshelman lighting his hotel room (note: and hands) on fire while warming a baby bottle, Wade Boggs “falling from a moving car” and Darren Bragg being eaten by Rich Garces. Jose’s best bet for this year’s weird injury involves Eric Hinske and Polonium-210.

So those are the possible story lines. Take any Red Sox story in the paper and it will fit quite neatly into one of those narratives, which is why spring training is boring.

2. Okay Jose was wrong. He’s man enough to admit it. No, not about everyone hating Bob Stanley, but about there being no interesting story lines in spring training this year. There is one: Who will close?

With Jonathan Paplebon returning to the rotation, the closer spot is wide open, leading some to suggest that the Red Sox may well return to the “closer by committee” approach that was regarded as a disaster in 2003. And while it certainly didn’t go well, Jose would argue that the 2003 relief debacle was not really an indictment of the closer by committee concept, but rather evidence of poor process management. Come on, even the most dimwitted of bureaucrats knows that for a committee to work, you need a carefully constructed set of governance bylaws. Why couldn’t Grady see that?

So with that it mind, Jose has taken the liberty of drafting some bylaws that will establish a process to build consensus to reach conclusions on choosing a baseball pitcher for the purpose of concluding a given baseball contest.

1. Bullpen Coach Gary Tuck shall serve as Chairman of what shell henceforth be known as the Boston Latitudinal Organization With Senior Authority Verifying Endgame Situations, or BLOW SAVES for short.
1A. In the event the bullpen coach is incapacitated (note: or drunk), pitching coach John Farrell shall serves as Chairman Pro Tempore.

2. Each member of the “bullpen” so-called shall receive one vote towards the making of decisions.
2A. Left-handed pitchers, pitching an average of less than 1.0 innings per appearance, “LOOGY’s” so-called, shall receive only one-half of the vote.
2B. The Chairman shall receive one vote
2C. Any “reliever pitcher” so-called making a spot start shall lose the franchise for a period of five games.
2D. The bullpen catcher shall receive one vote, provided it is not Doug Mirabelli, who is too stupid to vote. Doug Mirabelli shall receive negative five votes.

3. With one out in the top half of the fourth inning, the chairman shall distribute an agenda for the day’s committee meeting to all members.
3A. Members shall have until there are two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning to submit agenda changes.

4. During the seventh inning stretch, the Chair shall call the committee to order, and, after a vote on the minutes of the previous meeting, which must be adopted by a three-fourths vote on a call of the roll, accept nominations for closer
4A. Any member of the bullpen may be nominated for closer for the day.
4A(i). Except Julian Tavarez
4A(ii). Ever.
4B. To be under consideration, said nominee must receive a second.
4B(i). Anyone calling out “third” will be shot.
4C. After nominations are completed, the chair shall hold a vote by a call of the role
4D. The closer shall be which ever candidate can garner a two-thirds majority of votes.
4E. In the event that no pitcher has received the requisite two-thirds, there shall be a second ballot.
4E(i). Balloting shall continue until one pitcher receives the two-thirds majority or Tito Eurona gets pissed and put Jonathan Paplebon back in the bullpen.

See. Structure. Order. Process. And it should all be clean and straightforward. Unless someone files a motion to reconsider. Then it gets messy.

3.Carl Pavano made a spring training start for the Yankees yesterday, and the Boston Globe gave it an honest to God three-fourths of a column inch. Why would they do that?

Isn’t it time that we stop pretending that Carl Pavano pitching is actually baseball news and put it in the appropriate category. Basically, it’s like a kid with cancer or a 95 year old man coming out to throw the first pitch. Sure, it’s nice that they get to go out there, but their bodies can’t handle the rigors of the game, and there’s no way they’re ever going to pitch in a major league game. You don’t see those stories in the paper, and thus Pavano shouldn’t be there either. They should just let the man through his one pitch from the front of the mound, have Jorge Posada come shake his hand and then have an usher escort him to a seat in section 26 row L.

I’m Jose Melendez and those are my KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.

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