Monday, April 23

Four Gone Conclusion

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

1. You know how Batman and Robin used to fight back to back in the old television program, effectively covering all the angles and ensuring that no villain could sneak up on them? It was like the Maginot Line except effective and vaguely homoerotic. They even paid tribute to it in the Damon Wayans vehicle Blankman. But it was only a tactic used by crime fighting duos. Captain America and Bucky, Power Man and Iron Fist, Cagney and Lacey, those sorts. You never saw your larger crime fighting units use it. The Fantastic Four never went back to back (note: to back to back). Do you know why? BECAUSE IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!! There is no such thing as back to back to back to back. Cannot be done. Ever. Except possibly by the Russell Era Celtics with a whole bunch more backs thrown in. (Note: And apparently four other Major League teams including last year’s Dodgers, but let’s gloss over that, shall we?)

And yet there it was last night. Manny-Dru-Lowell-Tek. Back to back to back to back. Somewhere Sir Mix-a-Lot is weeping with joy. (Note: He loves back.)

In but four instants, Yankees pitcher Chase Wright was chased right from the game, with the shameful distinction of being only the second pitcher in Major League history to allow four straight home runs in a game. Congratulations Chase, you’re in the record book.

Jose has seen some things at Fenway. He has seen Scott Hatteberg hit into a triple play and hit a grand slam in the same game. He has seen Billy Hatcher steal home. He has even seen Chuck Knoblauch play nine innings of error free second base. All shocking, all improbable. But this? Nope, never seen this before.

This is like seeing a comet… collide with an asteroid… collide with a satellite… collide with an Arby’s. It was the most electric Jose has ever seen Fenway in the third inning of an April game and that includes some thunderstorms.

2. Almost forgotten in last night’s consecutive home run onslaught was that it was Jose’s first chance to check out the Sox’s biggest new off season acquisition in person. And to be honest, his initial impressions were a little mixed.

On the plus side, impact on the crowd has been tremendously positive. There’s just a certain energy that hasn’t always been there in the last couple of years. Other positives include crispness of delivery, the sheer number of different offerings and general nastiness.

But, as anyone who was at the game last night knows, it is not all positive. While the delivery may be crisp, it is also painfully slow, not Jeff Gray slow, but… deliberate. Jose would also add that there seems to be the potential here for more than a few heart attacks over the course of the season.

Still, despite the uneven performance, Jose is still very happy with the addition. After you add in the pluses and subtract the minuses, divide the divisors and multiply by the… multiplying numbers… and then cube, always cube, this pick up is a huge net benefit for this team and this community. Yes, Jose could not be more pleased that there is a Popeye’s Fried Chicken in Kenmore Square.

Rookie of the year?
3. Did you know that vendors at Fenway are not allowed to pour beer during the national anthem? This is new. It was not the policy when Jose worked at Fenway many moons ago. Jose discovered this last night as a rather methodical tribute to our country slowed his inevitable March towards a Bud Light. Jose is okay with this, he supposes, though he wonders if Brewer-Patriots like Samuel Adams would really regard the damming of Old Man Beer Tap an appropriate tribute to this land of ours? After all, the very melody to the anthem is taken from a British drinking song “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Still, Jose takes his patriotism seriously (note: he once answered a security clearance question about whether he put the interests of the U.S. above all other countries with the statement “U.S.A. Number One!”) and he appreciates that the Red Sox organization is trying to honor America.

But here’s the thing. Why didn’t they stop beer service during the moment of silence in honor of Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis, the Blue Angel pilot from Pittsfield who died in an air show accident on Saturday? It was incredibly odd to watch the beer continue to flow as we paid respects to a man who died while serving our country, and yet to stop for the World War I era mea culpa that is the playing of the national anthem at baseball games. (Note: As Jose recalls the tradition began during WWI to appease a public angered that healthy young baseball players were not off fighting. He can’t find verification though.)

Jose was originally going to do a bit here about things that they stop pouring beer for versus things they continue pouring beer for, but as he writes this, he’s thought better of it. Maybe, he’ll do it tomorrow, maybe he’ll do it next week, but mixing it in to a KEY about the importance of showing at least as much respect for the people who defend our symbols as for the symbols themselves, doesn’t seem right.

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

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