Friday, May 18

Like Paul Bunyan on Crack

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

1. Meet Julian Tavarez, folk hero.

You may remember him from such roles as Rudy Seanez’s Siamese twin and guy who couldn’t get anyone out #2.

Who’d have thunk it? Somehow, by sheer force of his quirks and eccentricities, Tavarez has become the most strangely beloved pitcher in Boston since Rich Garces. One could sort of understand the love for Garces though. It was simply; he was fat. Who doesn’t love fat guys? Garces let every Red Sox fan know that it was talent, not physical conditioning keeping him out of the majors. Any Sox fan who saw Garces could proudly walk down the street and say “I’m not too fat to be an elite athlete.” And for that we were grateful and thus showered him with love.

So why is it that we have grown to love the lanky Tavarez, who lacks the jolly flab that made El Guapo so appealing? Jose thinks that is because just as El Guapo let all of us couch potatoes know we weren’t too fat for the majors, Tavarez lets the mentally ill among us know that we are not too crazy to play in the majors. His NWO-style pointing at first base on ground balls, his bizarre obsession with Daisuke Matsuzaka, his tendency to punch people in the face for no particular reason, the fact that he actually relates to Manny Ramirez, all mark him as a certifiable lunatic who if he wasn’t playing baseball, would be in a cabin somewhere in the woods gathering jars of urine for resale to Moises Alou as a hand toughener.

Or maybe it’s not that he’s crazy, maybe it is that he is a sort of everyman. He eats at Burger King before going to work just like us, he punches walls when he gets mad just like us and he says that if he hadn’t gone into his current line of work, he would have been an adult film star just like us.

Or maybe, just maybe, we like him because he has started to get outs. Free from the uncertainty of bullpen life. Tavarez has started to look like Derek Lowe, throwing the most leaden of sinkers for ground out after ground out, looking terrible from time to time, but also showing flashes of brilliance.

Nah… Jose likes him because he’s looney tunes.

2. Interleague play begins tonight with the Braves coming to town for a three game set. When interleague play first began it was kind of fun, as one would see the first meeting between teams in 90 years, or perhaps the first meeting ever, but as the years have worn on, the firsts have disappeared, and with them a fair amount of the excitement surrounding the games.

However, tonight the excitement returns. It would be enough that ER himself, Edgar Renteria makes his return to Boston. Heck that alone would be the biggest event since Jackie Guiterrez made his 1986 return to Boston in a Baltimore uniform, but there is much, much more. (Note: Jose cannot confirm that Guitierez ever played at Fenway in an O’s uniform, but let’s pretend.) Yes, tonight marks the return of Anthony “Buddy” Lerew to Fenway Park.

As you will recall, Lerew was a part owner of the Red Sox from 1978 to 1985. In 1983 he launched a coup to take over the team from Jean Yawkey and Haywood Sullivan. Unfortunately he forgot that the most important part of a coup is the “armed” part, thus his effort was blocked by an injunction and he lost later court challenges. Ultimately, Leroux sold his interest in the team.

What happened to him since then had been something of a mystery. He was known to have an ownership interest in the Suffolk Downs race track and to maintain involvement in a number of rehabilitation hospitals. It is the second element that is important today, as we learn that Lerew has apparently used advanced rehab technology to sculpt his body into the form of a much younger man and to rehabilitate the spelling of his last name from LeRoux to Lerew. Thus we come to this evening, when Buddy, as a starting pitcher for the hated natural rival Atlanta Braves, attempts to take an awful revenge against his former club.

3. Curt Euro’s six inning, two run, four walk, eight extra base hit performance last night was a stunning achievement. Jose can’t find records to prove it, but it may well have been the worst six inning two run pitching display in Major League history.

Jose vaguely remembers Steve Avery having an effort where he scattered 15-20 hits over six innings in 1998, but it can’t have been any worse than what we saw last night. Heck, there have only been a very small number of endeavors in all of human history that match the horrible execution AND the positive result of Curt Euro’s performance.
  • Columbus discovers America—Guy think’s he’s sailing to India, totally screws up, finds continent.
  • Discovery of penicillin— Genius leaves bread out ruining perfectly good bread, discovers antibiotics.
  • Iraq war— War under false pretenses, managed by incompetents with no occupation plan, leads to blossoming of multi-cultural democracy in heart of world’s most volatile region.

And that’s about it. So we saw some history made last night. Jose can hardly wait for the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

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

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