Wednesday, May 30

The Ultimate Souvenier

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

It started with a phone call.

“Mr. Melendez,” the voice reported, soft, sultry. “Three days hence you will receive a package, sent to your abode by U.S. Post, and what is inside will reshape your world.”

“What? Who is this? What to you mean?” Jose was perplexed.

“You will soon be receiving… the ultimate souvenir.” It sounded threatening.

“How did you get this number? How do you know Jose’s address? And wait? A souvenir? Sweet.”

“Those questions are unimportant,” the voice continued. “Know only that I am an… admirer of your work. Though I must confess, I do take… exception… to some of your quips about players… shall we say… intimate infirmities.”

“What are you talking about? Jose has nothing but respect for the sexually dysfunctional.”

“No not the dysfunctional per se. It will all become clearer when you receive your present… Mike Lowell’s cancerous left testicle.” The word testicle hung in the air like a Kei Igawa curveball.

“You can’t be serious? Are you insane?” Jose’s collar seemed to be tightening. He knew it was unlikely. Will the Postal Service even deliver testicles?

“It only cost three dollars on E-Bay, but it is three dollars very well spent.”

“Do not send Jose Mike Lowell’s nut, or John Kruk’s nut, or anyone’s nut. Do you understand? Do you hear Jose? Do you--” Click. Dial tone.

Jose was left with nothing to do but wait. And wonder. And worry.

The package arrived on a Tuesday, as promised, a stark cube of USPS red, white and blue.

Gingerly, Jose took it into his kitchen and applied his car key firmly to the packing tape preserving the form. POP! The tape snapped, under the jagged metal and parted. Carefully, so carefully, Jose separated the folds of cardboard that masked secret and found…

Styrofoam peanuts.

Delicately he unpacked, removing each peanut in turn until a layer of newspaper was revealed. A round layer. Dear God, maybe it was Mike Lowell’s testicle. The newspaper gave way to a pocket of bubble wrap concealing a solid orb, plastic casing perhaps? Jose peeled back the bubble wrap to reveal… A baseball? MacGregor. Was it some sort of sick joke? A ball inside the ball?

Jose examined the item, trying to identify the mechanism that would open it to reveal what this final layer of packaging hid. He turned the horsehide slowly, meticulously in his fingers until he saw it.

The lines were smooth and fluid, dark and familiar. Jose blinked. He blinked again, unsure of whether he could actually be seeing what he thought he saw.
“J” flowed into “O” flowed into “S” flowed into “E.” By the time he saw the “M” beginning the next word he knew it. “Jose Melendez #19.”

No, rather than being some medical anomaly, the voice had sent him a genuine Jose Melendez autographed baseball.

Jose was elated. His heart beat a little faster, his breathing grew shallower. The ultimate souvenir indeed! This was far better than Mike Lowell’s testicle,

And then he noticed something. This signature? It was not his own. Who then would be signing baseballs Jose Melendez? A con man? A rogue? Or was it possible, just possible, that Jose himself was not the real Jose Melendez?

The voice had spoken truth. Jose’s world was being reshaped and his reality was becoming unhinged.

As the Yankee season gets more and more fun… err pathetic... the New York Post, it seems, has decided to take its pound of flesh from the least incompetent player on the team, Alex Rodriguez.

The Post reported this morning that Alex Rodriguez was seen in Toronto taking a woman who was not his wife to a strip bar and later his hotel room. In similarly astonishing news, the Post also reported that the Jason Giambi has used performance enhancing drugs, Roger Clemens is an egomaniac, Johnny Damon loves big fake boobs and the sun rises in the East.

But as obvious as it seems, Jose thinks we should give Alex Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt. There are plenty of other perfectly reasonable explanations for A-Rod’s dalliance with this mystery blonde.

Here’s Jose’s theory. Alex Rodriguez, who famously wanted to check out Harvard when he visited Boston during the 2003/2004 trade talks, has been taking advantage of the nine games a year in Toronto to work on a degree in sociology at the prestigious University of Toronto, Canada’s finest university. He goes to school in Canada rather than the U.S. because most Torontonians don’t recognize him because he’s not on the Leafs’ checking line. Rodriguez, is probably doing that classic undergraduate term paper on the lives and motivations of exotic dancers, and thus was at this adult entertainment venue for research purposes with his partner in what is surely a group project. Afterwards, since Rodriguez is so seldom in Toronto, they had to go to his hotel room to actually write the darn paper.

Doesn’t that make just a little more sense than the idea that one of our great athletes, and a family man, is an adulterer? If you use Jose’s favorite analytical tool, Ockham’s Razor, which dictates that the simplest explanation is most likely the accurate one, there’s really no other way to go, is there?

3. The Globe today reported that Terry Eurona has declared himself the best cribbage player in the Red Sox locker room. Unreported was the fact that Eurona’s cribbage superiority complex may have been the true cause of the A-Rod deal’s collapse back in 2004. Apparently, Tito was intimated by A-Rod’s skill, reported in today’s New York Post, at getting pegs into holes.

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

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