It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. You’ve got to be kidding.
Here it is a sticky Sunday morning, Jose is sitting at his kitchen table staring out at morning glories that he has somehow managed to not kill (note: Helpful hint, when morning glories close up in the afternoon, they are not dead. Do not get angry and hit them with a rake as though one is Bob Stanley during beach ball season.) and he has somehow put himself in a position where he has to connect Julian Tavarez to lesbian sex so he can keep making “Hot Sox on Sox Action” jokes in post titles. These are not things one wants to think about before lunch on Sunday.
Jose never wanted this. Jose had envisioned something better. He was going to be Senator Melendez (note: not to be confused with Sen. Menendez of New Jersey) Governor Melendez, but it was not to be. Duty has a way of catching up with you. For some people, it’s taking over the family business. For others it is going off to war. For still others, it is making the ultimate sacrifice and piling into a Winnebago to campaign for your dad for President. (Note: That’s right Ben Romney, Jose knows you read KEYS, and yet you have done nothing, NOTHING, with all of your father’s publicity to promote KEYS. Has he mentioned it in a single debate? Have you or your brothers brought up KEYS when being interviewed by Diane Sawyer or whoever? For shame. Ask not what Jose can do for you, ask what you can do for Jose.) But for Jose the burden is unique, the curse is uncommon. He is bound my oath and by honor to get up before noon, well before noon, on Sunday and write jokes about his odd ethnicity so the Red Sox can keep winning. His reward is modest, a slight sense of satisfaction and the knowledge that if the Red Sox win today, SoSHer ragecage has promised to buy a KEYS thong. But duty calls, and Jose, after placing duty on hold while he goes to take a leak, is morally bound to answer.
2. Jose’s got a great idea. He knows where we can score a ton of Pisco cheap to deliver to the Red Sox after they win this afternoon and the Yankees lose.
Oh, you don’t know what Pisco is? Pisco is the national drink of Peru and Chile. The grape brandy has been the source of intense international dispute over the years as the two nations fight over which is its true home. Jose’s never had it, but it sounds delicious.
Now you are probably asking “Why is this beverage appropriate for the Red Sox?” And it’s a great question, after all, aren’t they more of a Jack Daniels crowd?
The answer is not so much that the spirit itself is appropriate, but that the bottles reflect a certain level of achievement. Pisco, which shares the name of the Peruvian town devastated by a recent earthquake, put out a large number of bottles commemorating the disaster by bearing the words “Pisco” and “7.5” on the labels. 7.5 was the magnitude of the earthquake. This did not go over particularly well in Peru where it was regarded as indifferent to the suffering of the earthquake’s appalling large number of victims.
So what Jose thinks is best for everyone is to reconceptualize the bottles. Send them up to Chicago where the Red Sox can quaff of their goodness this evening as they celebrate the fact that that 7.5 on the label, now represents the size of their lead over the Yankees.
2. Jose played some wiffleball last night, nothing unusual about that. He fielded some grounders, he took some hacks, he drank some beer. Just normal stuff.
But after an inning or two of this, Jose did something unorthodox, something a little dangerous, reckless really—he tried to pitch.
Now, many of you wouldn’t find this particularly odd or noteworthy, but then again you don’t know Jose do you? The reason this is worth recording is that Jose can’t pitch, not at all, not in baseball, not it softball, not even in wiffleball. If given a chance, he could probably be a horrendous cricket bowler as well. Jose throws fine in the field, at least when he’s not having bouts of Knoblauch/Sax syndrome, but put him on even a hypothetical mound and he looks like Brad Pennington or a lion, that is to say, wild. That’s right, Jose pitching is like playing candlepin bowling—no strikes.
Jose began his outing by throwing something like 20 straight balls. On the one hand, this was okay, as there were no walks, it made him effectively wild (note: not to be confused with wildly effective). On the other hand, people with whom he was playing understandably were starting to hate Jose. There’s nothing like standing around watching a guy miss the strike zone by three to eight feet time after time after time. At least they had beer. And that’s when Jose got an idea. He dropped down to a side arm delivery and whistled in a strike. He did it again, and the ball got crushed, but that’s not the point. He was throwing strikes, honest to God strikes.
As he continued his onslaught of arm angles, “coming from everywhere except between his legs,” as announcer Curt Gowdy once said of Luis Tiant, Jose actually began to strike a few guys out. That’s when someone shouted, “What is it with these Asian pitchers and their weird deliveries?”
Of course, Jose is only 1/8 Asian, so his delivers should only be 12.5 % weird, but it gave him an idea. He stretched his arms skyward and arched his back. He turned his eyes to the heavens as he coiled like a cobra and wound back. As he built torque he almost fell, standing dizzily on one leg like Mo Vaughn on the side on I-95 and then he uncoiled, the spring released and he grooved a nasty curve for a strike. The Hideo Nomo motion had worked.
Jose didn’t know why it worked, but it connected with something deep in his being, with something ancient and sublime from the rice patties of Nagasaki or the fishing boats of the imperial fleet. Jose could, at long last, pitch like a Japanese.
Next time, Jose is going to throw lefty and duplicate Sandy Koufax’s wind up. Jose just assumes if he can pitch like a Japanese he can pitch like a Jew too. Or even more so as he is ¾ Jewish. Jose also figures as 1/8 German he could pitch like a German, but as best he can tell that means sitting around and not playing wiffleball at all. (Note: Apologies to son of German immigrants Honus Wagner.)
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.