Monday, August 13

Hold On

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

1. Your name is Eric Gagne, and you were put on this good Earth to close. (Note: Using the second person and the player’s full name connotes gravity. It’s a common writing technique. Of course, Jose can’t find Gagne’s middle name, so we’ll have to make one up. Let’s go with Heathcliff, for no reason in particular, and try again.)

Your name is Eric Heathcliff Gagne, and you were put on this Earth to close. In the past you have closed baseball games, ending them quickly and painlessly, in Los Angeles and Texas. You managed to end up closing baseball games, but it could have been anything. You could have been a detective closing cases, a real estate agent closing on home sales, or one of those pompous bar bouncers closing the door in the unglamorous faces of those lacking the requisite hipness to slink past the velvet rope.

But your world, Eric Heathcliff Gagne, is falling apart. You came to Boston heralded as the final piece, and suddenly nothing closes quite so easily. Your cases go cold, your sales go unfinalized and somehow Miguel Tejada and Nick Markakis keep sneaking into the club wearing flip-flops and wife beaters.

You are having an identify crisis, it seems. Who are you? What is your calling? When you got here they didn’t want you to close. They wanted you to hold. But who wants to hold? Telephone operators banishing irate customers into fiber optic Hades? Travel agents reserving airline tickets, but reminding clients that no price is fixed until payment is received? Tony Romo on critical field goal attempts? Not you, that is for sure.

Fish gotta swim, bird gotta fly, Gagne gotta pitch when a win is nigh.

Still, it shouldn’t be hard. Eighth, ninth, what’s the difference? (Note: One.) But it is. In fact, you cannot do it. You were brought to Boston to be a running mate to Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon, but God help you, you can’t keep up. Let’s put it this way, if they were to anglicize your name and put you in a buddy cop show with a Red Sox reliever of similar prowess, they would call it Gagne and (Kerry) Lacy. Though, perhaps this is unfair. Jose would feel a lot better seeing Tyne Daly trotting out of the bullpen in the eighth these days than you.

Thus far, you are not even the best French Canadian relief pitcher the Red Sox have had in recent memory. You are the sorry Friendly’s fries to the rich and creamy poutine that is Rheal Cormier.

So what’s next? You have already manfully accepted blame for both losses over the weekend. This is a good start, but it is a terrible finish, like a Tom Clancy novel bad finish. Taking responsibility is only worthwhile if it is followed by a change in behavior.

Can you heed the words of En Vogue, Good Charlotte and Wilson Phillips and “hold on?” Can you? Or will we be forced to recall a grim lesson from This American Life, that on hold, no one can hear you scream. For the first time, in Jose’s life, he is pulling for Wilson Phillips.

Tyne. Better than Gagne?

2. With Eric Gagne the Red Sox much heralded trade deadline acquisition blowing the game more often the Stephanie McMahon (note: snap), some pundits are beginning to compare the move to the Red Sox’s acquisition of the useless Scott Sauerbeck and even more useless Jeff Suppan in 2003. That move was also expected to cement the Red Sox as the leading contender for a championship. Instead, it only cemented Freddy Sanchez as the by player on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jose rejects this comparison for a number of reasons:

  • It will take some awesome pitching the rest of the way for Gagne to get down to the 5.57 and 6.48 ERAs that Suppan and Sauerbeck posted for the Red Sox in 2003.
  • Gagne doesn’t match up with Roger Clemens nearly as well as Suppan.
  • There’s no way Theo could have gotten Gagne just because he thought he was Jewish. (Note: Building on a Seth Mnookin joke.)
  • David Murphy will never win a batting title and go to two All-Star Games a la Freddy Sanchez.
  • Suppan and Sauerbeck—no glasses.

3. Let’s see, what’s in the news, what’s in the news. Oh, it looks like President Carter decided not to make any neutron bombs. That’s good. What else? Pete Rose picked up his 3,000 hit. That’ll make him a sure bet for the Hall of Fame. The Mormons just decided to let blacks be priests? Outstanding. Yikes two popes dead in a single year? Crazy. Well, at least Sadat and Begin split the Nobel peace prize. That probably means that there will be peace in the Middle East soon.

Hmm… There’s something wrong here. Jose can’t quite figure it out. What is it? What is it? Oh, Jose’s got it. None of these things is happening right now.

Of course!

And do you know why none of these things are happening right now? BECAUSE IT’S NOT 1978. Sid is not killing Nancy, Topher Grace’s mom is not giving birth to Topher Grace, scientists are not eradicating small pox and the Yankees are not coming back to win the A.L. East, because it is 2007. The idea that any of these events, each as ancient as the fall of Rome, will happen again is absurd, except for the second coming of Topher Grace, but that’s biblical prophecy, so it’s different.

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His full name is Eric Serge Gagne (/nitpicking).