Friday, September 28

Enema of the Mind

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

1. This will be Jose’s last KEYS of the regular season. Jose doesn’t write on the weekends, out of respect for Jews, Christians and the labor movement, and he’s not going to start now, at least not without overtime. (Note: Though two times zero dollars is still, lamentably, zero dollars.) So Jose thought this might be a good time for him to put everything that’s been building up in him over the course of the season on the table, to purge his system, to perform a high colonic cleansing of the mind and the soul before the playoff run.

First things first, Jose cannot tell you how delighted he is to not be writing a eulogy for the 2007 season in this space. Writing eulogies is an art, to be sure, but it is a gutter art, like needlepoint. Fueled by sadness and the icy void of loss it is easy to write, so, so easy. After all, art flows almost mellifluously from tragedy. But to write when one is happy, to create out of joy rather than out of sorrow, that is the jackpot of artistic creation.

And throughout this season watching this team has been a source of happiness far more often than it has been a source of pain. True, Jose does not love this team like he loved the 2004 squad. There is no jovial Pedro or wisecracking Millar, and the team only has one Jew. But there are things to rejoice in as well. While the team got less Jewish, it got more Japanese. Ramiro Mendoza will not see any playoff innings. There is a zero percent chance of Dale Sveum getting Papi thrown out at the plate by 25 feet with no outs. Perhaps, if the season drags on to the brink of November, Jose will learn to truly love this team. Like a couple in an arranged marriage, Jose and this team may learn to love each other simply by being required to stay together far longer than they would if they’d met in the wilds of the bar scene.

But there are more things Jose needs to clear from his soul. He might have been wrong about wanting Papelbon to stay in the rotation. He might have been wrong about loving the DJ Dru signing. Jose may have been in error about thinking J.C. Romero would be a splendid fit. Out go the toxic ideas, the festering thoughts of the season leaving Jose free clean and at peace for the start of the post season.

And with his soul pure and his mind relieved of fallacies past Jose has room for new ideas. He has built the proverbial birdhouse in his soul and is waiting, just waiting for a chickadee of wisdom to move in. And he is now ready to accept truths that were once unacceptable, concepts that once would have been heresy. So as the season concludes and the post season commences, Jose offers you these few sweet thought of Zen.

• What is the sound of an Eric Gagne 1-2-3 inning?
• Coco Crisp is a funny name, but it is not nearly as funny as if Boog Powell and Sean Berry had a child and named him Boog Berry.
• Wily Mo Pena may have been as bad defensively as Pete Incaviglia, but he was much better looking.
• If Jessie Ventura was covering Red Sox games he would insist that Tito Eurona’s real name was Chico and he came from Tijuana just like he did with Tito Santana.
• Joba is a really stupid name.

These are pearls of wisdom. It is your choice whether you string them into a necklace, whether your rub your teeth over their smooth yet barely irregular surfaces to test for authenticity or whether you cast them before swine, which is apparently also a popular custom.

See you in the playoffs.

2. At the game last night, a couple of people sitting behind Jose were talking about the Red Sox bullpen cop, who they affectionately called Chief Wiggum, and commenting that he must have the best job in Boston.

“Think about it,” one of the fellows commented. “He gets to stand there watching every game and hanging out with the relievers and he probably gets what? $50 per hour? $70 per hour?”

Jose thought about it. He pondered whether this was indeed the dream job he had been looking for, easy, lucrative and fun. But then he realized something, something ghastly.

“You shouldn’t dismiss the difficulty of the job,” said Jose. “In fact, Jose is not sure that they pay him enough. The man has to sit there in the bullpen every night, with a revolver at his side, and he has to not shoot Eric Gagne. That’s hard work.”

3. Jose heard an interesting analogy on, of all places WEEI, yesterday. A caller suggested to Herald scribe Steve Buckley that perhaps Eric Gagne was a lot like Scott Williamson circa 2003. As you recall, Williamson struggled after being acquired by the Sox mid-season and yet settled into a nasty groove at playoff time.

So far Gagne has completed the first part of the challenge, struggling in the regular season. He also, like Williamson, has a history of grotesque arm problems. But will he start to look like Williamson in the post season? Who knows? But the first sign that he is truly Williamson-like will be if he develops the enormous cold sore, the festering lip ulcer that gave Williamson the strength for his playoff run.

Jose’s theory is that the cold sore was so painful that Williamson could no longer focus on the pain in his arm, thereby allowing him to cut loose for the first time all year. If Gagne is going to be successful, he needs that cold sore. But there are disturbing indicators. Jose cannot recall ever seeing a cold sore on Gagne, so if we want him to develop one in time for the playoffs he either needs to go make out with Scott Williamson or possibly perform certain sexual acts upon allegedly herpetic Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

Alternatively, Papelbon could just kick him in the nuts. That might work too.

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

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