It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. The Byrdman
Once upon a Tuesday night, Coco batted left not right,
Manny took a three two pitch again, it was ball four,
Tito signaled starting runners, like heroes of long gone summers,
Cleveland fans applauded drummers, drummers banging from the bleacher’s core.
“Tis just that guy” Wedge muttered, “banging from the bleacher’s core -
Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, just like a tasty brew, Wedge remembered ‘92
When his career went askew, as he walked out the door
Sent from Boston then in sorrow; - going to Denver tomorrow
Left for dead just like Barbaro – done, defeated like Al Gore -
For his dreams they lay in shatters just like those of Albert Gore
‘Til he came to now, Game Four.
And his soul remained uncertain whether he should call the curtain
Curtain call – for starters he’d already used before;
Pitcher who had earned a beating should he pitch Game Four repeating
Games that were not worth repeating – times where he had lost the war
C.C.’s wildness repeating as when he had lost the war -
“Should I use him in Game Four?”
Currently his courage grew ; “I’m not afraid of JD Drew,
"C.C,” said Wedge, `Sabathia, Your Game One performance I deplore;
But the fact is I was testing, If after just three days resting,
You’d be finished with digesting, digesting dinner from before,
That I knew not if I should pitch you – would it open up the bullpen door; -
Can I stand it, for Game Four?”
C.C. stood his hat askew, wondering what Wedge would do, taboo,
Of but three days rest risked as never dreamed before,
But the only thought transpired, surely could not be admired,
And as Eric Wedge perspired he thought “C.C. is not hardcore.”
This he thought of, and an echo murmured back the thought, “Not hardcore”
Far too soft for this Game Four.
Back into the clubhouse going, would Borowski saves be blowing?
But old C.C.’s gut was growing
“Has he stamina for more?No way,” he thought
“No way. Who’s that knocking at my office;
Perhaps he has the heart to pitch, to go and win the sum a bitch
If that’s his thumping, he shall pitch; -
Tis not him? He is not hardcore!”
Eric Wedge he turned the knob, and thought he’d see C.C. the slob,
In there stepped a dumpy Byrdman who had pitched 12 years before,
Not the least attention paid he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
When he saw a naked lady, posted on the exit door -
Filthy photograph of Paris just above the exit door -
Stood and stared, and nothing more.
Then this veteran, the fool, from out his mouth began to drool,
And Wedge said, “You got a sinful thing for pictures of this whore.”
“Though your something of a perv,” Wedge said,
“Have you then got the nerve,
Mighty arm and tricky curveball that you need to keep the score -
Tell me can you through five innings zero keep the score?”
Quoth the Byrdman, `I’m Game Four.”
Wedge was quite surprised by the Byrdman’s enterprise
That he would compromise – indeed to let him pitch once more;
For he couldn’t stop agreeing that this sorry human being
That with whom he’s guaranteeing that his team would lose once more
Staring at the naked heiress whom he saw as just a whore
With such claim as “I’m Game Four.”
But the Byrdman , staring horny at the heiress, wasn’t thorny
Wasn’t prickly, but convinced Wedge he should pitch once more.
Byrdman stood his jaw agape – mind on porn on videotape -
Christian Values squish like grape “Games like this you’ve pitched before -
So tonight you’re pitching for me? Just as you have done before?”
Said the Byrdman, “I’m Game Four.”
Startled that he was so cocky, like Apollo facing Rocky,
“Doubtless,” said Wedge, “That in this game you can’t keep down the score,”
Sure, you have thrown well enough, but when the going’s getting tough
Your fastball’s not so fast and you’re curveball’s not backdoor.
So If I should let you pitch, the fans shall me abhor,
That I heed your ‘I’m Game Four’”
But the Byrdman cocky still, like George Foreman pitching a grill
Turned to Wedge’s computer and then quickly typed in “whore”
Then, upon the screen there came, a list of links with some of fame
Flipping from page to page looking for the most hardcore
This fiend, the crazy addict searching for the most hardcore
He looked up “I’m Game Four.”
There Wedge stood in shock, as the Byrdman itched his jock
As he watched the naked ladies dancing on the screen before
Him he looked up from his screen looking strange and rather mean
From his pics that were obscene that would offend Tipper Gore,
But the pics were so obscene that they’d anger Pauly Shore
He declared “I’m Game Four.”
Then, the head of Wedge grew dizzy as he flew into a tizzy,
Driven by the knowledge his control had run right out the door
“Wretch,” Wedge cried, “Thy God hath damned you – you’re a freak and I don’t want you
To pitch – To pitch this season in big games, not any more!
Fastballs, curveballs changeups, no you shan’t pitch any more,”
Quoth the Byrdman, "I’m Game Four."
"Veteran!" said Wedge, Washed up hack –You know that I will take the flack! -When you struggle and you will, if you start this game once more.
For no matter what I do, the games will even two to two
If letting you start is what I do, Please don’t make me I implore
Is there - is there another pitcher? - tell me - tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Byrdman, “I’m Game Four.”
"Veteran!" said Wedge, Washed up hack –You even if they hack
That your pitches will be hammered off the wall or else o’er-
And we cannot score enough, to makeup for your lousy stuff
From an old and tired righty who should not pitch any more.
You’re an old and tired righty who should not pitch any more
Quoth the Byrdman, “I’m Game Four.”
“No that shall not be my choice, hear me Byrdman, hear my voice
Get thee back into the bullpen for you shan’t pitch any more.
Leave no porno as a token of obsession that’s you broken!
me stay rather soft-spoken, for you can’t keep down the score.
Take thy arm from off my team for you can’t pitch any more!”
Quoth the Byrdman, “I’m Game Four.”
And the Byrdman, quite insistent, persistent but inconsistent
On the mound he’s slowly pitching as the Sox run up the score;
Arm is weak and he looks roasted, mind adrift to picture posted,
Of the naked heiress posing above Wedge’s exit door
And the game that Wedge will lose is the battle and the war
So it ends, Game Number Four.
2. You’re name is Paul Gregory Byrd and you are feeling pretty good about life. You are a millionaire; you pitched very well against the Yankees when everyone, save your manager, was calling for you to be benched, and you are a true follower of Christ.
What’s more, you are facing a Red Sox team whose bats have gone into a mysterious slumber.
Well, there are issues. For starters there’s your son, a charming lad, who does not respect his old man. He is a charming lad who has told you “'You know, dad, your stuff's not very good.'' And “Why would anyone want your autograph? You’re not any good, you're just average.”
You try to laugh it off, you pass it off to Ken Rosenthal as an amusing anecdote, but it hurts you. It hurts you badly. It is one thing to not have the respect of your teammates, fans, opposing players, clubhouse attendants, grounds crew, parody poets that guy at 7-11, but your son? That one is painful.
And then there’s the porn. You are a good Christian. It defines your life; it is important to you. So why, oh why, do you spend every waking hour wishing you were Hideki Matsui? Free from the cumbersome constraints of God’s law, that pagan bastard is free to not only enjoy pornography in vast quantities but to brag about it. But you? All you feel is shame. When you are away on the road, and let’s be honest, even when you are at home, you can’t wait to open up an adult magazine. It is all you can think about. That’s why you moved to Ohio isn’t it? To be closer to the Cincinnati Headquarters of Hustler magazine. You wish you could have signed with the Reds, but it just didn’t work. This is nothing new. You signed with the Angels in 2005 in the faintest hope that it might wrangle you an invite to the nearby Playboy Mansion. But Hef does not cater to middling veterans, so to Ohio and downscale to Hustler it was.
But the shame is all consuming, and you must make amends. It is not enough for you to punish yourself in private, you must supplicate yourself before the public at large, and since you are not nearly famous enough to apologize on Leno or Letterman, you write a book.
And in that book, you splay out the blackness of your soul for the world to see. You chronicle your shameful struggle with pornography and the thin film of bile it leaves upon your eternal essence.
But then it hits you. Perhaps, this is no contrition at all, but merely a form of exhibitionism. Do you get a thrill from the public humiliation? Or do you enjoy humiliating your wife by sharing your marital sins with the world?
Suddenly, the book seems not like a confession, an antecedent to absolution, but just another cheap thrill for sad little man.
So you look for other ways to be contrite, to purge your sin and your shame. While searching for, yes, more porn, you come across some information on the Carmelite monks, a religious order who beat themselves with whips to show humility before God. Perhaps, there is something to this. So you think about buying a whip so you can humble yourself properly, but you notice that searching for whips on the Internet only leads you deeper into porn, or even worse, parliamentary procedure.
So you abandon the hope of literal self-flagellation and look for a more metaphorical option. And then it hits you. Tonight. You can make amends tonight. You are facing the Boston Red Sox and they are going to whip you, and with the each crack of the bat, each ball over the wall, you will become a little more virtuous, a little more holy.
You are Paul Gregory Byrd and tonight you will cleansed of sin by the Boston Red Sox.
Jose is looking forward to tonight’s game, but to be completely honest, he’s looking more forward to Game 5. That’s because, historically, Game 5 is the one where Kenny Lofton dislocates his shoulder.
For similar reasons, Jose is very optimistic about Tim Wakefield’s start tonight. Red Sox pitchers with blown out pitching shoulders have an excellent postseason history against Cleveland.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.