It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
`. There are two ways to write after an epic drubbing like the 13-1 Red Sox victory we saw last night in Game 1 of the World Series.
The first is the preference of homers, boosters and the weak-willed sorts who are easily swept up in the emotion of a single, profoundly unscientific sample. These are the articles declaring the series all but over by reporters who frolic like pigs in the thick slop of the Red Sox’s brilliance and the Rockies’ languor
The other option is the bailiwick of cynics and contrarians, “haters” in the vernacular of the day. It is to write defiantly, perhaps even arrogantly that the series is decidedly not over, to speak gravely of the 1960 Yankees, or the 2004 Yankees both of whom folded after posting dominant wins. It is to warn with the crusty cynicism (note: or is it narcissism?), of someone who has been around for far too long the series is far from over, and that it may well end in calamity.
It is Jose’s intention to avoid either of these worn and wanting formulae, each as tired as the sitcom episode where the cast goes to Vegas, and blaze his own trail through the thick jungle of rhetoric that surrounds the World Series.
For Jose, the story is not about what happened last night or what will happen as the series progresses, but about what is happening right now. Tonight. St. Josh a Beckett is the only given in this series. He will pitch well; it is as close to certain as can be that the Red Sox will win games that he starts. But he is not pitching tonight.
What about tonight?
What about it?
Jose has his own dreadful cliché for this evening. Tonight is the classic battle of youth and power versus experience and control as fireballer Ubaldo Jimenez pitches against born again finesse pitcher Curt Euro.
Who will Ubaldo Jimenez be tonight? Will he be Bret Saberhagen in 1985 or Josh Beckett in 2003, stunning baseball with his haughty brilliance? Or will he be Jeff Francis last night, a young man clearly in over his head?
And what about Curt Euro? Will he be the grizzled 1991 Jack Morris, throwing World Series gems well into his dotage or the tired 1992 Jack Morris, getting shelled in the World Series where he had thrived so recently?
The answer is that we don’t know. We have no idea. We can speculate and prognosticate, ruminate and marinate, but we do not know. We cannot know.
And it is at times like these, times of great uncertainty, that people do well to retreat to the calming confines of those few things we do know to be true. For some it is a faith in God, for others a belief in the power of love and for others still it is the certainty that no hitter is looking curve on a 3-2 count.
Here is what Jose knows to be true.
Jose knows that the beer will be cold and his house will be warm. He knows that Tim McCarver will say many foolish things. He knows that someone in spoken or written word will rhyme Fox with Rox or Sox. He knows that Dustin Pedroia will swing big and swing hard. He knows that Jacoby Ellsbury will run fast. He knows that Colorado pitchers fear Manny and Papi.
He knows that regardless of whether his arm is ready, Curt Euro’s mind will be sending current across synapses and every electron will contain some little, critical piece of data about how to get batters out.
These things Jose does not believe. These things, he knows.
2. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly today announced his intention to organize a boycott of the 2007 World Series, on the grounds that it is part of what the fiery right winger calls “the War on Christmas.”
“This is disgraceful; this is absurd. This is a classic example of the fanatics on the cultural left trying to push their secular agenda on the county,” fumed O’Reilly without explaining what he was talking about.
“You want me to explain myself? Fine we’ll take it right into the no spin zone. Matt Holliday. That’s the problem. Why won’t the liberals and the secularists just call him Matt Christmas? You know why? Because they want to take religion out of American life. If using a baseball player’s name to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, even if his name has nothing to do with Jesus is banned by the secular left, then any tradition can come under attack, dropping the ball at New Year’s, singing the national anthem at baseball game, talking about what you’d like to do to female employees with a loofah, anything.”
O’Reilly went on to express his disgust that even on a highly Christian team such as the Rockies, players felt pressured by Major League Baseball to conceal symbols of their faith.
In bolstering his argument, O’Reilly pointed to Washington Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman being forced to play under the name “Cristian. Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Shinto, Wiccan, Scientologist, Agnostic or Atheist Guzman, and the Nationals’ Jesus Colome being required to play under the name, Deity of Your Choice Colome.
Sane people were not available for comment.
3. Different people root for the Red Sox for different reasons it turns out. Some people, most people, root for them because they love the Red Sox. But that is not the only reason. Others, such as Rudy Giuliani, the renowned Yankee fan, has decided to root for the Red Sox in an effort to pick up a few more votes in New Hampshire. Still others root because of the possible unintended consequences of a Red Sox win. For instance, Jose’s friend Mark, a Japan scholar who travels frequently to Tokyo, is rooting for the Red Sox because he believes that a World Series Championship for Mr. Matsu could lead to a direct Boston to Narita flight.
This got Jose thinking: What other reasons might unconventional fans be pulling for the Old Towne Team?
· Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Atheists: Rooting for the Red Sox because the defeat of aggressively Christian Colorado Rockies might prove there is no God.
· The Burmese Military Junta: Because when blood continues to flow crimson and ankle deep in the streets of Rangoon, they can claim it is just tribute to the Red hosiery of the World Champions. (Note: In all seriousness, screw those guys.)
· The Denver Broncos: If the Rockies go down, every one in Colorado will have to start paying attention again to awful Broncos team.
· Woody Paige Denver columnist: Already has a book written called “The Curse of Dante Bichette” which just takes Dan Shaughnessy’s curse book and substitutes Bichette for Ruth.
· Mork from Ork: Lives in Colorado, feels like Orser would be more interested in reaction of humans to losing, than winning.
See, there are lots of reasons to root for the Red Sox. For Jose it’s that they give meaning to an otherwise empty existence.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.