Saturday, October 27

World Series Game 3: Free and Hungry

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

1. Has it really been three years?

Has it really been three years since Jose got down on his knees in a grimy East Cambridge saloon and begged for the minute to arrive?

Has it really been three years since the moon hung blood red in the sky guiding us to a new age like the Star of Bethlehem?

And in just three years can the miraculous become passé? Can the joy of redemption, in just three revolutions of the Earth, become something as ignoble as the arrogance of victory?

That is the charge against us now you know— that the Red Sox have gone in three short years from loveable losers humbled by tragic history to entitled bullies, supercilious and arrogant. Our enemies, both foreign and domestic, charge that we have lost our appreciation for the sacred, for the miraculous, and have descended into the profane assumption that our wealth is our guarantee of success and our virtue.

This would be the natural course of events, Jose supposes. Even the Virgin Mary, with three year old child must have eventually ceased to be amazed by strange monarchs showing up in the night with shiny baubles, with astronomical phenomena following her child around and with angels disturbing her sleep with announcements of this prophecy or that. She must have begun to feel entitled.

Surely, when talking to the other mothers she must have uttered, almost incredulously, “You mean your child never turns your breast milk into wine? Really? I just thought that was a part of motherhood.”

And the other mothers would whisper behind he back or in columns in the Jerusalem Globe, “That Mary used to be so nice when we all just thought she as barren, but now it’s like she expects her kid to multiply loaves and fishes. I honestly think she expects him to a be a king or messiah or something. So she had a miracle baby? Good for her. We were all hoping she’d be able to have one. But she doesn’t need to be all smug about it. I don’t see why she has to go to other births and ask ‘When are the kings showing up with the presents?’ Well, not everyone can be as special as your little Jesus, Mary. Dear God, she’s starting to get on my nerves. And you know what I heard? Just between you and me, I heard Joseph isn’t even the father.”

But that is not who we are three years on, it is not what we have become. Are our pilgrimages to foreign ballparks a sign of arrogance and vice? How is devotion a sin? If for us to go in droves to Colorado is a sin, then so too are Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Muslims making the Hajj, or Jose, as a Jew, driving all the way to Rein’s Deli in Vernon, Connecticut just for some really excellent rugelach.

Our devotion is not a sin, our passion is not self-righteousness.

In the Grand Inquisitor, a story within the Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky tells the story of Christ appearing in the heart of the Inquisition and being brought before the Grand Inquisitor himself. The Inquisitor, in monologue, insists that Christ has it all wrong, that demanding people obey spiritual commandments without attending to their physical needs, bread, for instance, is impossible, that man cannot stand to be free and hungry.

As Red Sox fans, we defy this dark view of man. For generations, we Red Sox fans were free and hungry and it was our choice. We could have changed teams, resumed interest only when victory grew nigh or abandoned baseball altogether, but we did not. We chose, freely and without coercion, to back our team, though they left us hungry and hungry and hungry again. And then three years ago on a crisp October night they gave us bread. They gave it freely, not as a reward for loyalty, or a bribe for further devotion, and our acceptance did not change our passion, our loyalty, our fealty at all.

We continued to keep our faith in the Red Sox and to practice our fandom, our civic religion, just as before. Yes, our stomachs were full with the nourishing protein of victory, but that did not make our faith in our team, our devotion, any less virtuous, pure or sincere.

So onward Red Sox soldiers, eat the bread and drink the wine, for there will again be a time when we are both free and hungry, but that time is not today. Today our stomachs are full, but our faith in the Red Sox remains pure and good.

2. If the Red Sox win tonight, you might as well call Tito Edwin Moses the way he’s dominating Hurdles.

Actually, the funny thing is that with Tito completely and utterly outmanaging Clint Hurdle thus far, it seems eminently reasonable that he could beat him in the next 120 consecutive contests to match the great Olympian’s mark for mastery over the hurdles.

Lynn, Lynn city of sin,
In World Series Games their pitchers don’t win.
Ask for water they give you a gin
And Josh Fogg is gonna take one on the chin.

Or perhaps you prefer a different rhyme.

Trot, trot to Denver,
Trot, trot from Lynn,
When you get to Game 3,
Junk balls don’t win.

That’s right the starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies in tonight’s critical Game 3 contest is Lynn, Massachusetts native Josh Fogg. Fogg has had a, well, not awful year, putting up an ERA of just under five, but he has picked up two post-season wins thus far.

Still the question we must address is whether a guy from Lynn can actually win in the World Series. History says he can, but probably won’t. The most recent pitcher from Lynn to take a World Series mound was Ken Hill who went 0-1 for the Cleveland Indians while pitching 6.1 innings in two relief appearances in the 1995 World Series.

However, if you want to go back further, Irving Darius “Bump” Hadley went 2-1 for the Yankees with one start in each of the 1936, 1937 and 1939 Fall Classics. His career World Series ERA was however, 4.15 due to a disastrous 1937 start when he yielded 5 earned runs in just 1 1/3 innings.

So what does this tell us about tonight’s pitching matchup?

Well, if you contrast the performance of pitchers from Lynn with Japanese pitchers, it is no contest. Japanese pitchers have never yielded a single run, or even a hit, in World Series competition. But let’s look a bit deeper shall we and do a compare and contrast on Japan and Lynn.

Nationally prominent politicians
Japan: Tokugawa
Lynn: Lyndon LaRouche
Edge: Japan

Major industrial products
Japan: Cars, TVs
Lynn: Jet engines, Marshmallow fluff
Edge: Japan

Founders of religions
Japan: Asaharo Shoko, Aum Shinrikyo
Lynn: Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science
Edge: Lynn

Feudal systems
Japan: Samurai
Lynn: Lynn city council
Edge: Japan

Lost territory
Japan: Kuril Islands
Lynn: Swampscott
Edge: Lynn

Greatest shame
Japan: World War II
Lynn: Stupid “city of sin” rhyme
Edge: Lynn

Best current Major League starter
Japan: Daisuke Matsuzaka
Lynn: Josh Fogg

And when you add up all the pluses and minuses, it’s really only that last one that matters. Edge: Japan.

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


oilcan said...

Awesome, Jose. Just brilliantly put.

Anonymous said...


Shouldn't that be three orbits of the earth?

An orbit of the Earth around the sun is a year, a revolution of the Earth is a day.

Orlando Rays said...

anonymous: You described "rotation" of the earth. Revolution is what something does in an orbit. "Three revolutions of the Earth" is 100% right on, if mildly confusing without mentioning it's around the Sun.

Excellent KEYS, jose.

Anonymous said...

I am easily confused. Just ask my wife.

However, they are, as always, excellent KEYS.