It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. “God is dead.”
Thus spake Nietzsche.
Of course, Jose doesn’t believe that God is dead, he’s something of a Pascal man, determining that the potential benefits of belief are a far better gamble than atheism.
But the Colorado Rockies must be wondering this morning if Nietzsche wasn’t right after all? Because if God is alive, why oh why would the Rockies be down three games to none?
Jose wants to be clear. He is not mocking God. He is not mocking religion. Heck, his parents just went to church two minutes ago. Sure, it’s a Unitarian church so it doesn’t count, but at least they’re going through the motions.
What Jose is mocking is the incredibly foolish and self-indulgent notion that God is the equation changer in baseball games. It is nonsense, and it holds one’s faith up to ridicule and doubt. If one proclaims as Rockies Chairman and CEO Charlie Monfort did that “I believe God sends signs, we're seeing those" or as Team President Keli McGregor told Time that God is "using [The Rockies] in a powerful way," does it not follow inevitably that should the Rockies lose this series one of two things is true: either a) the Rockies have done something displeasing to God or b) if God really does care about baseball games, He is not powerful enough to actually win them?
The way Jose sees it the Rockies have put God in a terribly awkward position, and if Jose were God (note: he is not) he would be really resentful.
This is why God is best left out of baseball. Jose decided long ago after praying for Celtic playoff wins, that athletic victories were too small, too unimportant in a world of suffering to waste valuable prayers on.
We do not need religion in baseball; the intermixing of the two demeans them both. What we need in baseball is what we have—superstition. For decades, forever really, the true faith of baseball has been the soft animism of superstition. When Curt Euro hops over the base lines is he not appealing to some mysterious force in the universe? When Wade Boggs shoved chicken after chicken down his curious gullet was it not a form of prayer?
When Jose crosses his fingers, or kneels on the floor or rocks back and forth or visualizes base hits, is it not an appeal to some troublesome spirit? (Note: Or possible signs of an anxiety disorder?)
That said, the funny thing is that Jose has become a baseball atheist. Out in the world he is a deist, but with his eyes on the ball field, he has come, albeit slowly, to reject the heathen gods of bat and ball. It does not matter if he crosses his fingers. It is irrelevant if Curt Euro steps on a baseline. What matters is having the best players, the best preparation and the strongest minds. Now ritual can play a role in that. Simple repetition can focus the mind and relax the body, but it is vestigial, nothing more than the token remains of a rite that once had meaning.
Perhaps this is the legacy of 2004, the lesson at last learned by Red Sox fans, that one wins or loses not on the strength of one’s superstition, but on the strength of one’s bats and arms, and on the competence of one’s management.
Superstition would demand that Jose now, yell out “UNO!!!!” as he did three years ago, to proclaim, as in the card game, that there is just one win remaining. But he no longer feels the need. What he says and what he does are irrelevant to the outcome. What matters are the men on the field and the minds in the dugout.
UNO! UNO! UNO! UNO! UNO! Of course, Jose did say he tends toward Pascal’s Wager, so let’s not anger the baseball gods, just in case they are real.
2. As the seen shifted to Denver and National League rules, there has been an absolutely appalling amount of silly talk about how the Red Sox should rejigger their defense to keep David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, and Mike Lowell all in the lineup. While the solution last night was to sit Youkilis, that is not particularly creative. We have heard calls for Youk to play right field, for Mike Lowell to play shortstop, and for all Jose knows, for David Ortiz to catch. (Note: David Ortiz has bad knees. He should not catch.)
But no one has come up with the most obvious solution—let Mike Lowell pitch. Jose knows it sounds crazy at first, but this could totally work. The guy’s got a gun for an arm, and… well, that’s about all Jose’s got. Maybe it isn’t such a good idea.
Okay, let’s try a variation on that. Mike Lowell should be on the lineup card as the pitcher and should bat in the nine hole, but Jon Lester should do the actual pitching. How would this work? Disguise.
How hard can it be for Jon Lester to pass for Mike Lowell? They are both cancer survivors, so if Lester just constantly chats up the ump about “When I had cancer,” and remembers not to say it was lymphoma, as Lowell had testicular cancer, that’s a start right there. Then all you need is some modified Groucho glasses that keep the eyebrows but shrinks the nose a little bit, and some makeup to make Lester look 50 years older and presto—Mike Lowell is your pitcher.
Now, Jose knows what some of you are thinking “Hey, that’s cheating!” But come on, it’s not that bad. It’s not like they’re doing something really reprehensible like video taping the game or hitting umpire Chuck Meriwether with a steel chair or anything.
3. As Jose searched desperately for material for this Game 4 KEYS, he naturally looked back to Game 4 of the 2004 World Series for inspiration, and what he found surprised him. Three years ago yesterday, Jose in his second KEY relied heavily on the Transformers, the cartoon about robots that transformed into vehicles, comparing Derek Lowe to Megatron and St. Louis starter Jason Marquis to Bumblebee.
Cut to today and Major League Baseball has finally caught up with Jose, flashing Transformers logos throughout the World Series in efforts to move DVDs of the ho-hum summer blockbuster. The result, naturally enough, is that Jose needs another shtick. As an aspiring hipster Jose cannot keep using Transformers references once they get in vogue any more than he can keep drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon once they start underwriting National Public Radio.
Ergo, Jose will now explain to you how the 2007 Colorado Rockies are exactly like Go-Bots, the Tonka equivalent of Transformers.
Like the Go-Bots, the Rockies entered the series with a lot of hype and to significant excitement, but ultimately they were simply defeated by a vastly superior product.
Also, Jose is almost positive that there was a Go-Bot that changed into a bird called Latroy Hawk-Ins and one that was a three-way changer from a robot to a diet book to a TV maid named Garret Atkins.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.