Friday, February 2

You are under oath

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE.

1. Uggh…

Jose has been down with an incredibly nasty cold this week. How much of a cold? Think Craig Grebeck in a Red Sox uniform—that kind of cold, just utterly hopeless. (Note: Get it, because Grebeck’s bat was really cold when he played for the Sox? No?) Still, it didn’t stop him from sending a man to jail this week. And before you’re all like “so what if you sent a man to jail this week that’s no big deal,” Jose would like to clarify that it was neither Darryl Strawberry nor Doc Gooden. So there.

No, Jose was a witness against in a larceny trial against the property manager of a building he used to live in who, rather than depositing the rent checks into the owner’s account, deposited them into his own and then ultimately into Foxwoods’ account, as best Jose can understand. This particular defendant had even been a mayoral appointee to the Fenway Planning Task Force, carrying water for the Harrington regime and the city on the new Fenway Project. And yet it’s the stealing that lands him in the big house. Didn’t see that coming.

It was the first time Jose had testified in a court of law, and it was an experience that he does not relish repeating. The direct examination was ok:

DA: Could you state your name for the record?
JM: Jose Melendez. M-E-L-E-N-D-E-Z.

DA: And do you recognize the defendant?
JM: Yes he was Jose’s landlord for three years.

DA: And how did you pay your rent?
JM: Jose slid the check under the door on the first floor.

DA: And do you recognize the checks in front of you?
JM: Yes, those are Jose’s.

DA Thank you, no further questions.

See, that wasn’t bad. But then came the cross:

Defense Counsel (DC): Now, Mr. Melendez, you say you were a tenant in the defendant’s building for three years.
JM: That’s correct.

DC: And during this time you paid your rent monthly?
JM: Yes sir.

DC: Then why is it, in fact, that your name does not show up on a single check?
JM: Pardon?

DC: And yet you swore—UNDER OATH—that these checks were yours.
JM: The thing is that—

DC: So which is it, Mr. Melendez, if that is your real name, did you lie about your name or about those being your checks?
JM: Jose… Jose… Jose..

DC: Your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defense submits, for your consideration, that this man is not named Jose Melendez, that he is not Puerto Rican and that he has never—ever worked a single inning for the Boston Red Sox. Isn’t that true?
JM: Jose… Well, Jose worked at a concession stand at Fenway… and he has a blog.

DC: Well, we know you’re a liar so it stands to reason that you’re a blogger. I have no further questions.
JM: See you in court… counselor.

DC: We are in court.
JM: Isn’t that how lawyers say goodbye?

So as you can see it was tough, bordering on excruciating, but Jose hung in there, though he will admit that he got a little nervous when he was maneuvered into admitting he had a blog. As best he can tell, in any case involving a journalist now, they let the defendant go, and put the writer in the pokey. (Note: Why is jail named after Pokey Reese? He seemed nice.)

2. An upside of Jose’s illness and legal troubles was that it distracted him from the saga of Todd Helton, who nearly came to the Red Sox this week. While Helton is clearly a premiere player, the Red Sox were loath to give up even a single top prospect in the deal due to the astonishing length and breadth of Helton’s monster contract. While the Rockies had volunteered to pick up perhaps as much as half of the cost, the long term commitment was still frightening. Consider the following provisions in Helton’s contract:

Burial expenses, including satin-lined casket with solid cherry exterior, wake at the Rose Bowl and burial plot on the moon for Helton… and the next 30 generations of his family.
  • All teammates required to listen 20 times per season to his story about how he is named after Mary Todd Lincoln.
  • All the foie gras he can eat.
  • Literal gold parachute (note: plus gold airplane) in the event of second trade.
  • One indoor parking spot on Beacon Hill.
  • New England Patriots second round draft pick in 2009.
  • $4 billion per year until 2035.

So yeah, he’s a great hitter and he can pick the ball, but we really need to hold on to that foie gras… er… draft pick.

3. The other big news in this, the slowest of slows sports months, is that Curt Euro has vowed to pitch beyond the 2007 conclusion of his current contract and has asked the Red Sox to extend his deal prior to the start of the season. This is a decision fraught with peril. On the one hand, with even Gil Meche pulling down $11 million per, signing even a diminished Euro to a $13-$15 million deal may be a pretty good risk. On the other hand, the guy is only one year removed from being almost completely useless due to ankle surgery, and the Sox control him this year regardless. It’s a tough call to be sure.

Jose’s proposal is that the Red Sox look to the DJ Dru contract for inspiration. The Dru contract allows the team to void the final years of the contract should Dru’s sketchy shoulder knock him out of action in the third year. Here’s what a similar deal would like for Curt: Two years but the second year is voided if Curt does not bleed through his hosiery at least twice in his first season.

It makes perfect sense. Euro has never pitched a bad game with blood coming through his hosiery, and every year where it has happened, he’s had a near Cy Young season and the Sox have won the World Series. And before you go complaining that it’s too restrictive, let Jose point out that he said “hosiery” not “sock.” In contracts, specific language is very important. If Curt wants to bleed through panty hose or silk stockings, that is contractually fine. There’s no need to dive into the man’s personal life.

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