Thursday, March 15

Thinking Outside the Pen

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.

1. The principle spring training narrative continues to be the question of who will close. Terry Eurona is said to favor Julienned Tavarez (note: shoot Jose), others view Mike Timlin as the lead candidate and still others think Joel Piniero should get a shot. None of them are terribly appealing are they? But maybe the Red Sox haven’t considered all of the options. Perhaps, just perhaps in this brave and terrible new baseball world, the closer is no longer necessary. Perhaps, it is nothing more than a vestigial structure, a once useful thing that has long since lost its purpose, like the appendix or Bernie Williams.

Jose proposes that the Red Sox do not need a closer at all. Rather, they should develop an elaborate strategy that focuses on avoiding save situations all together. The strategy involves three basic components:

  1. Big leads— All the Red Sox need to do is get way ahead, and there will be no save situation to worry about.

  2. Come from behind wins—Why score three runs in the third to build a slim, blowable lead when you could just as easily score them in the bottom of the ninth while down by two runs?

  3. Weather control—If the Red Sox had a weather control machine, they could bring in the rain whenever they have a lead after the fifth and render the closer question moot. This is probably a less appealing alternative in domes.

Now, Jose knows what you’re thinking, that big leads and come from behind wins may be good plans, but controlling the weather is potentially catastrophic for the environment not to mention incredibly difficult to do. Fair enough, but let Jose ask you this, which do you think is harder, exerting precise and total control over the elements or finding a closer out of Donnelly, Tavarez, Piniero and Timlin? Jose thought so. Look at it this way, there have been movies wherein people can control the weather, X-Men for instance. Sure it’s fantastic, but no one leaves the theater saying “That’s crap, there’s no way Storm could make rain and lightning.” By contrast, if you went into a theater, dropped down your ten bucks and saw a movie wherein Julienned Tavarez became an effective closer you would condemn it as too absurd even for fiction. Point weather control.

2. One of the biggest disappointments of the 2006 season was Coco Crisp’s failure to thrive with the Red Sox. While it was easy to attribute his struggles to a broken finger, Jose thinks his difficulties can be just as easily linked to his failure to develop a clear identity within the context of the team.

You know how most relievers perform better when they have a clear role on the team? Like how Julienned Tavarez would stop sucking if they told him “you will only pitch the sixth inning.” Jose believes that the same holds true for Crisp. So Jose has tried to come up with the best role for Crisp, one that will allow him to reach his full potential, and after more than a few sleepless nights, he thinks he’s got it—birdman.

It’s perfect. Look at how well it worked for Crisp’s namesake, wrestling legend Koko B. Ware. After getting off to a promising start as Pro Wrestling Illustrated’ s 1979 rookie of the year, Ware struggled to establish himself, ending up on a tenure track to obscurity. But then, he found his role, when he signed with the WWF in 1986 as “Birdman” Koko B. Ware, and brought his pet bird Frankie to the ring with him. All of a sudden, B. Ware emerged as a beloved star, if not an actual champion.

So all Crisp needs to do is get himself a parrot and a sequined headband and voila, he’ll reach his formidable potential. Also, picking up “Piledriver” Koko B. Wares singles from the “The Wrestling Album 2: Piledriver” couldn’t hurt.
The only down side is that it could set up a situation where the Yankees steal Crisp’s bird prior to a big game, rendering Crisp distracted and useless.

Now playing centerfield for the Red Sox, accompanied by his bird Frankie...

3. In other news, David Ortiz is trying to kill Terry Eurona.

According to the Boston Herald, Ortiz has been doing his rank best to keep the manager addicted to smokeless tobacco, going so far as to waft the sickly sweet aroma directly into Tito’s nostrils.

Now, Jose can understand where Ortiz is coming from. After all, who hasn’t wanted to kill Tito from time to time? But remember, as frustrating as his bullpen decisions may sometimes be, he is still the best Red Sox manager since Dick Williams. Besides, what’s the point of trying to keep him on smokeless tobacco? To kill him before he can burn out the 2017 bullpen?

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.

Monday, March 12

Shoulder, Back, Buttocks and Ribs: The Carl Pavano Story

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.

1. The Yankees take on the Red Sox tonight in what is sure to be the tensest a spring training game can get. Way more tense than the BC game. According to Jose’s sources, authorities in Fort Myers are preparing for the game by summoning extra ambulances and first aid personnel. It’s not that they’re afraid of riots or anything, it’s just that Carl Pavano is pitching, so you know he’s going to take up at least one ambulance, so you need an extra in case someone in the stands gets schistosomiasis or something.

And it could get much worse. Pavano has always been skilled at injuring himself, but like any “true Yankee” he has stepped up his game since coming to New York. Not only has he sustained injuries to his own “shoulder, back, buttocks and ribs" but he is now injuring people around him as well. Pavano missed his last spring training start dealing with his girlfriend’s “severe medical condition.” (Note: Does herpes count as a severe medical condition?) Moreover, Pavano is being sued by a man for car accident last year wherein Pavano hit the man with his Porsche. Pavano broke two ribs in the crash. Pavano has also reportedly been seen in Hiroshima in 1945, in Phuket on Christmas 2004. Also, for those of you unsatisfied with the inconclusive ending to the film Zodiac, Jose is pretty sure Carl Pavano had something to do with it.

How bad is Pavano hurting himself and others? Let’s put it this way, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer has proposed closing the entire New York health care funding gap by having Pavano killed.

2. New Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has gotten off to a rough start as scandals involving an expensive inaugural, a helicopter, a Cadillac, a phone call to Citigroup on behalf of Ameriquest, new office furnishings, an assistant for his wife and his wife’s depression have taken focus from his governing agenda.

Now, Jose supports Patrick, he was a delegate for him at the state Democratic Convention and voted for him right on through, but he is amazed that someone who ran such a brilliant campaign can get off to such a politically tone deaf start. Not all of you are Massachusetts residents and not all of you who are politicos, so Jose thought he would explain Governor Patrick’s struggles in terms you can understand. What would a new Red Sox manager have to do to get off to this bad of a start? (Note: Jose could just say, view the Joe Kerrigan era, but that wouldn’t be any fun would it?)

  • After announcing that this “will not be a 25 guys 25 cabs team” he arrives late to spring training after sailing down from Boston on private yacht named “Cab 1.”
  • Redecorates managerial office with money that could have been spent on a closer.
  • Announces that his wife will have her own batting practice pitcher because she plans to take a “more hands on role” than previous manager’s wives.
  • Calls George Steinbrenner to talk him out of plan to acquire Barry Bonds instead of Vlad Guerrero.
  • States that in light of increasingly difficult budgetary climate, the “overly optimistic goal of winning the division will be replaced with the more sensible goal of finishing a solid third.”
  • Stands silent as the federal government deports David Ortiz.
  • Speaks up when the federal government tries to deport Julian Tavarez.

That’s the kind of start Governor Patrick is off to. Still, it could be worse. He has yet to fire his Chief-of-Staff and replace her with Joe Kerrigan. (Note: It’s National Beat on Joe Kerrigan day, join in… jokes about stolen bases are encouraged.)

3. What do you think Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Sox skipper Terry Eurona were discussing yesterday in the dugout? The way Jose sees it there are only two possibilities: the rigors of coaching in a high intensity sports town like Boston or sweatshirts. Jose is going with sweatshirts. Belichick is, of course, famous for the ratty cut off hooded sweatshirts he wears during games. Tito, similarly, if less famously, wears a red fleece sweatshirt in the dugout.

Also, it is rumored that the two are working on a book together about management. The reported title is “Everything I Know about Management I Learned from my Sweatshirt”

A few teaser quotes:

  • A good manager is like a sweatshirt, warm but not smothering.
  • Much like a sweatshirt, it doesn’t matter how a manager looks as long as he gets the job done.
  • An organization is like a sweatshirt, if there’s a part you don’t need, you can just cut it off.

Jose thinks there is something to this. After all how many championships had the Sox and Pats won in the 86 years before the sweatshirts? Couldn’t someone buy a nice green hoodie for Doc Rivers?

I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.