Thursday, May 3

Japan Night at Fenway

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

1. It’s Japan night at Fenway Park as Mr. Matsu battles Ichiro Suzuki with not one, but two Japanese American Red Sox bloggers looking on. Tonight, Jose will attend his third game of the season (note: record 2-0) as the guest of empyrealenvirons, who played a critical role in the graphic design of this very blog.

On such a special occasion, it became clear quite quickly that this arrangement would demand some sort of special bloging shtick. Leading to the following exchange of emails.

Jose: Jose feels like you and Jose need to come up with some sort of shared shtick for this game. The two Japanese-American Red Sox bloggers watching Matsu vs. Ichiro. There's got to be something we can come up with.

Empyreal: Thought of something: do it in "whiteface." Not literally paint, but pretend we're white people and say the things we hear all the time because of our appearance.

Jose: Have you seen a picture of Jose? He’s only 1/8 Japanese. Jose does life in whiteface.

Empyreal: :) Sorry, never saw a picture; hope I didn't offend 7/8s of you.

Yes, it’s Japan night at Fenway, and let us all hope that if Mr. Matsu decides to pitch in whiteface tonight it’s as Josh Beckett and not as Ricky Trlicek.

2. Kudos to the Boston Herald for an uncharacteristic display of conscientious journalism. Sure they ran a front page photo of Patriots quarterback/demigod Tom Brady wearing a Yankees cap with the headline “Yanks for nothing Brady…Tom, Say It Ain’t So!” a sensationalistic, pointless story, that doubtless has nothing to do with the Herald’s plunging circulation. But that’s okay, because the sub-head was 100% accurate as it read “‘Shocking’ details in the Inside Track.”

That’s right, they put “shocking” in quotes. They actually admitted through the use of those cute little quotation marks that their front page story is neither newsworthy nor shocking.

You know how some people make quotes with their fingers when they are saying something they regard a preposterous? For instance, how Carl Everett might say “I was 6 years old when man first ‘walked on the moon?’” It’s like that. Jose is glad that this is now an accepted journalistic technique and will use it to make the following statements:

  • Jose is “devastated” to hear the Yankees Rookie Phillip Hughes will be out four to six weeks.
  • By all reckoning, Dour Mirabelli is a “fantastic human being” and “adds a lot to this team.”
  • Joe Torre is a “handsome” man with “excellent” personal hygiene.
  • The ladies at the Inside Track are “absolutely not” bloated harpies who traffic in human misery.
  • Beer at Fenway Park is “reasonably priced” at seven dollars.
  • Tito Eurona is the best Red Sox manager in Jose’s life time. See, no quotes on that one.

3. The term “Horatio Alger story” is used to describe any story of someone who climbs from rags and desolation to a respected place in society through hard work and determination. It is a tribute to the works of novelist Horatio Alger who wrote 135 novels that have this triumph of pluck as their central theme. Modern examples of Horatio Alger Stories include Pretty Woman and the original Star Wars trilogy.

Tonight, the Red Sox go against Seattle lefty Horacio Ramirez, who’s life is not a Horatio Alger story. Quite to the contrary, a Horacio Ramirez story, after tonight’s game, will be a term used to describe a quick and catastrophic failure that results in the protagonist crying like a little girl. Modern examples include Titanic, many football games coached by Dick Vermeil and the 1972 Ed Muskie campaign.

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

Wednesday, May 2

Jose Wants the Airwaves

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

1. There’s a funny thing about month in reviews. They are almost impossible to write. The clumsy shapes of the written word some how fail to convey the awesome significance of a lunar cycle gone by. And yet they are adequate for years in review. Weird.

No, the contemplation of a full month requires the spoken word, the ebullient cacophony of air moving across larynx. Thus, it is Jose’s great privilege and pride to present to you the first of KEYS TO THE GAME PODCAST produced by SoShers OCDSS and Trotsky. If Howard Stern is “King of all Media,” by moving into this second form of communication, Jose is, perhaps, emerging as a Viscount of some media, or perhaps a squire, like Sancho Panza except lacking insight.

2. Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be an early Christian watching Christ upon the Cross?

You’ve seen this guy perform miracles. Sure the water into wine could have been a trick, and maybe, as Father Guido Sarducci suggested, he was actually standing on the shoulders of his brother Billy Christ when he walked on water. But how do you explain the loaves and fishes? Hmm? And what about healing lepers? Those are grade A miracles.

And so you look at this guy up there, the Messiah, the miracle man, the Son of God, and you keep waiting for the amazing escape. Sure, he looks awful, thin and scraggly, blood flowing from lance wound in his side, but you know he’s got something ready. And then, all of a sudden, for the grand finale… he dies. That’s right he just dies up there. Can you believe it? No, of course you can’t.

And so it was watching Jonathan Papelbon last night. You’ve seen the guy escape inescapable jams, transform losses into wins, heal the leprous Red Sox bullpen, and then… without warning, he fails. He does not save the game or save himself. He falls, bowing, it seems, to the cruelty of men.

But for Christ, his failure to save himself begat the greatest miracle of all, his stunning, history-changing resurrection. Do we, can we, except to see anything less than the resurrection Jonathan Papelbon three days hence? Amen

3. According to Alan Schwarz of the New York Times, a new study by a UPenn professor and Cornell grad student says that white NBA referees call fouls on black players at a much greater rate than on white players. If one puts aside the possible conflict of interest of having a race story written by a man whose name, Schwartz means “black” in German and is sort of a slur in Yiddish, (note: this story should only be reported by a South Asian or Eskimo, as neither are currently represented in the NBA) the story is pretty interesting. Moreover, it makes Jose wonder if a similar study of some kind could be done for baseball. Jose suspects that if one was done, it would find that umpire discrimination is rampant. While race isn’t an issue, Jose’s theory is that tall players are almost universally discriminated against with a larger strike zone then their shorter teammates and opponents.

Jose doesn’t have data to back up the theory yet, but if he’s right than MLB is wrong. Tall people should never be discriminated against, except in Fenway Park seating, where they need to be corralled in a special section just for them so Jose doesn’t get knees hitting him in the back of the neck.

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

Tuesday, May 1

Like Triangle

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

1. Lots of observers have commented on the curious fondness of Julienned Tavarez for Mr. Matsu. It’s funny and kind of endearing to see the effusive (note: read insane) Tavarez fawn over the Japanese pitcher, who while he seems to be touchy feely by Japanese standards, is still unsure what to make of his Dominican non-so-secret-admirer.

Still, today’s Globe Red Sox Notebook wherein Tavarez says “I told [Matsuzaka] I think you’re one of the greatest pitchers I’ve ever seen,” is embarrassing in its mushiness. It reads like a sixth grade mash note. But it gets worse. Jose recently uncovered this transcript of a locker room conversation between the unlikely friends.

JULIAN: Hi Daisuke.

DAISUKE: Oh hi Julian.

JULIAN: How’s it going?

DAISUKE: Umm… okay. Still getting used to life here. How about for you?

JULIAN. (Slyly) Good… Hey, I really liked watching you pitch the other day.

DAISUKE: Oh thanks.

JULIAN: It was just so exciting, the way you exercised such, such command over all of your pitches.

DAISUKE: (looking uncomfortable) Uh… yeah, I had my good stuff.

JULIAN: You sure did, and you knew exactly when to use it. You knew right when to use the hard stuff, and the perfect time to go with something a little more… subtle.

DAISUKE: I… I guess I try to mix it up.

JULIAN: I guess it’s just your grip. You’ve just got these amazing hands. Strong, supple.

DAISUKE: I’m feeling really uncomfortable.

JULIAN: Do you mind if I touch your hands? I want to feel where the magic comes from?

DAISUKE: Uhhh…(looking for a way out) I not speak Engrish.

JULIAN: Los manos, los manos lucido.

DAISUKE: Umm… I also not speak Spanish?

JULIAN: Just let me touch them. Please?

DAISUKE: Julian you’re cool and all, but I don’t want you coming on to me. I don’t like you that way.

JULIAN (Punches him in the face) What?!? What the hell is wrong with you all I say is I want to feel your rugged manly, magical hands and you make it all dirty?

DAISUKE: (On the floor clenching his jaw) Ughh…Crap… Sorry, must be a cultural misinterpretation. Would it help if I taught you the cutter to make it up to you?

JULIAN: Teaching me the cutter is a start, that and some sex. Lots and lots of sex.

DAISUKE: But I thought—

JULIAN: Cultural differences!

See, incredibly awkward and uncomfortable. Jose even felt uncomfortable transcribing it. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with a pock marked Dominican lunatic prone to violent outbursts falling in love with a Japanese colleague, and making awkward, clumsy passes at him. Not at all. It’s just that Tavarez seems to be aiming a little too high. Let’s be honest, Daisuke is out of his league. If he’s got an Asian thing, he should focus on Okajima. Though he might be getting out of Tavarez’s league too. Maybe we could get Wendell Kim to hang out with him.

2. Speaking of Okajima, when he was originally brought to the Red Sox, there was rampant speculation that he was signed as much to provide friendship and companionship to Mr. Matsu as to pitch. Of course, little did the Red Sox know that Julienned Tavarez would be providing Mr. Matsu with all the friendship he could stand. Thus, with his primary purpose gone, Okajima has been forced to focus on his lesser role of pitching brilliantly.

But don’t be fooled. No, don’t be tricked into thinking that Okajima’s original role was to be a lights out set up man. He and Mr. Matsu are, as some SoSHers have suggested, BFFs, best friends forever, and not even Tavarez can tear them apart. You want proof? You say it’s kind of BS to assume that just because two guys come from the same country and work at the same place they’re BFFs? Well, the proof is in the necklace. You know that necklace that Okajima wears to every game. With Jose’s years of training in the arts (note: and crafts) he can tell, with 95 percent confidence, that that is an authentic gimp friendship necklace made at a summer camp sometime between 1983 and 1989. And Jose has every reason to believe that necklace came from Mr. Matsu. Of course, there is one other possibility. Jose has been hearing rumors that Tavarez has been making friendship necklaces for everyone, just so he can tease J.C. Romero, saying “I have 23 best friends on this team, and you have none. Loser.”

3. But you don’t want to hear any more about Julienned Tavarez’ creepy Japanese fetish. No, you don’t come here for that, you come hear for insight on tonight’s match up with the Oakland Athletics and the return of Lenny DiNardo. Jose hopes that the fans treat him right. Jose has heard that the Red Sox are preparing a video tribute of Lenny’s greatest moments to play pregame, you know, like they did with Pedro last year. Jose thinks it will include that one pitch where his fastball hit 86 mph, and maybe that time when he didn’t get shelled. Hopefully they’ll also do a retrospective on his Rule V induced trip to the disabled list in 2004.

But let’s not get lost in the drama. This Oakland As team is far more than just Lenny DiNardo. It is the retirement home for formerly great hitting, badly broken down catchers with both Mike Piazza and Jason Kendall on the roster. And Jose is holding out that they may sign Todd Hundley before game time.

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