Friday, July 27

Building Up an Immunity

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

1. Do we have to play the DRays?


This is not the right time for the Red Sox to go into Tampa. Jose is rooting for a weekend of rainouts. Wait the DRays play in a dome don’t they, so that will involve some holes being cut in the roof, but whatever it takes.

The Red Sox are playing great right now. They just took three of four on the road from an excellent Cleveland team. Manny, Lugo and Crisp are hitting. Papi is back. Lester, Mr. Matsu and St. Josh a Beckett all pitched beautifully. Why in God’s name would we play Tampa right now? Everything is great, we don’t need Tampa right now.

Playing Tampax Bay this weekend is like slurping antibiotics when you’re healthy. Tampax Bay and tuberculosis don’t share initials without good reason. In both cases, they more you attack them the stronger they get. If you take antibiotics when you don’t need them, when you actually do get tuberculosis, you’re screwed. Similarly, if you play Tampa when you don’t need to, you might find that you struggle when you play them later in the season after a four or five game losing streak.

Actually, never mind that’s crap. Tampax Bay is nothing like tuberculosis because they never get stronger no matter what.

Rather Tampax Bay, as the name suggests, is much more like a tampon. If you have one when you don’t need it, no harm done, but if you do need it to stop the bleeding after a few bad days, it’ll absolutely do the trick.

Okay, so Jose is pretty sure he used that line all the way back in 2004, but you know what. He doesn’t care. Why should he stop? It still works doesn’t it? Still gets the cheap laugh, right? The bottom line is that if the people of Tampax Bay want Jose to stop making tampon jokes, they should change the name of their city/region, or at least their “baseball team” to something that doesn’t make it so easy. For instance, if they changed the name of the team to the St. Petersburg Trojans, then Jose wouldn’t make tampon jokes anymore would he? No, then he’d say things like “playing the Trojans is a lot like using a Trojan, they both stop bad things from happening.”

2. After a great deal of thought, Jose has decided that he is completely in favor of the Red Sox acquiring Mark Teixeira, even if the costs are high.

There are a lot of reasons not to go after him. He’s been injured this year, Scott Boras is his agent and the Rangers are asking for a ton. But there are two big reasons to go after him. First, he’s a 30 home run, 130 RBI sort of guy with a pretty slick glove, which is nice. But far more importantly, his name can be phonetically broken down into Te-She-Ra, which is Spanish for “Your She-Ra.”

For all of his skills, Kevin Youkilis has never lent himself to anything much better than Jewish jokes, and Mike Lowell has peaked with missing testicle humor. Picking up Te She-Ra, by contrast, would open up an entire line of She-Ra/He-Man universe related references that have thus far been almost completely untapped by this humble feature.

A good fit for the 5 hole?

Consider the opportunities:

  • During a prolonged slump, Te She-Ra, could be called “Princess of Power.”
  • Jose always thought “By the Power of Grayskull was a reference to Terry Eurona’s head anyway.
  • She-Ra’s arch enemy Hordak is an acronym for K A-Rod H. (Note: Jose’s got no idea what to do with that H.)
  • Synergy as Te She-Ra and Man-E-Faces Ramirez go back to back it order
  • She-Ra has a healing touch. David Ortiz could totally use that.

3. In encouraging news Curt Euro pitched five scoreless innings for the Paw Sox as they battled Maxwell Klinger’s beloved Toledo Mudhens. The successful rehab start came even as Euro generated more controversy with a scathing attack on steroid users in a conversation with Bob Costas. Euro suggested that user Rafael Palmeiro should be stripped of his 3,000th hit and that Jose Canseco should be required to return his MVP award.

But the timing could not have been worse for Euro. The news came on the same day the Boston Globe did a feature on his life as an online gamer, including a photo of a curiously buff Euro in the game Everquest. Canseco used the opportunity to attack the Sox pitcher’s credibility.

“Curt Schilling (sic) is a liar and hypocrite,” said Canseco. “I admit that I used steroids. But when is he going to admit that his Everquest character is digitally enhanced. I have never used a computer to increase my skills or improve my physique. Can he say the same?”

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

Wednesday, July 25

Use Only As Directed

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

1. Hello, this is blogger Jose Melendez, and Jose would like to tell you about a revolutionary new treatment that changed his life.

Like a lot of you Red Sox fans, Jose suffers from anxiety. He never thought it was a big deal, just a base level of nervousness that sort of follows him through life. He’s the sort of guy who worries that if he doesn’t bring an umbrella it’s going to rain and if he does that he’ll get stuck schlepping it around all day. He gets nervous about whether his train will arrive on time, and then while he’s on it, he gets nervous that it will be knocked off the rails by Godzilla or possible Mothra.

Sound familiar? It sure does. Do you sometimes feel like Calvin Schiraldi in the postseason? Do you rock like Leo Mazzone or an Orthodox Jew in prayer, during those stressful late innings?

Well, now there’s a treatment. About four months ago, Jose discovered a treatment for anxiety that has changed his life. And the best thing about it is you don’t need it everyday. When the stress adds up, it’s there for you with immediate, scientifically-proven relief for your toughest anxiety symptoms.

Whether you’re worried about a lefty or a righty, Hideki Okajima takes care of the anxiety fast.

(Note: What, you thought Jose was going to say valium?)

Ask your Doctor if Hideki Okajima is right for you.

(Warning: Hideki Okajima may not be right for you. Hideki Okajima may cause drowsiness, lethargy or burning during urination. If Hideki Okajima causes an erection lasting longer than four hours, please consult your doctor. Women who are pregnant or may be come pregnant should not handle Hideki Okajima. Hideki Okajima may become addictive with prolonged use. Use Hideki Okajima only as directed.)

2. In an episode of The Simpsons entitled “The Wife Aquatic” which originally aired on January 7, 2007, Moe Syzlak, sensing that Homer, who is working as a fisherman, is in danger says “I just got this strange feeling Homer's in trouble.”

Lenny Leonard, Homer’s fellow barfly quickly adds “That's weird I just got this strange feeling some guy I don't know named Fausto is in trouble.”

Is that not incredibly weird? How on Earth did Lenny know that the Red Sox are going to absolutely Indians starter Fausto Carmona is in serious trouble tonight against the Red Sox? Creepy.
Tonight's Cleveland Starter (pictured
right) is in trouble.

3. Dear God Bud Selig is a coward. After indicating that he would not attend games in which Barry Bonds could tie or break Hank Aaron’s home run record, the Commissioner announced yesterday that he would attend these games to the extent that they did not interfere with his obligations with the Hall-of-Fame induction. Selig has further indicated that he will not participate in any on field ceremonies and that the game will not be halted to honor the achievement. Count Jose as skeptical.

So Jose is going to lay down a gauntlet, draw a line in the sand, establish legal residency in the proverbial tax-free New Hampshire right now. He is not going to attend any of the games where Bonds might break Aaron’s record. Jose vows he will not travel to a single game where it could happen. He will not go on the field, he will not go in the locker room, he will not share a hug with Bonds. If Bonds invites Jose over for cigars and roast pheasant, he will decline. If Bonds offers him a back rub, he shall, in the word of Thor, “say thee nay.”

Unlike the King of the Combovers, Jose will stands firm and resolute in his opposition to honoring the Duke of the cream and the clear

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

Tuesday, July 24

Do We Need the Yankees?

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

Are we better off having the Yankees hanging around?

Are we happier? Do our cows give more milk? Are our sexual experiences more powerful? Can we bench press a little more? Bruce Weber thinks we can.

In a New York Times piece on Sunday, Weber, an author and Yankees fan, submits, for our consideration, the proposition that we are all better off having the Yankees around. Weber maintains, in the haughty tones one expects from followers of the team from the Bronx, that we are glad to have the Yankees around, that a season without them in contention is like Othello without Iago.

Jose suspects that his readership might not be much of a Shakespeare crowd (note: okay, you are a Shakespeare crowd, but Jose’s never seen Othello, nor even the film “O” so he’s got nothing here), so let’s look at it a different way. What would Star Wars be without Darth Vader? That’s really Weber’s argument isn’t it? Would the Star Wars epic be nearly as exciting, as interesting, as mysterious if Darth Vader died half way through Empire, or better yet, gave up evil and went to farm on Tatooine?

One’s first inclination is, of course, to say “Absolutely not; it would suck.” But then think about it a little more deeply. Sure, when we saw the first Star Wars trilogy having Darth Vader stick around until the end seemed like a good thing. But what about after the second trilogy was released? Did it still seem like a good idea? When we all learned that the man behind the mask was just a whiny punk, didn’t it sort of make you wish he’d just died earlier so Luke could have gone toe-to-toe with the Emperor or they could have made the last movie about Admiral Akbar or something? Okay, it didn’t, but still, you have to concede that Jose has a point.

Of course, having a villain is important to any dramatic arc, but when it is revealed that the villain, rather than being deeply malevolent or even complex, is just whiny and self-obsessed, much of the drama disappears. Sure, Jose hates these Yankees, but as much hate as he feels, he feels even more disgust. The Yankees of the 70s with Thurman Munson and friends, those were teams you could hate and fear, same too for the Yankees of the mid-90s. Who was more loathsome than Paul “I’ve never taken a called strike in my life” O’Neil? They were Darth Vader without the back story. Dark, sinister and terrifying. But today’s Yankees? They are like looking at Darth Vader knowing that, at core, they are whiny Anakin Skywalker, petty, greedy and more than a little pathetic.

Can’t you picture A-Rod slaughtering a bunch of sand people and then acting like it was a big deal? “I’m A-Rod, the greatest, most ruthless Jedi of all time, because I killed a bunch of sand people,” he might say. “Never mind that whenever we get to a big time throw down, Count Dooku or Obi Wan is going to kick my *ss.” It’s pathetic actually.

The big, bad Yankees have become more an object of disgust than fear, far less Iago and far, far more Paris Hilton.

2. Time to be serious. Jose had a little fun yesterday with Jon Lester’s comeback, making cancer jokes and what not, but you all know that in his heart Jose was genuinely happy to see the lefty back in the majors after his ordeal. And the fact that he pitched well, makes it all the better. We need him, and perhaps he needs us.

But what Jose wants to add was how genuinely nice it was to see Lester’s parents in the stands rooting him on. So often in sports, we are force fed images of the family of players or coaches in the stand in big games, as if we are foie gras ducks being driven to illness. And so often, Jose doesn’t want to see it. Jose doesn’t care about Donovan McNabb’s mother whether she’s pushing soup or not. He sure doesn’t need to see the blonde, big boobed wives of any college hoops coaches during tense moments in March. (Note: Well, he doesn’t need to see head shots of them anyway.) And he certainly doesn’t need the constant cutaways at every pause in the action. Hell, he doesn’t even want to see David Beckham’s wife, unless she is singing “If You Wanna be My Lover.”

But last night was different. Seeing Jon Lester’s folks there at the Jake, not looking self-involved or self-aggrandizing, not only rooting for their son, but reveling in his health, made Jose happy. Some people take a cruise to celebrate a victory over cancer, some buy a car, the Lesters took a trip to Cleveland. And Jose would wager that no one, ever, has been so elated to be on the banks of the Cuyahoga River.

3. Jose was relieved this morning when he opened KEYS and saw the little Israeli flag emerge on the list of visiting nations on the lower right hand side of his screen. Unwittingly, Jose had gotten drawn into Holy Land politics with the announcement by one fan that despite the fact that he lived well inside the green line in Jerusalem, his nation’s flag was not showing up on Jose’s display.

As a non-practicing, culture-only Jew, Jose was mortified to be inadvertently coming down on the “Israel does not have the right to exist” side of the debate. With the appearance of the little blue and white flag, Jose can confirm that he does believe in Israel’s right to exist, even though he does question the right of Israel Alcantara to exist.

Now that that’s straightened out, Jose does have some bad news for his fellow members of the tribe and… well… Jose isn’t sure how to say this, but…umm… Jose is pretty sure that we’re not the Chosen People.

Jose knows, Jose knows, it says we are in the Torah and in Charlton Heston movies and what not, but, as you know Jose is an empiricist and he follows the evidence. And, well, the evidence does not point in our direction. It’s not that we’re not “a” chosen people. God probably choo-choo-chooses us for lots of stuff. He gave us the bagel; he gave us the Catskills and according to an urologist Jose knows, gave our elderly men the largest, organs, shall we say, in all humanity.

But while we may be “a” chosen people. We are not “The Chosen People.” We can’t be. How can we compete with the Dominicans? Look who they’ve got. Pedro, Papi, Manny, Vlad, Marichal, and the list goes on. What do we have Hank Greenberg and Albert Einstein? Sure Greenberg could mash, but Old Albert looks like a .220 hitter to Jose. And how fast can Ruth Bader Ginsburg throw? Not fast enough.

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

Monday, July 23

Whistle When You’re Low

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


Bleeping Dan Shaughnessy took the bleeping high road on Jon Lester.

If Manny had just returned after a bout with the big C, Shaughnessy would be questioning if he’d ever had cancer and making quips like “Did Manny have melanoma, or just melodrama? History would suggest the latter.” But since it was loveable Jon Lester, hard working white kid, Shaughnessy gives him the Le Monde on 9/12 treatment “Tonight all of us are Red Sox fans.”

So if Shaughnessy is going to play good guy in this storyline, what does the leave for Jose? Does he get stuck doing the cancer jokes, yet again?

Yes, apparently he does. Do five jokes about Mike Lowell losing a testicle to cancer, and suddenly you’re the cancer joke guy. G-reat.

Well, fine then. Here goes. Mike Lowell told Shaughnessy “Trust me, anyone going through this doesn’t want to talk about it. He wants to be a baseball player rather than a cancer survivor.”

Where does Lowell get off speaking for everyone with cancer? Shonda Schilling can’t stop talking about the evils of the sun. The nerve! Didn’t she see what melanoma did for Derek Lowe? Did he ever have a World Series ring before he lost part of his nose to cancer? Nope. And while he was probably banging reporters, he certainly didn’t get to brag about it in the newspaper. Cancer was great for DLowe. (Note: In German, the call cancer Krebs, which is the name of the constellation Cancer, but literally translates as “crabs.” This begs the question of whether Germans treat cancer with special shampoo rather than deadly intravenous chemicals. While this name may not make cancer any less deadly in German speaking countries, it definitely makes it funnier. Also, angina, means strep throat in German, which is confusing as hell.)

And what about Cancer Boy, the heroic tyke from Brain Candy, the Kids in the Hall movie, who battled through cancer to be nominated at the World Video Awards for the best rap, hip hop or folk video. He courageously talked about his cancer all the time, and whistled about it too.

In fact, when Lester first starts at Fenway, the Sox should play Cancer Boy’s “Whistle When You’re Low” as his intro music.

Alternatively, Jose vaguely recalls his friend Dan writing a song called “Metastasis, We’ve Got to Stop It” during ninth grade biology. That could work too.

Okay. Deep breath. Is that enough? Is Jose enough of a heel for you now? Has he scored enough points off of a freaking cancer survivor to entertain you heartless people? JOSE IS NOT YOUR JOKE MONKEY!!!!!!

Well, he is kind of, so let him settle with this side note. Welcome back to the bigs Jon, and have a great game. Don’t get too used to Shaughnessy writing nice things about you, and remember, keep whistling.

When Jose goes to hell for KEY 1,
he needs to keep whistling.

2. The promotion of Jon Lester, also means the end of the line for Joel Piñero in the grey and red, and despite his ineffectiveness, Jose can’t help but feel like the end came too soon. When J.C. Romero was designated for assignment Jose felt at peace. He’d written about Christian rappers calling their Lord JC, and he’d suggested the lefty was an amalgam of Jesus Christ and Ed Romero—he’d covered all the bases. But not so with Piñero, with so Piñero much remains undone. Yes, Jose got to call him Jor-El and do some father of Superman jokes, but so much never happened. Jose never got to write about how he loves those piñero nuts they sometimes use in Chinese food. Then he would have spent the next day writing how it turns out they’re actually called piñola nuts, and we would have laughed and laughed.

Jose never even wrote about loving Piñero Coladas, and getting lost in the rain. And now it’s too late.

The sadness flows through Jose’s veins like ethanol after SoSH bash weekend. He’ll never see Joel walk another batter, never see him give up a two strike hit, never see him make that frustrated little look he makes, when he realizes he can’t get anyone out.

Well, life, as they say, is loss, and for Joel Piñero life is loss after loss after loss.

So long, Joel, and may we meet again with you pitching for the other team.

3. Mike Lowell is a huge believer in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense when they have their opponents backed up against the goal line. How else could one explain Lowell’s comment that when he saw the 21-4 score in yesterday’s Yankees-DRays game he said “I though it was Jets-Buccaneers.”

The only way you can get four points in football is on two safeties, so he must love the Tampa D. Of course, it could also be that he thinks poorly of the Jets special teams. As someone who lived much of his life in Florida, he no doubt remembers the 1987 Sugar Bowl when Miami beat Florida 31-4, scoring only due to two botched snaps.

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