Thursday, August 2

Trades that Changed the World

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

1. The Boston Metro did a nice little retrospective the other day on the Slocumb for Lowe and Varitek trade to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the swindle. Jose thought this was a sort of neat idea and though he would steal it and commemorate another great moment in Red Sox trading history.

It was August 2, 1989, 18 years ago today. The Soviet Union seemed invulnerable, discontent was growing among Chinese students and Americans everywhere were commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Love. In the little corner of Boston called the Fenway. Red Sox General Manager Lou Gorman, was desperately trying to devise a strategy to allow the Sox to keep pace with the now Jimyless Toronto. Joe Morgan’s men needed bullpen help to prop up Lee Smith, Dennis Lamp and friends, so Gorman swallowing hard on his post-sunrise, pre-sunset lunch, made a move.

The commodity, he was dealing, like so many shares of Digital stock, was a young outfielder from West Virginia, Dana Williams, who could not break into the formidable outfield of Burks, Greenwell and Miscellaneous. In a cool calculation, every bit as Lee Atwater’s still fresh dissection of Mike Dukakis, Gorman sent the man who would go down as the second greatest Dana in Red Sox history west, to the South Side of Chicago. In return, he received a righty reliever named Ray Chadwick, who Gorman had coveted since getting a “belly buster” at Chadwick’s ice cream in Waltham. Had there been a Williams’ ice cream, perhaps history would have been different, darker.

While neither man would play in the big leagues again, just two short months after the deal, the Berlin Wall had fallen. And that’s how Lou Gorman won the cold war.

Mr. Gorbachev, how about taking Rob Murphy.

2. The Red Sox today honor legend Bobby Doerr, who is making his final trip to Fenway this afternoon from his Oregon home. The Red Sox began the tribute with a full page ad in this morning’s Boston Globe honoring the great second baseman.

But Jose does have a question. Jose knows Doerr was known as a strong hitter, a great bunter and a first-rate fielder, but was he also known for poor punctuation?

The reason Jose asks is the text of the Red Sox ad reads



As you can see, “your club” is used as a separate sentence even though it lacks a verb. It should read “service and dedication to this club, your club” or perhaps “this club—your club.”

Now Jose yields no quarter when it comes to using sentence fragments to make dramatic points. Important points. But is seem to Jose that unless Doerr was actually known for bad punctuation, this is just poor form. Awful form.

Even as Jose writes this, MS Word is picking this up as a grammatical error. An odd mistake.

So Jose will offer his own tribute to the legendary Doerr that offers elegant punctuation. Proper punctuation.








3. While it currently looks like the Red Sox will not be one of the two teams opening the 2008 season in Japan, Jose still hopes that they will. And, in the event that they do play in the Tokyo Dome, Jose insists that The Vapors come out of retirement and write a series of songs for various Red Sox pitchers to enter to:

  • St. Josh a Beckett—Turning American

  • Julian Tavarez—Turning Dominican

  • Eric Gagne (note: not that he’ll still be with the team)—Turning Canadian.

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

Wednesday, August 1

Why We Needed Gagne

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

1. Okay, Jose will confess he was a little confused by the Eric Gagne acquisition. Sure it makes the bullpen nearly indomitable, but it was kind of strange that the Red Sox made the big trade deadline move an effort to shore up a strength rather than a weakness. In fact, it was so strange that it led Jose to imagine that something was seriously wrong. Something mysterious and opaque.

And indeed it was. In the 18 hours since the trade, we have learned that our bullpen is far shakier than it appeared. Not only is Brendan Donnelly going to have Thomas John surgery, Jose this morning saw a headline on America Online that read

That’s terrifying, absolutely terrifying. Might we lose Jonathan Papelbon to a pop star run amuck? Might he be forced into hiding?

The woman threw a bottle for Gods sakes a bottle? Where does she think she is Yankee Stadium?

Of course, this is only one in a long line of pop diva threats against Red Sox relievers. Britney, mad though she is, is only following a well trod path.

Who can forget when Madonna jumped Jeff Russell on Kilmarnock street after a game, or when Dionne Warwick threw a Molotov Cocktail at Dick Radatz? Heck even lesser divas have made their attempts on lesser relievers. Jose is not sure he can ever get over the bomb Martika placed under the hood of Joe Sambito’s 1981Dodge Omni.

Thank God the Rangers couldn’t read the historical cycles or the could have positively extorted the Red Sox.

2. Perhaps the biggest trading deadline move was made by the Braves, who acquired Mark Teixeira from Texas for catching standout Jared Saltalamacchia.

While Jose is glad that the Red Sox did not give up a ton to acquire the Scott Boras client, he will confess that he is a bit disappointed. It appears that now, and perhaps forever, in the city of Boston “Teixiera” will mean nothing more than a particularly good period in the history of Entertainment Tonight stretching from 1986 to 1996

3. Sure the Khe Sanh Gabbard era theoretically ended yesterday when the Red Sox sent him to Texas along with David Murphy and single A phenom Engel Beltre, but somehow Jose doesn’t thing that is going to stop him from seeing Gabbard start in a few more times this year.

According to the Brian Rose theorem, formerly called the Vaughn Eshelman theorem and the Vanegmond’s law, if the Red Sox have a mediocre to bad rookie in their rotation, at least 50 percent of games Jose attends will feature that pitcher.

As Jose has seen seven games in the Gabbard era but has only seen Gabbard start three times, Jose needs to see at least one more Gabbard start in order for the universe to be in order.

Really, it’s true. Mathematically, Gabbard needs to start at least one more game for the Red Sox. Jose would show you Andrew Wiles’ proof of the Rose Theorem, but it’s really long.

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

Tuesday, July 31

Writing on Deadline

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

1. It’s trading deadline day, and no trade has drawn more attention than the deal between the Celtics and Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett. Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale, made the deal after failing to realize that the MLB trading deadline does not apply to NBA teams.

But the Red Sox are busy too. The two potential deals under greatest discussion are one’s that would send reliever Eric Gagne from Texas for Khe-Sanh Gabbard and David Murphy and one that would secure Jermaine Dye from Chicago for Wily Mo Pena and a pitcher.

The Gagne deal is appealing, particularly if the Sox have to give up Manny Delcarmen in the Dye deal. Gagne is a dominant reliever, who, when healthy, has been brilliant. Along with Okajima and Papelbon, he could give the Sox a relief trio the likes of which has not been seen since the Nasty Boys of the 1990 Reds. (Note: Knobbs and Saggs were such awesome pitchers.) But there are downsides too, issues of genealogy. For instance, his father, wrestling legend and American Wrestling Association (AWA) promoter Vern Gagne once banned maneuvers off the top rope. Is it possible that in the pressure cooker of Boston Eric Gagne might try a similar approach? Would he eliminate all off-speed pitches from his arsenal to offer fans a more “old school product? Jose does not want the Red Sox bullpen going the way of the AWA.

It gets worse. According to wikipedia, Gagne once offered the Iron Sheik $100,000 to break Hulk Hogan’s leg in a WWF title match after Hogan left Gagne’s AWA for the WWF. Does this mean Eric Gagne would attempt to injure Red Sox traitors like Johnny Damon? Or would he be tempted to violate sanctions against Iran, as Vern did by dealing with the Iron Sheik?

The descendents of Vern Gagne have also proven distracted when on the baseball field. For instance, Greg Gagne both played shortstop on some good (note: and some not so good) Minnesota Twins clubs while simultaneously trying to win the AWA championship without success. And Vern’s grandson, J.P. Gagne was unable to get above playing A ball in Asheville in the Colorado system.

Jose is not saying the Sox should pass on Gagne. He is just saying they should take his pedigree into account.

2. This brings us to the other rumored deal, the proposed acquisition of Jermaine Dye to share time with DJ Dru.

Dye is rumored to have limited interest in coming to Boston because he wants to be an every day player, but if one looks at this numbers so far this year (note:.295 OBP, 52 RBI) it’s not totally clear that he deserves to be an every day player. (Note: Though if you look at other numbers, 19 HR, .467 SLG, it’s clear that he does.) Either way, Dye has clearly fallen off dramatically from his stunning 2006 season when he hit 44 home runs and was absolutely terrifying.

The question is: Will Dye turn it around? While recent signs have been promising, Jose remains skeptical.

August 31 will be the ten year anniversary of the death of his wife, Lady Dye, who was killed, along with her lover Dodi Fayed, when their car crashed in a Paris tunnel.

In light of renewed reflection on such tragedy, Jose doubts whether Dye will be able to concentrate during the critical stretch run.

3. There are a lot of theories about why DJ Dru has struggled this year, why his power has been down, and his outfield play has been mediocre. Jose has a theory. Sometimes, the symptom and the cause are the same.

Case in point, a friend told Jose about a veterinarian who had had a client bring in a pet hedgehog one day. The hedgehog, its owner said, could not stand up. It would wobble and then fall over. The vet, unaccustomed to dealing with hedgehogs but feeling obliged to offer answers, pretended to examine the beast, and then excused himself to handle a phone call. While allegedly answering the phone, he did an internet search for “Wobbly Hedgehog” and got his answer.

The prickly little pet suffered from Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome.

Jose thinks the same basic concept holds true for Dru. Dru, Jose is willing to bet, is suffering from Bad Outfielder Syndrome, a neurological condition wherein outfielders lose the ability to hit for power and average and become tentative in the field.

Tragically, there is no cure. We’d better do the humane thing and put him down. Someone call Michael Vick.
DJ Dru after another ground out.

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