Thursday, November 15

The Euphoria is Wearing Off


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

1. The euphoria is finally wearing off.

Jose’s blood pressure is down, the adrenalin in his blood has thinned to watery broth and the pleasant fog that has cloaked and soothed him for lo these many months is finally lifting.

Yes, the ecstasy of winning the 2004 World Series has at long last dissipated.

Thank God we won another one. Now Jose can be assured of another three years of low-level elation.

But in all seriousness, Jose is no longer constantly giddy, and the benign sense that all is well with the world is gradually giving way to the melancholy that comes every year at this time as surely as the leaves glide to the ground.

It really is better this way. Ecstasy, it turns out gets boring eventually. (Note: No, it doesn’t.) Pain. Now that’s the ticket. Pain and ennui, ennui and pain, those are the rich loam in which decent writing germinates and blooms.

Strangely enough it was last night, as Jose strolled the streets of Denver, that the melancholy descended. One would imagine that the sight of so much Rockies NL Champion merchandise would start the endorphins flowing, but it was not to be. No he could not even muster the energy to make a bankruptcy joke to a guy he met named Jack Clark. There are lots of good things going on, but none of them could counter the little slip of paper in the breast pocket of his jacket.

The paper was marked 11/14/2005. Exactly two years ago to the day yesterday, how odd. How odd it is that two years after the occasion, Jose would find this little reminder of the last time he had certainty in his life. Without going into what the paper represented (note: no, it was sadly not a lottery ticket), it was the seeming guarantee of a clear path in Jose’s life, it was the phone ringing with his calling at the other end, it was the lead blocker opening that seam for him to sprint though. But soon after that date, too soon, Jose saw his future, then so neatly laid out, disintegrate as surely and as painfully as Andy Yount’s at a graveyard so long ago. Yount’s future was shattered by glass and Jose’s by red tape, different, yet so, so the same.

And then came the uncertainty. Who was Jose? Who was he going to be? It is frightening, this uncertainty. Just ask Alex Rodriguez. He was brave. He chose uncertainty. He dove headfirst into the churn, but then made a horrifying discovery. He didn’t much care for it. It turns out that he did not understand that uncertainty is, well, uncertain. While Rodriguez left the trail clear and true to go off into the brush, he somehow failed to grasp that there might be snakes there. Rodriquez chose the uncertain path confident that it would lead to a certain outcome, but as soon as it turned that first dark corner, he got scared and ran back to the safe embrace of Steinbrenner Inc and their $275 to $300 million arms.

What a shame. What Alex doesn’t understand is that certainty secure and comfortable though it is, is boring. And even worse, it is limiting. Jose lost the certainty of his calling, but after the initial anxiety, he has embraced it. He can do anything; he can be anything. And he will be.

Alex Rodriguez, by contrast, will know exactly who and what he is the moment he signs this deal. He will be a Yankee; he will be a Hall-of-Famer; he will even be the greatest player of all time. But that’s not all. He will also be unloved, forever made to somehow look small by inferior teammates with superior shadows.

It is a good choice, perhaps, for the weak, for the cautious, for poor, lonely Alex, but not for Jose. Jose is made of sterner stuff. Jose welcomes the uncertainty. He embraces the stress, and the anxiety and the… Opportunity?

So let the melancholy come, let it sound smooth and dark like Scottish rock. Let is crash to the earth in sheets. Jose is ready; Jose is intoxicated by the melancholy. And unlike Alex Rodriguez, he is not afraid

2. Congratulations to Kevin Youkilis for winning a gold glove for his errorless season at first.

Now, a lot of you may not know why they give out gold gloves to the best defenders. You probably think that it is symbolism, that because gold is valuable they give it to the best fielders as a way of honoring them. Of course, that doesn’t make any sense. If that were the case they would give them platinum gloves, as platinum is more valuable than gold.

No, what the gold glove is actually about is equity. The original concept of the gold glove was that it would create more parity by burdening the best fielders with snazzy, but painfully heavy and inflexible gloves made literally out of gold. By forcing Willie Mays to play with a gold glove, you could level the playing field between him and say, Pete Incaviglia. Of course, over time, this gave way to the current, metaphorical gold glove, which doesn’t really do the job, because, as everyone knows, metaphors are not very heavy.

This is why Jose is so excited about the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul. Sure Paul is an ultra-libertarian who is convinced that everything would be great if only government did nothing, which is, of course, crazy, but Jose does think he is brining an important issues to the table by calling for a return to the gold standard.

By calling for every gold glove to be made out of actual gold, Paul will return sanity to the gold glove process and fight the absurd defensive inflation that has lead to Derek Jeter winning the award.

Be honest, doesn’t that make a lot more sense than just having so-called “gold gloves” that float freely against foreign currency backed up by nothing?

3. The other big news in Red Sox nation is that Curt Euro has resigned a one year deal with the Red Sox that will pay him $8 million plus as much as five million in incentives tied to performance and his ability to report to camp in shape. In fact, he can get $2 million just for showing up to camp at weight.

If this works, Jose imagines we will see a proliferation of diet plans wherein you give a contractor $2 million and they give it back only if you meet weight targets. In honor of Curt, they’re going to call it the Mouth Speech Diet.

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