Thursday, May 8

Red Sox Nationalism

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

1. Nationalism is a problem.

Yes it can offer benefits, a sense of unity and purpose, a desire, as John McCain has said, to become part of something greater than oneself. But it also leads, almost inevitably, to arrogance, elitism and prejudice. Anyone who has spent as much time in the Balkans as Jose (note: four weeks) knows exactly how destructive nationalism can be and will come to view it with a fearful mix of respect and loathing.

And yet, without nationalism, can a nation ever truly be forged? Could Italian city-states have become one kind of resolute and more or less stable nation without nationalism? Could the United States have formed a nation out of a mélange of peoples without creating a nationalism based not on ethnicity, but the idea of Americanness? Could hundreds of German states… wait… okay let’s skip that one.

Since 1967, we Red Sox fans have slowly become a nation. We know this because Leisure Suit Larry Lucchino tells us so. But marketing aside, at this point it is undeniable. However, it is equally undeniable that we could not have become a Red Sox nation without a Red Sox nationalism.

Prussian thinker Johann Gottfried Herder reframed the idea of the nation as a Volknation a “folk-nation” motivated by the Volkgeist, “the spirit of the people.” Does the Red Sox Nation have a Volkgeist? Herder would certainly say so. He looked to language and cultural traditions to form the chalky outlines of the people’s divine form. Language, folklore, music, dance, we have them all. Every time a drunkard yells “A-Rod you wicked suck,” he is feeding into the Volkgeist. Dance? The wave is nothing more than the undulating heave of a nation in motion. Music? From Jess Cain’s Yaz Song, to Red Sox Mabmo #5, to Tessie, to Sweet Caroline, to Dirty Water, Red Sox nation can compete with any of that Bach or Mozart the Germans used to define themselves, provided Bach and Mozart dumbed down their music by 99% and later confessed to some weird feelings about Caroline Kennedy. And folklore? What is the “Curse of the Bambino” if not our version of the Brother’s Grimm, an absurd and terrifying account of things that are almost entirely fictional.

These are all good things, except for the Shaughnessy book, these symbols of our nationalism, but we would do well to remember that nationalism is not all good, to be vigilant against excess. There was an incident in New Hampshire several days ago wherein a fan of the New York Yankees, (note: Jose was going to write the Russia to our Germany but that made him a little sick. Then he was going to write the Germany to our Russia, but that also made him sick, so he settled on the Norway to our Sweden), responded to the “Yankees Suck” chant, the ancient cry of our people, with violence. This Yankees fan used her motor vehicle as a weapon, literally running down a group of Red Sox fans, murdering one. First, allow Jose to say that this is messed up. Really sick, horrible stuff, like worse than Roger Clemens horrible. Second, let’s not let the Red Sox Nationalism take us to those dark places.

We are not like Germany or Russia; we are better than them. We are fueled not my hatred of the other, but by love of our fellow citizens.

Let us not let Red Sox nationalism take us down the twisted path to madness, violence and death. It is all well and good to talk like a nation, think like a nation and act like a nation, but to destroy like a nation? To war like a nation? If that is the price of Red Sox Nationalism, Jose would be just fine being a Red Sox City-State.

2. The Red Sox blew a dramatic come from behind victory last night in part due to the 10th error of the year by embattled shortstop Julio Lugo. Lugo is one of those Red Sox players Jose has never managed to come up with a nickname for, but at last, after a good fielding horribly hitting 2007 and a better hitting but horrible fielding first month of 2008, Jose feels obliged to come up with something. Also, he didn’t see the game last night, so he is better off working on names than commenting on actual performance.

Here’s what Jose has come up with after three, perhaps even four minutes of work: Julio Yugo.

At first it seems obvious, crappy shortstop, crappy car—perfect.

But it is far more nuanced than that. The Yugo was introduced with great fanfare as a useful little thing that would fill a variety of needs, not flashy, but effective. Sound familiar? But it never settled into the U.S. market, and is ultimately regarded as one of the great disasters in automotive history.

The history of the Yugo is the history of Julio Lugo.

That said the comparison is not perfect. The Yugo, for all of its flaws, was at least cheap.

3. KEYS TO THE GAME fanboy Curt Euro took a major step in his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury this week, when he took a turn throwing from 60 feet (note: 20 yards). If he is able to throw at that distance without pain, he will immediately be the leading candidate for quarterback of the New York Jets.

Euro’s apparent recovery comes after he followed a routine of rest and rehabilitation recommended by the Red Sox. Euro and his doctors had insisted that surgery was the correct course of action. While Euro conceded that time has shown that the Red Sox recommendation was correct, his friend, Republican Presidential nominee John McCain, insisted that this proved, more then ever, the need for surgery.

“I don’t care if he needs to have 100 surgeries,” said a defiant McCain. “Our objective is for Curt’s shoulder not to hurt. And we will keep cutting into his shoulder until it does not hurt anymore. Only then, will it be safe for have further surgeries.”

McCain continued “His surgeries, will of course, be covered under my health insurance plan, provided that they are not for an actual injury.”

With his recovery underway, Euro’s next task is to figure out how to meet the weight incentives included in his contract. Euro is unlikely to make weight due to the weight gain that is a well-known side effect of arm injuries.

As an alternative Euro has suggested a buoyancy incentive (note: credit to Dr. Katz Professional Therapist).

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

1 comment:

momula said...

Hi Jose. I haven't read your blog in a while, although I have a link to it in my "favorites", mostly because once I start reading it, I keep reading and reading and before I know it, an hour has gone by, and I'm late for something, or overdue on an assignment. (this is a compliment to you.)
I wince when you call Julio Lugo "Yugo". Those were ugly little cars. My nickname for Lugo is "El Gato". Before Coco ("Rococo" - nice!) and Jacoby ("Running Deer"), Lugo dashing from 1st to 2nd reminded me of a cat scampering across the street, with a wild look in his eyes, betting that he would avoid the car speeding toward him. And every once in a while, El Gato would get a key hit, or score a run, or sometimes even hit a homer, and then I would text "EL GATO EN FUEGO!" to my daughter in Boston.
Maybe El Gato has nine lives, and we are just nearing the end of one of them, and he will resurrect himself to greater skill and glory. You never know.