Tuesday, September 23

Our Competitive Advantage

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

This seems like as good a time as any for Jose to point out the one small concern he has about this team: They may not be very good.

It’s an odd thing to say right now as the Sox stand with 91 wins, just one victory or Yankee loss away from clinching a playoff birth, but Jose really wonders. What exactly is this team’s competitive advantage? It’s certainly not the offense. Sure, the Sox have some guys at the middle of the lineup who can mash, but we also have a bottom of the lineup that includes a too old Varitek, a suddenly too young Lowrie and a too never very good Mark Kotsay-Hey Kid. (Note: Sarcasm.)

The relief pitching? It’s fine Jose supposes. Papelbon is still picking up saves for the most part, but somehow he seems a little unsteady. Like a drunk working the high iron, he never looks good but he always hangs on. Of course, when a guy on the high iron doesn’t hang on it’s messy. The same holds true for Paps. Oki’s been back on track and Masterson’s been good, but can they compare to the young guns in Tampa or the man from Anaheim who rendered Jose’s Bobby Thigpen card even more worthless? (Note: Jose traded a Lou Whitaker card for that Thigpen card the year Thigpen set the save record. In related news, did you know that Jose was once president of Lehman Brothers?) That leaves us with the starting pitching. This should be the strong point. Beckett, Lester and Dice. That’s a pretty good threesome. It’s like Garnett, Pierce and Allen, but without the foul stench of Connecticut. (Note: Just kidding, Jose is indifferent to Connecticut. By the way is Connect Four the official state game of Connecticut? It should be. And why is the second “C” in Connecticut silent? Jose bets it is for insurance reasons.) But how confident are you about Dice’s ability to not throw 150 pitches in the first three innings of a big game? And Beckett hasn’t looked like himself. And Lester? Jose is good with Lester. Lester is easily the best ventriloquist dummy of all time, well, after Franklin and Gabbo.

So maybe our competitive advantage is at manager. Tito is probably the best in the game right now. Jose thinks we should consider putting him in charge of the $700 billion bailout, since he’s already managed Manny Ramirez a.k.a. the $160 million bailout. The only problem is that his competition will be pretty good too. Scioscia has recovered nicely from his radiation poisoning in Springfield to emerge as a first rate skipper, Joe Maddon is a genius with his Tina Fey glasses and Ozzie Guillen… okay Ozzie’s sort of nuts.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us relying on Wally the Green Monster. Can you name the Tampa mascot or Chicago’s? The Angels have that monkey, but Jose has seen a bunch of monkeys up close in the last year, and they don’t seem so tough. As long as Korean tourists don’t give them any cookies, they’re generally not a problem. If Jose was going to take a bush animal for his mascot he would have gotten a hippo. Those things are scary. If the Angels had a hippo for a mascot, Jose would worry.

Anyway, Jose at least hopes that the mascot is our advantage or else he is going to be spending the next few weeks comparing and contrasting park organists and ushers in search of that one little advantage that will make the 2008 Sox special.

2. Jose has a new friend. He thinks we might be BFFs. His name is Justin… Justin Masterson. He will probably be the best man at Jose’s wedding. Okay Jose’s not engaged or anything, but at the very least, Justin will probably come over to watch WrestleMania.

It’s funny that Jose and Justin became friends so quickly. Jose usually takes time to build up friendships. Half of his friends are people he’s known since kindergarten. The other half are folks he’s known since college. The third half are people who are not great at math. Jose becomes friendly with people fast but he takes his time becoming friends. (Note: No he doesn’t.) But with Justin it was somehow different. The friendship was almost instantaneous. Jose invited Justin to become his friend, and Justin agreed.

It’s probably that they have so much in common. Justin’s favorite book is The Bible and Jose owns a Bible. It’s somewhere. Justin loves Jesus and Jose really likes Jesus. Justin likes to quote Virgil and Jose once saw Virgil with Ted DiBiase at the old Boston Garden. Justin is a right-handed pitcher and Jose often uses his right hand to pour from a pitcher. Justin loves Adam Sandler movies and Jose… well, there’s no link on that one.

The point is that we’re now excellent good friends, like Hamlet and Rosencrantz except without the Justin having Jose killed.

And now that we’re friends on Facebook, we will probably hang out a lot and get beers and jalapeño poppers. Unless, of course, Justin decides, based on this piece, that Jose is stalker… which he’s not. Seriously. Stalking seems like a lot of work and Jose just doesn’t have that kind of stick-to-itiveness.

If you’re worried, just ask Jose’s old BFF Curt Euro. He’ll tell you that Jose had almost nothing to do with his season and perhaps career ending injury. It was completely Euro’s fault for not tapping out of that hammerlock.

3. Jose is glad that DJ Dru got an epidural; Jose is not a big believer in this natural childbirth crap. But now that he’s done giving birth, can Dru please get back into the line up? Jose knows that maternity leave is normally three months and all, but that’s not really going to work this time. And the Kotsay-Hey kid will probably make an excellent wet nurse. (Note: Actually, he probably won’t, not if his mammary glands are anywhere near as dry as his bat.)

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

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