It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. It has come to Jose’s attention recently that baseball players are the only athletes in any major U.S. sport who wear belts. Jose thinks that football players may wear belts too, but he thinks those are built into their pants, so they don’t really count. What Jose is talking about is an honest to God, ass whippin’, Michael Huthcence-style autoerotic asphyxiation belt. Hutchence never could have killed himself with the belt in a pair of football pants. Even boxers, who are forbidden to hit below the belt, do not, technically, wear belts.
So baseball players are unique among American athletes in wearing a proper belt. The question, as always, is why?
The answer is clearly not “to keep their pants up.” A significant percentage of major leaguers are of sufficient girth that having their pants fall off is not an issue and they still wear belts. Another counterpoint to the “keep their pants up hypothesis” is Manny, who wore a belt and yet constantly seemed to have his pants falling off.
So Jose has come to a conclusion. The belt on baseball players is a vestigial structure dating back to when players needed them in the old days of baseball before nuclear science gave us the elastic waist. It is something left over from a distant past when it had use, like the appendix or Mike Timlin.
So, we have established that the belt on baseball players serves no purpose. This troubles Jose. It strikes him as wasteful. Isn’t there something that could be done?
Yes. Yes there is.
While attending a minor league game last week, Jose had an idea. He became frustrated with the fact that he could not tell which players were former major leaguers and which had yet to visit the show. And then it him… belts were the answer, and for once he was not talking about belts of scotch.
Baseball should take a cue from karate. Each player should wear a belt reflecting his highest level of baseball achievement. Little leaguers would wear white belts, high school players yellow belts and rookie leaguers orange belts. A ball gets a green belt, AA a blue belt and AAA players would wear brown belts. Only a major leaguer would have the honor and esteem of a black belt. Once in the majors, a player would get a degree for each All-Star Appearance. For instance, Scott Cooper would be a second-degree black belt.
Wait, scrap the whole idea. Jose is pretty sure that the karate equivalent of Scott Cooper is not a second degree black belt, but Daniel LaRusso before he met Mr. Miyagi.
2. As the Red Sox come down the stretch run, Jose has to confess that he feels remarkably confident despite the Sox having only a slim lead for the wild card and approximately three quarters of the team on the disabled list. Jose isn’t exactly sure why he feels confident, but he’s been thinking about it, and he has developed a theory.
Here’s what Jose’s come up with: Jose feels completely confident because the Red Sox now have Jonathan Van Every on the team.
At first Jose didn’t really feel that way, after all was there any evidence that Van Every would make a difference? Had he made a huge difference in AAA? Had he demonstrated any real aptitude for Major League Baseball? Was there any evidence that he was ready to succeed DJ Dru in right field right now should the need arise? After all, his experience was mostly in center and left, which is totally different from right. The answer to all of these questions is no.
A week ago this would have unsettled Jose profoundly rather than elating him, but not anymore, not after the nomination of Sarah Palin for Vice President. What the joyous reaction to Gov. Palin’s nomination among social conservatives has shown Jose is that preparation and aptitude are irrelevant, provided you belief in the right things and represent a critical interest group.
So does Van Every believe in the right things and represent a critical group? Well, Van Every believes in both hitting the ball AND catching the ball. Moreover, he is guaranteed to capture the critical demographic of Mississippians of Dutch extraction. That’s huge. And who cares if prior to making the majors, his only real success was in AA?
Sure, Jose was supporting the Red Sox prior to Van Every’s call up, who else was he going to support, Tampax Bay? But his support was wan and unenthusiastic. Now that we have Van Every, Jose feels confident and fired up. Besides did you know that Van Every has exactly as much Major League experience now as Ted Williams had after his first four At Bats? Of course, Ted Williams probably didn’t strike out in three of them.
Ready to Lead?
3. Instant replay begins Thursday in all Major League ballparks and Jose for one, says it’s about time. Jose is sick and tired of having to go through the laborious process of getting a “conventional” replay. It will be much nicer to just add water to the replay, toss it in the microwave and get it back in 45 seconds.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.