Saturday, October 11

ALCS Game 2--Jose Sees the Future

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

1. Jose is taking a terrible risk here and breaking a cardinal rule. He is writing this KEYS before Game 1 even happened. It’s not that Jose wanted to do this, it’s just that this seemed like the only way to guarantee that there would be an actual KEYS for Game 2. You see, as you are reading this, Jose is somewhere on the road between Asheville and Chattanooga, which are, as best Jose understands, cities in the United States. Jose just somehow got it in his head that since he had a few days off, it would be okay to hit the road, even with the ALCS on. It works out pretty well. Jose gets to travel, and probably to still watch the games. The only loser is you. Instead of getting to read a 264 line epic retelling of the Bhagavad Gita via the story of Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir, you get this meta KEYS written on Friday 1AM. Suckers. Err… Patrons.

What Jose was trying to figure out was whether he should write this as if the Sox won Game 1 or as if they lost it. After careful consideration, Jose decided to assume the Sox lost Game 1, so then if the win everyone will be happy and not notice that he is kind of a jackass. Also, Jose was concerned that if he wrote that the Sox won game one and they lost, players might get confused and think that they only needed three more wins to get to the World Series. But then Jose remembered that Manny is no longer on the team, so he stopped worrying about that.

Here we go.

This was not how Jose imagined this series starting. In retrospect he should have known it was a bad sign when Gerald Williams threw out the first pitch. Still, he couldn’t have imagined that after hitting Jacoby Ellsbury to start the game, Jamie Shields would set down the next 25 batters in a row.

What he could have seen, what he should have seen, was that DiceK was going to struggle. Yes, Jose was an advocate of starting DiceK in Game 1 to eliminate the awful risk that he might have to start an eventual Game 7, but he couldn’t have foreseen that Dice would throw 240 pitches over five innings, walking 15 and scattering three runs. Wait, actually he could have foreseen it. It’s like pretty much every other DiceK playoff start.

On the upside, since, Dice did what he always does in the ALCS, when Jose writes his KEYS for Game 3 before Game 2 is over, he can write that St. Josh a Beckett won, because Beckett always pitches great in the ALCS. As anyone who plays the stock market can tell you, past performance is always a guarantee of future results. Right?

2. While Jose is not going to right a poem about Scott “Disputed Territoty” of Kazmir, Jose does feel like he is obliged to give you some background information on Tampa’s starter for tonight’s critical second game. So, let’s open it up. Any questions?

Yes, you. Why is Scott Kazmir disputed?

Well, no messing around from you is there? Does anyone have any questions about his childhood? Maybe his prom? Jose can tell you how Kazmir lost his virginity. It’s a funny story actually. No?

Well, on to the meat of the subject then.

As best Jose can tell, Kazmir, going back centuries, has been sacred to both Mets fans and Rays fans. Not so long after Tampa was given independence from the Yankee Empire, which had claimed it is a minor league fiefdom, it set up a major league team called the Devil Rays. Whereas the Yankees once had control over all the talent flowing into and out of baseball in Tampa, the new Devil Rays team was independent, and, however, clumsily, feeling its oats.

Freed from interference, the Devil Rays got any number of independent players to agree to side with them, such as Wade Boggs, who defected from the Yankees and Fred McGriff. Under the terms of the partition, Tampa could even deal with the New York Mets, the Yankees hated cross-town rival.

Under attack from a Yankees team that made the playoffs every year in recent memory, New York Mets acting GM Jim Duquette made a desperate agreement to cede Kazmir to Tampa under the condition that he would receive Victor Zambrano and Bartolome Fortunato to help him fend off Yankee aggression within the New York baseball market. When the deal was made, Mets fans, an overwhelming majority of whom wanted to keep Kazmir, were incensed and demanded Duquette’s firing. Ever since, Rays fans have insisted that the deal was legal and valid, while Mets fans have claimed that it cannot be valid as the man who signed it must have been brain dead.

As the Mets have suffered through intense turmoil over the past several years, the cause of Kazmir remains a focal point in public dissatisfaction. Major League Baseball has attempted to manage the hostility, but it turns out that they have even less power than the UN and only slightly less corrupt management.

3. It is really too bad for the Rays that they are not a hockey team. It just kind of seems like a waste to have, in Grant Balfour, the child of two of the greatest goalies of all time, Ed Belfour and Grant Fuhr, and no net to put him in. (Note: Why they changed his name from Belfour to Balfour Jose doesn’t know. Maybe they Americanized it when he immigrated from Canada.)

Do you think if they started to call the innings periods they could get him to pitch three instead of just one? Jose bets they’ve tried that, because Joe Maddon is awfully clever. Do you think Balfour spends his seven to eight innings in the bullpen wondering what infraction got him put in the penalty box for two hours and 45 minutes? When the Rays are at bat with the bases loaded does he get confused and thing that the Red Sox have a five-man advantage on the power play?

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

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