Wednesday, April 28

Ask a Stupid Question…

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

1. When Jose switched on sports radio this morning, the primary topic of discussion was whether it had been appropriate for Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland to ask Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, eventually drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, whether his mother was or had been a prostitute. Now, this particular host, maybe it was Colin Cowherd, was arguing Ireland had every right to ask the question, as there was huge money at stake, but Jose thinks that’s utter nonsense. Jose doesn’t want to live in a country where someone can be denied a job just because his mother is a whore. That’s like saying Debbie Clemens shouldn’t be able to sell weird sequined pillows on the Internet just because her husband is a statutory rapist.

But now that the proverbial can of cats had been opened out of the bag of worms, it seems like perhaps it’s fair game to ask anyone affiliated with professional sports anything. Here are the questions Jose would really like to ask.

To Derek Jeter: Who did you get herpes from? Who did you give it to? (Note: This is not to stigmatize those with herpes, which is really not big a deal, according to an infectious disease specialist who yelled at Jose the last time he made fun of Jeter’s herpes. Jose just thinks that if Jeter was spreading herpes simplex around, it may be indicative of bad judgment that could harm his play as he ages.)

To Manny Ramirez: What city to the Los Angeles Dodgers play in?

To Pedro Martinez: Now that Sandra Bullock is single, will you pursue your life’s ambition of ing her?

To Mike Lowell: When Adrian Beltre took a liner in the groin and had one testicle swell up to the size of a grapefruit, did you consider asking him for half?

To Adrian Beltre: You really don’t wear a cup? Are you out of your mind?

To Kevin Youkilis: Why is this night different from all other nights?

To DJ Dru: When you think about your swing, does it excite you sexually?

To Theo Epstein: Does DJ Dru’s swing excite you sexually?

To Allan Embree: Are you aware of data linking chewing tobacco to mouth cancer?

To C.C. Sabathia: Would you like another doughnut?

To Bill Hall: You suck.

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

Tuesday, April 27

Failing Better

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

1. As we contemplate last night’s miserable failure by should be ace Josh Beckett, it is, perhaps, compassionate to offer him a few words of somber advice from his namesake, playwright Samuel Beckett.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

That’s right a this point Jose is just hoping that Josh Beckett will fail better. He has failed quite a few times this year, and, in general, he has not failed better.

In his previous outing, Beckett yielded 7 earned runs in 7 innings. That is failing. In last night’s outing he yielded 8 earned runs in 3 innings. That is failing worse, not failing better. To make matters worse his ERA+ this season is 61, which based on Bill Simmons’ explanation of the statistic, means that if Beckett introduced Equal Rights Amendment on the floor of the House of Representatives, he would only get a pathetic 61 votes for it, plus a few extras if he threw in a subsidy for struggling congressmen. Not good. Not good at all.

Now Jose is not at the point where he is prepared to say that the Beckett deal was a bad one. Bringing Beckett and Lowell to the Sox for Hanley Ramirez, a deal done while Theo was in a gorilla suit (note: Jose wonders whether it was a lowland gorilla or the rarer highland gorilla. He will have to check with his primatologist friend), probably won the Sox the 2007 World Series. That alone makes it worthwhile. Still, Jose can’t help but feel like we should have gotten more out of Beckett. His ERA+ in 2006 was 95, not abysmal, but below average. Then there was that spectacular 2007 season where it soared to 145, before settling into a good but not great 115 and 122 in 2008 and 2009 respectively. He’s certainly been a good pitcher, but a great pitcher year in year out? Well, think of a pitcher as a…well… pitcher… if it leaks iced tea on you six or seven times a year, are you going to keep it for another four? (Note: Yes?)

If the Red Sox are going to succeed this year, Josh Beckett, may need to take more than just a verbal instruction from Samuel Beckett, he may need to take a life lesson. While living in France, Beckett is said to have often driven a young Andre Roussimoff to school, an enormous lad who would later become known as the Eighth Wonder of the World Andre the Giant. Beckett didn’t give this enormous passenger a lift because he had to, he did it because he could, because this man, this soon to be giant, had greatness in him. That is what Josh Beckett must do, because these Red Sox are like Andre, awkward, lumbering, with at best, a mediocre grasp of English and bad teeth. Beckett must slow down the old Renault of his body, allow the Red Sox to hop aboard and then take them to school. Only then, might they know the greatness foretold.

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

Monday, April 26

Too Close to the Sun

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

1. Yeah, that’s not a typo. From now on Jose is only going to do a KEY TO THE GAME. Why? Well has this edition of the Red Sox shown any ability to handle three things at once? Certainly not hitting, pitching and defense. So Jose is just going to simplify it. Think of it as a not writing prevention strategy.

Every day, if Jose is going to post KEYS. He has to do three things:

1. Produce KEY 1.

2. Produce KEY 2.

3. Produce KEY 3.

That’s a lot. Too much really. Every day Jose would look at the burden, sigh and shake his head mournfully, saying “Not today, maybe tomorrow.” So from now on Jose is going to use himself as a short reliever. He’s going to try to be available most days, but only available for a little bit of the game. He will be kind of like Manny Delcarmen, but without the frequent bouts of sucking. Or maybe with them. Who knows? We’ll have to see how Jose adjusts to his new role.

But that’s not today’s KEY. Nope. Coming in with an explanation of what one is going to do and then declaring that the action is done makes no sense. Doing that would be like having to count each time Tito visits the mound as him having faced a batter.

So here is what Jose is going to talk about—John Edwards.

You see John Edwards, former Senator and Vice Presidential nominee and current subject of national scorn crashed the semi-formal function of Jose’s public policy school on Saturday night. We were just sitting around, a group o exceptionally good looking 23-40 year olds (note: Really. There are just terrific looking people in this program) and up comes Senator “I don’t need fidelity, fidelity needs me.” The next thing we know, he and two other middle-aged friends are hanging around at our private party. Now, this in and of itself is not such a big deal. It’s funny, which is why Jose got a snappy photo with Edwards. If Edwards had been walking down the street, no big deal, but when he shows up and your party? Well, it’s so pathetic as to be hysterical. What did bother Jose is that Edwards appears to have drank, albeit it in moderation, on our tab. The guy is worth millions of dollars and yet he goes off of a grad student groups bar tab. Not cool.

He stuck around for about two hours, drinking white wine (note: yes, probably Chablis) and watching people dance until finally he was on his way. All in all, it was among the most pathetic things Jose had ever seen.

But it bothered Jose. There is something sad about seeing someone fall so far, and trust Jose, running with a policy crowd is pretty damn far. You know how exhilarating it was watching Darnell McDonald win the game the other night, how thrilling it was to know you were seeing the highlight of someone’s life? Well, this was the opposite of that. This was watching a man in the throws of wretched defeat, absurdly tanned, perfectly coiffed, extremely wealthy defeat, but defeat nevertheless.

It is Jose’s worst fear.

Oh, it’s not Jose’s worst fear for himself. You have to get awfully high to fall such a spectacular distance, and thus far at least, Jose’s life trajectory is afraid of heights. It’s Jose’s worst fear for David Ortiz. You watch Papi night after night swinging that slow, heavy bat, pile on the positive drug test that we learned about last August, and it is impossible not to feel like you are watching a man fall off a cliff.

But it’s not the same for Ortiz and Edwards. It isn’t. It can’t be. First there is no way Papi would ever show up at a grad student function and go home alone as Edwards did, Jose supposes to his credit. Papi has way too much duende. Second, Papi, as low as he may fall, as far back as his glory days may recede into history, still accomplished great things. What happened has happened. What was, at the very least, used to be. For Edwards what was was that he snookered a lot of people who not only believed what he said, but thought he was a man who could address the evils he described. He wasn’t. Papi, whatever he is now, will also be the man who was as responsible as any other, for bringing a title to Boston.

So weep not for David Ortiz. He can drink white wine to moderation on Jose’s tab any time. On the other hand, if Roger Clemens shows up at Jose’s graduation party, Jose, for one, is not getting a picture.

I’m Jose Melendez and that is my KEY TO THE GAME.