Friday, April 8

What Goes Down...

  1. When Jose was a tyke, he had a friend named Dan. Dan was creative and ingenious. While other kids played checkers, Dan played stock market. Dan once made a bid to get Jose to sell him his comics in an effort to corner the comic book market. While some played house, Dan played hotel. Jose distinctly remembers Dan buying a bunch of pastel mints placing them on his parents’ pillows and then assuming the right to charge them room fees. And while others played war, Dan played university. Dan’s father was a professor of philosophy, thus it struck Dan that universities were a gold mine.

Of course, Dan and Jose, as kids, lacked the academic credentials required to teach anything except MBA classes, so it occurred to Dan that we needed to pioneer new disciplines. The most memorable of these trailblazing fields of inquiry was barfology—the science of barf.

Barfology was not a terribly practical science, and there was relatively little to explore in comparison with, say, physics. Still, Dan was able to extract one great insight from his study, the cogito, if you will in the field of barfology.

What goes down must come up.

It applies to tainted food and it applies to the Boston Red Sox. For the first week, the Red Sox have gone down, and down and down, and now, they are coming up. Like a ghastly chum of half digested spaghetti, corn and bile, they are coming back harshly and violently, scalding the Yankees with the acid reflux of their heaving resurgence.

The Red Sox have been down, today, at last, they come back up.

  1. Jose is fired up. He’s hulking up. Sing along to the tune of Hulk Hogan’s theme “I Am a Real American” by Rick Deringer

I am a Boston Red Sox fan, sad at the death of Lou Gor-man

I am a Boston Red Sox fan, Dru is in right, most every night!

When it comes crashing down, and it hurts inside,
It’s a ten game ho-ome stand, Yankees cannot hide,
You recall Eric Wedge, ‘member Curtis Pride,
You can’t keep swinging at, pitches way inside.

I am a Boston Red Sox fan, never liked Jose Offer-man

I am a Boston Red Sox fan, chanted all night, for Jo-ey Gathright

Well I’m on board with Carl Craw-ford,
And his wage is money Henry can a-fford,
Lackey’s contract may be bad as Lugo’s was,

but I don’t care right now, cause I’m kind of buzzed.

I am a Boston Red Sox fan, I think that Wakefield is the man,

I am a Boston Red Sox fan, Papi’s all right, has the green light!

I am a Boston Red Sox fan, I watched Belinda (comma) Stan

I am a Boston Red Sox fan, I think I might, watch Sunday night!!!!

  1. It is with great sadness that Jose learned today that Red Sox legend Manny Ramirez has announced his retirement from baseball following word that he had, for the second time in his career, failed a drug test.

It breaks Jose’s heart to see the slow, sad end of one of the best hitters he ever saw. On one level it hurts him to see a player whom he enjoyed watching as much as any not named Martinez or Wakefield fall into such shame and disrepute. But even more, it crushes Jose to know that Manny Ramirez, even with the aid of performance enhancing drugs never once had a 50 home run season.

That had always been Jose’s defense for Manny. With his eye, with his swing, how could he be a juicer if he never hit 50 home runs? Brady Anderson hit 50 on the juice and Manny couldn’t? How is that possible?

Jose likes to imagine that the reason for this failure is that Manny never really took drugs, or at the very least didn’t take them competently. Perhaps when Manny took a female fertility drug, he really was doing it for fertility reasons? Maybe he wanted to have another kid, and just thought that a female was a male who worked for a fee—in his case $20 million?

Or maybe he thought that baseball had banned the use of rugs, rather than drugs and therefore opted for all wood floors and thought he was fine?

While these are all disturbingly possible explanations in the world of Manny, Jose must also accept the probability that Manny being Manny means Manny doing drugs.

It’s a sad way to end a career. Let’s hope that, at the very least, he manages to conceive.

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

Thursday, April 7

The Rules Don’t Apply to Jose

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

1. They’ve driven Jose to it.

For four years or so, Jose has refused to start a game thread on the Sons of Sam Horn message board. He’s refused because of the awful burden of knowing that if he starts a thread and the Sox win, he will have to start a thread tomorrow. And if they win that game, he will have to start the thread after that, and… well… it gets to be a colossal pain in the ass. Once upon a time Jose was lean and hungry. He wanted to be there every day. He’d write KEYS on vacation, at six in the morning, whatever it took to feel like he was in the game. Not any more. Jose has long since entered the Mike Lansing phase of his career, he’s just showing up to collect a paycheck, and since Jose doesn’t collect a paycheck… well, you can follow the logic.

But this afternoon something just snapped.

The finale of the TV show Newhart is best remembered for Bob Newhart waking up next to Suzanne Plechette, who played his wife on his previous sitcom, and discovering his whacky adventures in Vermont were just a dream. What goes forgotten is that the episode also featured Darryl and Darryl, the two woodsmen who remained mute while their brother Larry spoke for them throughout the series, saying their first word.

In a flash forward sequence, the three brothers are married to a group of shrill New York harpies. After the wives have taken their annoying jabber to Suzyn Waldmanesque height, the two Darryls look at each other, then look at their wives and scream “QUIET!!!!!” When a stunned cast questions why they had never spoken before Larry answers “apparently they’ve never been this p.o.’d before.”

Jose too, has never been this p.o’d before.

At least not since 2004.

He’s p.o.’d and he wants to scream at the world.

So here’s the deal, Jose is going to start the game thread and write a full on three part KEYS for Friday’s Yankees game and every other game until the Red Sox lose again.

If they keep losing, he’s also going to keep starting threads until they win. There are the game thread rules, but Jose doesn’t care. He is too p.o.’d
And if you don’t like it QUIET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. Jose did have other options to try to break the drought. Specifically, he may have received a message from God saying that the Red Sox will not win until Jose receives $50,000. Don’t laugh. When Orel Hersheiser’s said he needed to raise $8 million or God would “take him home,” he raised $9.1 million.

You see, Jose’s a federal employee and if there’s a prolonged shutdown, he might need some of that sweet, sweet blood money to tide him over (Note: Jose worked an alternative schedule starting at 5:30 this morning, so don’t go calling your Congressman and complaining that he is writing on someone else’s dime. Jose does not get paid to sit on his porch and drink beer. He’s not a farmer, a banker or Curt Euro in 2008.)

But truth be told, things have lined up kind of perfectly for him to go on a writing binge. He may well be unemployed while the government works out a budget deal, his significant other is leaving the country for two weeks and his cousin recently had an inspiring conversation with the drummer in his band Superpill that included the sentence “Holy Shit! Your cousin is Jose Melendez!”

Yeah, Jose still has what the people want.

Besides, being 0-6 is awful. There’s almost nothing worse than being 0-6 if you exclude being 0-7 etc. Jose thought about it on his commute home today, and tried to come up with all things that are worse than being 0-6 and here’s what he came up with: genocide, the musical Rent. That is all. Genocide is obvious and Rent? Why do those dead beats think they should live rent-free? Their friend who bought some property is the bad guy for wanting them to pay to live there instead of spending all of their money on heroin and… well, not condoms.

La Boheme
could get away with such an obnoxious plot because the music was so good. Rent? Not so much. Rent is the Eric Gagne of musicals. You hear good things, but when you see it up close you can’t believe how bad it is. Jose would much rather watch musicals based on the lives of David Murphy and Kasson Gabbard then ever see Rent again.

Now some of you are going to be surprised. You’re probably saying, “Come on Jose. Sure an 0-6 start is bad, but do you really think that the only things worse are genocide and Rent?”

Yes. Yes Jose does. Please allow Jose to explain how the following awful things are still better than an 0-6 start.

Lice: With both lice and an 0-6 start one loses his dignity, but at least lice can be killed by putting them in a plastic bag for two weeks. If we put the Red Sox in a plastic bag for two weeks, there would be literally no decrease in their performance.

War: Have you ever heard of the military industrial complex? That thing creates jobs. Losing baseball games does not contribute to the economy in any way. Except possibly by increasing alcohol sales and the sales of lengths of rope.

Fever Pitch: Yes, Fever Pitch was horrendous, but at least it was over in two hours.

Trans fats: Can the FDA or an act of the state legislature ban 0-6 starts from Massachusetts? Didn’t think so.

Dogfighting: Dogfighting might be evil and vile, but it is probably at least more competitive than the baseball we’ve seen thus far.

Jose could go on, but you get the point, and if you don’t Jose suggests you watch Rent, it might be for you.

3. But Jose doesn’t want to be completely nonconstructive. The point of this exercise is not just to rant; it’s also to help. So Jose has compiled a list of possible explanations for the Red Sox awful start.

Once we know the problem, perhaps we can figure out a solution.

· Perhaps the Red Sox thought they were federal employees and the shutdown started last week.

· Are astronomical sticklers and refuse to start playing like spring training is over until the summer solstice.

· Have river blindness.

· Are on strike in solidarity with state employees in Wisconsin.

· Felt really bad for Cleveland fans after the LeBron debacle and wanted to cheer them up.

· Miss Bill Hall’s soothing voice.

· Are building their new spring training stadium on an ancient Indian burial ground.

· Can only play good baseball when new episodes of Lost are coming out.

· Are lacking adequately creative handshakes. (Note: Hi Bill Simmons!)

· Are playing cruel April Fool’s joke that lasted the entire first week of April.

· Are ust making it more dramatic before they start “hulking up.”

It’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s close. Anyway, get used to it. If the Red Sox keep losing, Jose will keep writing in a blind rage. If they start winning, he will be writing in a farsighted less rage.

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

Friday, April 1

Happy New Year--Let's Get Some Revenge

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

1. For three long years Jose has been in exile. Whether one spends it in the warm heart of Africa or the steamy thigh of the American South, exile is awful. No place is Boston but Boston. The worst part of loneliness is being alone. And starting today, the fourth year of exile begins, this year from our nation's capital, from the arrogant id of our national consciousness. There will be baseball played in Boston this year—good baseball—and once again Jose will not be there to see it, to smell it, to savor it, and possibly, just possibly to throw up in it.

But while Jose needs baseball, it does not follow that baseball needs Jose. The work of bat and ball, of pitch and catch, of sign and trade continues. It continues today. It continues better.
2. One year ago today, Jose fell victim to the most ingenious, vicious, dangerous April Fool’s joke he’s ever been a party to.
It was a big day for Jose—he had a bunch of job interviews lined up in Washington—so he woke up at the impossibly early hour of six in the morning. As is his custom, he started the day by checking his email. Prominent among the normal assortment of spam for dog-training products and federally subsidized scam universities was a message from his friend Jared reading:
“Major News…Please don’t freak.”
When someone advises you not to freak before telling you something, it is never a good sign. “Please don’t freak” has never been followed by “I won the lottery” or “ The Red Sox got bullpen help.” It is usually followed by a phrase like “I lost all our money at the track” or “I’m carrying Alex Rodriguez’s baby.” This case was no different.
Dear Jose,
First off, let me say that I know I’ve been distant and kind of an asshole this semester. I’m sorry; I’ve had a lot of things going on.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I’ve come to the difficult realization that I am wicked in love with you. I think I’ve picked up something from you to, and it’s time one of us is man enough to admit it.
Sorry to do this by email… but I don’t think I could get it out in person…
Jose’s initial, stunned reaction was “WHAT THE FUCK?”
But after a moment’s consideration, he was able to calm himself and develop a more measured reaction of “WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT THE FUCK?”
He then repeated the sentence to himself for another 10 minutes while in the shower.
Finally, his careful reasoning led to a decision: The most likely explanation is that Jared is playing some sick joke. In which case the correct response is “Go fuck yourself.” If this interpretation and response is correct, Jose looks smart. The less likely, but still plausible, explanation was that Jared was crying out in pain, in which case “Go fuck yourself” would be a cruel taunt.
Jose decided to err on the side of caution, and assume it was true. He did not want his friend’s pain or worse on his hands. He wrote:
Not really sure what to make of this. Jose is 100% straight, so this is never going to happen, but Jose doesn’t see any reason why we can’t still be friends if you can handle it.”
Later that morning, Jose received a revelatory message:
“Ha! I got the same email from you. Someone must have hacked us! Check out the date.”
Jose was indeed the April fool. But that didn’t mean Jose’s decision was wrong. Yes, he looked like a fool, but he did the right thing—he believed what he was told, thereby ensuring that he avoided the worst-case scenario. There is a lesson there for Red Sox fans today.
We have been told by national media, local pundits and our own lyin’ mouths that the Red Sox are the best team in baseball this year, that they are the team to beat. That may be true, it may not, but Jose suggests we act like it is. If we assume it’s a lie and indeed it is, will we gain any satisfaction? No. We’ll be miserable the entire year. If we assume it’s true and it turns out to be a lie, at least we have today. At least we have opening day, when we can believe, hell when Nationals fans can believe, that we have the best team in baseball.
3. Of course, the story doesn’t end there. There is another lesson still to be learned.

Over the course of the morning, Jose told friends the story of his humiliation as he attempted to identify the perpetrator. One friend he called with vengeance in his heart responded, “I didn’t do it, but I wish I had. You know who that sounds like? Martha.”

Of course! Martha was a theatrical classmate of Jose’s who took comedy seriously. The previous year for April fools she had told her best friends that she was pregnant and didn’t know who the father was. Try doing that Chris Rock!

Jose waited for her inevitable taunting phone call, and he plotted. He seethed.

It came at 3PM, just minutes before he had a job interview.

“Hi Jose!” came her saccharine voice.

“Hey Martha” Jose responded coolly.

“How’s it going?”

“Lot of weird stuff going on,” Jose set the trap. “It’s chaotic here, and Jose got some really weird emails.”

“What kind of emails?”

“Ah Jose doesn’t want to talk about it,”

“Ooohhh…. Okay, well if you need to talk, you know you can trust me.”

“Well, Jose got this really strange email from Jared saying… well, saying that he’s”

“APRIL FOOLS!” she shrieked. “APRIL FOOLS!!!! I GOT YOU SO BAD!”

“Oh… Martha… you shouldn’t have done that,” Jose muttered.

“Whatever,” she responded. “I burned you.”

“You really, really shouldn’t have done that.”

“Yeah right, Jared’s not gay.”

“ Jose isn’t saying he is, but… well… you struck some kind of nerve. He’s really freaking out… and… well… Jose doesn’t know what’s going on, but this is going to take a long time to fix.”

“But… but it was just an April Fool’s joke,” she stammered. “I didn’t mean—“

“Well you did,” Jose snapped back.

“God, it was just supposed to be an April Fool’s joke. I didn’t think that—”

“APRIL FOOLS!!!” Jose snapped back. “You got Jose and Jose got you back.”

The lesson for the Red Sox here is, of course, as always, that revenge is immensely satisfying. And we have a lot of revenge to take this year.

Manny and Damon? Definitely need revenge.

The rest of that Tampa team? 2008 ALCS—revenge required.

The Angels? 2009 ALDS—you know what would help with that? Some vengeance.

The Yankees? They exist. That’s as good a reason for revenge as any.

So learn the lesson well men of Boston, and have a vengeful, vengeful New Year!!!
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.

Saturday, February 26

No More Perks

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

In the 2010 election campaign, Republicans around the country called for reductions in public spending and deep cuts in public wages, benefits and Perk. Yeah, Jose thought that they said “perks” too, but apparently they said “Perk,” and now he’s gone. All hail Congress in its infinite wisdom. (Note: Presumably Jose is correct when he assume the word “infinite” is an adjective that means “like an infant.”

Funny though, Jose doesn’t recall the Republicans insisting in reductions in Nate, Harengody or Erden, and all of those guys got dumped too. Perhaps, Turkish center Semih Erden fell under the anti-immigration or anti-Muslim parts of the platform? Jose will say this, he is curious to see how Sharia Law at the Garden would work when Kobe comes to town. Still, Luke Harengody? Jose thought the Republican Party was all about supporting goofy white guys from the mid-West.

The even more perplexing part is that part of the return was Jeff Green. And Jose has yet to see the Republican since Teddy Roosevelt who would characterize himself as “Green.” Also aren’t they the least bit concerned that the power forward will bring his house gases to Boston?

Yes, it’s silly and kind of stupid, for Jose to attribute Celtics GM Danny Ainge’s decision to deal the center from the championship team’s lineup while the Celtics have the best record in the East to a the act of a spiteful Congress, but it makes about as much sense as any other theory Jose’s heard. (Note: Jose doesn’t hear a lot of theories.) Just months ago we were talking about how if Perkins had been healthy for Game 7, the Celtics would be world champions, and now they’ve dealt him? On a crazy scale of one to 10, that rates a Charlie Sheen. (Note: Jose has no idea what that means, but he’s heard lots of jokes along those lines lately.)

Of course, there is one possibility that involves neither Congressional overreach or mental illness and that is that Perk, for the rest of this year at least, was not going to be Perk. As hard as he worked to hurry back, and as trim as he looked in his return, Perk’s sore left knee was a troubling sign of things to come. If Perk was going to be well-below 100% for the remainder of the season, suddenly trading him for a forward who can score points, play decent defense, and give Paul Pierce some rest makes a lot of sense.

So in the spirit of cooperation and lethargy, here are the things Jose likes about the deadline trades:

1. The Celtics acquired Jeff Green, who is an athletic, versatile forward, not Jeff Greene, Larry David’s manager on Curb Your Enthusiasm, who, while replacing Perk’s sheer mass on the basketball court, would have provided little additional value.

2. With Turkish Center Semih Erden gone, Boston’s large Armenian community need no longer feel ambiguous about rooting for the Celtics.

3. With Nate Robinson gone and Delonte West, Shrek and Donkey (note: Glen Davis and Robinson) have been replaced by Shrek and the guy who did LeBron’s mom.

4. Jose is now marginally less afraid to meet the Celtics in a dark alley.

5. Perk’s reported tears at hearing he had been traded suggest he is equipped to be Speaker of the House.

6. There will be an exciting race to see who leads the team in technical fouls.

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