Friday, October 29


It’s time for Jose Melendez's KEYS TO THE WORLD SERIES.

1. It’s been 40 hours now, and Jose’s hands have finally stopped shaking enough for him to work a keyboard. The anxiety induced tremors that convulsed him from the seventh inning on and the quaking delirium that followed Keith Foulke’s gentle toss to first have finally subsided. (Note: Jose has long maintained that baseball was his substitute for ecstatic religious experience; this proved it. If Jose was a Shaker of Sufi, he wouldn’t need baseball to send him into convulsions.) After all the champagne has been quaffed, the pepper sprayed and the baseball played, now that Bill Buckner is just another jerk, Grady Little is but a genial idiot and John McNamara is just one more incompetent drunk, all Jose is left with is a smile that will not go away. (Note: When Jose was in middle school, Bob Lobel gave a talk to an assembly and said that Bill Buckner was the biggest jerk he’d ever interviewed even before the 86 Series.) It may never go away. It may well be that through comedy and tragedy from this moment on Jose will always have a smile on his face.

“Jose, your house got blown into the ocean by a hurricane, what are you grinning about moron?”

“You know what was great?” Jose would reply. “When the Sox won the World Series in 2004. A house, that’s just a bunch of possessions. But the Red Sox? Those are a bunch of guys Jose lives through vicariously, and that’s something special.”

In these last 40 hours, thousands upon thousands of words have been written on this greatest of all victories. We’ve learned about the Red Sox flight home, Curt Euro’s political beliefs and Megatron’s plans for free agency. (Note: We also learned that on charter flights the cockpit isn’t locked. Can’t say that made Jose feel great.) You’d think there would be nothing left to write, or at least nothing left to read, and yet the words keep coming and Jose cannot get enough. How hungry for words on the Red Sox is Jose? So hungry that he almost got a free copy of the Boston Metro this morning. He didn’t, but he thought about it.

There just cannot be too much of this. Have there been too many words written on World War II? What about on Jesus Christ? Simply put, this is one of the three greatest events in U.S. history rivaled only by the Emancipation Proclamation and Spiderman’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15. From an international perspective, the importance of Wednesday night’s win slightly trails the Enlightenment but surpasses the construction of the Pyramids and the Renaissance.

Seriously, think about how historic this is. FOX had that graphic of all of the things that had happened since the Red Sox had last won the World Series. In the 86 years between championships, penicillin was invented, a polio vaccine created, Vitamin C discovered and women received the right to vote. Which would you choose, any or all of those or the Sox 2004 World Championship? Jose would take the championship too and he says this as someone who is on a penicillin derivative as we speak.

2. There are some unsung heroes of the postseason that deserve a little recognition.

First, to the Sox fan sitting behind Jose in game 3 of the ALCS who kept score perfectly through the entire debacle. Jose doesn’t know your name, but your refusal to give up and obsessive commitment to the game set a model for the Sox. You didn’t give up and neither did they.

Second, to the Melendezette. As you may recall, the Melendezette shaved her legs when the Sox had a three run lead in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS leading to the now completely unimportant loss. She had agreed not to shave them this year. However, in game 3 with the season going down the tubes, she made the decision to shave and it panned out. Had Jose been there, he would have tried to stop her, but he was not, he was at the game. She made the right decision and the Sox did not lose again.

Third to this guy named Frank. As Jose rode home on the T red-faced (Note: Literally. He was wearing face paint) and depressed following game 3 of the ALCS, he ended up chatting about the Sox’s prospects for a comeback with a guy named Frank who he had never met before. Jose expressed the vague hope that if the Sox could somehow win game 4 they might have a chance, but not much more. Jose got off at Haymarket, end of story.

After game 7, Jose went out to see the crowds at Fanueil Hall. When he walked home, he saw a vaguely familiar stranger.

“You’re that guy,” the stranger said.

“What?” said Jose.

“You…you’re that guy,” he repeated.

“Wait…you’re that guy from the T!” Jose exclaimed.

“This is crazy,” said the guy. “I didn’t know you from a bag of *ssholes before we shot the sh*t on the T after game 3. Now I run into you after game 7, and we’ve come back al the way back.

“That is crazy,” said Jose.

“Yeah. Well, I’m probably never going to see you again, but GO SOX!!!”

Okay, Jose doesn’t really know what this guy did to be an unsung hero, but this seems somehow significant.

3. After the sweep was completed, Jose and his brother hit the streets of Boston, wandering from East Cambridge to Fanuiel Hall exchanging high fives, chest bumps and even the occasional awkward hug with strangers along the way. The scene at Fanueil Hall was jubilant but relaxed. Riot police wore huge smiles and guarded the Sam Adams statue as though he might run away at any moment and join the revelry.

The locus of celebration was the one guy who had a boom box and played “Love That Dirty Water” over and over again. Then, when the crowd around him grew too large he would turn off the boom box, slip off to a quieter locale and turn it back on.

After an hour or so, we ran into three of Jose’s brother’s friends and set off for Fenway.

“What are things like at Fenway,” Jose’s brother asked one police officer. “Is it okay to go over there?”

“Go home and relax,” said the officer. “It’s a mess.”

Needless to say we immediately set off for Kenmore Square. (Note: In a pregame news bit, one local reporter interviewed a high ranking police official about crowd control. The officer said something like “We expect crowds to come to Fenway, as it is sort of a shrine, especially for baseball fans.” For whom other than baseball fans is it a shrine? Buffet fans? Architecture students?)

When we finally reached Fenway, all access was sealed off by grumpy looking riot police, but we could get close enough to see the championship banners and to see where one more would be added. This new banner will be a good fit. It will really round out the set.

Jose will spare you the detail of the long, circular route we took to get back without going through clouds of pepper spray. It’s not important, or frankly, interesting. What is important is the reason that the throngs were so jubilant. It wasn’t just that our sports heroes had triumphed or that a long and horrible streak had ended – It was that being World Champions was such a wonderful surprise.

The pundits who have said we will lose interest in the Red Sox now that they have won it all are wrong. We never loved baseball in this town for the championships. No one ever became a Red Sox fan so they could boast or brag or thump their chest. That’s why people become Yankees fans. We are Red Sox fans because it is fun, because it unites us in a common purpose and gives our whole community, the whole of Red Sox nation, a shared experience. Yes, we wanted to win the World Series, we wanted it more than anything else in the world. But it was never the prospect of winning the World Series that made Jose love this team and love the game. Winning the World Series is like eating your birthday cake and discovering a thick wad of $100 bills in the middle of it. It is the spectacular, overwhelming surprise that takes something good, something very good, and makes it something incomparable.

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jose, can we look forwared to a KEYS TO THE OFFSEASON, or a KEYS TO REPEATING, or should we just wait for KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING?