Saturday, August 28

From SoSH: Re: August 28th - Pedro has To

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

1. According to the Boston Globe, Red Sox closer Keith Foulke has launched a new salvo in his ongoing war against Major League Baseball’s dictatorial uniform policies. Foulke has been accosted by MLB before for being so unpatriotic as to wear an American Flag on his cap. Who are these "Americans" Foulke supports? Some kind of street gang?

Major League Baseball, which sees no problem with 45 minutes renditions of "God Bless America" in the seventh inning stretch of playoff games, apparently has major issues with small shows of personal patriotism that depart from corporate norms. Foulke’s latest riposte cam in response to MLB’s insistence that he remove a Lance Armstrong/Nike "Live Strong" wristband that promotes the fight against cancer. What better way to celebrate the Jimmy Fund radiothon then by attacking other cancer charities! Foulke responded. "They want us to be robots. They’re trying but they’re going to fail."

In a related story, MLB announced that DLowe the Paranoid Android won its man…errr…robot of the year award.

2. Jose has been thinking about the twin six shooter/finger pointing gesture that the Red Sox have adopted as their salute to good play lately. What it really is, is a modest adaptation of former WWF Champion/ best selling author Mick Foley/Cactus Jack/Mankind/Dude Love’s famed six shooter sign that he flashes on his way to the ring or after hitting someone with a barbed wire bat. In his first book, "Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweat Socks" Foley says that he developed the sign while listening to "Love Shack" by the B-52s, specifically the "Bang, bang, on the door" part. Jose thinks we should take a cue from this, and start playing Love Shack after great plays so the players and fans can all do six shooters in unison. Jose knows its a cheesy song, he knows its not a manly song, but they already play "YMCA" at baseball games, so the bar has been set pretty low.

3. Let’s see. We can now add Manny Ramirez, Keith Foulke and Bill Mueller to the legions of injured Red Sox. A few days ago, Jose wrote about how even retired Red Sox are getting hurt. Well now it’s even worse. Jose is sad to report that he has just learned that Red Sox outfielders Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper have died. We must turn the tide against injuries now before it takes the lives of more players from the 1910s and 20s. You know, who have already been dead for decades.

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

Friday, August 27

From SoSH: Re: August 27th - Lowe keeps the Streak

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

1. At a little after 11 last night, as Jose wrote precious non-SoSH content for KEYS TO THE GAME (Now in Blog!!!), he saw something deeply disturbing on NBC. (Note: Wow, this blog turned Jose into a shill in what, two days? What’s the record for fastest sell out? Should Jose call Guinness? ) Bob Costas was interviewing the U.S. gold medal winning Women’s soccer team. As the interview moved towards an end, Costas asked Mia Hamm Garciaparra, (Jose knows she didn’t take Nomar’s name but it just sounds more evil that way, like Stephanie McMahon Helmsley)how Nomar liked Chicago. She replied that he liked it, it is a great city and she is looking forward to getting back to root him on. Fine, no problem there. It is good to support your loved ones and Chicago is indeed a great city. That’s when the trouble began. All of a sudden, her teammates start whooping and yelling “Let’s go Cubs.”

None of these women was a Cubs fan before Nomar got traded, as best Jose knows, and certainly not all of them were Cubs fans. Now suddenly they love the Cubs. Is this the kind of loyalty they look for from their fans? Should Jose have switched his allegiance from USA Soccer to Brazilian soccer because of a few personnel moves? (Note: More importantly should Jose care about women’s soccer in the first place?) Either you’re with a team or your not is Jose’s approach. It is a team’s creed, it’s ethos that matters, not who is on it at any given time.

For instance, a guy Jose went to high school with and with whom he played 4th grade basketball ended up playing for Duke. This guy was the nicest guy in the world and Jose wanted him to succeed in basketball and in life. But Jose had always loathed the despicable and arrogant Duke team. So what did he do? He went right on booing the Blue Devils. It’s not about the people, it’s about who they represent.

2. After 26 days of inactivity, Tony Castrati has finally returned to the Herald and saved Jose the inconvenience of having to think up a KEY number two today. Thank God. With that, Jose proudly announces the return of the Tony Castrati translator.

Balancing act on the beam: Tigers latest to fall victim to new style
Tony Castrati: Back to Work, Back to Jerk

What TC says: “They are winning via blowouts and in close ones, following offensive explosions on the road with pitching masterpieces at home.”

What TC means: They would win, could win in a boat. They would win, could win with a goat. They will not lose not here, or there. They will not lose, not anywhere.

What TC says: “The Red Sox shook up their roster and reversed their fortunes, and they are now doing their darned-est (sic)to make a return trip to the heart of October.”

What TC means: The three books I read on my vacation were “Reversal of Fortune,” “Heart of Darkness” and “The Hunt for Red October.”

What TC says: “Who are these guys?”

What TC means: No, really who are they? I’ve been away from so long, that I’ve forgotten.

What TC says: “A role this time filled by Bronson Arroyo the human string cheese.”

What TC means: Remember that ad for Polly-O String Cheese? The one in the mid-1980s You know, “Hey Jimmy, give me a pizza with extra cheese, and hold the tomato sauce, and the crust.” I loved that commercial.

What TC says: “The Red Sox' plastic man lasted 7 1/3 innings.”

What TC means: While I was deserting my co-workers in the middle of baseball season, I did still mange to read KEYS TO THE GAME and caught the bit about the birthday cake and the little plastic Red Sox. That was a good bit, I think I should steal it.

What TC says: “The latter after a sacrifice bunt (the Sox' ninth this season) by firefly Dave Roberts.”

What TC means: Let’s see, if Arroyo is made out of both cheese and plastic then Roberts is what? A grasshopper? No…wait…a ladybug? No that’s awful…a…firefly? Yeah, firefly. But he’s also giraffe.

What TC says: “The beefy Mirabelli”

What TC means: String cheese and beef, now that’s a battery of deliciousness.

What TC says: “Right now, they're doing just fine by themselves.”

What TC means: Unlike those b*tches at the Inside Track. I can’t believe they agreed to do that Herald Veterans for Truth commercial.

3. We learned in today’s Globe that Doug Mientkiewicz (Note: Jose can now spell Mientkiewicz without looking. God he hopes it’s on the GRE) hears the theme to “Chariots of Fire” in his head every time he thinks he can beat out a ball. Needless to say, this got Jose thinking about what other players hear while running the bases.

Trot/Mosey Nixon: Trot, trot to Boston, trot, trot to Lynn

Manny Ramirez:The 59th Street bridge song by Simon and Garfunkel “Slow down, you move to fast, got to make this morning last, Just kicking down the cobble stones. Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.”

Mark Bellhorn: I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash

Kevin Millar: The Chicken Dance

Kevin Youkilis: What if (Greek) God Was One of Us by Joan Osbourne

Dave Roberts: I Think We’re Alone now “Running just as fast as we can, holding on to one another’s hands.”

Johnny Damon: A Mighty Fortress is Our God, by Martin Luther

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

Thursday, August 26


It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO JAPAN.

1. Jose knows what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Is Jose just going to bore us all by going county by country until no one cares? Well, yes, that was sort of Jose’s plan, but he’ll mix it up a little bit. Jose promises that he will try to write on a variety of subjects that he doesn’t have to think too hard about, rather than simply making his next 26 non-SoSH entries about strange and foreign lands. That said, onto Japan a strange and foreign land.

Japan!!! The Land of the Rising Sun!!! (Note: The song "House of the Rising Sun is NOT, and never will be about Japan no matter how much Jose wants it to be. Here’s your proof point Line 1, Verse 1 "There is a house in New Orleans, they call the rising sun." Jose is not great at geography, but he’s pretty sure Japan is not in New Orleans. As best he recalls, it’s much closer to Baton Rouge.)

Japan is one of those countries that people get nutty about. Jose has known many, many people who have at some point decided they would be interested in Japan and then immersed themselves completely in the country, its ancient culture and its animation with the big eyes. One would expect Jose to be one of these people. First of all, he is one-eighth Japanese and has a badass Japanese last name, so there is a natural affinity. Second, when Jose was a kid, there was a house one block over that would always be rented to a Japanese family where the father had a one-year fellowship at Harvard. Jose assumes the landlord was either Japanese or found the Japanese to be particularly good tenants. Each family would have a child who Jose would befriend. Then, at the end of the year, the family and Jose’s friend would be gone, never to be seen again. (Note: The exception to this was a Japanese family who lived in a different house on the same street. Jose is still in touch with them. Once you’ve played street hockey with a kid and pretended to be Terry O’Reilly and he pretended to be Rick Middleton, that’s a bond for life.) Jose had such a big problem with his friends moving to Japan, that even one of his white boy American friends ditched him to go to Japan. After that, Jose just assumed everyone would eventually abandon him for the lure of the East. Yes, Jose should have been one of those Japan obsessed people; yet he is not.

The Melendezette is, however, sort of. She lived and went to college in Japan for 18 months or so, and speaks the beautiful and difficult Japanese language. But she has had enough of Japan and the Japanese (Note: Pseudo Japanese-American white boys like Jose apparently excluded.) Perhaps she just got too close to the culture, too immersed in its peculiarities. Regardless, Jose suspects that if she was writing the KEYS TO JAPAN, they would read:

1. The Japanese are freaky.
2. No, really, they’re freaky.
3. Seriously, the Japanese are freaky.

But the Melendezette is not writing these KEYS, so there will be no mention of the Japanese reputation for freakiness, or the fact that they have vending machines that sell used underwear on the streets. As far as Jose is concerned, these are subtle quirks, not evidence of widespread cultural strangeness. Certainly it is not greater evidence of freakiness or cultural decay than America’s obsession with the worthless Paris Hilton or low carb diets.

Digressions aside, Jose has never been one of the hordes of young Americans who infest Japan like cicadas chirping their English lessons as loudly and as irritatingly as the cicadas chirp their mating songs. (Note: When Jose was in Japan, the cicadas, called "semi" in Japanese, were out in force. Jose suspects that the Japanese call them semi because they are about as loud as the horn of a Mack truck. It was almost impossible to sleep, they were so loud. Those of you who had to deal with them this summer in the mid-Atlantic have Jose’s greatest sympathies.)

2. Despite the fact that Jose is not a Japan nut, he has visited the country. He traveled there in August of 1990 to visit his friend form around the corner and travel with his family. It was Jose’s first time overseas and his first long plane trip alone. Jose prepared by taking a Berlitz Japanese class where he learned useful expressions like "Sumimassen" (Excuse me) and "Watashi wa wiski o nomemasu" (I drink whiskey) (Note: this expression also works with Beeru, Sake and Vodka.) Pretty much all Jose can do in Japanese today is proclaim his fondness for alcoholic beverages. He doesn’t even know how to order them, he can just say that he likes them. Still, it is a useful phrase.)

On the second leg of his flight from San Jose to Tokyo, Narita airport, Jose suffered what remains his greatest travel horror story of all time. (Note: And hopefully, it will remain his greatest travel horror story.) Jose had a five hour layover in San Jose and nothing, NOTHING to do, so being a good American, he decided to eat a great deal of McDonald’s food. One item Jose ordered was the new McLean Deluxe sandwich. (Note: Shouldn’t the world famous McLean psychiatric hospital, the model for the hospital in Girl, Interrupted sue them about this name? That has top be a trademark violation. Plus, this burger had no therapeutic or psychoactive properties as best Jose knows.) The McLean Deluxe was a low cal burger that mixed kelp with beef or some such nonsense. Jose got a small piece of burger stuck between two of his molars and that’s when he learned the horrifying truth – there is no place to buy dental floss in the San Jose airport. Jose flew 11 hours over the Pacific with that damn burger in his teeth, and then suffered through an additional two hours on the train from the airport to Tokyo. Eventually Jose got some dental floss, but it was too late, the damage was done.

What does this have to do with Japan? Ummm…Jose thinks that the first thing to learn in and Japanese class should be, "Pardon, me, do you have any floss, I have beef and kelp between my teeth."

As long as Jose is on the theme of food, he should say that the Japanese, despite having excellent food and a fine attention to freshness and flavor, make the worst pizza on Earth. His first day in Tokyo, Jose was sleeping off his jet lag and awoke in the evening to the comforting smell of pizza. Jose is not typically the sort of person who looks for American food in a foreign land, but he was only 13 then and needed a familiar comfort as he acclimated. When the box opened he was horrified to see that the pizza was slathered in turkey, onion and pineapple, a disgusting combination. (Note: If one judges Japanese cuisine form Iron Chef, one would expect the pizza to be covered in truffles, foie gras and caviar. Isn’t that the key to everything on Iron Chef? They take the ingredient, grouper, Kale, margarine, whatever and smother it in truffles, foie gras and caviar, the three most expensive ingredients on earth. Very creative.) What’s worse is that even without the vile mixture of toppings, it still would have been the worst pizza Jose had ever eaten. So when visiting Japan east sushi, eat sukiyaki, eat corn (Note: The Japanese love corn, Jose has no idea why, as he thinks of is as a very western crop), but for the love of God, or Buddha or whoever, stay away from the pizza.

3. Let’s see we’re now two KEYS deep on one of the great powers and Jose has talked about how they are or are not freaky and about having food stuck in his teeth. Yup, it sounds like Jose is right where he ought to be. Now Jose cold write about the rituals ad pageantry of Japanese baseball, or about how his friend’s grandfather remembered seeing Ruth and Gehrig when they toured Japan before the war. He could recall the subtle beauty of Kyoto’s Gold and Silver Pavilions or the excitement of Pachinko. He could recount his trip to Mt. Fuji or his chance encounter with Mr. Fuji. (Note: Okay, Jose didn’t really meet Mr. Fuji. And if he had you all would have heard about it long before now.) But instead Jose will either write about his first experience with karaoke (Note: Japanese for please insert ear plugs) or sumo wrestling. Let’s go with sumo.

Jose actually knows very little about sumo wrestling, and he didn’t see any in person during his Japanese tour, but he does have a theory he’d like to float. Jose thinks that sumo wrestlers, really good ones, would make the best football offensive linemen in the world. Think about it. O-lineman are basically incredibly strong, really quick, unbelievably fat guys. Sumo wrestlers are incredibly strong, really, really quick, even more unbelievably fat guys. Shouldn’t this be a natural fit? Moreover, sumo wrestling consists of pushing people around, which seems to be the essence of run blocking.

The Melendezette says that many Hawaiians and Samoans who try sumo but can’t cut it go into football, so this is probably not a revolutionary idea. Still, given the Patriots’ uncertain offensive line situation, shouldn’t they be trying out Akebono or something? (Note: Akebono, a native of Hawaii, was the first foreigner to receive the rank of Yokozuna or high champion. Interestingly former WWF champion, the late "Yokozuna" was certainly not a Yokozuna and probably was not a sumo wrestler. Akebono’s appearance as a judge on Iron Chef in the second battle between an iron chef an Bobby Flay was fantastic. His reaction to every dish was, "This is really good, I could eat 400 of these.")

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

Re: August 26th - Bronson get a Win

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

1. As best Jose understands, Tony Castrati has not written for the Herald for pretty much the entire month of August due to the birth of his son. (Note: Is it a coincidence that the Sox have been on fire in August?) The birth of child is as joyous an event as there is in this world, and Jose has nothing mean or snide to say about it. In fact, Jose would like to congratulate Tony and express his wish that Tony’s son bring him much pride and joy.

Now that that is over with, let the vicious ad hominum attacks resume! Castrati you took a month of paternity leave? Are you serious? Jose doesn’t know which shocks him more, that a Neanderthal rag like the Herald would allow paternity leave (Note: Jose suspects it was vacation time) or that a baseball columnist would take it in the middle of the season. Jose has said it before, he’ll say it again: if a Red Sox player skipped a month of the season for an injury, much less the birth of a child, Castrati would be all over him. We’d spend days reading about how he doesn’t really want to play here and is insulting his teammates, yet Castrati disappears for a full month of the season and we’re supposed to be okay with it? You know what? Jose thinks that maybe Castrati doesn’t really want to work for the Herald. Jose knows this will be a tough decision for Pat Purcell to make, but it’s time to send Castrati to the Chicago Sun-Times for Jay Mariotti and a barrel of ink. (Note: Is there a worse sports columnist on Earth than Mariotti? (Note: No.)

Listen to this recent advertisement about Castrati’s absence. (Note: The below are lies, you know, fiction, so no one sue.)

Narrator: Tony Castrati would like you to think he’s a veteran reporter and a team player, but the men who served with him have a different story.

Jeff Horrigan: (Over images of Horrigan typing furiously…then fade to an image of Castrati at the beach) It was awful. When Tony left, they upped my quota from four stories a day to eight. My typing fingers bleed now. When we needed him, he wasn’t there.

Michael Silverman: (Over images of Castrati sitting in a lawn chair sipping a strawberry daiquiri.) Tony Castrati says he’s a baseball writer, but what kind of baseball writer takes August off?

Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa: (Over images of Castrati playing craps at Foxwoods) As gossip columnists, we’ve seen a lot of sick freaky things in this town from sports stars in drag, to the fact that two obnoxious biddies get paid to chase celebrities around town and write about their struggles and failures, but to abandon your colleagues at their time of need? That’s a whole different kind of wrong. There are a million stories in the naked city, and this one makes us sick.

Tony Castrati’s colleagues trusted him and he abandoned them…can you trust him?

This ad was paid for by Boston Herald Veterans for Truth.

2. Now Doug Mientkiewicz is hurt too. Super good. As best Jose can tell, that means that no infielder has been with the team all year except for Kevin Millar and David Ortiz. (Note: Okay, this was true before last night too, but so what.)

How bad has it gotten? It’s gotten so bad that even former Sox infielders are getting hurt. Jose has it on good authority than Spike Owen stubbed his toe the other night, Billy Joe Robideuax has hemorrhoids and Marty Barrett is facing the heartbreak of psoriasis. And future Sox infielders aren’t being spared either. Just yesterday Traverse City, Michigan ten year-old John Hume, who will play 45 games at second base for the Sox in 2018 before being released, fell off of his bicycle and scraped his knee. Yes, the injury bug continues to infect the franchise.

Moreover, with Vartiek under suspension and Mientkiewicz hurt, Jose is pretty sure that Kevin Millar becomes the back up catcher. Jose has a better idea. If, God forbid, Doug Mirabelli gets hurt tonight, the Sox should do what Jose did when he wanted to practice pitching as a child and no one was around, set up a lawn chair behind home plate and use it to block throws. (Note: Jose would only throw 25 mph knuckleballs, they were very effective against invisible men.) Jose, figures the lawn chair would stop at least as many balls as Millar, and it would show great patience in the batter’s box as well.

3. Jose was deeply disappointed by Gordon Edes’ story today entitled “Damon Deals With Demons.” Since, Damon has emerged as a Christ figure, Jose assumed that the story would be about him dispensing with Lucifer’s minions, but it turns out that it’s just about his concussion.

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

Wednesday, August 25

August 25 - KEYS TO CANADA

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO CANADA.

As part of Jose’s recently begun yet never ending campaign to provide non-baseball content to KEYS TO THE GAME (Now in Blog!!!), Jose has decided that he will try to put together KEYS on all 27 of the countries in which he has set foot. That’s 71 individual KEYS!!! (Note: As aposter pointed out, no it's not its 81. This does not bode well for Jose's GRE scores.) That should take up some time. Jose will work through each of the countries from the first he visited to the one he visited most recently, and will conclude with the United States of America even though it was the first country he visited. Jose figures he’ll have it right by then and will be able to properly honor America.

1. Canada? What is there to say about Canada that hasn’t already been written? The second largest area of any country. Cold. Hockey.

Jose is far from an expert on Canada. He’s only been to two cities that he can remember anything about (Montreal and Quebec City). Moreover, Canada is only first on the list because the Melendez family was vacationing in the Adirondacks’ one rainy summer day when Jose was a small child and crossed the border into Canada because the thrill of a new, yet remarkably similar country was probably the easiest way to keep Jose and his brother quiet. Pretty much all Jose remembers from this, his sole trip to Ontario is that he felt a deep sense of sadness for and empathy with Canadian children. Was it for the fact that their country must constantly live in the shadow of it’s gigantic southern neighbor? No. Perhaps it was that Jose could already see that the National Hockey League would rapidly begin to move franchises out of frigid little Canadian burgs to soulless sunbelt sprawl towns? No. Jose felt for Canadian children because He-Man action figures, which then cost a mere $7 in the U.S., cost $11 just over the border.

Jose doesn’t think that he had too great a sense of what the value of a dollar was at that point in his life, but he certainly new that 11 was a hell of a lot more than seven, and seven dollars already seemed like an unreachable price. Remarkably, at this point in his life Jose did not think constantly about monetary conversion, so he had no idea that the cost of a Ram-Man in Ottawa was the same as the cost in Utica. (Note: Jose’s Ontario geography and New York state geography are both terrible, so please excuse. It will be better when Jose gets to central Europe.) Of course, Jose was shocked when he visited Canada years later to learn that if one has U.S. dollars, Canada is much, much cheaper than the U.S.

The Canadian National Anthem sings "God keep our land, prosperous and free." And that’s almost right. Canada isn’t free but it sure is cheap. (Edit: Okay, okay so it's "glorious and free" Jose thought placing so much focus on prosperity a.k.a. money in a patriotic hymn seemed a bit too American.)

2. The rest of Jose’s Canadian experience is in Quebec, (Note: Sorry to everyone hoping for KEYS to Saskatchewan), Canada’s predominantly Francophone province. Jose actually loves, Quebec. He finds the people friendly, the culture refined and their baseball team charmingly inept. (Note: The Expos are Jose’s number two baseball team after the Red Sox and his number one National League Team. He loves their ineptness and that they have always, always been the underdog, even when they were the best team in baseball in 1994. Jose doesn’t know what he’ll do when they eventually move and Jose has to pick a new National League Team. Jose will probably need to find another group of perpetual losers. This may warrant a full KEYS some day.)

Sadly, many Americans adopt an anti-French Canadian posture, associating them with French snootiness and God knows what else. For instance, they have long served as pro wrestling villains, from Pat Patterson, to the Rousseau brothers, to the Mountie (OK he was a Rousseau brother) to Las Resistance today. (Note: The Fabulous Rousseau brothers were named Jacques and Raymond. Jose doesn’t know if these were their real names, but he hopes not, because it would raise the possibility that Jacques took his wrestling name from French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. If this is true, it would open the tantalizing possibility that we might someday have a wrestling tag team of Confucius and Thomas Hobbes. It could be called the New East-West Connection, with apologies to Jessie Ventura and the late Adrian Adonis.)

But Jose has found this dislike is completely unwarranted. In his experience, French Canadians are more pro-American than Anglophone Canadians (perhaps because their language leaves them comfortably different from us) and are excellent neighbors for New England. Jose likes knowing that in just a few hours drive he can be in a genuinely foreign culture complete with European language.

In fact, Jose has only two complaints about Quebec. First, he despises the Montreal Canadians like all good Bostonians. Even though Jose is sort of a playoffs only NHL fan, he really hates the Habs and regards the old "Roy Eats Sh*t" shirts as one of the funniest things he’s ever seen on a T-shirt, right up there with "Posada is a Little B*tch." The second isn’t a Quebec complaint, it’s a Canada complaint. Last year, Jose and the Melendezette took a weekend trip to Montreal in early November. As soon as we crossed the border, Christmas decorations started popping up everywhere. By the time we got to the city itself, Christmas season was in full swing, with giant ribbons on skyscrapers and wrapped empty boxes sitting invitingly under a plastic tree in the lobby of our hotel. It turns out that since Canadian Thanksgiving comes a few weeks before the American Thanksgiving, they start their Christmas season earlier too, though Christmas itself still comes on December 25. That is a lot of Christmas season. Can you imagine being a Greek Orthodox Canadian with Christmas on January 6? Christmas season would be a full sixth of every year. That’s a lot of time to maintain jollyness. (Note: Jose assumes that Canadians call Canadian Thanksgiving just "Thanksgiving." Still, aren’t they sort of ripping us off? Isn’t it like calling Canada Day Canadian 4th of July even though it’s not on the 4th of July? Oh wait, there Jose goes being the big arrogant American neighbor again. Sorry about that.)

3. Jose would recommend getting out of Montreal on a visit to Quebec. Since Montreal has the province’s largest Anglophone population, it is probably the least foreign and least exotic part of Quebec to an American, even though it is beautiful and interesting. Of course, Jose has not done this since he was a child. It’s been drive to Montreal, stay there, drive back. In fact, the only time Jose went elsewhere in the province it was, again with the Melendez family, and that was after a White Mountains vacation failed to come together properly. We’d been planning on climbing Mt. Lafayette (Note: At least it was a mountain with and exotic French name), But Jose’s father booked our reservations to stay at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Greenleaf Hut for the wrong day, so we ran for the border.

Jose won’t go in to too much detail about the trip, but he will say that he was shocked to learn that there had been a war between the U.S. and Canada, and was even more shocked to learn that Canada had battled us to a time limit draw. (Note: In fairness it was really a handicapped match Canada and Great Britain versus the young United States, and they still needed to hit us with a steel chair in order to secure the draw.)

Jose also leaned on this trip the Plains of Abraham are not named after Abraham Lincoln, not are they the place where the biblical Abraham lived. So for all of you biblical tourists and pilgrims Quebec City is not the place for you!!!

Jose’s final thought on Canada is that it is worth trying to go to a curling match as part of your visit, as curling is Canada’s second national sport. Jose has never done this, but he and his roommate got completely hooked on curling during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Jose’s roommate musician even vowed to write a song called "Last Rock Advantage." If Jose had CBC television, he would watch curling all the time.

Jose supposes that what he really likes about it is that it proves that lack of conditioning is not the reason that Jose is not an Olympic athlete. Jose may not have enough hand-eye coordination or good enough motor skills for the Olympics, and God knows he doesn’t have the work ethic, but thanks to curling Jose knows without doubt that his physical conditioning is no obstacle to Olympic glory.

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

From SoSH: Re: August 25th - Curt do This

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

1. Jose apologizes for being so late with today’s KEYS. He really hopes that people weren’t’ wondering if he’d ditched SoSH based on the early success of KEYS TO THE GAME (Now in Blog!!!). That will never happen, and not in the "I’d never leave Boston except to player closer to home" sense of the expression.

The truth is Jose spent almost the entire day in the Berkshires, driving to the Berkshires and driving from the Berkshires. Six hours of driving for a to hour meeting, but it was Jose’s meeting, so he had to be there.

Jose typically writes the KEYS at home sometime between the end of the evening’s game and the start of the workday and then posts them during a break in the action at work, but today there was no time. Jose went to bed early and then got up at the crack of dawn to hop on the Pike. (Note: One does not hop on to the Pike, one fight’s his way on. This morning at the entrance from Storrow Drive West all traffic signals were being ignored by everyone. If there are any anarchists out there, Jose now knows what anarchy looks like, and he does not care for it.) (Additional Note: While the Mass. Pike ends on a dock in Seattle, or so Jose understands, they do not call it the Mass. Pike out there. Go figure.)

Anyway, Jose’s meeting ended at 1ish, so he figured to be back in Boston by 3:30 to 4:00 PM depending on traffic. But then Jose had his great idea. Jose had recently heard that baseball was actually invented in Pittsfield, so he figured that the Baseball Hall of Fame must have been relocated to Pittsfield. Jose was at the fake Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where baseball wasn’t invented, in 1990, and he though it would be fun to go to the real Hall of Fame where baseball was invented now and look at the hole in the wall where Pete Rose’s plaque would be if he weren’t a liar a crook and a total fraud. (Note: One of Jose’s all-time favorite wrestling moments was when Kane gave Rose a tombstone piledriver at Wrestlemania XVI at the New Boston Garden. Actually it may be the only moment Jose has ever enjoyed Kane’s work in the ring, well that and the other times he beat up Pete Rose.) If Rose really wants to be in the Hall, maybe they should stamp his face on the urinal pucks; that would be an appropriate homage to his impact on the game.

Anyway, Jose drove around for about 90 minutes looking and as best he can tell there is no baseball Hall of Fame in Pittsfield. Jose knows that’s hard to believe, but it appears to be the case. Jose stopped at the tourist center (Note: Yes, Pittsfield has a tourist center) and a few gas stations, but no one had heard of the baseball Hall of Fame in Pittsfield. What an outrage.
(Note: The good folks of Western Massachusetts may just be the most inventive sportsmen in the world. Jose knows baseball was invented there, and basketball too (though Jose believes Dr. Naismith was a Canadian). Even volleyball was invented in Holyoke.
So keep an eye out for the next big thing being invented today in some gym nestled in Berkshire, Franklin Hampden or Hamsphire county. Jose is betting it’s a mix of bocce and biathlon.

2. Jose just learned today that there is a town called Sheffield in Berkshire County. Jose knew about Peru, Massachusetts and Florida Massachusetts, but not Sheffield. In light of baseball developments, Jose would like to propose a bill in the Legislature by free petition (the right of any Massachusetts citizen to file a bill) to have it renamed Kapler, Massachusetts at least until Mosey Nixon is healthy enough for us to have it named Nixon, Massachusetts. Jose doesn’t see why we couldn’t do this. After all, we had the town of Mussina, Massachusetts renamed Wakefield.

Alternatively, we could just cede it to New York since it’s on the border. Actually, screw that second idea. Jose isn’t ceding anything to New York this year!!!

3. Jose can’t believe it, Tony Castrati is finally back. Well, not writing for the Herald, you know, doing his job. (Note: Unless he’s been covering the shocking scandal that Boston was prepared for violence at the Democratic Convention. What a stupid idea, to prepare for anything other than the best case scenario.) But Jose heard him on EEI this afternoon. Jose figures he can’t go back to writing because it makes Jose’s life too easy with the Tony Castrati translator. Jose could hypothetically listen to him on EEI and write it down and translate it be an awful lot of effort to rip a non-writer. (Note: Next time he writes a story shouldn’t the byline read "Tony Castrati is an occasional contributor?)

Jose’s idea is that they should get one of those professional simultaneous translators, like they have at the UN but one who can translate Castratese to English. So when Castrati says something on the radio like "Glenn, I’m just saying that it’s a two way street. If Curt Schilling (sic) isn’t willing to work with the media we have no obligation to help publicize his charity events," it will be instantly translate from high pitched gibberish to a soothing baritone saying "My name is Tony Castrati and I hate sick children."

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

Tuesday, August 24


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

1. Jose came to the realization today that with his new blog, it is completely possible that there could be five or perhaps even six people reading the KEYS who are not SoSH members, SoSH lurkers or members of Jose’s small circle of family and friends. Perhaps even seven. With this in mind, Jose thought that it might be worthwhile to explain a little bit about what the KEYS are and why they are the way they are.

The first thing to explain is probably why the KEYS always travel in threes.

The answer is not a simple as it may seem. It relates to the mystical power of the number three that has been known for generations and held secret by ancient orders in London , Jerusalem and the deepest, darkest part of the Amazon jungle. Did you know the awful secret that 3 is the only integer between 2 and 4? Did you dare guess the terrible truth that 3 is the absolute value of not only 3 but –3 as well? Could you have imagined in even your darkest fears that 3 is the square root of 9 and the cube root of 27? There were 3 stooges (sort of), 3 Marx brothers (sort of), 3 nephews of Donald Duck. (Note: More on the ducks in a future entry.) There are 3 outs in an inning, 3 strikes in an out, 3 balls in a frame of candle pin bowling. There are 3 electoral votes in both Wyoming and Vermont and 3 fingers in both the Boy Scout salute and the Serbian hand signal. On television Three’s Company, but later Three’s a crowd. The Riddle of the Sphinx involved "Answer me these questions 3." There were 3 wise men in Bethlehem and Rub a Dub Dub there were 3 men in the tub. (Note: Presumably the three men were in the tub as pat of the Abu Gharib prison scandal.) We wear glasses to see movies in 3-D, possibly about the 3 Musketeers or 3 Amigos (which we can watch while eating 3 Musketeers candy bars – A low fat candy!)

In short, Jose did not choose the 3 KEYS, the 3 KEYS chose him. Alternatively, there are 3 KEYS because two seemed like too few and four seemed like too many. Either way is good.
The next question is why Jose (almost) always refers to himself in the third person. Jose didn’t always do this, nor does he do it in his personal life, he is not a respected ex-Senator from Kansas or stolen base king who can get away with such things. In the earliest KEYS, Jose used the first person singular like everyone else and things seemed fine, but gradually he slipped into a pattern of third person usage. Oddly, Jose has no problem using the first person plural. "We," "us," "ours," they don’t phase Jose a bit.

2. In the pre-KEYS era, Jose did not particularly like writing about himself, it always seemed boastful and arrogant, and Jose supposes that this is because writing about "I" IS boastful and arrogant. Writing about Jose, however is humble and whimsical. Seriously, when Jose wrote college application essays many years ago, he struggled mightily to write about himself. Now, as Jose prepares to write essays for grad school (Note: This is provided he ever gets his act together), he hopes that all of his experience writing KEYS will help him. Jose’s only fear is that he will be unable to resist the temptation to refer to himself as Jose in his essay and will therefore help someone who’s name actually is Jose get admitted rather than himself.

3. Finally, there is this question of who is Jose Melendez? Well, it depends on your perspective. Either Jose is a mediocre to terrible relief pitcher the Red Sox acquired from the San Diego Padres for underachieving slugger Phil Plantier in 1994 and released in 1995 or he is Boston native in his mid-20s of Japanese, German and Jewish heritage who enjoys baseball, politics and wasting ridiculous amounts of time writing on the Internet, time that would be much better spent learning a trade, maybe carpentry, or applying for National Endowment for the Arts grants. Again, either way is good.

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

From SoSH: August 24th - Wake on the Take

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

1. Jose has been inspired by the Red Sox. Since the Henry/Werner/Lucchino team took over, they have been relentless in their pursuit of “alternative revenue streams.” From monster seats to right field roof seats to the Yawkey Way turnstiles to Fan Foto or whatever that ghastly thing is called, they have pursued every opportunity to make a buck. Now, Jose has an idea as well.

From now on during each edition of KEYS TO THE GAME, Jose will have photographer wandering about the internet taking your pictures. If you like the picture, you can have it for $20. If not, Melendez Enterprises will simply keep it. However, in light of this convenient new service, Jose asks that you put on some pants for God’s sake.

Jose will also make an effort to cordon off the first few posts before and the first few posts after the KEYS to create a fun KEY-fan friendly atmosphere and to create a place where Jose can sell Jose Melendez merchandise, like Jose Melendez caps, Jose Melendez rain ponchos and Jose Melendez brand Cuban sandwiches. Jose will also be introducing an exciting new service called “KEYS TO THE GAME Replay” where you can purchase KEYS that other fans have been unable to use for a nominal convenience fee on top of the face value of the KEYS. Now this may look a little bit like profiteering, but Jose assures you that it is absolutely necessary for Jose to remain competitive with Steve Howe’s KEYS TO THE GAME down in the Bronx.

Jose is introducing one final service which is the brand new KEYS TO THE GAME (Now in Blog!!!)

KEYS TO THE GAME (Now in Blog!!!) will allow Jose to bring you the latest in tripartite commentary on a wide variety of subjects ranging from bull fighting to cock fighting to shoot fighting. Jose has to accept that someday the baseball season is going to end and game threads will no longer provide an opportunity for lengthy rants about mechanical pitchers and monetary conversion, and rather than impose his non-baseball KEYS in inappropriate SoSH forums, Jose will post them on the blog.

KEYS TO THE GAME (Now in Blog!!!) will also allow Jose to do things like market handsome, bound editions of KEYS TO THE GAME complete with forward by the late George Plimpton, without dipping into such moral quagmires as trying to use SoSH to move merchandise. (Note: At least some of the previous sentence is true, but only if demand is sufficient. Order your copy today!!! Operators are standing by!!!)

The original KEYS TO THE GAME will remain in the daily game threads for as long as Jose is welcome, wanted and has too much time on his hands, or possibly longer.

2. Well Jose learned quite a bit about Manny Ramirez in today’s excellent Globe story by Stan Grossfeld.
Jose learned that Manny loves cars, the Matrix and Spanish Reggae. (Note: Do you think Manny imagines himself being in the Matrix when he’s at the plate? Complete perceptual awareness, the ball moving in slow motion?) Jose also learned that Manny didn’t see game 6 of the 1986 series (Note: This gives him yet another thing in common with many Massachusetts 10 year olds), doesn’t believe in the curse or 502 foot home runs (Note: Can we get Manny a membership in the Skeptics Society for his birthday?) and thinks Boston is “The Best City Ever” (Note: True). But there is one stark and glaring omission from this look into the great slugger’s life – what kind of rich, luxurious facial scrub does he use? Stop hiding Mr. Ramirez, the women and Metrosexuals of America demand to know!!!

3. Jose just noticed that despite his complete rejection of the first person singular (at least since the early days of the KEYS) he uses it every day. Indeed, it is in the last sentence of each and every KEYS – “I'm Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.”

How terribly odd, that Jose rejects his underlying identity in such a core way. It’s like Manny Ramirez being sure to lay down a bunt in his last at bat of each game, Pedro Martinez throwing one knuckleball to each batter or Grady Little making one good strategic decision in each game. It’s just completely contradictory.

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

Monday, August 23

Welcome to the KEYS

It's time for Jose Melendez's KEYS TO THE BLOG.

1. The KEYS TO THE GAME began on May 11th, 2004 on the Sons of Sam Horn Web site as part of Jose's effort to establish himself on the most prestigious Web site in all of Red Sox nation.

Jose got the idea after attending the SoSH Bash at Fenway Park. There, a drunken SoSHer bwith the handle Dana Kiecker slurred to Jose "Yer a funny poster. Do you think of yerself as a funny poster?" That was what Jose had hoped for, as he isn't nearly the analyst then many SoSHers. And so an idea was planted. Jose would try to distinguish himself by formalizing his observations.

For a few days Jose would post observations in sets of three in random threads, but they tended to get lost in the big picture. More focus was required. So Jose decided to start posting in the daily game thread.

When he started Jose never really planned for KEYS to be anything more than three little quips about Red Sox, maybe 15o or 200 words, but it soon began to spiral out of control. All of a sudden he was writing longer and longer entries, more and more words and having a surprisingly good time doing it. Before he knew it Jose was typically writing 500 to 1,000 words per day.

2. Now on August 23, 2004 Jose has written over 49,000 words, an almost appalling waste of time and energy, and yet the writing process is typically Jose's favorite part of the day. Jose has always felt that he was a good writer and has sometimes felt that he is funny and witty, but Jose has always know that he cannot produce without a deadline. I f Jose were to write strictly for joy, he would never write word one. He needs to feel like he has to do it. Jose has written two one act plays in his life, both for classes, he has written countless op-eds, all but two were for work. Yet, with the KEYS, he has managed to internalize the deadline to the extent that he can produce day in day out at a ridiculous rate despite not having the threat of financial punishment for failure hanging over him like the Sword of Damocles. (Note: That's what's called an allusion. Good writers use them, or so Jose has been told.)

3. So now Jose has come to the horrifying realization that the Red sox season will eventually end, most likely in late October, and if he wishes to continue writing he will have to do so without the constant source of stimulation that is the proverbial day in day out grind of the baseball season. Sure, there will be some insane doings on the hot stove. The Red Sox will make blockbuster deals and not make blockbuster deals, but the offseason will simply not be the same as the onseason.

So Jose decided to start KEYS TO THE GAME ( Now in Blog!!!) to provide a format where he can write about other subjects: the symphony, kabuki and shadow puppet theater that might not be appropriate for the non-member boards at SoSH. ( Note: By symphony, kabuki and shadow puppets, Jose means other sports, wrestling and politics. Jose will probably may do some pop culture too, but only if he can stand it. After all, he's not Bill Simmons.) Jose will continue to post the Red Sox KEYS at SoSH but he will post them here as well. This site will simply cover a far broader range of material.

I'm Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE BLOG.

From SoSH: Re: August 23rd - PedroKsDelgado.....Part Deux.

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

1. We had a breakthrough this morning. Jose rolled out of bed at about 8:25, five minutes before he had to leave for work. He rushed furiously to brush his teeth comb his hair find socks that were at least reasonably close to matching, but then he was stopped dead in his tracks.

“I had a dream about the Red Sox,” said the Melendezette.

For Jose, a dream about the Red Sox is completely unremarkable. It is a regular occurrence over the course of the year, like dreams about playing craps or driving a flying car and is, as Jose has written before, an excellent predictor of what will happen in the next game. Jose’s sports dreams are also almost always wrong. But for the Melendezette this was something new and exotic.

“Did they win? Did they lose? Anything the gambling community should know?” Jose enthused. (Note: Jose is not much of a gambler. He is way too cheap to risk money on games of chance.)

“They were at my house in Hawaii,” replied the Melendezette. Clearly this was a very different sort of sports dream than Jose is accustomed too. Rather than telling of glorious wins and heartbreaking losses, the Melendezette’s account touched on the more human aspects of the team.

“Well, what were they doing?” Jose inquired.

“They were just sort of hanging around enjoying the house and chilling. Manny was there, and Ortizle and Kevin Millar, maybe a few others too. No Johnny Damon though.” She recounted with disappointment.

“And they were just hanging out?”

“Basically. Except Manny went in to the bathroom and when he came out it turned out that he’d used a lot of my really expensive facial scrub, which sort of pissed me off. It just struck me as very rude.”

“Wait…Manny used your facial scrub?”

“Well, he does have good skin,” she replied. “I bet he uses a good facial scrub.”

“So what happened next?”

“I guess then I realized it was a dream so I decided that I could fly and would fly around the island.”

So the unanswered question is whether the Melendezette’s Red Sox dreams predict the future, or predict the opposite of the future, like Jose’s. So tune in tonight to see if Manny’s skin has a lustrous glow or looks pale and wan.

2. Jose knows that a blister on his pitching hand has been a major problem for DLowe the Paranoid Android this year, but we should be thankful. He could have been Lenny DiNardo. DiNardo has been out of the big leagues with a blister for almost two months now.

Jose knows that cynics would say, DiNardo’s blister isn’t really so severe. These cynics would claim that he’s only been kept out of action for so long because the Red Sox must keep him on their major league roster or return him to the Mets under Rule V draft regulations. Shame on them for assuming the worst about people!!! Jose just has a hard time believing anyone in the Red Sox organization would be that disingenuous. After all, Jose is pretty sure that he read somewhere that blisters are like the 750th or 751st leading cause of death in the U.S., somewhere in between floor burns and poltergeist attacks. Besides, we need to hold onto this guy. He reminds Jose a lot of another Rule V guy Vaughn “Eshel K” Eshelman, and you wouldn’t want to give him away, would you?

3. Earlier in the season, Jose reflected on the Sox use of the Liiiiiilllyyyyyy chant against Ted Lilly in the playoffs last year and talked about having used it to taunt actress Lilly Tomlin. But Jose had used it at other times as well. In the early 1990s, he used to hang out at the Indianapolis research labs of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and heckle the scientists. “Liiiiiiii-llllllyyyyyyy…Liiiiiiiiii-llllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. Hey Lilly you call that a carboxyl group? Hey Lilly you’re so stupid, you think a double blind study is one where Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles are your control group. Losers.”

Trust Jose, it’s awfully hard to focus on titrations with that in the background. Jose doesn’t want to take too much credit, but he does like to think that he delayed the development of a drug for gout. At the very least he gave his boys at Bristol Myers Squibb a boost. (Note: Can Toronto trade Ted Lilly to the Tigers already, so Jose can start making What’s Up Tiger Lilly Jokes?)

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