It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.
Congratulations to the Beanpot winning BU Terriers. This is the best day of every year to be a BU alum. God knows it’s not when they pick a president.
1. Jose knows that pitchers and catchers don’t report until Thursday, position players until the following week and bloggers until sometime in May, but darn it Jose is just too excited to wait. This year he’s taking a page out of Pedro’s book and he’s getting to Spring Training early. (Note: Jose’s father’s birthday is in November anyway, so blaming his late arrivals on the birthday party always did seem a little disingenuous.)
Now, keep in mind that this does not mean that Jose is actually going to Fort Myers. (Note: There have always been jokes about whether Fort Myers was named after Mike Myers or even Jimmy Myers, Jose thinks Shaughnessy made that last one, but did anyone ever stop to consider the possibility that it may have been named after former Celtics catastrophe Joe Forte? It makes sense doesn’t it? After all, they named a town in Ohio after draft bust Michael Young.) No, Jose likes to go to poor, cold desperate places on his vacations. This year he’s thinking Kosovo. So unless the Sox relocate their spring training to Novosibirsk or Gary, Indiana, Jose probably isn’t going to spring training any time soon any time soon. (Note: Just kidding. Jose likes cold and poor, but not “Gary, Indiana” cold and poor.) Instead, Jose will conduct spring training from his celebrated North End tenement, where it is decidedly not spring. Jose will just turn the thermostat up to about 80, buy a few flowering plants for around the house, set up a May Pole and presto change-o, spring has sprung.
2. We all know what spring training means for players, ignoring the manger, being thrown from moving vehicles and coming up with odd injuries that knock them out of the line up for three months, but what does it mean for bloggers?
Just like many players, bloggers get out of shape and out of practice during the off season. Now Jose knows what you’re thinking…and it disgusts him. No, but seriously, Jose does know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But Jose, you wrote during the off season. You wrote about Ukraine and the hot stove and magic tricks. How could you be out of shape?”
Well, those sorts of KEYS are all well and good, but they do not exactly get Jose in the shape required for the rigors of the season. Think about it this way. Manny Ramirez may go to the batting cages at Good Times Emporium in Somerville three times a week for 15 minutes, but it’s not exactly the same as taking live batting practice. Since November, Jose’s basically shown up three or four times a week, done some cursory work and then gone home. That needs to change now. For instance, in preparation for the season, Jose is going to need to build up his endurance. Not only will he need better endurance to write every game day, he’ll need better endurance just to be able to get through the Boston Herald sports section. Do you think Jose reads that sort of thing in the off season? Absolutely not. Jose read the Herald today for the first time in months and it left him winded, depressed and discouraged. After all, who needs news on the assassination in Lebanon, when a hero saved a dog from icy waters? If Jose is going to have success this season, he needs to be able to plow through the Herald, the Metro and maybe even the Phoenix without breaking a sweat.
So let Jose give you a brief rundown on the sorts of drills he’ll be doing between now and the first spring training game. (Note: When he’ll be on a strict word count.)
Typing drills: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” It’s an oldie but a goodie. It tests Jose’s accuracy to all parts of the keyboard, as well as his speed. Right now both are lacking. Jose originally wrote that as “The quick brown foz juped over the lazy dog,” and it took him 35 minutes. Jose needs to get that down to about 20 seconds. So there’s some room for improvement.
Reading comprehension drills: As any regular reader of Peter Gammons columns knows, understanding baseball writing can be a challenge, and one cannot mock what one does not understand…unless one is mocking its very incomprehensibility. So Jose has cracked out some old SAT test prep books and is working the reading comprehension sections hard. Can he understand the essay about the difference between economic forecasts and weather forecasts? (Note: This is a real SAT essay from Jose’s SATs…that weather forecasts don’t change the weather is the difference.) What about the essay on symbolism in the works of Jane Austen? If Jose can work his way though anything about Jane Austen, author of his least favorite book ever, Pride and Prejudice, Tony Castrati’s latest drivel should be a snap.
Nickname drills – Jose picks random names out of the newspaper and work nicknames.
Kennedy School Belfer Center Director, Robert I. Rotberg – Red Mountain Rob
House Appropriations Chair, Jerry Lewis – Umm…So maybe that’s a little too easy.
Mayoral Candidate Patricia White – Patricia “Thanks Dad” White. Wait…That’s a Shaughnessy nickname for former Celtics owner Paul Gaston. See this is why Jose has to work on this stuff now, so he doesn’t get caught mid-season and end up having to pull and Eric Kneel.
3. Ultimately, spring training is all about fundamentals, and that’s what Jose has to work on. Much like his beloved Red Sox, Jose was successful despite his fundamentals rather than because of them. While the Red Sox survived consecutive four error games in the World Series, Jose survived numerous outings featuring horrific confusions of “to,” “too;” two” “its” and “it’s” and God knows what else. It didn’t seem so bad at the time, but when one looks at the season as a whole, it’s pretty horrific. Ask anyone who read the KEYS book. Jose knows all of the grammar rules; he just gets a little jumpy sometimes when it’s game time.
But, Jose is one year older now, and maybe not this year, but some year, he isn’t going to be able to get by on his stuff any more. He’s going to have to write smarter, not faster or harder. And getting his fundamentals in line now will make that transition a heck of a lot easier down the stretch.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.
Tuesday, February 15
2/15/05 KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING
It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO SPRING TRAINING.