Saturday, February 5


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

I. Well, it seems like Jose has been able to make it to just about as many Super Bowl events in Jacksonville as Bill Simmons. Apparently, getting to them from Boston is almost as inconvenient as getting to them from anywhere in Jacksonville. (Note: After reading Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback, Jose realized that since it is the Super Bowl the KEYS should have roman numerals. Thanks TMQ!)

The big news yesterday was that Socrates of Route 1, Bill Belicheck refused to touch the Vince Lombardi Trophy for a photo shoot yesterday. Apparently, Belicheck didn’t want to jinx the team or be presumptuous by touching the trophy without actually having won. Jose knows exactly how he feels. When they cut the promos for this year’s Pulitzer Prize Awards ceremony, Jose refused to touch the Pulitzer Prize, pose with the Pulitzer prize or even talk with the selection committee. Jose is pleased that the committee has respected his superstition by not even trying to contact him. Yes, Jose will just sit back and wait to receive the news that he is the new winner of a shiny Pulitzer Prize, suitable for framing or selling on Ebay. (Note: Jose is not a historian of journalism, but wasn’t Joseph Pulitzer the owner of yellow journalism tabloids that competed with the Hearst papers to see who could go deeper into the gutter? If Jose has that right, is it really appropriate to name journalism’s most prestigious award for him? Isn’t it a little bit like calling the Super Bowl Trophy the "Rich Kotite Trophy," the Stanley Cup the "Jeremy Jacobs Cup," the NBA Championship trophy the "Rick Pitino Trophy," or the World Series trophy, the "Alex Rodriguez Trophy?" Or would it be more like calling MLB’s sportsmanship award the "Alex Rodriguez Award?")

II. On Thursday night, the Melendezette talked Jose into watching an MTV program called "Super Sweet 16 Bash" or something to that effect. This show made Jose feel bad….really, really bad. Normally the sorts of shows that make Jose feel bad are about war torn countries, or crime or the 86 Series, but this time it was a show about a teenager’s birthday party. Why? Because it made Jose sort of hate people, and hate makes Jose sad.

The premise of the show is that they follow around an unbelievably rich, unbelievably spoiled teenager as she plans and hold a grotesque, excessive, unbelievably expensive sweet 16 party. On this episode they followed around a girl from California as she flew to Paris to buy an expensive, slutty dress, whines to her father about how if she doesn’t get a Range Rover as a present, her birthday will be ruined, and selects which four shirtless male college students she will have carry her in on an elegantly upholster lounging couch (Note: Jose has no idea what this piece of furniture is called, but think Emperor Nero) as she makes her entrance to her "Arabian Nights" themed party. (Note: What do these guys say when their friends or families ask how they are making money? "Oh, I’m a shirtless servant to a 16 year old girl?" Jose guesses they lie and say they are something marginally less humiliating like sperm bank technician, gigolo or player for the New York Yankees…well, maybe not player for the Yankees, that’s more humiliating, but you get the point.) In total, the party costs $200,000.

Jose knows people watch these sort of shows for their train wreck quality, and they are undeniably amusing, but Jose just hates the people on them so much that he finds it unsettling. Those sorts of emotions should be reserved for tyrants, thugs and members of a certain choking baseball team.

Jose is a liberal and all these shows make him think is that we should tax the hell out of these people. Actually, Jose would like to see this become part of the Democrats messaging in the next election, or for the reimplementation of the estate tax. Jose would like to see John Kerry, Howard Dean or whoever get up there and say, "The difference between the Republicans and me is that I believe Paris Hilton should pay a lot more taxes, they believe she’s earned it." Now, you fans of the Paris Hilton tape make argue that she did earn it, but Jose will gladly let the Republicans adopt a firm stance in favor of amateur pornography.

But look, Jose is going on about these despicable brats as if they are KEYS worthy…if it wasn’t the Super Bowl, they’d never make the cut. Enough.

III. Jose just saw the anti-rioting "celebrate responsibly" ad featuring Theo Epstein, and The Honorable Thomas M. Menino urging Bostonians to "celebrate responsibly." Jose would also like to urge you to celebrate responsibly, but he wants to be really clear on what that actually means.

1. When setting cars alight, consider using electric tea lights rather than gasoline.
2. Always drink responsibly. If you are going to make screwdrivers, use Rubinoff, not the good vodka.
3. Most riots are in college neighborhoods. If you are a college student, consider dropping out.
4. If the police start shooting into the crowd try to duck. (Note: Being serious for a moment, we should never forget that Victoria Snellgrove died because a police officer shot her with a weapon he was not trained to use. Jose is generally pro-police, but rioters did not cause that death, bad BPD policies did, and that really does make Jose sad.)
5. If you insist on rioting, have some consideration for your neighbors. Make it a Quiet Riot.
6. Stay away from Jose’s house.
7. Remember that rioting is a function of "mob mentality." Avoid watching Godfather, Goodfellas or the Sopranos for the next two days; they might give you mob mentality.
8. Colleges have vowed to expel rioting students. If you are failing out anyway, carefully evaluate which news would upset your parents more – the news that you failed out of school or the news that you were expelled – then make a responsible decision.
9. If confused by what "celebrating responsibly really means" consider consulting the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996." As best Jose recalls from the thesis he wrote on it, it defines being responsible as not being on welfare, so Jose urges you not to celebrate a Patriots win or mourn a Patriots loss by going on Transitional Aid to Needy Families.
10. Listening to the song "Celebrate Good Times" is never responsible. NEVER.

I'm Jose Melendez and those are my KEYS TO THE SUPER BOWL.

Thursday, February 3


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

1. Today we continue Jose’s running journal on Super Bowl XXXIX, a veritable grab bag of football, non-football and vaguely footballish KEYS. Today we begin with a KEY that is nominally related to football. In his previous entry, Jose wrote about the Melendez family’s grand traditions for football’s greatest, or at bare minimum third greatest, game. (Note: After the AFC championship and AFC division contests. And perhaps the Belmont-Watertown Thanksgiving game.)

Despite the years of noble tradition, not everything has gone always gone smoothly. For instance, there was 1995, the first year in many, many years, that Jose decided not to have a party at the Melendez family compound. Instead. Jose attended a party where the hosts decided to start watching the Simpsons at half time (Note: No problem), and then refused to change back when half time was over (Note: Problem). Jose loves the Simpsons as much as anyone, but watching a new Simpsons episode, much less a rerun, should never take precedence over even the most one sided of Super Bowls at the opening of the third quarter. One should never switch to the Simpsons unless the margin is four touchdowns at the beginning of the fourth quarter. This is just common sense people. On the plus side, there were a lot of chicken wings at the party.

2. But that was not the worst. No, the worst was the 49ers-Broncos Super Bowl in 1990. That was the Super Bowl that never was. Sure the final was 55-10 or something similar, so most football fans would like to think of it as the Super Bowl that never was, but for Jose, it really never was…he didn’t watch it. Instead, he was in sex ed. Sounds a little odd doesn’t it? But it’s true. Jose is a Unitarian-Universalist, the religious equivalent of O’Douls, and one of the religion’s tenants, in addition to the inherent dignity of all human beings and the importance of the democratic process is, apparently, that teenagers should get rigorous and explicit sex education, using the finest technology of the swinging 70s.

You see, the UU’s offered a sex ed class called "About Your Sexuality" (AYS) that presented teens with all of the useful information about sexuality that public school classes tend to omit in favor of lectures on self-esteem. (Note: The health class in Jose’s middle school, as part of the self-esteem curriculum, required students to come up with one nice thing to say anonymously about each of their classmates. Before this process began, the teacher sought to prove that one could say nice things about anyone by insisting that we develop a list of positive things about one of the worst people ever – Hitler. So everyone had to come up with nice things to say about Hitler. Jose doesn’t know which bothered him more, that he had to say something nice about Hitler, that his mustache was always well-trimmed or something like that, or that as a result, Jose believed for years that Hitler was a talented painter….that’s B.S., Hitler’s painting sucked.) In AYS, students were not only given useful information about anatomy, birth control, and sex, but actually shown film strips of people engaging in sex acts…not videos….film strips…you know, people in the missionary position (turn strip) doggy style, (turn strip) reverse cowgirl, etc. And keep in mind that this was 1990, we should have at least had VHS. Yup, hearing one’s parents church friends (Note: A couple from the church led the class) was traumatic enough, but having them talk through film strips…now that’s 86 World Series traumatic.

But what the hell does this have to do with football? Well, the initial class was set for Super Bowl Sunday during the big game. Jose was furious. This was the Super Bowl, this was the Bud Bowl, this was not something to be cast aside for a mere anatomy primer. Jose’s reform Jewish friend Dan, thought Jose was a sucker. He went on and on about how his Rabbi would never set anything for during the Super Bowl, and even if he did, he would reschedule after learning of his error, assimilation and all, Jose supposes. Of course, two years later, Dan’s Rabbi scheduled a Jewish youth group event for during the Super Bowl and Dan went along meekly. Wuss.

Jose did not go meekly. He complained to his parents with great anger, so stirring his mother that at the parents organizing meeting to explain the class, she rose and passionately implored the group to postpone the start of the class by one week. Just when she had begun to sway the crowd with her stirring and highly logical oratory, Jose’s father rose to support his wife. BAM. He insisted that the class not be postponed. In perhaps the most shocking reversal since Mr. Wonderful Paul Ornorff, clotheslined his tag team partner Hulk Hogan to the ground following a match with Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy, Dick Melendez double crossed his son.

As it turns out, Dick Melendez did his son a favor. The game was the biggest blow out in Super Bowl history, and Jose saw only the relatively competitive first quarter. And the class? Well, let’s just say Jose knows an awful lot about the ladies.

3. Finally, Jose leaves the world of football. Jose has learned that among the wrestlers being inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame this year are former Tag Team Champions Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik. (Note: The Iron Sheik is also a former World Champion.) Jose finds a disturbing lack of resolve on the part of the WWF-owning McMahon in their decision to induct such rabid anti-Americans. Don’t they know there’s a war on? In light of pending Iranian nuclearization and renewed Russian militarism is this really appropriate? Won’t it give strength and comfort to our enemies? ? Is the Attorney General paying attention? Jose demands that they repeal these two inductions and replace them with real American heroes like Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiasie and Irwin R. Shyster.

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

Tuesday, February 1


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

1. That’s right, for the remainder of Super Bowl week Jose will be keeping a running diary of his Super Bowl week experiences. Now Jose knows what you’re thinking. You’re thinking "Wow, Jose I didn’t even know you were at the Super Bowl."

Well, the truth is, Jose isn’t at the Super Bowl, and he certainly isn’t spending the week in a cushy hotel 45 minutes from the center of a centerless city on an expense account. In fact, he wasn’t even planning on doing a running diary until Bill Simmons convinced him otherwise. Jose is a big fan of Simmons and has been following his running Super Bowl diary for ESPN Page 2, just as he did last year, and today, Jose noticed something. It isn’t really about football. So far, Simmons’ diary appears to have consisted mostly of commentary about what he watched on TV and the death of Johnny Carson. Jose’s not saying that Simmons isn’t in Jacksonville, obviously he is, but it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t need to be. After all, until Sunday at 6:30 EST, there isn’t a whole heck of lot going on that has anything to do with football. So for days reporter after reporter will write columns diminishing the city of Jacksonville, discussing subjects completely unrelated to football (celebrities, parties, advertisements) and occasionally writing a story on Terrell Owens. As it turns out, Jose can do that from the relative comfort of his tenement in Boston’s historic North End. In fact, Jose can use this as an excuse to write single KEYS on every subject that he hasn’t been able to come up with a full three KEYS for over the past year. So let’s get cracking.

2. Jose and his brother Sam will be watching the Super Bowl at the Melendez family compound in an undisclosed suburban Boston town this year. (Note: Here’s a hint…it’s not Watertown.) For years and years, Jose held a Super Bowl party at the compound every year, beginning with the Patriots first Super Bowl appearance in 1996 (Correction: 1986) when Jose was in fourth grade. As you may recall, the game was not so good, and Jose’s mother made the tough decision to call the parents of Jose’s friends and ask them to pick up their increasingly rowdy children at half time. How rowdy were we? Well, let’s put it this way, at that moment it seemed far more likely that we were all on cocaine than half the Patriots squad. To this day, Jose’s mother regards that as the only party she has ever thrown that was a failure. Thank you again Tony Eason, Raymond Berry and friends for making Jose’s mom feel bad.

One of the traditions begun that day was the Melendez friends and family Super Bowl pool. Of course, there were some logistical problems that year. First, everyone left at halftime, so arranging for the winner to take his winnings would have been hard. But the greater problem was that everyone except Jose’s parents was nine years old, so cash to gamble away was in fairly short supply. (Note: Despite the fact that neither Jose nor his parents are gamblers, gambling seems to have played a significant part in a lot of parties at his house. At one of Jose’s birthday parties, Jose’s father taught Jose and his friends to pitch pennies. One of Jose’s guests was from Mattapan, and his father looked at the penny pitching with amusement and pointed out that "In our neighborhood, we teach kids NOT to pitch pennies.) How did we solve the jackpot problem? Jose’s mother bought a Go-Boot to give to the pool’s winner. One would figure that the promise of a shiny new robot that transformed into some sort of drilling truck would be enough to maintain a the interest of a child, but alas it was not. As one might imagine for such a disastrous party, the winner of the Go-Bot was….yup, Jose’s mom. Unfortunately for her, the robot was not programmed to handle rowdy children. Actually, this was the start of a trend. Jose’s mother has won the pool three times over the years, making her the all-time wins leader. While her wins are not fueled by an in-depth knowledge of football, she at least has a more legitimate claim to the pot than Jose’s father, who always responds to news of the pool with the question "Who’s playing?" followed closely by the question "What do I have to tell you?"

3. Another tradition at the Melendez Super Bowl party is cooking food that is related to the culture of the host city. For instance, when the Super Bowl is in New Orleans, we have prepared jambalaya and red beans and rice. For Sand Diego…well, to be honest, we’ve just kept making jambalaya year after year, along with nachos and cocktail hot dogs. They just taste good. But this year we want to really reenergize the tradition, so in honor of Jacksonville, we’re thinking about making some white toast and ordering in from Red Lobster. (Note: See Jose doesn’t have to actually be in Jacksonville to hate on it just like the "professional" journalists.)

Well, this was a remarkably football centric Super Bowl KEYS, but not to worry, there are still five more days for stories about the Melendez Super Bowl party and many, many subjects completely unrelated to football.

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

Sunday, January 30


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

1. Now that Doug Mientkiewicz is gone from the Red Sox roster and closed captioneers everywhere have been freed from the cruel toil of typing his name at great speed, Jose should probably address the infamous World Series ball situation. Since the situation has now been more or less resolved, with the Red Sox displaying the ball and the ownership of the ball remaining indeterminate for now, it may seem like Jose is as far behind on this issue as Arod on a Curt Euro fastball. But Jose would disagree. Jose thinks he is right on the vanguard of the real issue. The real issue, of course, is who owns all manner of World Series memorabilia.

People act like the ball was the only piece of precious World Series history that might have gone missing. But what happened to the Mientkeiwicz’s glove? What happened to the bases? What happened to Terry Eurona’s score card? And if the Red Sox traded Mientkiewicz to a team where he would be a starter as a reward for agreeing to share the ball (Note: They didn’t, but let’s pretend.) is it not possible, just possible, that they acquired Edgar Renteria in order to get the bat that struck the final out of the World Series?

And what about other items of historical import? What happened to the chalk from the base lines? Was it washed away? Did it disappear up Darryl Strawberry’s nose like so much other white powder before it? What about World Series MVP Manny Ramirez’s Game 4 jock strap? Has anyone even bothered to look into that? Even Jose has not been immune. For the past three weeks, Jose has been getting phone calls from Leisure Suit Larry Lucchnino demanding that Jose hand over the computer he used to write the KEYS to Game 4 of the World Series. Lucchino insists that it doesn’t belong to Jose, it really belongs to the fans, by which he means the Red Sox, and that it should be touring New England, or in the Red Sox museum, not that such a thing exists, rather than in Jose’s frosty tenement apartment. Jose agrees that the computer doesn’t belong to him, but he disagrees about to whom it belongs. Larry says the people own it, Jose says the Melendezette owns it, because she, you know, paid for it. Let’s see the people…the Melendezette…the people…the Melendezette. Hmmm….Sorry Larry, Jose’s beloved "the people" are going to lose out on this one.

2. With the departure of Doug Mientkiewicz to the Mets, the Red Sox have now surrendered both players acquired in return for Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. So at the end of the day, the Red Sox gave up Nomar, for Single A first baseman Ian Bladergroen and the two draft picks received for Orlando Cabrerra. Of course, the Sox gave up two picks wen they signed ER, so basically it boils down to Nomar for Ian…and a World championship. Obviously it’s a good trade in the net, but still Jose wonders, if years from now, he’ll be lamenting the Garciaparra for Bladergroen trade?

No, probably not.

3. So Pedro is signed, Beltran is signed, ER is signed, OC is signed, Pavano is signed, Delgado is signed, Tek is signed, pretty much everyone is signed, so the Hot Stove season is basically gone and yet spring training is still a few weeks away. Everyone knows that this is the slowest part of the baseball calendar, and a distinct phase of the off season completely separate from the Hot Stove season, and yet no one has a name for it. Jose would like to come up with a name for this period.

Jose has heard some people refer to it as the "cool stove" or the "not hot stove" but those don’t really have much zip to them. What we need to do here is dip deeper into the world of metaphor. They call it the hot stove since everything is simmering, bubbles of activity delicately rupturing the seemingly calm surface of the offseason. So what happens at this time of year? Well, the only real baseball activity appears to be invalids like Magglio Ordonez or players who greatly overestimated their own values looking to sign desperate last minute deals. So what might capture that and yet be as snappy and mellifluous as "Hot Stove season?" Since not much is happening and only injured or recycled players are still signing, Jose proposes that the next three weeks be known henceforth as the "Cold Leftovers Season." Peter Gammons can even put pout a CD called "Cold Leftovers, Lukewarm music" It won’t have the really good or popular bands on it, like "Hot Stove, Cool Music" instead it will have bands like Wang Chung and Ratt.

(Note: Jose hates the Cold Leftovers season. He’s got absolutely nothing to work with, as you can probably tell from reading these KEYS. More about the World Series ball? Second guessing the fantastically successful Nomar trade? Coming up with the name Cold Leftovers season? Joking about Ratt? This is not one for the portfolio. Of course, maybe Jose is just grumpy because the huge free agent deal his agent promised him has yet to come to fruition. Jose may be forced to go to the Royals camp as a non-roster blogger and try to earn his way on to their blogger corps and a shot at the league minimum.)

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