It’s time for Jose Melednez’s KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE.
1. Today is Sam Melendez’s birthday. He is turning 27. He would be 29 if not for Ed King. Jose’s father was a Dukakis appointee and Ed King’s 1978 Democratic Gubernatorial primary victory put a dent in his family expansion plans. When Ed King died some months ago, Jose wrote a letter to his father, who lived in Kosovo at the time, suggesting that it might be time to have another baby. None is forthcoming. This is probably good news for Jose’s mother.
Sam is the youngest of the Melendez children after middle child Jose and older brother Jack, who, much like the 2007 Red Sox closer, does not technically exist. He was a fiction created by Jose’s father, after he read an article about how one should never make up older, missing siblings because it will feed into a child’s insecurities. Jose’s father saw this, noted it, and then decided that science, or possibly humor, demanded that he try it. Since then Jack became a cautionary tale of what happens to disobedient children. More recently, to continue the closer analogy, he has become a sort of rotating spot, to be filled by committee. The latest Jack was a 33 year old Kosovar Albanian named Isak, who is easily the best Jack to date. Among the advantages of having Isak fill the Jack role is that he is a Muslim. The Melendez family, which has both Jewish and Christian traditions, has long had a “feast but not fast” approach to holidays, celebrating Christmas, Chanukah, Easter and Passover, while ignoring inconveniences like Yom Kippur or Lent. With a Muslim in the family, we can at long last try doing the evening feasts during Ramadan without the annoyance of fasting all day.
But back to Jose’s real brother. It is his birthday today and Jose has not gotten him a gift yet. With only a few hours to go until the party, this might seem like the right time for Jose to flip out like Andy Yount at a grave site, but no, he’s keeping his cool. Thankfully, the Melendez family has a long tradition of IOUs.
Don’t have a gift for an important occasion? No problem, simply present a coupon for “something cool” at a later date. Or don’t present a coupon and offer a firm, binding hand shake. The reason Jose raises this tradition is not only because he plans to pass off this KEY, oh so thoughtfully written, as a birthday present. No, it’s because he believes that this offers the solution to the Red Sox increasingly complex situation with free agent outfielder and shoulder surgery candidate DJ Dru.
Everyone knows Dru will come to the Sox eventually. Now that Dru has failed a physical, he is unlikely to be able to match the three years $33 million he left on the table in Los Angeles anywhere else, and the Red Sox seem unlikely to walk away from such a long coveted trophy. And yet the two sides seem unable to agree on a final deal that will get Dru his money, while protecting the Red Sox from his seemingly inevitable physical breakdown. So here’s the solution—I-O-U. It’s simple, Theo should show up at the next negotiating session with a card—you need to have a card—in a nice envelope with “DJ” written on the front, maybe in calligraphy if there’s a Chinese woman in the office. Inside there should be a card that reads “I owe you one contract. Theo.” If he doesn’t have time to get a good card an index card will do. However, if he does go the index card route, he should use the coupon style of IOU. “This coupon good for one contract. Must be redeemed by 1/11/08.” Then everyone can stop worrying and stop making such a big deal out of it and figure it out later. Now, if you’ll excuse him, Jose has to go find an index card and a Chinese woman.
2. Jose watched as much of President Bush’s speech last night as he could stand. (Note: Remarkably, it was even more painful than the Celtics game.) As he watched, he wondered if Bush really understands what strategy is. Strategy is not just doing the same thing but more so. It almost made Jose wonder if Bush has been taking strategic advice from George Steinbrenner. Whereas Steinbrenner spends $200 million, fails and then assumes the problem is that he didn’t spend enough money on overpriced veterans, Bush responds to four years of a failed war strategy by deciding… eventually… that what he needs to do is the same thing but with more troops.
Actually, Jose is reevaluating this comparison even as he writes it. Sure, Steinbrenner might respond to his problem by doing more of the same, but at least Steinbrenner would have pumped more money in right away, rather than waiting four years, and he would have fired some people for failing to get the job done.
That’s right; we’ve come to the point in American history where George Steinbrenner seems like a better presidential option than the guy in the Oval Office. May God have mercy on us all.
3. Have you noticed that weeks after his acquisition, Jose still hasn’t said a word on reliever Brendan Donnelly? Do you know why? It’s because he’s been doing research, deep, muckraking research. And do you know what he’s learned? Well, Jose doesn’t want to concern you, but he’ not totally convinced that Donnelley can pitch, that he’s ever pitched.
During the course of his investigation Jose unearthed evidence that Donnelly used to be a Congressman for Massachusetts’ 11th district. But guess what? THERE IS NO 11th DISTRICT. It gets worse. Donnelly, while a “Congressman” and candidate for Governor claimed to have played football at Boston University where there is… ready for it? NO FOOTBALL PROGRAM. What’s next? Is he going to claim that he was Ambassador to some magical fantasy country called Trinidad and Tobago?
This brings us to today. Sure Donnelly changed his first name from Brian to Brendan and put on some nerdy glasses and, but he’s not fooling anyone, not anymore. Jose sees no more reason to believe that he’s a pitcher than he does to believe that he was a Congressman or a 1-AA college football star. (Note: Oxymoron.)
So as sad as it may be, Jose has to say count on Jor-El Piniero, count on J.C. Romero, hell, even count on Jullienned Tavarez, but count on B. Donnelly? Fool Jose once, shame on you. Fool Jose, twice? See the wit and wisdom of George Steinbrenner… er… President Bush.
I’m Jose Melendez and those are my KEYS TO THE HOT STOVE.