It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. Jose has a secret.
It’s not a secret that he readily admits to family and friends, and sometimes he even has a hard time admitting it to himself. Deep down, Jose sort of maybe possibly thinks that he might love the Celtics more than the Red Sox.
Jose would never have guessed it. He certainly doesn’t watch the Celtics religiously like he does the Red Sox, and he would never blog about them incessantly, and yet there is real evidence that he loves them more.
In 2002, when the Celtics made their return to the playoffs, Jose had more anxiety from their first round series with the Sixers than he did for any of the Red Sox playoff games. (Note: Which, as anyone who watched a Sox playoff game with Jose knows, is saying something.) Why would he have that kind of stress, that kind of agony, about a first round series by a team that was certain to not win a championship? Love. Sweet love.
When Jose was a kid, his father introduced him to Johnny Most’s coffee and nicotine ruined larynx, and at the age of five Jose listened to the Cs come back from down 3-1 to the hated 76ers and then beat Houston for title number 14. He changed his favorite color from red to green, because red may have been a Red Sox color, but it was a Sixers color too. He prayed for playoff wins and for unspeakable tragedy to befall Tree Rollins who had bitten his favorite player—a fiery, yet strangely incompetent two guard named Danny Ainge.
In recent years, Jose’s love has ebbed and flowed, and as the tragedy of decades wore on him, he went from being a fan who went to six games in the Szabo-Hamer era, to a fan who could not pull himself together to walk three blocks to the Garden for a game a single time last year.
And then came last night. The Lottery. You know how they say buying lottery tickets is not an investment strategy? Well, the same holds true for the NBA Draft Lottery—maybe you’ll get lucky, but if winning the lottery is your plan, you’re probably screwed. On the upside, it could have been worse than the Celts finishing with the fifth pick. Though Jose’s not sure how. The only lottery he can think of with a more ominous result was the one in the Shirley Jackson short story, though who wouldn’t enjoy seeing Danny Ainge in that Lottery today, waiting to see if he’ll be stoned to death.
Does Jose really love the Celtics more than the Red Sox? Maybe not, but all he know is that on a night when the Red Sox beat the Yankees and the Celtics lost the future, Jose’s heart bled. Perhaps the love of a sports team is more like loving one’s children than like loving a spouse. Even when one feels the joy of one child, it cannot drown out the pain of another. And while Jose felt the Red Sox joy last night, they weeping of his beloved Celtics is what sat, heavily, in his heart.
2. On cheerier subjects, the Yankee team’s brief try at metaphorical sobriety ended last night, as they fell off the wagon. The return to figurative alcoholism was due largely to Mike Mussina throwing 85 mph fastballs with the obvious difficulty of an alcoholic handing a shot of Jack to a pal while waiting for his seltzer with a twist. Say what you want about amphetamines in baseball, they are clearly not a problem for Moose.
But while drugs are not the problem with Yankee pitching they may be the problem with Yankee bats. In his story today, barbiturates,” the Yankees have an even bigger problem, as barbiturates are central nervous system depressants that “produce a wide spectrum of effects, from mild sedation to anesthesia. Some are also used as anticonvulsants ,” Not exactly the thing to get bats hopping. On the other hand, it kind of makes sense. These Yankees have indeed showed symptoms ranging from mild sedation to anesthesia, yet George Steinbrenner has, somehow, been prevented from convulsing thus far.
Poor Yankees. They can’t pitch, they can’t hit and they can’t even medicate properly.
3. In other news, Manny is still Manny, Julian Tavarez is still crazy and Alex Rodriguez is still an *sshole.
The evidence? Manny popped out of his slump last night with a three run homer in the first, Tavarez was wearing shower shoes with David Ortiz’s face on them, and Alex Rodriguez was throwing elbows at Dustin Pedroia on a most dubious slide.
Basically, Rodriguez slid hard in to second as part of an effort to break up a double play. Fine. But when he popped up he headed in an entirely different direction, lofting an elbow at Pedroia’s nether regions. After watching it again on tape, the diminutive Pedroia complained to umpire Joe West.
The incident is, of course, the latest in a series of Rodriguez missteps designed to demonstrate hard-nosed play. The most famous of these, his slap during Game 6 of the ALCS, made him look less hard-nosed and more like a lady in the midst of a catfight. This is a recurring trend, as last night’s play featured him trying a little too hard to come in contact with another person's genitals. Jose is not being homophobic not at all. He just thinks it is wrong to try to grope someone under the cover “playing tough ball.” If Dustin Pedroia had been a woman it would have been just as wrong. Ultimately, the play, rather than making him look tough, made him appear weak, pathetic, and more than a little creepy.
Tonight, Jose fully expects Alex to continue this sort of behavior by attempting to break up a double play by calling Pedroia names like “whore” and “bitch” and if that doesn’t work, by scratching him and pulling his hair.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.