It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. Where’s the drama?
Is it, as a drill sergeant on a short lived FOX boot camp reality show once suggested, being saved for “yo mamma?” Is it the preserve of pale goth chicks in pasty white makeup? Jose does not know. But surely, it is not at Fenway Park
Today is the World Famous Sons of Sam Horn bash, and there is absolutely no rumor, as yet, of Manny Ramirez demanding a trade. Not even a peep. Where the hell does that leave Jose? Lost and alone, and a little bored. That’s where. Two years ago, Manny was poised to be traded to the Mets on bash day and it made for easy copy. Pithy verbiage like “stop the music” and “trading Manny for Aubrey Huff and Mike Cameron is the stupidest idea ever” flowed freely from Jose’s clicking keys, like beer, and wine, and tequila and vodka, and rum and probably more than a little isopropyl down SoSHer Tom Ricardo’s formidable gullet.
And today? Well, today Jose has to actually use a drunken Cranston frat boy in an analogy. That’s how bad the material is today.
But let’s say Jose wants to write about real trading deadline drama. Let’s imagine, for once moment, that he would rather not write about the man called TRic. What would he write about? Would he hop on the rumors that the Sox are looking into Jermaine Dye or Marx Texiera? What about the Reggie Sanders option? Or there are even those silly rumors about Ken Griffey Jr.?
Pish tosh Jose says. Pish tosh. There is only one trade Jose wants to discuss, and that is the trade that brings Todd Helton to the Red Sox for Mike Lowell and Wily Mo Pena.
Let’s break it down.
Why would the Red Sox make this trade? It would give them a serious power boost, a skilled first baseman and allow them to move Kevin Youkilis to third.
Why would the Colorado Rockies make this move? Okay, bear with Jose for a second because it’s a little statistical, but here goes: They make the trade because someone put LSD in the water cooler. Think about it. It might work. Under the influence of acid, Colorado officials could easily become convinced that Helton was a snake monster they needed to get rid of, and that accepting a 30 foot tall Dominican giant and a kindly old wizard was a preferable to cutting him outright.
Okay, maybe no one is going to take this seriously baring the use of mind-altering drugs or possibly a kidnapping of some kind, but people took Manny for Huff and Cameron seriously, and was that really any less asinine? Okay, yes it was, but not by much.
2. Jose likes to think that he was Julio Lugo’s inspiration.
It only makes sense doesn’t it? Jose is a singles hitter with a propensity for groundouts, and an ugly tendency to throw the ball away. Sound like anyone you know? And yet at last night’s Sons of Sam Horn softball game, Jose absolutely raked. A deep home run, a triple, a single and a long fly out. No errors either. Okay, maybe one error, but it’s beer league softball.
Then all of a sudden Julio Lugo, who had been heating up anyway, suddenly crushes a ball over the monster for a grand slam. Rococo Crisp started heating up after Jacoby Ellsbury, a younger, whiter version of himself showed up. Is it not possible that Jose had the same impact on Lugo?
Admittedly, logic would say, “No that’s completely impossible. Stop being a jackass Jose.”
But Jose, jackass that he is, thinks otherwise. Sometimes all that matters is to hear the footsteps, to sense the sickly sweet breath of competition blowing down your neck.
This was one of those times.
And Jose is glad because, despite his being the worst hitter in baseball for the better part of this year, Jose never lost faith in Julio Lugo. Maybe it’s because of Jose’s deep, and borderline racist conviction that all Dominicans can hit a baseball. Maybe it’s because it simply seemed impossible that anyone not named Crespo could be that bad, or maybe just maybe, it is because Jose sees Lugo as some sort of an old testament God figure, testing Jose like God tested Job, with horror after horror. But like Job, Jose never lost faith. He got angry, sure. He may have cursed the heavens about Lugo’s four-year deal, screaming “Why, why, why are you doing this to Jose.” But he never lost faith.
And do you know why? Because Julio Lugo never gave Jose boils. If Julio had given Jose boils like God gave to Job, Jose would be all about benching him.
3. When Mike Timlin came into last night’s game, the near universal reaction at the SoSH post softball pool party was “Nooo, not Timlin.” Indeed, people would walk in the door to see the grizzled righty on the mound and immediately recoil.
This is wrong. This is dead wrong. Mike Timlin does not deserve this. We owe him our respect. He gave us years of brilliant service, he should have been on the mound in the 8th in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, he has pitched 14 straight scoreless innings. That’s worthy of respect isn’t it? Still, that’s not enough to earn undying loyalty even as skills deteriorate, Jose knows that. No, the reason we should continue to respect Mike Timlin is that he is a large man who owns a lot of guns, and that and that alone makes him worthy of respect.
And fear. Lots and lots of fear.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.