It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.
1. Grow up people!
Seriously, grow up.
“The Sox are collapsing,” you whine. “It’s 1978 all over again,” you complain. “It’s like they’ve surrendered,” you lament.
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
The Red Sox are not collapsing, they are not reliving history, they are not surrendering—they are retrenching. It’s totally different. Let’s put in this way, if the Red Sox were a book by noted geographer Jared Diamond they would not be Collapse. Rather, they would be Guns, Germs, and Steel. Their future will be determined by the strength of the big guns in the middle of the lineup, their ability to overcome injury and disease, and whether their will is strong like steel.
If it were a different year, it would be 1918 not, 1978. And if the Red Sox were a Cheap Trick song, they would be I Want You to Want Me, not Surrender.
For all of the complaining, for as disappointing as it would be to lose the division after holding a lead so large and so long, it does not matter. Not at all.
Ask even the most dimwitted of elite military theorists, and he will tell you that selecting the ground for one’s battle is a critical advantage. Do the Red Sox want to fight now on the mine riddled battlefield of the last week of September to secure a minor tactical advantage for the future—home field? Or do they want to dig their trenches atop the hills of October, conceal their artillery and martial their strength for the decisive battle to come?
Jose concedes that it has been painful to watch for the last week or so, that he has cursed the players, the manager and even the grounds crew. But for all of his rage, all of his angst, he knows that Tito is making the right decisions. He is healing his stars, he is setting his rotation, and he is testing his relievers. Tito may be many things, a manager with a slow hook, a man who cares too much for his players’ feelings, but one thing he is not is Pyrrhus at Asculum securing today’s victory at the cost of the grand campaign. No, perhaps these Red Sox will not win their Asculum, but rest assured, the borough of the Bronx, the Apulia of modernity, shall harshly, and inevitably fall.
2. Still, as the lead grows slimmer and slimmer, it is fair to ask: Who are these Red Sox? Clearly they are not the band of jovial idiots of 2004. But who are they?
The Red Sox are infantry beating a strategic retreat in order to gird for the battle to come.
The Red Sox are masters of jujitsu, little men standing firm against the charging behemoth, waiting until the last moment to step aside and use the behemoth’s strength against him.
The Red Sox are brokers, buying as the market crashes, picking up cheap assets while everyone else is selling.
The Red Sox are boxers taking punch after punch, secure that their chins will last longer than their opponents’ lungs.
The Red Sox are swordsmen, dueling left handed and preparing the switch to the right.
The Red Sox are cryptographers, allowing Coventry to burn such that the information from cracked codes may continue to flow for the greater good.
The Red Sox are roadrunners, allowing the coyote to indulge his insatiable hubris in preparation for his eventual humiliation.
The Red Sox are robots, making cold, rational calculation of maximum benefit, not feeling the emotion that drives men to weakness and folly.
The Red Sox are musicians, striking a stunning fortepiano before again building to a raging fortissimo.
The Red Sox are wrestlers, pretending to hobble such that their inevitable recovery will be all the sweeter.
The Red Sox are grifters, hiding their true identity to pull off the one big scam.
The Red Sox are surgeons, sacrificing the leg to save the body.
The Red Sox are cats, seemingly lazy and nonchalant, yet always scheming.
The Red Sox are all of these things. They are all of these and more. But what will define them, ultimately is what they are not. They are not losers, they are not chokers. You will see. Just wait until October.
3. A lot of you, okay one of you, have been wondering where Jose has been over the course of the last three days as the Sox began to crumble. The answer is he’s been busy.
He’s got stuff to do, important stuff. Fine, fine, it’s stuff to get ready for the playoff race, and just like Tito Eurona, he’s not going to get all anxious and fly off the handle because we might get the wildcard rather than the division. What Jose is focused on right now is healing up, resting up and getting prepared for the postseason.
You all remember 2005 don’t you. It was unclear, even on the last day of the season if the Red Sox were going to make the playoffs, so Jose had to keep throwing everything he could into KEYS right up until the final game.
As a result, when the playoffs started, Jose had to resort to the comedic equivalent of throwing Antipope Matt (In)Clement XV in Game 1— doing jokes about how Carl Everett doesn’t believe in dinosaurs. Jose was gassed, absolutely exhausted, and it showed. Jose doesn’t want this to happen again, so he’s been resting and restocking, trying to fight through the “dead brain” phenomenon that has hit him hard in recent weeks.
What has he done to rejuvenate in his time off? He’s had text messages on scores sent to him right up until the start of a wedding? He’s rambled and ambled from Holyoke to Pittsfield to New Bedford in search of renewal, you know basically all of the stuff Manny is doing to recover from his sore oblique.
And you know what? It’s paying off. It’s paying off big time. When the Red Sox get to the playoffs Jose is completely prepared for either the Angels or the Indians. Jose is prepared to parody either of C+C Music Factory’s hits, in the event that we draw Cleveland starter C+C Music Sabathia. Jose is equally prepared to joke about how Angles hurler Kelvim Escobar is so cold that he is at 0 on the temperature scale created by someone who’s last name is sort of close to Escobar’s first name. See? Degrees Kelvin jokes! Gold! You don’t even want to hear Jose’s Garrett Anderson material!
So don’t you worry. Manny will be healthy and rested. Youks will be “wrist strong” as Stephen Colbert would say, Okajima’s arm will be undead, zombie-like really, and Jose will be ready to go, fresh, rested and ready to kick some *ss.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE GAME.