Friday, April 27

Blood and Lies

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1.In the finest tradition of the late great “Big” John Studd, who offered $15,000 cash to anyone who could body slam him (note: and Andre the Giant could), Curt Euro has offered $1,000,000 to anyone who can prove that that his legendary sock is not dripping in the savory blood of victory.

Of course, Euro has a hedge. Rather than simply offering the money to anyone who can prove him wrong, he has demanded that anyone who dares to test the sock put up $1 million of his own money. As exceedingly few people have $1 million to spare, it neutralizes all but the richest among us from taking the challenge.

But someone should take it. Some brave soul should toss his chips on the felt, because we know the reason that Curt made his hedge, is that he doesn’t want anyone to call his bluff. He knows, Jose knows, you know, that it isn’t blood on that sock, that it can’t be blood on that sock. We know, because it has proven time and again. In the World Series with the Phillies, with the Diamondbacks, with the Red Sox, we have seen, we have acquired empirical evidence, that Curt Euro does not have so much as a drop of blood in his veins—all he’s got is ice water. So if fluids were seeping from his foot onto that sock, they would be clear, not that ghastly shade of red. Unless, maybe the ice water in Curt’s veins is mixed with red crystal light. That would explain everything.

2. The evidence was right there. As Jose perused Dan Shaughnessy’s column this morning, it jumped out of him, springing out of the written page like Doc Gooden out of rehab. And sure enough, there it was. Fabrication. Like Mike Barnacle before him, like Patricia Smith, and Jason Blair, he was writing fiction and calling it fact. Like so many Seth Mnookin article subjects, there was old Danny Shaughnessy making things up in the name of a better story.

That’s Dan Shaughnessy for you. This is the man who loves to lie.

Got one of those kids in your neighborhood who likes to tell stories about wolves coming over the hill when there are no wolves in site? That’s Shaughnessy when it comes to lying. Rick Pitino called it being disingenuous and advocated doing it all the time.

“I am a man of my word,” said Pitino, clearly lying. (Note: He did not say that.)

Pitino would love Shaughnessy. The old man from Groton is lying in the morning, he’s lying at night. He’s lying, lying, lying.

If the Globe would allow him to do what he wants to do Shaughnessy would make James Frey look like Abe Lincoln.

Remember a few weeks ago when Shaughnessy printed emails to Curt Euro’s Web site from shut in sycophants? At the end of the piece, long after you’d probably stopped reading, he admitted it was all made up.

Remember the “Curse of the Bambino?” Fiction.

The Globe wouldn’t let him lie earlier this week, so he went into a lesbian chat room and pretended to be a Wellesley co-ed exploring her sexuality.

Then that evening he wrote someone else’s name and social security number down and ordered a few credit cards.

The Globe finally let him lie again this morning, but what they didn’t know was that he’d spent last night lying to his wife about what had happened to the $20 in her wallet.

Full disclosure here: Everything above was made up. None of it happened. But it is perhaps only a slight exaggeration.

These are absolute facts: Dan Shaughnessy told no fewer than eight lies in his column this morning. He has gotten into the habit of writing long fictional columns that start with vaguely plausible claims and then get progressively more absurd, before ending with a disclaimer that it the story is wholly or partly fictional.

So if he can do it why can’t Jose? Why can’t Jose publish out and out lies and then have a cute little disclaimer like this at the end that confesses, and thereby absolves, his sins? Why can’t Jose imitate the form, and it some cases the exact words of a Dan Shaughnessy column and use the words against him? Not sure if something in this piece is original? It’s probably not. Heck, you can assume it’s almost entirely Shaughnessy’s words… except for the parts talking about how much of a liar he is. Just check out the piece in the Globe. You’ll see what’s the same and what’s different.

He is Dan Shaughnessy. He is the man who loves to lie.

3. Remember the last Friday night the Red Sox played the Yankees? Sure you do. The Yankees were all excited having completed a shocking two out comeback to upend the Cleveland Indians and came surging into Fenway ready to bust some heads and break some hearts.

Do you know what has happened since then? The Yankees have lost. They have lost, and lost and lost some more, dropping six straight games to fall to 8-12, last in the American League East, behind the Red Sox, behind Toronto, behind Baltimore, behind Tampa Bay, and probably even behind the Washington Senators who do not, technically speaking, exist.

“There’s going to be panic soon if the winning doesn’t start,” traitor Johnny Damon told the Associated Press.

Thankfully, Jose has some advice on what to do in the event of panic. Jose saw a documentary on it. Should the Yankees lose three more this weekend, or even two, they should, as a team, retreat into a giant sealed “panic room.” Inside the panic room, they will be safe from all of the dangers that have troubled them. There is no mound, which prevents bad pitching, no need to whiz perilous throws across the diamond and even the pernicious George Steinbrenner cannot get in.

Of course, the documentary revealed other, new dangers that lurk in the panic room, such as gas being pumped in the room in order to force evacuation. Given Jason Giambi’s legendary “HGH farts” this seems like a distinct risk. (Note: Also, they don’t call them the “Bronx Bombers” for nothing.) And other dangers persist. Can anyone stand being locked in a room with A-Rod? Stuck in a room, will Derek Jeter insist on playing seven minutes of heaven? How will Roger Clemens ever come back to save them if they are locked in what is, for all intents and purposes, a vault?

No, New York Yankees, you can panic all you want, but you cannot run from your fate. Try all you want, but like Oedipus before you, you cannot escape your destiny, though hard as it may be to believe, after this weekend, you will feel like old Oedipus caught off easy. All he had to deal with was patricide and mother f*cking and a bunch of furies hounding him. You, on the other hand, will have to deal with an 8.5 game deficit and an angry, demented George Steinbrenner.

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

Thursday, April 26

FRAUD?!? A Play in One Act

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. October, Hours before Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS
(Curt Euro sits alone in the visiting locker room and Yankee Stadium. Doug Mirabelli enters.)

DOUGIE: Hey Curt, how’s it going? Ready for the game tonight?

CURT: Jeez… Doug I don’t know. I was so awful in Game 1, and now I’ve got to got out there again, in front of all of those angry Yankees fans? It’s kind of scary.

DOUGIE: Come on, there shouldn’t be that much pressure on you. After all, everyone knows you’re injured, so if you have a rough night, no one should be too surprised.

CURT: (looking sheepish) Umm… Doug. You know I made that up right?


CURT: I was so bad the other night. All I was brought here to do was to beat the Yankees and I couldn’t do it, because I’m just not man enough. Or Jesus doesn’t love me enough or something. I needed some sort of excuse, some sort of out to takes the heat off so I said I was hurt.


CURT: Yeah, I know. I faked tweaking the ankle in Game One against the Angles just so I would have an excuse if things didn’t work against the Yankees.

DOUGIE: That’s diabolical.

CURT: Don’t use big words Doug, it’s not you.

DOUGIE: Sorry, it was my word of the day. Yesterday was “salient.”

CURT: No problem. So what I can’t figure out is what to do now. I know I still have the injury excuse, but I feel like it’s not enough. I mean, lot’s of guys play through injuries and do fine.

DOUGIE: So you need something more?

CURT: Yeah like a splint, or a special shoe, but something that won’t keep from pitching on the off chance that I do have good stuff tonight.

DOUGIE: What about, like, attaching a bear trap to your leg?

CURT: Come on Dougie.

DOUGIE: You know I don’t think so good. Wait… I got it.

CURT: Yeah?

DOUGIE: I’ll shoot you in the ankle.

CURT: Doug that’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.

DOUGIE: Sorry. I’m trying it’s just that when I was a kid I got dropped on my head… and it screwed up my brain. There was blood everywhere and—

CURT: Blood? (Thinks) Dougie you’re a genius!!! Well, no, actually you’re pretty dim, but that’s a hell of an idea.

DOUGIE: Thanks Curt… I think.

CURT: Do you have a red marker on you?

DOUGIE: Yeah of course, I always keep one on me in case I need to fake bloody panties. That’s how I convince groupies that I knock up that they’re having their periods after all. Then we get drunk together and do some blow, since they don’t figure there’s any baby to harm. Then, they lose the baby. Smart right? Grenadine mixed with chocolate syrup works too.

CURT: Sweet… (Takes the marker) So a little color here, and presto, I’m fighting heroically through a bleeding ankle. We can even make up a back story about Doc Morgan sewing me up in some crazy new procedure.

DOUGIE: Awesome.

CURT: It sure is Dougie. It sure is. Of course, after the season I’ll have to have a massive surgery and basically pitch terribly in 2005 as a cover up, but I think it will be worth it, right?

DOUGIE: Yeah. But after the surgery we should make sure Doc Morgan gets fired, you know so if he says anything, everyone will just assume he has an axe to grind.

CURT: Perfect. Well, I think we’ve got all of the loose ends tied up.

DOUGIE: Uh huh… It’s the perfect plan. If you pitch well, you’re a legend, if you don’t you battled through a real bad injury but just couldn’t pull it off.

CURT: There’s just one more thing.

DOUGIE: Yeah, what’s that?

CURT: What ever you do don’t tell Gary Thorne. If that intrepid journalist, that latter day muckraker found out, it would blow the lid off the whole scam.

DOUGIE: Don’t worry. I’ll never tell, and even if I do get drunk and tell him about it, you and I could denounce him. Theo, Lucchino and Tito would all say how pissed they are and he’ll look like a fool. He’ll look even dumber than me.

CURT: Perfect. Defraud the public and then humiliate Gary Thorne if he gets in our way.


The bloody sock is fraud like the moon landing and dinosaurs.
If it's real than why is there no bloody sock in the Bible?

I couldn't agree more, Carl.

2. According to the Globe, the Red Sox’s many Latin players were surprised when they learned recently that hitting coach Dave Magadan, is the child of two Spaniards and speaks fluent Spanish. While fellow Spanish speakers J.C. Romero and Julio Lugo expressed surprise and delight at the news, one Red Sox seemed absolutely stunned and shaken.

“I knew his parents were from Spain man,” said left fielder Manny Ramirez, shaking his head. “But this is a big surprise. I had no idea, they spoke Spanish there. That’s crazy. Are they all Dominicans over there or something? Or are they, like, Mexicans?”

3. A Handy jingle for the Red Sox to remember as they face Orioles Lefty Adam Loewen tonight. (Note: To the tune of the legendary Loewnbrau jingle.)

Here’s to offense,
His fastball’s, nothing special,
His curveball’s poor,
I thing we’re gonna score some now,
So tonight…
Let’s slap around Loewenbrau

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

Wednesday, April 25

Memory Loss

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. Every once in a while, there emerges a new medical technology, an innovative surgical technique that radically alters the game of baseball. Once it was arthroscopic surgery, converting season ending procedures to mere weeks on the shelf. Then came Lasik eye surgery giving players formerly constrained by contact lenses, the vision of a young Ted Williams. And then, of course, there was hysterectomy, which allowed Alex Rodriguez to stop becoming hysterical every time something went wrong and settle into perhaps the greatest month in baseball history.

So what’s next for sports medicine? Can we identify the trend now, before it blossoms in full and get the Red Sox an edge? Jose believes he has seen the future of sports and the future looks like lobotomy.

Well, perhaps Jose is being a bit melodramatic. Jose is not suggesting that Red Sox players have full frontal lobotomies. That would be silly, and as the old song reminds us, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me, then have to have a frontal lobotomy.” No, he is just suggesting that it might be a huge advantage to a Red Sox player if he had his hippocampus removed, or at least badly damaged.

Jose got the idea while reading Eric Hinskie’s comments on last night’s 10-3, four error debacle.
“You’ve got to have a short memory,” Hinskie told the Globe’s Nancy Marrapese-Burrell. “We’ve got to try to forget about these two games and move on.”

The hippocampus, as even the dimmest of neuroscientists knows, is the portion of the brain that converts short term memory in to long term memory. By removing it, a player would be assured that rather than lingering on the shame and humiliation of dropping two at home to the Blue Jays, he could give complete focus to tonight’s game in Baltimore.

Jose knows it sounds a little risky for players to remove parts of their brain in order to increase their performance, but Manny seems completely incapable of forming long term memories about things like trade request’s he’s made, times he’s used the death of his grandmother as an excuse and the number of balls in the count, and he hits just fine.

Look Jose is not saying this is a cure all. All he is saying is that his late maternal grandmother, who he loved dearly, had a stroke that damaged her hippocampus and you know what? She didn’t have a single throwing error after it. Not one. (Note: Jose’s Grandma Martha had a wonderful sense of humor and sense of baseball, so he is pretty sure that wherever she is, she is not offended. But if she is, she can send Jose a sign by striking down Vernon Wells.)

2. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Alex Rodriquez shared his thoughts on his red hot start, his potential opt out and the Yankees 0-5 road trip.

Among the revelations in the story was that the difference between this year and last is that A-Rod now loses himself in the resonant sounds of his iPod shortly after arriving at the ballpark.

KEYS’ has obtained A-Rod’s iPod and is pleased to offer you, as a KEYS exclusive, the deepest psychological analysis possible in this modern age, the first ten songs that come up on Rodriguez’s iPod.

1. Nobody Likes Me (Guess I’ll Go Eat Worms)—Traditional
2. Blues Lips—Regina Spektor
3. Slap—Ludacris
4. So Lonely—The Police
5. Loser—Beck
6. I Can’t Win—The Strokes
7. Money –Pink Floyd
8. Thrown Away—Papa Roach
9. April Lady—Queen
10. I Want You to Want Me—Cheap Trick

In addition to discussing his iPod, Rodriguez also answered a question about whether he was a better pilot than departed Yankees Thurman Munson and Corey Lidle, saying "Let's see how far we can fly, then I can tell you. I'm in the middle of flight right now, so I don't want to talk about it.”

3. In perhaps the most shocking news of the young season, three weeks in a Red Sox is tied for the lead league in stolen bases with six, as Jose Lugo’s two steals last night tied him with Kenny Lofton, Gary Matthews Jr. and Brian Roberts.

In fact, the last time any Red Sox player had this much stealing so early in the season was 1992, when Jack Clark had, as of April 25, already effectively stolen the $3 million the Red Sox were ostensibly paying him to hit home runs.

(Note: Jose’s mother has never enjoyed herself as much at a Red Sox game as she did in 1992 when we had seats not far from home plate where she could relentlessly boo Jack Clark. This was unusual, as Jose’s mother likes baseball, but does not have particularly strong feelings about it. What she does have strong feelings about, however, are multi-millionaires whose appetites are so excessive that they file for bankruptcy. Though in fairness to Clark, he probably needed one car for each of the 16 extra base hits in 1992 plus another two just in case.)

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

Tuesday, April 24

Low Energy Day

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. “It was kind of a lethargic day today.” Doug Mirabelli told the Globe. “We just didn’t feel like we had that same energy.”

What? WHAT? What, exactly are you so tired from? From not playing for the last four days? Are you so exhausted by your inactivity, by the awful burden of having to pop out each inning and catch eight warm up pitches (note: unless you can find someone else to do it for you) that you can’t be persuaded to give full intensity to your work on the one our of every five days you do perform?

This was like Jose’s brother, a school teacher, lamenting how he was going to be so tired his first day back from April vacation following Sunday night’s ball game. Not too sympathetic. Sure, it may be technically true, but God knows you can’t actually say it to someone who’s not finishing vacation and expect any sympathy.

You see Doug, some of us, Jose for instance, have these jobs where we actually have to go and work FIVE WHOLE DAYS EVERY WEEK. Really. It’s exhausting. They make you come in every day and, get this, do stuff. What Jose wouldn’t give to have a job where he watched more talented people do stuff for four days, and then did the same thing as them but worse on the fifth. You would never hear him complain about lethargy, if he had that sweet deal. Never. Except if he’d stayed up too late drinking, or maybe if there had been something good on TV late. But aside from that, NEVER!

But let’s say you are really lethargic, maybe you’re not just a lazy bastard, you know there are things you can do about it right? You could meditate, you know get your chakras in alignment. Or maybe try drinking coffee. Dunkin’ Donuts has these big iced coffees full of caffeine and more sugar than a Jamaican cane field. Or you get some of what Julienned Tavarez is using. He’s always peppy. Or what about greenies? You could be just like Mickey Mantle except with one-tenth the skills and ten times the liver. Also you would still be alive.

2. In these tight economic times, wherein they must compete with the new media, most newspapers are pushing aggressively to cut costs by trimming expenditures on luxuries like foreign correspondents and ink. As a fan of newspapers, Jose would like to see them continue to exist, thus he is happy to be able to offer at least one cost saving measure to his colleagues who put pen to pulp. Don’t delete those Boris Yeltsin obituaries from the hard drive quite yet. Sure he’s dead, he’s even dead officially now, but those obits may be useful again soon when John McNamara dies.

John McNamara and Boris Yeltsin were, for all intents and purposes, the same person. Had McNamara been born in Ural region of Svredlovsk there is every reason to believe he would have become the first elected president of Russia, just as if Yeltsin had been born to she-goat in the fires of Hades, as McNamara was, he most certainly would have become manager of the Red Sox. Flip sides of the same coin.

Just look at these quotes from the obituary in today’s Globe with “McNamara” substituted for “Yeltsin” and “Red Sox fans” substituted for “Russians.”

“Mikhail Gorbachev… referred to Mr. McNamara as one ‘on whose shoulders are both great deeds… and serious errors.’”

“Red Sox fans look at the [McNamara] era as chaotic and humiliating”

“McNamara was widely ridiculed in his later years in office for a halting walk, a puffy, pasty complexion, and a slurred way of speaking that led to rumors of more heart trouble, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, alcoholism or a combination of the four.”

Of course, the analogies are not perfect. For all of the corruption and cronyism, even with the needless carnage of Chechnya and the disaster of economic “shock therapy” never, never did Yeltsin do anything as foolish as failing to use Dave Stapleton as a defensive replacement.
Boris Yeltsin addresses accusations that he was
too chicken to make Calvin Schiraldi his lead
economic advisor.

3. Okay, with yesterday’s quiet dignity out of the way, Jose is prepared to give a brief assessment of what exactly does and does not warrant a halt to beer service at Fenway Park.

Does: Moment of silence for fallen heroes (Note: Not really, they serve right on through it.)
Does not: Moment of silence for fallen centerfielder when he misplays a shot over his head.

Does: National Anthem
Does not: National League opponent.

Does: End of seventh inning
Does not: Mike Piazza’s outing (Note: This is not homophobic, it is long rumored and Belle and Sebastian have a song about it and everything.)

Does: Good Friday.
Does not: Good infield defense.

Does: Strike by teamsters.
Does not: Strike to batter.

Does: Cancellation of game due to inclement weather.
Does not: De facto forfeit of game due to (In)Clement pitching.

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

Monday, April 23

Four Gone Conclusion

It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE GAME.

1. You know how Batman and Robin used to fight back to back in the old television program, effectively covering all the angles and ensuring that no villain could sneak up on them? It was like the Maginot Line except effective and vaguely homoerotic. They even paid tribute to it in the Damon Wayans vehicle Blankman. But it was only a tactic used by crime fighting duos. Captain America and Bucky, Power Man and Iron Fist, Cagney and Lacey, those sorts. You never saw your larger crime fighting units use it. The Fantastic Four never went back to back (note: to back to back). Do you know why? BECAUSE IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!! There is no such thing as back to back to back to back. Cannot be done. Ever. Except possibly by the Russell Era Celtics with a whole bunch more backs thrown in. (Note: And apparently four other Major League teams including last year’s Dodgers, but let’s gloss over that, shall we?)

And yet there it was last night. Manny-Dru-Lowell-Tek. Back to back to back to back. Somewhere Sir Mix-a-Lot is weeping with joy. (Note: He loves back.)

In but four instants, Yankees pitcher Chase Wright was chased right from the game, with the shameful distinction of being only the second pitcher in Major League history to allow four straight home runs in a game. Congratulations Chase, you’re in the record book.

Jose has seen some things at Fenway. He has seen Scott Hatteberg hit into a triple play and hit a grand slam in the same game. He has seen Billy Hatcher steal home. He has even seen Chuck Knoblauch play nine innings of error free second base. All shocking, all improbable. But this? Nope, never seen this before.

This is like seeing a comet… collide with an asteroid… collide with a satellite… collide with an Arby’s. It was the most electric Jose has ever seen Fenway in the third inning of an April game and that includes some thunderstorms.

2. Almost forgotten in last night’s consecutive home run onslaught was that it was Jose’s first chance to check out the Sox’s biggest new off season acquisition in person. And to be honest, his initial impressions were a little mixed.

On the plus side, impact on the crowd has been tremendously positive. There’s just a certain energy that hasn’t always been there in the last couple of years. Other positives include crispness of delivery, the sheer number of different offerings and general nastiness.

But, as anyone who was at the game last night knows, it is not all positive. While the delivery may be crisp, it is also painfully slow, not Jeff Gray slow, but… deliberate. Jose would also add that there seems to be the potential here for more than a few heart attacks over the course of the season.

Still, despite the uneven performance, Jose is still very happy with the addition. After you add in the pluses and subtract the minuses, divide the divisors and multiply by the… multiplying numbers… and then cube, always cube, this pick up is a huge net benefit for this team and this community. Yes, Jose could not be more pleased that there is a Popeye’s Fried Chicken in Kenmore Square.

Rookie of the year?
3. Did you know that vendors at Fenway are not allowed to pour beer during the national anthem? This is new. It was not the policy when Jose worked at Fenway many moons ago. Jose discovered this last night as a rather methodical tribute to our country slowed his inevitable March towards a Bud Light. Jose is okay with this, he supposes, though he wonders if Brewer-Patriots like Samuel Adams would really regard the damming of Old Man Beer Tap an appropriate tribute to this land of ours? After all, the very melody to the anthem is taken from a British drinking song “To Anacreon in Heaven.” Still, Jose takes his patriotism seriously (note: he once answered a security clearance question about whether he put the interests of the U.S. above all other countries with the statement “U.S.A. Number One!”) and he appreciates that the Red Sox organization is trying to honor America.

But here’s the thing. Why didn’t they stop beer service during the moment of silence in honor of Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis, the Blue Angel pilot from Pittsfield who died in an air show accident on Saturday? It was incredibly odd to watch the beer continue to flow as we paid respects to a man who died while serving our country, and yet to stop for the World War I era mea culpa that is the playing of the national anthem at baseball games. (Note: As Jose recalls the tradition began during WWI to appease a public angered that healthy young baseball players were not off fighting. He can’t find verification though.)

Jose was originally going to do a bit here about things that they stop pouring beer for versus things they continue pouring beer for, but as he writes this, he’s thought better of it. Maybe, he’ll do it tomorrow, maybe he’ll do it next week, but mixing it in to a KEY about the importance of showing at least as much respect for the people who defend our symbols as for the symbols themselves, doesn’t seem right.

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