Friday, August 31

The Ethicist

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

1. Following yesterday’s heartbreaking 5-0 loss that completed the utterly meaningless sweep at the hands of the Yankees, Jose was asked to way in on an ethical question.

Now, you folks out there in internet land may be surprised to hear this, because you just think of Jose as the sort of fun loving faux Puerto Rican who entertains you day in day out by making keen observation such as the fact that tonight’s match up pitches Tim Wakefield vs. the First Lady of Wrestling, the lovely Miss Elizabeth. (Note: Reader City of Rosie Palms insisted that Jose include this because the Orioles are starting a guy named Liz, and let it be never be said that Jose does not pander to his audience.)

But Jose is so much more than that. As a person obsessed almost to the point of madness with being good and doing good, Jose is constantly asked questions about the thorniest ethical issues of the day. Thus, Jose is proud to rip off the New York Times Magazine’s Randy Cohen, with KEYS’ new feature The Ethicist. (Note: Ethics lesson one. Because Jose said he was ripping off Randy Cohen it’s not plagiarism or unethical, it’s an homage. Keep this in mind. Under the same principle, if you tell a store owner you are going to steal a television set from him and then do it, it’s not stealing—it’s a homage to his fine wares. Unless it’s Best Buy where stealing from them is always okay because they’re jerks.—sub note to scummy Best Buy lawyer— Jose is not actually encouraging people to steal from Best Buy even though they are jerks, so don’t get all litigious. Similarly, since everyone knew Dave Roberts was going to steal in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, he is not actually credited with a stolen base. Rather, he was credited with an homage to Rickey Henderson.)

On to this week’s question. One of Jose’s softball teammates, let's call her Bettor In Cambridge (BIC), made a wager on the outcome of the Red-Sox Yankees series. She and a Yankee fan friend agreed that if either team swept the supporter of the losing team would be required to wear the winning team’s T-Shirt to an upcoming softball game. They do not play on the same team or live near to each other, thus verifying the payoff is difficult.

Here is the ethical quandary. Is BIC obligated to follow through on the wager? Could she just send a picture with a Yankees shirt on and then not wear it to the game? Could she ignore the thing all together?

It is a tough nut to crack and must be approached from several angles.

First, Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative would dictate that she must fulfill the terms of the wager. The categorical imperative, in the simplest terms, insists that any behavior that would screw up the world if everyone did it, must always be avoided regardless of circumstance—no exceptions. If she did not wear the shirt, Kant would argue, Presidents could lie about wars, CEOs would lie about corporate finances and civilization would end. Ergo, Kant is a total *sshole.

In a criticism of Kant, Swiss philosopher Benjamin Constant pointed out that the categorical imperative was total BS by citing the example of a murder looking for the person he is trying to kill. If a murderer asks you where the person he wants to kill is, Kant would say you have to tell him. Constant would point out that that is crazy and that at most you should say “Manager’s Decision.” Jose would argue that the Yankees shirt example is analogous. Fulfilling one’s commitment will lead to great evil. Kant would say that moral value does not derive from the expected consequences, but rather from following the imperative so do it, but what does he know. If he’s so great, why is he dead?

So what is the right course of action? Jose has thought and mulled on the wisdom of the sages and concluded that the most ethical action is to go double or nothing. This avoids deception and thus a violation of the categorical imperative and also creates the distinct possibility of not having to wear the f’ing shirt. Now, what if she loses on double or nothing? Keep going on with double or nothing for ever and eventually the law of averages will save the day.

Next up: Jose will rip off William Safire’s “On Language” column and explain how “there,” “their” and “they’re” are basically the same word so people should stop sending Jose emails about his crummy usage.

2. Perhaps the decisive moment in yesterday’s game came when the Red Sox had men on first and second, no outs and DJ Dru at the plate. Dru grounded to third but Kevin Youkilis ducked under A-Rod’s tag and was called safe by umpire Earl Hebner. A-Rod then completed the throw to first to get Dru. The result was runners on second and third with one out, a prime scoring opportunity. But something was amiss. While A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Yankees manager Joe Torre screamed at Hebner, keeping away from the action, as best Jose could tell, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman came out of the stands and tore off his suit to reveal an umpire’s shirt. Cashman then made the out signal, changing the ruling and killing the rally, before jumping back into the stands.

Though Jose will confess it is possible that it didn’t go down quite like that. It is conceivable that somewhere during the conference of umpires, Earl Hebner was knocked out and replaced by his twin brother Dave, who everyone knows is in George Steinbrenner’s pocket. The upside of this scenario is that even if the Yankees somehow go on to win the championship they will surrender the title to The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase in return for fistfuls of cash.

3. When Jose got home last night he had a reply in his inbox from Todd Kehoe, the Weekend Editor at the PostStar in Glens Falls who did the terrific write up on KEYS featured in KEY 3 yesterday.

The reply read

Well, now I’ve really made it. My name on Jose Melendez’s blog.
I, too, hope Hacksaw can read and now is a devoted fan of your site.
And don’t worry about the dry cleaning. The Yankees remain a flawed and self-destructive team.
Todd Kehoe

Jose has decided that he is sufficiently interested to email Mr. Kehoe and try
to do an impromptu interview. Jose sent this email this morning.

Dear Mr. Kehoe:
Congratulations on having really made it. You have now joined presidential candidate Mitt Romney and superhero Rocket Racer among the dignitaries featured in KEYS. It is not quite as good as winning a Pulitzer or a Slammy, but it is significantly better than winning a daytime Emmy or God forbid an ESPY.

Jose would like to put the shoe on the proverbial other foot and ask you a few questions. How do you like that Mr. Reporter?

1. How many people does the PostStar have on the Hacksaw Duggan beat? Jose guesses four. A full time reporter, a night shift guy, a weekend reporter and then a Hacksaw Duggan editor.

2. How did you discover KEYS and why would people in Glens Falls care? Is it one of those weird random pockets of New York where the Sox broadcasts are stronger than the Yankees broadcasts?

3. Do you ever see Rachel Ray walking down the street? If so, how many times do you kick her?

4. Does the Iron Sheik ever visit Hacksaw Duggan up there? Jose knows
they’re friends because they got busted together with drugs in their car once.

That’s about it for now.
Your pal,

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

Thursday, August 30

Jose Fogets to Drop Off the Dry Cleaning

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

1. Okay, today’s game means something now. Are you happy?

After being completely indifferent to the first two games of the series, Jose has now decided that this third game is actually important. Now mind you it isn’t really important or consequential, not in the sense that remembering to pay your taxes or not to drink drain cleaner is important— no matter what happens today the Red Sox are going to win the A.L East. Rather, it is important in the same way that remembering to take clothes to the dry cleaners is important. If the Red Sox win today, we will all have utter peace of mind, nothing to worry about and no distractions, whereas if they lose we will all metaphorically be a little anxious about what to wear tomorrow. Do those pants have a stain on them? Do we have an ironed shirt? That sort of thing. But regardless of the many small inconvenient details we will be forced to deal with, we still know with certainty that while dealing with the lack of fresh dry cleaning may be stressful and agitating, we will not be forced to show up to work naked.

2. According to the New York Post, Major League Disciplinarian Bob Watson (note: aka the MLB Vice Principal) came into the dugout last night to warn Sox manager Terry Eurona that wearing his trademark red pullover was a violation of the uniform code and that he should put on a jersey forthwith. Eurona firmly told Watson to leave the dugout during the game. The way Jose sees it there are a few separate problems here.

A. Tito wears the comfy red fleece because he is always cold due to circulation problems stemming from the blood thinners he takes to combat blood clots. If they don’t let him treat his condition, there’s got to be an Americans with Disabilities Act case in here somewhere.

B. Bob Watson’s past edicts on dress code have been questionable at best. Let’s look at the history:
  • 923: Bob Watson invents the Burqa and demands that all women cover themselves under God’s law.
  • 1542: A young Bob Watson introduces pants as the fashion standard for men. The world’s men will never be as comfortable again.
  • 1776: Bob Watson insist that the British Army where lobster red uniforms to battle upstart colonists. “You want them to see that you’re coming,” he explained.
  • 1952: Watson advises schizophrenics that tinfoil hats are the best way to keep the government out of their brains.
  • 2003: Watson orders Demi Moore to wear bicycle shorts to the Oscars. “Dresses are for prostitutes and drag queens,” insisted the rotund fashionista.

C. If one looks at several pictures of Bob Watson, one starts to wonder if he is really the guy who should be issuing sartorial edicts. Paisley ties? In this day and age? And Jose sees some evidence here that the man doesn’t even tie his ties long enough.

Would you take fashion advice from this man?

Look, Jose is not saying that Bob Watson is a bad man. He is just saying that allowing him to rule fashion by fiat is like giving Julian Tavarez a television therapist program or making Grady Little the host of Jeopardy It’s just not something he has the skills for.

3. And now a little self-promotion. In the four years Jose has been writing this blog a fair number of really neat things have happened to him. He’s appeared on; he’s been insulted by Bill Simmons and he has even, inexplicably appeared in the acknowledgements of a book about the New York Times. But nothing tops what has happened this week.

In a column called
“Cyberloafing” on the Web site of The PostStar, a reporter named Todd Kehoe wrote a nifty little review of KEYS that offered such splendid tidbits as

Tossing out historical references, political jokes and
sometimes raunchy humor, Melendez crafts his own story behind the story. In a discussion of the Red Sox’s recent poor form, with the Yankees looming right behind them, he invokes Tsar Lazar, Newtonian laws and George Santayana ... in two paragraphs.

Nice right?

But it’s not the kind words from a writer who, while clearly talented, Jose has never heard of, that excite him. Rather, it is the fact that this appeared on the Web site in Glens Falls, New York, which means that it is possible, just possible that the greatest citizen of Glens Falls in history might have read the review. No, Jose is not speaking of former Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes nor hockey commentator Barry Melrose, nor even that b*tch Rachel Ray. No, Jose’s heart is aflutter at the possibility, just the possibility, that the great “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan might have read the review.

For those of you who are ignorant, “Hacksaw” Duggan is a wrestling legend known for hitting people with a 2X4 and yelling “Hooooooooooooooo.” Yes, he is as great a man as he sounds like. And Jose is honored by the chance, however slim that Duggan has taken even one moment from his brilliant life to read about Jose. This is, of course, assuming he can read.

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

Wednesday, August 29

Off to St. Helena

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

1. Jose supposes it had to end sometime. Napoleon had his Waterloo, the Empire had its Ewoks, Bruno Sammartino had his Superstar Billy Graham, and now Jose has his 315 foot BS Johnny Damon short porch home run. Such are the cycles of history.

But before Jose is taken in manacles to his own St. Helena to spend out his days writing standing up and being slowly poisoned with arsenic, he’d like to take a moment to reflect on his five glorious days on top of the world.

Remember when the Red Sox scored more than 10 off the White Sox?

Then remember when the Red Sox scored more than 10 off the White Sox again?

Then remember when the Red Sox scored more than 10 off the White Sox a third time?

And then recall how the Red Sox scored more than 10 runs off the White Sox for a fourth straight game?

Good times, happy days.

But Jose’s happiest memory of the whole galloping adventure was last night when the Red Sox lost to the Yankees and it did not matter at all. Was it mildly annoying, sure? Did it create feelings of anxiety and perhaps even a tinge of resentment, yup. But these are conditioned responses, and as soon as you realize that it no longer is your burden, that the bulk and mass of a century is no longer on your shoulders, the stress evaporates. It’s like running into an old girlfriend while she’s arm and arm with a new beau. Perhaps it feels weird and uncomfortable at first, but as soon as you accept the fact that her decision has no relevance whatsoever to your life going forward, that your responsibility has long since ended, that feeling of calm like valium mixed with gin spreads from your heard to your hands. In fact, Jose would advise against operating heavy machinery under these circumstances.

Consider this example. Jose is going to the wedding of his college girlfriend in a few weeks. And do you know what? He doesn’t feel weird about it at all. She’s a good friend, her fiancĂ© is a pleasant chap and she is far happier with him than she ever was with Jose. Super good. Moreover, Jose is happier too. And thus Jose will go to the wedding full of joy for the happy couple and unburdened by the overfull rucksack of past emotional turmoil.

That is sort of how Jose feels about the Yankees winning last night. He’s over it. It is no longer relevant to his life, because it is no longer relevant to the Red Sox. The Red Sox are going to the postseason, and the Yankees? The Yankees are not our responsibility. Of course, there are some critical differences. Jose genuinely wishes his college girlfriend and her soon to be husband happiness. By contrast, even though the Yankees are equally powerless to cause Jose emotional distress, he still wishes pain and agony upon them. That said, Jose and this bride to be have been split up for seven years, so it’s easy. Maybe in 2014 when the Yankees are in their seventh season of finishing behind the Red Sox and 14th season with out a championship, Jose will be able to feel good for them if they get a wild card so they can get swept by the Angels. Who knows? Time heals right?

2. One of the quirky consequences of Jose’s meteoric rise to borderline relevance is that PR flacks send him press releases on events that he has no interest in and will never go to.

The latest example is the Captain Morgan sponsored competition between Red Sox and Yankees legends.

Captain Morgan: Drink like a pirate and wake up feeling like you’ve been keelhauled.

Apparently there was some sort of showdown in Manhattan, among Dave Winfield, Goose Gossage, Dewey Evans and Jim Rice. The four aging gentlemen battled it out in “an obstacle course (including ball toss, dart throw and accuracy bunting), bottle knock-down and Pose Off.” (Note: Jeez, writing really is easier when you just borrow directly from press releases. Back when Jose was a PR guy, everyone always told him that reporters would frequently just run press releases, but he never really believed it. After all, wouldn’t that make them nothing more than corporate mouthpieces utterly without integrity? But it turns out that they really do it. And Jose totally gets why. Because it’s so easy. So, so easy. Never mind that rum is his arch enemy and the only liquor that routinely causes him serious illness. Never mind that Captain Morgan was the culprit in a particularly dangerous batch of hurricanes in 1997. Jose didn’t have to come up with an original third key which is awesome. Jose does have a question though, if the Captain Morgan people want to be accurate shouldn’t the Captain be reconfigured as a Somali guy or an Indonesian. Don’ those guys do most of the high seas piracy these days? Or maybe they should remake him as a pimply teenager pirating music?

In all seriousness, Captain Morgan is apparently named after Sir Henry Morgan a Welsh privateer who, among other activities, burned much of Panama to the ground and slaughtered its inhabitants. Sort of makes you wonder if George H.W. Bush was drinking a bit of the Captain in 1989. Among the possible reasons for his death is—get this—heavy drinking. Seems like an ideal spokesman for an alcoholic beverage to be enjoyed responsibly.)

(Additional note to the PR Flack who sent this to Jose: Put it in your clips file. Jose dares you. Go on, send it to your client. Will you count it as positive or negative media? On the one hand, Jose is promoting your event. On the other hand, he pointed out the dangerous vomit inducing properties of your product and its affiliation with the sack of Panama. Tough call.)

Any way, the Red Sox apparently prevailed in the final event, the pose down. (Note: Why didn’t we send Gabe Kapler to this?) And George Steinbrenner immediately responded by hiring a private investigator to follow losing Yankee Dave Winfield.

The Yankees best chance for a win comes up short.

3. Continuing with his fixation on the complete irrelevance of last night’s loss, Jose cracks out the fake book to and flips to the songs of Lady Ella. Gather round the piano and sing along.

It Don’t Mean a Thing

What good is winning, what good’s a win
If it ain't a meaningful defeat
It ain't the Red Sox, it ain't the Yanks
When you know the Yankees can’t compete

It don't mean a thing, cause we’re gon’ get a ring
Jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-baaaaaaa

It don't mean a thing, Yankees wait until next spring
Jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-ba, jo-baaaaaaa
It makes no diff'rence if the Yankees win
Seven games? They sure ain’t closing in.
Don’t mean a, don’t mean a, don’t mean a thiiiiiiing,
It don't mean a thing, It don't mean a thing, cause we’re gon’ get a ring

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

Tuesday, August 28

Sox vs. Yankees: Domination and Submission

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

1. You know the drill.

You should know it anyway. We go through the thing 18 times a year.


Cue Dramatic music. Maybe “Mars” from Gustav Holst’s Planet’s Suite. (Note: If you don’t know it, think of the Imperial March from the Star Wars movies. Pretty much everything in the first trilogy is John Williams ripping off Holst.)

Cue images. Cue voice over.

“Since the dawn of time, conflict has wrought mankind. Great rivalries of tribes of empires and of men. From the battles of ancient Greece, to the warriors of squared circle, battles have been fought, desperate struggles waged to establish supremacy.

Athens vs. Sparta

Ali vs. Frazier.

Russell vs. Chamberlain

Bird vs. Magic

Hogan vs. Andre

Kobayashi vs. Chestnut

Yankees vs. Red Sox

Tonight, the battle is rejoined in the most fearsome gladiatorial arena in the darkest corner of Hades as the Red Sox and the Yankees--

Cut. CUT!!!!

Stop everything. Stop the music. Something’s not right here. Let’s see the music’s pretty dark and tense. That’s good. The pictures capture the moment pretty well. So what is it?

What is it that doesn’t feel right?

Wait. Could it be? Jose thinks he’s got it. The analogy isn’t right. This isn’t a struggle to the death between two evenly matched foes. What was Jose thinking?

Let’s try a different cut.


Cue “Sunshine Day” by the Brady Bunch.

Cue voice over.

In sports as in the wild there are both predator and prey, an uneven match up with inevitably uneven results. From the tiger consuming the gazelle, to the anteater slurping down ants to the lion eating the lion tamer, some contests are inherently and biologically uneven.

U.S. vs. Grenada

Tyson vs. Spinks

Kobayashi vs. Nicole Ritchie

Red Sox vs. Yankees

Tonight the hunt is on, as the Red Sox methodically and inevitably dismantle the New York Yankees.

And… cut.

There we go. Sometimes those stock pieces just aren’t accurate anymore. Good promo.

2. With the struggling Yankees having fallen to eight games behind the eventual AL East Champion Red Sox, the Yankees have turned to the old “anything’s possible” defense.

Yankees Catcher/Little Bitch Jorge Posada told the New York Daily News “It's still possible. We have 30-something games left, so anything is possible.”

Let’s put this in a little bit of context shall we?

The Yankees catching the Red Sox is possible only in the sense that anything whatsoever no matter how absurd is possible. It is possible that the sun will rise in the West tomorrow. It is possible that Mike Gravel will be elected president. It is possible that David Arquette will win a wrestling world championship. Wait scratch that, that happened. It is possible that Jose will win the Powerball.

All of which is to say, the Yankees catching the Red Sox is completely impossible. Actually, this is not totally true. Jose has constructed a few scenarios wherein the Yankees catch up with the Red Sox.
  • God, it turns out, is not dead. But He is pissed at Nietzsche for telling everyone he is dead. Unfortunately for God, Nietzsche is no longer around to take revenge on, so he starts looking for surrogates. When he comes across the Red Sox using “Superman” as Jason Varitek’s intro music, he remembers that Nietzsche had this whole “man and superman” deal in “Also Sprach Zarathustra.” So he decides to punish the Red Sox by making them lose the division, possibly due to frogs or boils.
  • MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, seeing his beloved Brewers fall to second place, goes mad with power and uses the “best interests of the game clause” to declare that the goal of baseball is to finish with the second most wins in the division.
  • Laser streams get crossed. Very bad.
  • Hideki Matsui’s body odor, rumored to be horrible, is so foul that Yankee Stadium is quarantined tonight out of concern that there has been a chemical attack and neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees are allowed out, making Baltimore the AL East Champion.
  • Two words: opposite day.

So be on the look out for angry God or guys with lasers tonight. Other than that, it’s looking pretty good.

3. The big positive news for Yankees fans is the emergence of relief sensation Joba Chamberlain. Chamberlain has yet to surrender a run in the big leagues and has struck out 15 in just seven innings.

But let’s not be fooled, okay? This is part of a pattern with Chamberlains. You’ve seen it before; we all have. It starts with the impressive resume, followed by the meteoric rise to a position of great importance and then the next thing you know, they’re giving away the Sudetenland.

You just watch. If Chamberlain gets into the game tonight, Jose guarantees you he will be met with a crowd no less ecstatic than the one Neville Chamberlain met at the Heston Aerodome West of London as he waved a piece of paper signed in Munich.

Sure Chamberlain looks tough now, but you know that as soon as he gets in a really tough spot, he’s going to start looking for a way to negotiate it out. He’ll probably cop to some agreement to let Papi hit a homerun off of him provided that it will stop there and Manny will not also hit a home run. Then he’ll go back to the dugout, having left the Yankees in a completely indefensible position and start waving around the manager’s scorecard and declare that he has guaranteed “peace in our time.” And that will be that until his teammates grow disenchanted with him and replace him with Nationals reliever Winston Abreu.

Chamberlain will die a mere six months later. That’s always how it is with Chamberlains.

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

Sunday, August 26

Hot Sox on Sox Action 4: Latin Edition

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

1. You’ve got to be kidding.

Here it is a sticky Sunday morning, Jose is sitting at his kitchen table staring out at morning glories that he has somehow managed to not kill (note: Helpful hint, when morning glories close up in the afternoon, they are not dead. Do not get angry and hit them with a rake as though one is Bob Stanley during beach ball season.) and he has somehow put himself in a position where he has to connect Julian Tavarez to lesbian sex so he can keep making “Hot Sox on Sox Action” jokes in post titles. These are not things one wants to think about before lunch on Sunday.

Jose never wanted this. Jose had envisioned something better. He was going to be Senator Melendez (note: not to be confused with Sen. Menendez of New Jersey) Governor Melendez, but it was not to be. Duty has a way of catching up with you. For some people, it’s taking over the family business. For others it is going off to war. For still others, it is making the ultimate sacrifice and piling into a Winnebago to campaign for your dad for President. (Note: That’s right Ben Romney, Jose knows you read KEYS, and yet you have done nothing, NOTHING, with all of your father’s publicity to promote KEYS. Has he mentioned it in a single debate? Have you or your brothers brought up KEYS when being interviewed by Diane Sawyer or whoever? For shame. Ask not what Jose can do for you, ask what you can do for Jose.) But for Jose the burden is unique, the curse is uncommon. He is bound my oath and by honor to get up before noon, well before noon, on Sunday and write jokes about his odd ethnicity so the Red Sox can keep winning. His reward is modest, a slight sense of satisfaction and the knowledge that if the Red Sox win today, SoSHer ragecage has promised to buy a KEYS thong. But duty calls, and Jose, after placing duty on hold while he goes to take a leak, is morally bound to answer.

2. Jose’s got a great idea. He knows where we can score a ton of Pisco cheap to deliver to the Red Sox after they win this afternoon and the Yankees lose.

Oh, you don’t know what Pisco is? Pisco is the national drink of Peru and Chile. The grape brandy has been the source of intense international dispute over the years as the two nations fight over which is its true home. Jose’s never had it, but it sounds delicious.

Now you are probably asking “Why is this beverage appropriate for the Red Sox?” And it’s a great question, after all, aren’t they more of a Jack Daniels crowd?

The answer is not so much that the spirit itself is appropriate, but that the bottles reflect a certain level of achievement. Pisco, which shares the name of the Peruvian town devastated by a recent earthquake, put out a large number of bottles commemorating the disaster by bearing the words “Pisco” and “7.5” on the labels. 7.5 was the magnitude of the earthquake. This did not go over particularly well in Peru where it was regarded as indifferent to the suffering of the earthquake’s appalling large number of victims.

So what Jose thinks is best for everyone is to reconceptualize the bottles. Send them up to Chicago where the Red Sox can quaff of their goodness this evening as they celebrate the fact that that 7.5 on the label, now represents the size of their lead over the Yankees.

2. Jose played some wiffleball last night, nothing unusual about that. He fielded some grounders, he took some hacks, he drank some beer. Just normal stuff.

But after an inning or two of this, Jose did something unorthodox, something a little dangerous, reckless really—he tried to pitch.

Now, many of you wouldn’t find this particularly odd or noteworthy, but then again you don’t know Jose do you? The reason this is worth recording is that Jose can’t pitch, not at all, not in baseball, not it softball, not even in wiffleball. If given a chance, he could probably be a horrendous cricket bowler as well. Jose throws fine in the field, at least when he’s not having bouts of Knoblauch/Sax syndrome, but put him on even a hypothetical mound and he looks like Brad Pennington or a lion, that is to say, wild. That’s right, Jose pitching is like playing candlepin bowling—no strikes.

Jose began his outing by throwing something like 20 straight balls. On the one hand, this was okay, as there were no walks, it made him effectively wild (note: not to be confused with wildly effective). On the other hand, people with whom he was playing understandably were starting to hate Jose. There’s nothing like standing around watching a guy miss the strike zone by three to eight feet time after time after time. At least they had beer. And that’s when Jose got an idea. He dropped down to a side arm delivery and whistled in a strike. He did it again, and the ball got crushed, but that’s not the point. He was throwing strikes, honest to God strikes.

As he continued his onslaught of arm angles, “coming from everywhere except between his legs,” as announcer Curt Gowdy once said of Luis Tiant, Jose actually began to strike a few guys out. That’s when someone shouted, “What is it with these Asian pitchers and their weird deliveries?”

Of course, Jose is only 1/8 Asian, so his delivers should only be 12.5 % weird, but it gave him an idea. He stretched his arms skyward and arched his back. He turned his eyes to the heavens as he coiled like a cobra and wound back. As he built torque he almost fell, standing dizzily on one leg like Mo Vaughn on the side on I-95 and then he uncoiled, the spring released and he grooved a nasty curve for a strike. The Hideo Nomo motion had worked.

Jose didn’t know why it worked, but it connected with something deep in his being, with something ancient and sublime from the rice patties of Nagasaki or the fishing boats of the imperial fleet. Jose could, at long last, pitch like a Japanese.

Next time, Jose is going to throw lefty and duplicate Sandy Koufax’s wind up. Jose just assumes if he can pitch like a Japanese he can pitch like a Jew too. Or even more so as he is ¾ Jewish. Jose also figures as 1/8 German he could pitch like a German, but as best he can tell that means sitting around and not playing wiffleball at all. (Note: Apologies to son of German immigrants Honus Wagner.)

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