Thursday, October 4

ALDS GAME 2: Angles in the Outfield, History on Parade

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

1. Let’s review how we got here from there shall we? Yes, it will be as confusing one of those mapquest maps that directs you to go from Back Bay to Allston via the Callahan, Sumner and Holland tunnels, but this is important; it is the playoffs after all, and we need to do it.

So let’s get to work and review the series of appalling events that led to Joe Melendez, your humble servant, starting the Sons of Sam Horn game thread for the first game of the American League Division Series and now to him starting the thread for the second game.

(Note: Since most of the historical record has been destroyed in Nixonian fashion (subnote: by a secretary), it is particularly important for Jose to document the tragicomic events of October 3. It is also the reason that most of the of the times are wrong.)

1:00 AM Jose is haunted by demons.
1:02 AM Jose contemplates whether he is really being haunted or accidentally took peyote.
1:30 AM Jose writes about demons.
1:45 AM Jose writes clever comparison of ALDS and Norman Conquest of England. People will love this!
1:55 AM Jose throw together crappy third KEY as usual.
2:00 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
2:01 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
2:02 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
2:03 AM SosH server is down
2:20 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
2:21 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
2:22 AM Jose decides that if no one is going to start a game thread he might as well proofread KEYS.
3:00 AM Proofreading complete. Errors found 1,600.
3:01 AM Jose ponders how there can be 1,600 errors in a 1,500 word piece?
3:05 AM Jose concludes that he had at leas 700 distinct errors in spelling Houshmanzadeh alone.
3:06 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
3:07 AM Sleep, blissful sleep.
8:00 AM Jose wakes up .
8:01 AM Jose smiles. There’s a game today.
8:05 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
8:30 AM Jose leaves for work
9:00 AM Jose arrives at work
9:01 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
9:02 AM Coffee break.
11:00 AM Return from coffee break.
11:01 AM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
11:32 AM Posts KEYS on
11:35 Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
11:36 AM Jose contemplates starting game thread on SoSH.
11:36 AM Jose concludes that only a complete moron would start the game thread when it has been made abundantly clear that Curt Euro is going to start it. Moreover, why would Jose want to have game starting responsibilities when it means he has to rush through writing KEYS rather than posting them at 2ish on game day?
11:37 AM Jose rewards his clear thinking with additional coffee.
12:00 Noon Lunch meeting.
1:40 PM Unbeknownst to Jose some guy he has never heard of starts game thread declaring the start of the Red Sox-Indians series.
1:41 PM 60 posters point out that unless this guy has invented a way back machine and taken us to 1995, 1998 or 1999 match up in thread title is wrong.
1:42 PM Thread starter claims he will take us back to 1999 in his DeLorean, so thread title will be correct.
1:43 PM Same poster starts “Views and News” thread called “Iraq: Putting down the Indian insurgency.
1:44-2:45 PM Abuse. Constant abuse.
2:00 PM Jose returns from meeting
2:01 PM Jose checks to see if SoSH game thread is up yet.
2:02 PM Jose sees game thread, concludes that yes, he must have inadvertently taken peyote, because that is the only explanation for why he is seeing that some guy he never heard of has started the playoff game thread and why is throwing up.
2:03 PM Jose waits patiently.
2:04 PM Jose sends moderator Sille Skrub message asking if this is going to be the game thread.
2:05-2:45PM Jose waits impatiently.
2:46 PM Jose says to hell with it and posts KEYS in idiotic, now seven page thread.
2:51 PM Curt Euro posts in now eight-page thread saying. “I was going to stop by and start the game thread since we did it back in 2004, but once Jose posts his keys, in my mind, that game thread is on.....
Let's put together a nice streak, win, say, 11 games before anyone else and I'll throw alcohol all over those of you that attend the parade.....”
2:52 PM Jose blushes.
2:53 PM Jose sends Curt Euro message to everyone he knows
2:54 PM Jose posts message from Curt Euro on
2:55 PM Jose fantasizes that if Curt Euro has read KEYS there is a chance, just a chance, that Red Sox players also call Papelbon strike outs “pap smears.”
2:56 PM Jose contemplates sending Curt Euro evite to candlepin bowling party.
2:57 PM Jose starts telling liberal colleagues he has a Republican friend now.
2:58 PM Jose draws stick figure picture of Jose and Curt in sailboat. They are having fun!
2:59 PM Jose thinks about pointing out flaw in Curt's slide step to him.
3:00 PM SoSH moderator AlNipper49 deletes thread.
3:01 PM Jose feels like Sean Connery in movie “Medicine Man” after finding, then losing cure for cancer.
3:03 PM As he cannot prove that Curt knows who he is any more, Jose contemplates spending life chasing after ants or whatever like Connery in stupid movie.
3:04-3:24 PM Crying, lots of crying.
3:25 PM First suggestion that Jose start the game thread.
3:27 PM Gay community declares support for Jose starting game thread.
3:32 PM Jose starts game thread, leads with Curt Euro quote
3:33 PM First complaint that Jose has spelled Angels “Angles.”
3:34 PM Jose comes to jarring realization that either most Americans are woefully undereducated about pre-Norman England or most people don’t actually read KEYS, Jose concludes that either way, country is doomed.
3:34 PM Panda!

And that was pretty much how we got here from there. After all the chaos, all the madness, the Red Sox won, the Angles lost (note: no, Jose will not spell it right.) and Jose is writing this account while listening to the Yankees go down in flames, rather than yachting with super models, because, now Jose has all of this responsibility as a game thread starter.

2. Since there pathetic lack of knowledge about the Angles was exposed in the Game 1 thread, Jose has decided that he has a responsibility to use his position of high moral authority as game thread starter to educate you people about the importance of this quirky little tribe and what its history means for the rest of this series. Now, sit up straight and listen.

Did you know that according to wikipedia, the term Angle may originate with the form of fishing called “angling?” If this is so, doesn’t it mean that we need to be careful? Couldn’t it mean that perhaps Game 1 was nothing more than a juicy worm of victory used to entice Red Soxdom onto the barbed hook of overconfidence and ultimately into the frying pan of ignominious defeat? (Note: Frying pans of ignominious defeat are great for cooking on high heat, they are non-stick.)

Did you know that a legend proclaims that Pope Gregory I saw a group of Angles for sale as slaves in the Roman market and, impressed by their fair complexions said ““Non Angli, sed angeli” ("Not Angles, but angels") and resolved to convert them to Christianity? In 597 AD, Pope Gregory moved to fulfill his vow sending a monk called Bede who would start the gradual conversion of the Angles over the next 200 years. So what does this tell us about the Angles of today?

It suggests that perhaps the ultimate key to their defeat is the Christian faith. Bede arrived to convert the Angles in 597 and a mere 569 years later, their pagan beliefs extinguished and forgotten, they fell to the also Christian Normans. Could this possibly be coincidence?

In applying this lesson of history, the Red Sox appear to be off to a good start. The Los Angeles Angles squad appears to be completely devoid of pagans and animists. The critical thing then, is to ensure that the embrace Christianity wholeheartedly between now and game time. Maybe we can send the “Heaven or Hell” guy from Kenmore Square down to talk to them. He has pamphlets! And a sign!

Of course, maybe the fall of the Angles has nothing to do with Christianity? After all, there are lots of Christians in the world and they seem to be doing pretty well. Perhaps the most important event is when the Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson is alleged to have pledged support for William of Normandy’s claim to the English throne after being shipwrecked at Ponthieu.

So here’s the plan:

1. Get Vlad Guerrero onto one of those harbor booze cruises or possibly the ferry to Hull.
2. Shipwreck him on Spectacle Island
3. Make him swear fealty to the Red Sox.
4. If he relents, shoot him in the eye with an arrow. Geena Davis can do it! She’s an archer and has Boston connections.

Look, Jose knows this is tedious, but it’s worth discussing. Just remember what Karl Marx said, history repeats itself “the first time as tragedy, the second as farce, the third as baseball.”

3. At about 4:00 on the day of Game 1, Jose received a call from his friend Mark.

“You’ll never believe it,” said Mark excitedly. “I have an extra ticket to see the bunraku.”

“What?” Jose replied.

“Bunraku, Japanese puppet theater.”

“Nice!” Jose exclaimed. “Jose loves puppets be they Japanese, sock or political. When we going?”


“You didn’t say that. Tell Jose you didn’t just say that,” Jose said channeling Booker T.

“Yeah tonight.”

“Nooooo. Dear God Noooooo. Why? Is there no God? You score Bunraku tickets and it’s tonight? Jose has Red Sox tickets.”

“You’re going to go with the Red Sox over the puppets?” said Mark skeptically.

Mark is not a baseball fan. He is like a baseball thermometer. He is so indifferent to baseball, that if he knows about a baseball event, it is proof that it has crept from baseball event to general cultural phenomenon. The 2007 Red Sox have apparently not reached the point of expanding the mercury yet.

“Look Mark, Jose loves baseball for the same reason he loves bunraku. Both feature chanting and Japanese people.”

“It’s still not the same,” Mark pouted. “Where in baseball do you get to see lifeless objects move?”

“You’ve never seen DJ Dru have you?” countered Jose.

“Well baseball still doesn’t have four foot tall creatures of amazing complexity.”

“Dustin Pedroia.”

“The manipulation of inanimate figures by grown men?”

“DeMarlo Hale with Doug Mirabelli on base.”

“Well, I guess it really can’t compete,” agreed Mark mournfully.

“No it can’t,” respond Jose, but neither can the Angles, so it’s all good.

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

Wednesday, October 3

ALDS Game 1: Angles in the Outfield, Demons in the Bedroom

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

1. It is one A.M and the cool licks of Herbie Hancock are jarred by the syncopated staccato of demons rattling the bedroom door.

They are the same demons. They are always the same demons.

But somehow they look different. Like a great aunt with a horrific new hairdo, these demons seem uneasily intimate and distressingly foreign all at once.

After a few moments of anxious contemplation, the difference becomes clear. The demons have changed the names on the backs of their jerseys. The blood red numbers framed in the ghostly gray flannel are the same, but the names are all wrong.

There’s #78, wiry and cruel as always, with the letters A-N-X-I-E-T-Y stretched across his back. Funny, it used to read S-T-R-E-S-S didn’t it?

And there’s #86, a stout, pile of a wraith with “Fear of Failure” crowded onto his back like so many Houshmenzadehs on Cincinnati Orange. But Jose is not fooled for even a moment he knows the spook called “Self-Deceit” when he sees him.

But it is the third demon, that is the most frightening—Demon #03—“The Past.” The back of his frock may read “The Past,” but as he should know better then anyone, the past leaves insidious traces of what once was, and the uneven shading of the fabric where the word “History” once stood, betray the work of days gone.

The door was never an obstacle for the demons. It was not locked, no chair barred its opening, and even if Jose had taken precautions it would not have mattered. They are, after all, demons, and privy to the latest in door opening magicks.

“Bad things are going to happen,” hisses Anxiety, a thin mist of noxious saliva spraying from his mouth. “Errors will be made, meatballs will be thrown and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.”

“Oh, it’s true, it’s so true,” Fear of Failure interjects. “And when things go wrong, my word, it will be Aww-full.” His sing song tone makes Jose wince. “And then it won’t matter what’s been done already. Who will care that they won the division? Who will care that they had the best record in baseball? They are going to fail and it will be so, so Aww-fullllllll.”

And then The Past steps forward, the bastard, and readies his speech, his haunting. But he does not taunt. He is not a taunter, not some petty ghoul like his accomplices. He is a scholar of disappointment and tragedy.

“Congratulations,” he offers smugly. “Really, Jose old boy, I mean it. Your fellows avoided the collapse, much to my surprise, and congratulations are most definitely in order.” He pauses, preparing a change of tack.

“But do you think that’s all I have in my satchel? 1978? Do you thing that’s the most wicked charm I can conjure? You know better than that. You’ve seen the balls through the wickets, the phantom tags, the extra inning home runs by light hitting nobodies. There is so much opportunity for mischief, so many passion plays to reenact.”

It is frightening to be sure. Jose prefers not having his rest interrupted by haunting, and he shakes, shivers even, beneath his covers.

And yet he responds.

“You are a terrifying bunch, Jose must concede. Absolutely monstrous.

And in many ways you may be right. Things could well go wrong for the Red Sox this October.” Jose prepares a strategic fortification behind the safety of the passive voice. “Pop ups could be dropped, bases could be left loaded and pitchers might be left in one pitch too long. These are all distinct possibilities.”

Jose jerks up right, switching from his cocoon of blankets to a more aggressive posture.

But do you really think, you antiquities, you relics, that our fate is in your hands?

"Jose knows why you’ve, refined, shall we say, your jerseys. It’s slight of hand isn’t it, a little subtle misdirection? You know as well as Jose does that your power comes from belief and that if no one believes you, misfortune may still come, but it will be nothing more than the bitter bite of luck and completely unrelated to your insidious efforts

These pseudonyms are nothing more than a reaction, as a silly reaction at that, to the events of 2004. 2004 exposed you for the grifters you are, and now you are trying to rebuild your strength, to recreate an illusion that has been hopelessly shattered.

But really, did you thing that Jose wouldn’t figure it out? If you really wanted to frighten him, you should have sent demons named ‘eighth inning relief’ and ‘offensive production from the catcher.’ Now, begone, Jose has some serious sleeping to do."

And with that icy dismissal, the demons snarled and hissed, before suddenly disappearing in a puff of sulfurous smoke.

And then it was back to the norm, the open door, the only evidence of the infernal visit.

“Joes knows that you only have power if he believes in you,” Jose yelled into the void. “But he at least believes that you could have closed the door.”

And a tired Jose trudged to the door, and pushed it closed, before retreating to his cocoon, secure in the certainty that whatever would happen in the days ahead, it would be a function of skill, perseverance and perhaps even luck, but safely insulated from the demonic power of anxiety, fear and the past.

2. Three years ago tomorrow, Jose wrote about a playoff series startling similar to this one. He taunted Garrett Anderson about being no more effective than Mrs. Garrett from The Facts of Life, quipped about manager Mike Scioscia’s recovery from the radiation sickness that struck him on the Simpsons and expressed his well-warranted fear of Vlad Guerrero. And then Jose vowed that the Red Sox would conquer the Angles like so many angry Normans.

And conquer the Red Sox did, making the Angles their King Harold, with a David Ortiz walk off home run ending it as swiftly and surely as an arrow in the eye on the battlefield of Hastings.

But things have changed since then. Pedro is gone, Curt Euro is not the man he used to be, and The OC is playing, suitably enough, in the OC. But the 2007 Red Sox are not without their weapons. Most advantageously, is that in St. Josh a Beckett we have an honest to God Norman on the mound. The Beckett clan descends from the Gilbert of Thierceville, Normandy, a wealthy Norman merchant who fathered Thomas Beckett.

Just to clarify, for those of you who come to KEYS from wrestling perspective, Normans are not people connected to the unfortunately gimmicked WCW wrestler Norman the Lunatic. They are people from Normandy, France, and William the Conqueror, who ended Angle rule of England, was the Duke of Normandy.

So what does this tell us about today’s contest? If one looks at the record, the Normans are 1-0 against the Angles historically, so one should anticipate a Red Sox win today followed by five hundred years of intermarriage, the eventual merger of the Red Sox and Angles into one team, and then centuries of colonial rule over the Cleveland Indians.

3. In other news, it turns out that blackmail works. It works really well.

As you may recall, in an earlier KEYS, Jose attempted to blackmail his way to playoff tickets by threatening to send a KEYS thong to the shiny new wife of his regular ticket provider with a message about how “he like all of his ladies to wear these.” It would be a gross distortion of the truth about his previous thong purchase, but it’s blackmail not sworn testimony, so what do you expect?

Jose didn’t expect it to work though. It never works on TV. On TV, the blackmailee learns that whatever humiliation he has in store, it is a small price to pay to be out from under the thumb of the extortionist, and the blackmailer learns that crime doesn’t pay. In the real world, it turns out, this is not how it goes.

In the real world, the blackmailer asks for something reasonable, like playoff tickets, and the blackmailee gives in rather than deal with the hassle. Then the blackmailer instead of pressing his advantage to demand money or a car simply goes to the game and drinks a few beers. The blackmailee, not subject to ongoing harassment, never decides that the price is too high and thus never goes to the police. The blackmailer gets tickets, the blackmailee gets his horrible secrets kept to himself, and everyone is happy.

Having learned this lesson, Jose has decided that when he blackmails Angles pitcher John Lackey by threatening to reveal certain improprieties (note: Does Jose have anything on Lackey? Almost certainly not, but maybe Lackey will think he has something. That’s the beauty of blackmail.), he will not ask him to do something completely out of proportion, like throw the game. Rather, he will only demand that Lackey turn in his typical Fenway Park performance. Reasonable, effective, blackmailtacular.

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