It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE ALCS.
1. In years past, this would be where Jose wrote about an epic struggle between good and evil, of the forces of light and darkness twirling in their endless tango, or dancing the forbidden dance--lambada. Jose was not exaggerating. The Red Sox are good and the Yankees are evil. (Note: Well, now the Red Sox are good and the Yankees are bad.) The Cleveland Indians, if not outright evil, are at least racist and insensitive. While good vs. insensitive isn’t quite as potent as good vs. evil, it at least has a little bit of kick. But Tampa? This year’s ALCS is more of a story of good vs. neutral.
The story of good vs. neutral has already been told in comic form in the cartoon Futurama. In the relevant episode 25 Star General Zapp Brannigan takes the Democratic Order of Planets to war with “the neutral planet.” It reminds Jose quite a bit of the Red Sox current crusade against neutrality, though Tito does not, blessedly, wear Brannigan’s crushed red velour uniform. (Note: He can’t; MLB discipline chief Bob Watson has ruled that velour violates the MLB uniform policy.)
This is a problem. We are in a battle of good vs. neutral, and neutral is simply hard to get excited about. If one were to put together one of those head-to-head charts that reporters without ideas so love, it would be a one sided affair.
Boston: Clam Chowder
Boston: Old North Church
Local TV Show
Boston: Celtic Pride
What? Staring at a grey screen for three hours would be dramatically better than Celtic Pride. Damon Wayans as an NBA star? The Jazz winning a championship? Please.
So it is hard for Jose to get too fired up about a series that can only be described as meh. Still, it is Jose’s job to get fired up and get fired up he will. Bring on the kiln!
Since we have established Tampa as neutral, think of it as Switzerland. Switzerland is neutral, and everyone loves them, what with their excellent chocolate, versatile knives and $35 bagels.
Jose is pissed off at the Swiss.
Some of you may remember a Kids in the Hall bit years ago about a guy named Ed who hated the Swiss. Jose is not imitating that. That was a joke. Jose is not joking. He really hates the Swiss. He is probably a little racist towards them. (Note: Okay, maybe he is joking a little bit. Please don’t sick the Anti-Swiss Defamation League on Jose, he can’t bear to issue apologies in their unintelligible German, French, Italian and Romansh.) \
His hate, like most hate, is simple. The entire Swiss economy for nearly 80 years has been built on money laundering. The Swiss launder money for anyone: terrorists, tax evaders, drug dealers, the CIA, the KGB, Nazis, everyone. They are the Zoots of money laundering. Now, normally if a country did this, like say Vanuatu, we would shun them. Maybe we wouldn’t shut them off from the world, but we would point out that they were a bunch of jerks profiting on the misery of others. But not the Swiss. No, no, they get to have UN institutions, even though they weren’t even a UN member until recently, and the International Committee of the Red Cross and to guard the Pope. Everyone loves the Swiss.
But at root, neutrality veers awfully close to amorality. There are individual people who are neutral like the Swiss. There are people who, like the Swiss, look only to their own interests, steering clear of committing to any position save their own personal good. We call these people sociopaths. We do not give them UN offices (note: Kurt Waldheim excepted). We do not let them guard the Pope.
So as we head into this series with Tampa, remember that there is nothing quite so insidious as creeping neutrality. Demand that the Tampa Rays give up their stolen Nazi gold.
2. Over the years, Jose has had a lot of fun with the Rays, calling them Tampax Bay and comparing the to tuberculosis. Back when they were the Devil Rays or D Rays, Jose may even have suggested that they should change their name to the Tampa Bay Dres and have a picture of the Yo! MTV Raps star Dr. Dre on their caps. Dr. Dre could also be team physician. (Note: He would probably not be noticeably worse than former Red Sox physician Dr. Arthur Pappas. As best Jose knows, Marty Barrett has never sued Dr. Dre for malpractice.)
Now that the Tampa Rays are good, people have asked Jose if he needs to change the way he talks about them. Are feminine hygiene jokes really appropriate when one is talking about the reigning A.L. East champions? It’s a fair question.
After a lot of thought, Jose has concluded, reluctantly that it is no longer fair to call them the Tampax Bay Rays.
It just isn’t fair… to Tampax.
Tampax is the number one selling brand of tampon, and Jose doesn’t think it’s right to connect them to a baseball team that will finish only second in the American League. Also, it didn’t take Tampax ten years in existence for their product to be successful. If Tampax had waited 10 years to perform adequately, then… well, let’s just sat it would have been sloppier than the Rays’ pre-2008 defense. So not only is Jose renouncing the use of the term “Tampax Bay” (note: at least until tomorrow) Jose is demanding that the Rays remove the libelous TB from their caps. Jose suggests that they replace it with a nice OB, which Jose understands, is a less successful brand of tampon.
3. How weird is it that the Rays have decided to start Jamie Shields in Game 1? Have the Red Sox ever beat two pitchers named Shields in consecutive games before? (Note: The Sox defeated Scott Shields to win Game 4 of the ALDS.)
Also, what is David Price, who is Jose’s Congressman here in Durham doing pitching for the Rays? Can he stay in Congress, or did he just get elected from here when he was playing for Tampa’s AAA affiliate the Durham Bulls?
This just makes Jose really mad. There’s a financial crisis, a war and some sort of emergency involving commemorative coins going on, and this guy Price is going to be sitting in the Tampa bullpen? Some congressman. Jose knows, Price will probably claim that there’s a phone in the bullpen, so he can do work from there, but Jose does not believe that for a second. Price needs to get out of the Tampa bullpen and back to Washington so he can work hard on getting Durham the bioweapons lab we need to defend ourselves against Raleigh.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE ALCS.