It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE ALDS.
1. George Elliott, the famous transsexual author, once wrote “The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.”
Jose is not sure exactly when (s)he wrote that, but he suspects it was after one of the ten consecutive post season games the Red Sox have taken from the Los Calanaheim Angles.
Unlike many moments in the history of the Boston Red Sox, these games against the Angels have been golden moments, all of them. From Hendu’s homer, to Roger Clemens inexplicably winning a Game 7 (note: thank God, Jeff Suppan wasn’t starting for the Angles that night), to Papi’s walk off, to Manny’s fly into the night last fall, the good moments against the Angels are wound together in such a smooth and subtle continuum that it is easy to miss exactly how special, how golden each of these shimmering singularities is.
This series will fade. We will not remember most of its splendid moments. The 2004 ALDS is absent from the World Series DVD collection. The same holds for 2007. These series are forgotten, picayune overtures that hint at Act I and Act II before being retired to hazy memory. Despite the dramatic walk off homers in 2004 and 2007, do we remember those moments the way we remember ALDS moments against other opponents? Will anything from this series remind us of O’Leary seven RBI’s in the 1999 ALDS finale or Pedro’s six no hit innings? Will any pitch seem as extraordinary as Derek Lowe’s back door breaking ball to strike out Terence Long in 2003?
These series against the Angels begin with haste and end as quickly and unceremoniously as a series in May. We cannot see them and savor them. We know them only as something has passed and is then forgotten.
Jose never thought he would say this after reading Silas Marner, George Elliott is making sense.
Still, the story in incomplete. There is more going on here then the abrupt evaporation of golden moments. There is something more sinister, violent even.
There is another quote about the Angels that is a partner in describing the long streak, and the short series. Jack Handy of Saturday Night Live once said over soothing music and calming images “It’s true that every time you hear a bell, an angel gets its wings. But what they don’t tell you is that every time you hear a mouse trap snap, an angel gets set on fire.”
SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP! SNAP!
Huh, that was 11. Funny.
2. In 1867, Japan began the period of transition from feudalism to industrial society and colonial power called the Meiji Restoration. The Restoration came in direct response to Commodore Matthew Perry’s success at forcing Japan to open in 1853. The superior firepower of Perry’s black ships convinced elements in Japan that the country needed to modernize rapidly or else it would succumb to Western power. In other words, the Japanese needed to learn from their enemies and make fundamental adjustments in how they organized themselves in order to compete.
Over the past year, the Angels have undergone a similar process. After being humiliated by Commodore Tito, and his black, err black, white and Dominican, fleet in 2007, the Angels realized that they needed to learn from the Red Sox if they were to compete with them. As a result, they shifted from being a team that relied entirely on speed and acquired Mark Teixera to give them the best possible (note: though still inadequate) facsimile of Boston’s 3-4 slugger combination.
It worked. Just like Japan in the Meiji period, the Angels went through a rapid and spectacular transformation.
The crowning validation of the Meiji Restoration was Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Japan won despite the fact that Jose’s great-grandfather had gotten the hell out of the country one-year prior, so they were at a huge disadvantage.
So the validation of the Angels Restoration should be a victory over the Boston Red Sox. But where is it? It is as though a strong and modernized Japan laid siege to Port Arthur and then gave up after three days because it was hard and kind of boring. If the Angles don’t show some spine, the Red Sox won’t even need to Teddy Roosevelt to cut us a sweetheart deal in Portsmouth, we will just dictate terms.
When all was said and done, the British presented the Japanese with a lock of admiral Nelson’s hair, to commemorate their victory in the battle of Tsushima. If the Angels keep playing like they have been, they won’t even get a lock of Jeff Nelson’s hair.
3. Orange County Register columnist Randy Youngman, which Jose assumes is his porn name, joined in the Greek chorus of columnists muttering in monotone that the Angles postseason losing streak against the Sox goes back to 1986. But Youngman breaks free from the crowd and distinguishes himself as the choragus by invoking the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in his recollection.
While he does not explicitly compare the losing streak to Chernobyl, the comparison is implicit and it is devastating.
People died as the result of both events (note: Donnie Moore and Chernobyl victims rest in piece) and the impacts of both disasters continue to this day.
But the analogy is profoundly imperfect. Whereas Chernobyl destroyed an entire city, the Angels losing streak has only destroyed Orange County. Also, the Chernobyl reactor was enclosed in a massive concrete sarcophagus in order to contain the radiation. As best Jose knows, no one has considered building a massive sarcophagus to contain the Angels, even though teammates of 1986 team member Reggie Jackson regard him as radioactive.
If one insists on comparing the Angels losing streak to a Soviet disaster in 1986, Jose would suggest that the obvious analogy is the sinking of the SS Admiral Nakhimov, a passenger boat that collided with the bulk carrier Pyotr Vasyov in the Tsemes Bay, killing 423. The Pyotr Vasayov, was Japanese built, lending credence to the notion that the Angels will, this evening, be sunk by something built in Japan.
In addition, much like Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, the Admiral Nakhimov’s captain Vadim Markov seemed utterly unconcerned about the impending disaster, saying, “Don't worry. We will pass clear of each other. We will take care of everything."
There is one major difference, however, that may prove decisive. The Admiral Nakhimov did not have monkey.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE ALDS.