Wednesday, March 26

So...Very... Tired

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

1. Thoughts on the opening day victory.

• Upon receiving a 1,000,000 yen for being the player of the game Manny Ramirez quipped, “I think I’ll use it for gas money.”

This is downright irresponsible and could drive rampant speculation that gas prices will climb still higher. Manny is no longer on Jose’s list for fed chairman.

• Baseball at breakfast is great! You wake up in the morning with no food in your stomach, so you get drunk a lot faster.,

• How many times do you think Manny has asked to see the Great Wall?

• When the Sox get back to the postseason, does Tim McCarver call Brandon Moss “Bronson” Moss or does he call him something completely different?

• Wait you want more? Jose is writing this at one in the morning. Ungrateful bastards.

2. In today’s installment of “baseball for evasive politicians” Jose will examine how Hillary Rodham Clinton could use baseball to gloss over the fact that her dangerous trip to Tuzala, Bosnia and Herzegovina was actually a cakewalk with Sinbad and Sheryl Crow.

If Jose were handling crisis communications her statement today would have read
While it is obvious to anyone who reviews the video that my trip to Tuzla was not dangerous, and my vivid accounts of sniper fire, mad dashes and bear attacks were exaggerated, you cannot, must no judge these comments without putting them in the appropriate cultural context.

As you know, I represent the state of New York in the U.S. Senate, and for New Yorkers and a Yankee fans, it is custom to exaggerate to the point of nonsense. In recent years, the cultural bias against my people has receded, and rather than pointing out the inconsistencies of New Yorkers, our fellow Americans have supported our traditions. For instance, when New Yorkers claimed that Derek Jeter was an excellent shortstop, did the nation protest? When he gained acclaim by making routine plays look spectacular did FOX mouthpieces object? No, they complemented his elegant gait and awarded him with a gold glove award.

Under this standard, the Jeter Standard, my spectacular effort to make a routine ceremonial mission look like a spectacular diplomatic coup should be heralded by the employees of Rupert Murdoch and lead to me winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
OK, maybe this one is a bit of an uphill struggle, but its still way better than her campaign’s current argument that she “misspoke” How does one say “sniper fire” by mistake? The only possible misspeaking Jose can think of is that she meant to say she was there on a “snipe hunt” which is, by definition, a fool’s errand.

3. In 1762, the great French Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (note: not to be confused with French-Canadian wrestler, Jacques Rousseau a.k.a “The Mountie”) wrote a book entitled Emile: Or, On Education. The treatise outlines an elaborate educational philosophy that includes the teaching of citizenship, morality, a trade and sentiment.

It does not, however, teach baserunning, which is unfortunate for Oakland outfielder Emil Brown. Brown, representing the tying run, was caught between second and third with one out in the bottom of the tenth.

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

Tuesday, March 25

Same (Expletive), Different Year

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

1. There is a tendency on these days of pomp and pageantry for self-important scribes to exaggerate the significance of human events. It is this inclination that leads inevitably to the endless march of picayune prose that marks any occasion of note. Even worse, it can lead to alliteration. From inaugurations, to opening days, to graduations, the spirit of the story is the same year after year and too often the words are as well.

Jose began to write this KEY last night with the declaration, thrice repeated “Thank God for baseball.” After getting stuck in a clumsy metaphor of desert and oasis, Jose turned to the opening day KEYS from last year in search of inspiration and there he found it.

“Thank God for Opening Day. "

It was a striking rebuke to his sense of himself as an original, as a one of a kind. Simply replacing a comparison between himself and a heroin addict with a vague reference to Battlestar Galactica (note: so say we all), was not enough to sooth his soul. The introduction would have to go and with it Jose’s smug certainty of his own cleverness. This has all happened before, it will all happen again. (Note: There’s the Battlestar reference. See what Jose is reduced to when there is no baseball on—James Edward Olmos. Not good.)

Now into his fifth year of writing, Jose is as much a hack as any beat writer or world-weary columnist. He is just as prone to tired gimmicks and weary metaphors.

And does the Red Sox historic trek to Japan provide relief? Only in the sense that Ken Ryan provided relief in 1995. Rather, the significance of the occasion simultaneously raises the stakes and opens new, trap doors of cliché and ponderousness.

The Red Sox are in Japan? Why not write about sushi? Or sumo? Or bowing? Or karaoke? Or sex with space octopi?

Why wouldn’t Jose suggest that it is curious that 156 years after Commodore Matthew Perry opened Japan, Japan is opening the American League. (Note: With the obligatory quip that opening Japan and staring in Friends makes the Commodore versatile indeed.)

Why wouldn’t Jose imply that the Oakland A’s may already be operating under Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which expressly bans going on offense?

Why wouldn’t Jose quip that the reason Bartolo Colon didn’t go on the trip is that he heard the country is run by The Diet?

Why indeed?

This is opening day of the baseball season. Today, the records are all 0-0. Today Kevin Cash is batting the same as David Ortiz. (Note: Check that, Kevin Cash actually starts the season batting -.162) Today, everyone is in first place. Today, everyone gets a fresh start. And that includes Jose. Maybe he’ll run out old stories and reuse obsolete nicknames because this is spring training and everything old is new again… except for Curt Euro… and Tim Wakefield…and Mike Lowell… and… well, Ellsbury’s new.

2. In the absence of baseball for the last few months, Jose has been paying attention to politics. On the one hand, this is a bad thing, because it turns out, Jose hates you. Your beliefs are wrong, your candidate’s tactics are vile and if your champion is elected (s)he will most likely destroy America, except for Florida, which even in the absence of 49 other states would still somehow get a massive federal bailout.

On the other hand, it is a good thing, because it has convinced Jose that there is a baseball related excuse for pretty much every gaff made on the campaign trail with the exception of Gerald Ford’s 1976 claim that Poland was not under Soviet domination. The only baseball-related explanation for that would be if he took a fastball in the ear sometime during the campaign.

Consider one recent example. When Dr. Samantha Power, an Obama foreign policy advisor got in hot water for calling Hilary Rodham Clinton “a monster,” she could have wriggled out of it if only she had invoked her Red Sox fandom. (Note: Jose is a big fan of Dr. Power’s work. However, her decision to call her book about genocide “A Problem From Hell” made it impossible, even callous for Jose to use the title for his book about managing the 1997 Red Sox bullpen. It would have been called “A Problem From Hell: The Red Sox in the Age of Slocumb and Trlicek”.)

If Jose had been doing crisis communications for the Obama campaign, he would have urged Dr. Power to recontextualize the statement rather than disavow it. Her statement should have been

When I called Senator Clinton a “monster” I did not mean that she is a terrible person who would stoop to any level to get elected, and I regret that she viewed it that way. As you know, I am a Red Sox fan, and thus view the term “monster” as a reference to Fenway Park’s famous left field wall. What I meant to communicate when I called Senator Clinton a “monster” is that she is far too green, looks more imposing than she actually is, is gradually being sold to corporate interests and is confusing to the Japanese.

Similarly, Jose is certain that former Congresswoman and Clinton advisor Geraldine Ferraro could have explained away her comment that Senator Obama is “lucky” to be black. All she needed to do was to clarify that Obama was “lucky” in the same sense that Jackie Robinson was “lucky” because his skin color won him the first baseman’s job on the 1947 Dodgers vastly more experienced Ed Stevens.

Of course, the analogy is not perfect, as Ed Stevens never claimed marriage to long time Dodgers first baseman Dolph Camili as his primary experience.

3. Kudos to the Boston Globe for rightly calling Terry Eurona the best manager in Red Sox history. After all of the garbage he taken from fans and press alike en route to two titles in four years, the commendation is well-deserved. As long as we’re heaping praise on the bald and the beautiful, Jose would also like to congratulate Tito on being a reincarnation of the Buddha.

Even putting the baldness, aside, it makes sense. When asked about how he was dealing with jet lag, Tito told the Boston Globe “I feel like [expletive] today, but I feel like [expletive] every day, so I'm fine. We're fine.”

Have you ever heard a more elegant explanation of noble truths one, three, four and possibly two?

One: Tito acknowledges that existence is suffering. “I feel like [expletive] today”

Two: Okay, this one is only implicit. Tito does not specifically state that his desire—his desire to not have been on a plane for 18 hours—is the cause of his suffering, but it is totally in the subtext.

Three: Tito extinguishes his suffering by no longer desiring not to suffer. “But I feel like [expletive] every day, so I'm fine.”

Four: Tito walks the middle path, desiring only to do his duty. “We're fine.”

This is heavy stuff. Now if only Jose could determine the religious significance of "I've seen [Youkilis] in the shower and, let me tell you, he's not the Greek God of anything." It probably has something to with Chinese rule in Tibet.

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