Friday, April 25

Flu-like Symptoms

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

1. Can’t you get a flu shot for like five dollars at CVS? You can and you can get some ice cream while you’re there… unless you go with Joe Girardi.

For the past week the Red Sox clubhouse has been devastated by what must be the worst clubhouse plague since Derek Jeter sent herpes around the Yankee clubhouse in 2005. But it is all preventable.

Not only could the Red Sox have just sent players to CVS for a flu shot, they could have adapted this thing from big business where they invite people to come in and actually give their employees free flu shots.

Come to think of it, that is so obvious that Jose is almost sure the Red Sox must have done it. They’re not stupid. The question then is why didn’t more players get the shot? One explanation is that after the Mitchell report, no one is taking a needle in the clubhouse for any reason. A better explanation would be that Red Sox players as stubborn as Jose’s cousin Sherry. (Note: Dustin Pedroia has something else in common with Sherry—being 4’11”.)

Jose called Sherry a few months ago because he was going to visit her in North Carolina. When she picked up the phone, she sounded, to be generous, like death. She had the flu, it turned out.

“Ummm…. Don’t you work at a hospital? Couldn’t you have gotten a flu shot?” Jose pointed out in his “Jose told you so” voice.

“Yeah ,” she conceded.

“So why didn’t you get one?”

“Well, I was thinking about it, but then they made it mandatory, and I was like ‘you’re not going to tell me what to do.’ So I didn’t get one.”

Sound logic from a health professional!

And if its good enough for her, why wouldn’t it me good enough for noted health experts like Jason Varitek and Manny of the Carmen?

Jose can absolutely see a few Red Sox being all for the flu shot right up until they were told they had to get one. In fact, Jose is pretty sure that the union insists that getting flu shots be negotiated into the contract. Don Fehr insists that in return for major league players to receive a flu shot, they should each receive a cigarette boat, three pounds of mackerel and the complete works of Sinclair Lewis.

2. Aside from the general awfulness of Red Sox middle relief, the big story emerging from yesterday’s game was the sharpness of rookie pitcher Justin Masterson in his six inning, one-run major league debut. Masterson benefited from the fact that his sinker was working well and there is a vacant, ready made gimmick available for him.

Masterson is said to be preparing to take the “masterpiece” gimmick from professional wrestler Chris Masters, formerly of the World Wrestling Federation. (Note: If he takes this gimmick, he needs to avoid the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, as there is a good chance he would be kidnapped by guys posing as cops.) Accordingly, Masterson, will enter the field wearing a cape and no shirt, do a little pose down, and dare anyone to hit his special pitch known as “the master lock.” He will probably also be required to get a Master’s Degree, be certified as a Master Electrician, play golf at the Masters, spent time in the clubhouse playing Master Blaster or watching Master and Commander, listen to Metallica’s Master of Puppets or Depeche Mode’s Master and Servant and eat only products of the Masterfoods company.

3. The Red Sox have their first game of the season tonight against the Tampax Bay Rays, formerly the Devil Rays. (Note: If they were going to change their name, they should have changed it to the Dres, for some Yo! MTV Raps/NWA cred.) While rumors have abounded that the club dropped their name in response to concerns that their affiliation with Satan was hurting the gate, those rumors have been largely discounted among pastors not advising John McCain.

The real reason for a name change is part of an ongoing, nationwide tribute to the future 2007-2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics. Tampax Bay changed its name in order to honor Celtics guard Ray Allen. Other teams from around the country changing their names include The St. Paul Saints becoming the Paul Pierce Saints, The Brown Bears, becoming the Brown PJs and the Perkins School for the Blind becoming the Kendrick Perkins School for the Blind.

When reached for comment, Northwestern University expressed relief that Delonte West is no longer on the Celtics, as having the Delontes as a mascot would not help recruiting.

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

Tuesday, April 22

Jose Chooses Not to Run

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

1. Jose was all excited that he got to go to his first game of the year yesterday. And then when the game got out he got to spend sometime watching mediocre marathoners trot along towards the finish line. Good for them!

Jose has always wanted to run the marathon, but he never found it realistic. He has cranky knees, shaky ankles and poor self-discipline.

But what Jose does have is an idea. He has been inspired by, believe it or not, the Tampax Bay Rays. Seriously. Why can’t Jose complete a marathon? Sure he’d be horrible, sure he’d be really, really slow, but every year the Rays are horrible and they still go out and play 162 games.

Here is Jose’s Tampax Bay Rays theory of marathon running. Next year, after doing no training whatsoever, Jose will head up to Hopkinton, run the first mile or so and then walk the rest of the way. Jose figures that using this approach he could finish the marathon in under 10 hours as long as he doesn’t stop too often for beers.

Now some of you may be saying “Jose that’s not doing a marathon! That’s a total fraud.” Nonsense. When the Rays limp to the end of the season 40 games out of first, no one says “Hey, you guys didn’t really play a baseball season.” People just point out that the Rays played an entire season but very poorly.

The way Jose sees it, walking the marathon is basically the same thing. If Jose finishes, he can absolutely say he did the marathon. He went the whole 26.2. He can get the boost in self-esteem without all of the hard work and self-discipline.

And if the Rays are any model, then next year, there will be at least a few dozen people claiming that “this will be the year that Jose breaks five hours.”

2. Jose would be remiss if he let last night’s WWF Monday Night RAW go by without comment. Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain appeared on RAW via videotape to court the all important semi-illiterate vote.

In theory, Jose should not be writing about this, as it has nothing to do with baseball, but he can’t help himself. Besides, since the election is about America, and baseball is America’s national pastime, it does kind of have something to do with baseball in the same sense that elections for Governor of Massachusetts impact Tollhouse cookies, since they are the official cookie of the Commonwealth.

So as the rare commentator who knows both something about wrestling and politics, Jose feel obliged to break down each candidates comments.

Hilary Clinton

“Hi, I’m Hillary Clinton. But tonight, in honor of the WWE, you can call me Hill-Rod.”

Where the hell does the nickname Hill-Rod come from? Is she confusing A-Rod with wrestling? This only works if it is a vague reference to “Hot Rod” Roddy Piper. If it is, look for her to break a coconut over Obama’s head at the next debate. The sad thing is that, it would be one of her most dignified and human attacks to date.

“This election is starting to feel a lot like “King of the Ring.” The only difference? The last man standing may just be a woman."

Does someone running on the strength of her husband’s name really want to be invoking monarchial comparisons? Also, does this mean that if she wins she will start wearing a cape and crown like Harley Race, Randy Savage and Booker T did after she wins?

“The truth is, this election is so important. The next president will facea stack full of difficult challenges right from the opening bell. To fix the economy, bring our troops home from Iraq, and make college more affordable. You need a president who will go to the mat for you. And that’s exactly what I’ll do.

I’ve been knocked down, but I’ve always gotten back up. And I know how to take a hit for the American people. And if things get a little tough, I may even have to deliver the “people’s elbow.”

Because this country is worth fighting for.”

There are an awful lot of “issues” and not much wrestling talk in here save a few bad metaphors. Still, Jose questions whether she would really drop the people’s elbow. First, Jose doesn’t think she could pull off the little dance, and second, she seems more like the type to drop the move’s predecessor, “the corporate elbow.” Also, if one Clinton was going to pull off a wrestling move involving a little dance, Jose says it would be Bill doing the John Cena “Five Knuckle Shuffle” or possible Scotty Too Hotty’s “Worm.”

“Now, I promise to stick to the political arena. So don’t worry Randy Orton you’re safe… for now. When it comes to standing up for the American people though, I am ready to rumble.”

She is probably right that she would have an advantage over Randy K. Orton. Orton is known as the legend killer, so presumably he could only win an election against FDR or Lincoln, and would have all sorts of trouble against a historical footnote like Sen. Clinton.

Barack Obama

“Hey WWE fans – I hope you’re all enjoying the program tonight. You know, this is a historic time for America. It’s not just that the reign of Randy Orton may soon be coming to an end. It’s that at this moment, in this election, we
have a chance to finally end business-as-usual in Washington.”

Is Obama right? If Orton loses the title at Backlash on Sunday, it will reveal that once again he has the superior judgment he claims for opposing the Iraq war.

“For a long time now, we’ve had a politics where our leaders go after each other like they’re competing to become King of the Ring instead of coming together to provide universal health care, fix our economy, and solve our other
problems. That’s what I’m running for President to change.”

Now this is a better analogy than Hill-Rod’s. Obama knows that he can’t actually be King of the Ring, but he does know what it is like to take five chair shots in a row.

“So to the special interests who’ve been setting the agenda in Washington fortoo long – and to all the forces of division and distraction that have
stopped us from making progress for the American people – I’ve got one question: Do you smell what Barack is cooking?”

Okay, all in all this was a disappointingly substantive comment, but you really can’t beat his use of “Do you smell what Barrack is cooking.” Obama, of course, has a lot in common with The Rock. Both are of mixed race, both are remarkable charismatic and what Hilary has attempted to do to Obama is quite like being attached by a forklift driving Mankind in an empty arena.

John McCain

"Looks like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want to celebrate their
differences in the ring. Well, that's fine with me, but let me tell you: If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man.”

At first this sounds fantastic. Really fantastic. But then you look at it a little closer. First, isn’t Ric Flair’s “If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man” more appropriate for an incumbent? Why does McCain get to be the man? They’re all just Senators. Beside, is it really wise for McCain who faces age questions to be up citing Ric Flair, a recently retired 60 year old wrestler? Is that going to make him seem younger?

“Come November, it'll be game over. And whatcha gonna do when John McCain and all his McCainiacs run wild on you?"

Now, he mixes in a reference to HHH, a Greenwich blue blood aristocrat and Hulk Hogan currently embroiled in a nasty divorce. Are these really the connections McCain wants to draw, to the economic elite and a man who has rejected family values? (Note: If McCain were a wrestler would his finishing move be the airplane spin? Wow, the man’s a war hero and Jose just said that? Shame on Jose.) Shouldn’t he have saluted John Cena for his service in “The Marine?”

On the upside, at least Mitt Romney is gone, it would have been sad watching him imitate Jake “The Snake” Roberts. (Note: And Dennis Kucinich would have been Doink the Clown.)

In the final analysis, Jose sees Obama as the winner. Perhaps he didn’t have the most substantive presentation. Perhaps he’s not the most experienced wrestling fan, but he won Jose over with his simple, provocative questions “Do you smell what Barack is cooking?” And Jose does. He really does. Jose smells what you are cooking Barack and he will stand with you, at least until someone can come up with something as good as Bill Clinton’s appropriation of The Honky Tonk Man’s “I’m cool, I’m cocky, I’m bad.”

3. Angels centerfielder Tori Hunter is questionable tonight after he sustained mild injuries when his Bentley was rear ended last Friday. Hunter explained the accident saying “It was really my fault. The problem is I had no idea I’d purchased a car. I could have sworn I’d bought a small business college. On the upside, this explains why I was having such a hard time getting credits. I really should have bought a Babson instead.”

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