1. Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years.
--Ladies Love Cool James
Jose did not expect to be typing these words—ever—but LL Cool J is talking sense.
In the day and a half since the Red Sox recovered from a 7-0 seventh inning deficit to defeat the Tampax Bay Rays 8-7, the commentatiat has been abuzz with discussion of the “comeback.”
They are wrong. There was no comeback.
For something to be a comeback, it is a prerequisite that there was a point when defeat was the most likely outcome. While it may seem to those who have not been paying attention that defeat was the most likely outcome in Game 5 and in the series, to those of us who have been watching this team for the past five years, it is evident that victory was the most likely outcome.
Rockin my peers and puttin suckas in fear Makin the tears rain down like a MON-soon Listen to the bass go BOOMBOOM. Ortiz homers.
BOOM. Dru homers.
Making runs Rain down like a MON-soon.
The thing about monsoons is that they don’t come out of nowhere. You see them coming. They happen every year like clockwork. What the Red Sox did last night was like a monsoon, terrifying but predictable.
Ever since Pokey Reese picked a little grounder on a cold October night in the Bronx, victory has been like a monsoon. Predictable, powerful. Victory has been the new normal. Before 2004, it was different. Defeat was the monsoon then. If now, being down 3-1 almost ensures victory, then being up 3-1 nearly guaranteed defeat. It’s not a choke if everyone expects you to lose; it’s just normal.
Explosion, overpowerin Over the competition, I'm towerin Wreckin shop, when I drop these lyrics that'll make you call the cops Don't you dare stare, you betta move Don't ever compare Me to the rest that'll all get sliced and diced Competition's payin the priceDon’t ever compare this to the great comebacks of the past. This is different. When the Bills came back from 35-3 at halftime to beat the Oilers, that was a comeback. When the Celtics reduced a 20-point deficit to zero in six minutes against the Lakers that was a comeback.
This was not a comeback, this is just how it’s gonna be. The Red Sox explode, they overpower, they competition pays the price.
It is game six. Your team is down three games to two and you literally have no purpose on this Earth other than to win tonight’s game. This is not a misuse of “literally” a la Joe Biden. Jose is not saying “literally” when he means figuratively. If you do not win this game, you will in the most meaningful sense, cease to exist.
You are not like other people. Other people, even when the stakes are high, have things to fall back on. When Dice K pitched poorly in Game 5 he got to fall back on an adoring nation. When Wakefield pitched poorly in Game 4, he got to fall back on his reputation as a humanitarian. When Lester pitched poorly in Game 3, he got to fall back on a loving family. (Note: Lot of poor pitching on that list isn’t there?) They get to do this because they are people, complex and multi-faceted, three-dimensional entities in a three dimensional world. You cannot fall back on something else because you are not a person. You, Josh Beckett, are a pitcher.
People do not like you. And by all reports, this is with good reason. You are, they say, not a pleasant fellow. You lack social graces. You do not tell amusing anecdotes. In fact, you are kind of a dick. You do not bring comfort to the afflicted, or joy to the sad. You do not nurture, and you do not nourish. All you can do, all you are good for is throwing a horsehide on the corners at frightening velocity.
So do it already. Hit the corners. Snap off the curve.
Pitch, you bastard. Pitch.
If you cannot pitch, then you are not. That is not a typo, there is not a noun missing from the end. A drill that cannot drill is not, and a pitcher who cannot pitch is not. Absent the ability to thrown strikes, to make hitters swing and miss, you are the null set, a void, utter nothing.
So when you take the mound tonight, do not do.
You are a pitcher.
And all a pitcher does it pitch.
3. Jose has muttonchops now.
They’re quite stylish in an 1860s kind of way. He got them in the way that everyone from New England got whatever odd deformity, affect or odor they have right now. He acquired them after the fifth inning. Now he has to keep them.
After the Sox bowed in the fifth, Jose did what all right thinking people did; he changed his facial hair and went to a bar. The playoff beard wasn’t working so he reduced it to Yaz style mutton chops and a goatee. His house wasn’t working so he left and went to a bar. Not singing Cab Calloway classics wasn’t working so he sang Minnie the Moocher at karaoke. And presto change-o by the time he had finished belting out “Poor Min, poor Min, poor Min” The Sox had one in, two on and Big Papi at the plate.
Jose is well aware that none of this works and none of this matters, but it can’t possibly hurt, right? Well, except for Jose’s possibility of getting a job. Muttonchops tend not to impress employers unless one is seeking work in the Grand Army of the Republic.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE ALCS.