It’s time for Jose Melendez’s KEYS TO THE ALDS.
1. By the time Darren Oliver—freaking Darren Oliver—recorded the last out the bar had changed.
The night had begun as a gathering of grizzled Red Sox fans chugging Yuenglings and chomping on chicken wings cursing C.B. Bucknor, John Lackey and Torii Hunter all the while. But as the night wore on the undergrads flowed in. Young women dressed to the nines, despite being at a bar with sticky floors and sticky palmed frat boys stumbled in in packs like hyenas, cackling incomprehensible. The men in white caps, polo shirts and sweaters joined quickly enough, looking for all the world like everything wrong with America. Entitlement, arrogance, stupid looking caps.
It was, in a way, a metaphor for what had transpired in far away Anaheim that evening. A night had begun with one expectation had ended as something different, something sadder. Just as night with friends became a night surrounded by youth in the full flower of ignorance, a night to celebrate the glory of baseball and the Red Sox in particular had become a night to begrudge, to carp and to complain.
But thankfully, that is not where the metaphor ends. Come two in the morning, the undergrads are gone, and the bar has returned to its lonely natural state with naught but a urine filled trash can as a reminder of what came before. It is the same way with the ALDS. Today is not yesterday, the aggravations of Game 1 are gone, relics of history leaving behind nothing but the urine filled trashcan of a 1-0 deficit. Yesterday was bad; today will be better… It has to be.
2. Among the sub-dramas in last night’s game were the two blown calls by first base umpire C.B. Bucknor.
Bucknor is on the officiating crew for this series, despite being named in a 2006 Sports Illustrated players survey as the worst umpire in the majors, and possibly the universe. At first it might seem counterintuitive to reward massive incompetence with a prestigious job, but Jose would argue that not only is it not unprecedented, it is practically standard practice in this country. Consider the following examples:
• Robert McNamara and Paul Wolfowitz screw up wars royally and get to run the World Bank.
• Grady Little after making one of the dumbest moves in history gets a job managing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
• After staring in Joey, Matt LeBlanc gets a new sitcom.
• Fugitive Roman Polanski wins an Oscar and gets a standing ovation.
• Approximately 10 billion CEO’s who ran their companies into the ground get golden parachutes.
• George W. Bush is reelected in 2004 after screwing up the Iraq war and seeming generally clueless.
Still for every one of these injustices there is a reason that it happened. McNamara and Wolfowitz were being rewarded for loyalty. Little was being rewarded for Frank McCourt being very, very stupid, and basically the front man for his wife. LeBlanc was being rewarded for having once been on a successful show carried by other people. Polanski was being rewarded for Hollywood being full of degenerates. CEOs were being rewarded for being smart enough to rig the game. Bush, of course, was rewarded for hating gays or possibly terrorists.
So the lesson is that people are rewarded for incompetence happens all the time but that there is always a reason for it. The question is what is the reason in the case of one C.B. Bucknor? Jose wonders if his initials, which are not even explained on wikipedia might hold the clue. Jose has come up with a few theories:
1. Cuckolding Bud: For years, Bucknor has been sexually servicing commissioner Bud Selig’s wife, which, unsurprisingly, is the sort of thing Bud digs.
2. Cortland Brotherhood: Bucknor attend SUNY Cortland, and as we all know Cortland’s secret societies run the world.
3. Crack Baby: A crack baby made the decisions on who would umpire playoff games. Literally, an infant born addicted to crack chose Bucknor to be a playoff umpire. This seems like the most sensible option.
4. Coke Bottles: He’s a perfectly good umpire when wearing his Coke bottle glasses, but he doesn’t wear them because they make him look like a nerd. This doesn’t really make any sense, but Jose is a traditionalist and he doesn’t really see how you can mock an umpire without suggesting that he is blind.
5. Crazy Bitches: Man, the people who choose umpires are some crazy bitches.
6. Corns and Bunions: A better umpire was unavailable due to foot problems.
See, there are lots of perfectly reasonable explanations for why the worst umpire in baseball would be rewarded for his poor job performance by umpiring a playoff game. But Jose is going with cuckolding Bud. The only question is whether the commissioner also turns a blind eye to the use of performance enhancing drugs in the bedroom.
3. The big news this morning was that Victor Martinez will indeed catch St. Josh a Beckett in tonight’s critical second game of the ALDS. There had been speculation that Sox manager Tito Eurona might go with the corpse of Jason Vartiek in deference to Beckett’s preference for having base runners steal at every opportunity and having balls sneak by the catcher in critical situations.
The question of course, is whether Beckett will be comfortable with Martinez behind the plate. On the face of it, “Are you comfortable?” is an absurd question to ask in this situation. Maybe it’s appropriate to ask when you’ve invited a friend to take a seat or if you’re a doctor performing a colonoscopy, but to ask a pitcher? It’s kind of weird. Nevertheless, the issue seems to be there, so Jose wants to offer a few things for Beckett to remember if he starts feeling uncomfortable.
• Victor means “one who wins.” Jason means guy who ran all of Greece looking for wool made out of gold—not that bright.
• Heidi Whatney ditched Tek, who left his wife for her, to be with Nick Green. You’ll never see Chris Woodward taking Victor Martinez’ girl.
• The C on Varitek’s jersey does not stand for comfortable. Try to remember that.
• Victor Martinez isn’t great at blocking balls or throwing people out, but he can hit. Jason Vartiek… well, he punched A-Rod in the face once. We all enjoyed that.
So relax Josh. Get comfortable, and remember, it’s not like you’ve never thrown to another catcher in the post season. You threw to Ivan Rodriguez in 2003, and as Jose recalls, that worked out pretty well.
I’m Jose Melendez, and those are my KEYS TO THE ALDS.