Episode XIV, wherein Red returns from a business trip and brings everybody down.

I love planes. Seriously. Love travelling coach and stuffing myself into tiny seats and noshing peanuts and drinking vodka and 7Up ’til the wheels fall off [it's like my own little Fenway Park -- in the sky]. Flights to the west coast are personal faves, because then I get to spend even more time in the plane — up to eight hours. And with a layover? Even better. ‘Cause then I get to wander around an entirely different airport in an entirely different city and find out how the Quarter Pounders taste in this brave new world and discover if an issue of Maxim purchased in L.A. contains any subtle nuances that are all but imperceptible in the east coast edition.

The very best thing about travelling on planes? It’s that each trip reaffirms the fact that I have long since pissed off the Gods of Airline Seating Charts. At the gate, as I sit waiting for the flight to be called, I can usually scan the crowd of fellow passengers and pick the one that will end up next to me. Hint: It’s never the eighteen year-old vixen with the low-slung jeans and a dog-eared copy of The Kama Sutra. Never the 46-year old former model heiress with a rhino fetish taking applications for short-term boytoys. Never the fresh-faced blonde off to start an acting career but willing to “dabble” in porno to get bills paid. Nope. Not gonna happen, baby. Rather, it’s the seven-foot, three-hundred pound troglodyte in spray-on purple pants and a floral hat that inevitably parks its ass next to mine. Or the escaped-convict-looking dude with a Lincoln beard and stovepipe hat who wants to chat about his “fightin’ dogs.” Or the guy reading Doctor Who Monthly who’ll spend the entire flight leaning over me to look out the window because he’s making a list of the different types of clouds we pass through.

It’s a glamorous life. And I live it big.

Anyway, this latest trip included a stop at my company’s HQ in New Jersey, where I was greeted with a hearty, “Hey, Red Sox Boy… we’re gonna get you this year” and “That’s the last World Series victory you’re gonna see in your lifetime” and “Excuse me, sir, but all employees have to wear pants.” During some of the meetings, I was singled out by various presenters as “the one Red Sox fan in the room” and “the guy whose team had that fluke victory last October.” I had a burger in the same Marriott restaurant where I watched Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, and enjoyed a detailed recapping of that fateful evening from two Jersey-based co-workers. Friday was “spirit day” to support the Eagles, and as I was leaving, I noticed the spirit day banner defaced with “Red Sux” and “Yankees, 2005 World Champions.”

And suddenly, the thought of cozying up to a 500 pound Malaysian woman in the back of a 747 wasn’t all that uninviting.

Anyway, tonight on NESN, it’s Game Five of the 2004 ALCS, with Moose nearly shutting us down, the Wakefield/Tek passed ball-a-thon, more Roberts heroics, and Ortizzle sending everybody home with a freshly-minted set of angel wings. Dress accordingly.

Oh, and enjoy today’s rolling rally.