So we take a gulp, to the tune of 5-2. The offense couldn’t deliver the knock-out slap when Jaret Wright was on the ropes, and after showing signs of fatigue in the fifth, Schilling probably shouldn’t have come out for that sixth inning, in which he gave up two home runs that put New York on top by three runs — an almost insurmountable number these days, the way our boys are hitting with men on base [they stranded 10 last night].

Then again, it’s still early, so we take the “L” like men and try to draw a couple positives.

For one thing, in his first real start since ankle surgery, Curt looked sharp early on. He came out of the gate throwing heat, and scattered a few flashes of brilliance across the first five innings. Just enough to remind us that he’s Curt Schilling and we’re a bunch of punk asses. I look to his next start with great enthusiasm.

For another, NESN kicked off a cool new feature: Widescreen Wednesdays, presenting the game like it was the goddam director’s cut of Apocalypse Now, in all its letterboxed glory. The best use of this format came in the top of the first, when Schilling struck out Jeter with the camera neatly positioned behind the umpire, giving us a unique angle on the action. I’ve been on the fence about getting a widescreen set and HDTV ["on the fence," of course, taken from the old Latin axiom meaning, "unable to afford"], but this gimmick may have sold me. Great idea, Folks at NESN, and I anxiously await your Freeballin’ Fridays, in which Jerry and Don provide their commentary sans trousers.

Tonight, it’s Arroyo vs. the Unit. And don’t you talk back to me.

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On an unrelated note, anyone catch NESN’s coverage of the Red Sox’ Welcome Home Dinner [aired Tuesday night]? It was sketchy at best, a hodge-podge of interviews and speeches and the now annual Ben Affleck roasting of the players, rather hastily stitched together. The most surreal moment came at the end, with musical performances by Bronson Arroyo and the Dropkick Murphys. The performances themselves were fine, but as the cameras scanned the crowd, the looks on the audiences’ faces — particuarly the players — ranged from “bemused” to “utterly disinterested.” Worth catching in reruns, even if it does serve as proof that the network may have squeezed the last possible ounce of juice from the 2004 season.

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Finally, if you’re still hungover from last night’s loss, here’s a little something to ease your pain:

Feels good, doesn’t it?