It could have been worse. Kenny Loggins could have sung the National Anthem. They could have stopped the game in the seventh inning to show Rhinestone in its entirety on the centerfield scorebord. Dale Sveum and Lynn Jones could have launched their own mid-game production of Puppetry of the Penis.

As it stands, all that happened was that our warhorse, our Friendly Neighborhood Ford Truck Spokeperson, the Guy with the Sock, the man who keeps Route 109 free of drunk drivers, smut peddlers and Daleks, helped bring a worst case scenario to fruition.

Last night’s bullpen debut had all the earmarkings of the sort of game you’d want to preserve on DVD. A companion piece to the Bill Mueller walk-off on that distant July 2004 afternoon. Something you’d keep handy to cheer you up in times of stress, marital strife, or the announcement of a new Andy Dick sitcom. It was Curt muthafriggin Schilling rising like a one-winged phoenix from the bullpen to face the Yankees on a warm Thursday night in Boston as the Sox and Spanks veered ever closer to collision on the grand stage of the American League East. This was prime time live. The full-on smackdown. Professor Schill in da hizz-ouse. Every ass in Fenway out of its seat. Every drunk from Southie to Westie flapping their Schilling jerseys in the air and raining Pabst on passersby.

Then… torment. Silence. Before we know what hit us, it’s ovah in a big way. And who better to dot the exclamation point than Alex Rodriguez.

How we shake this one off and come back rolling tonight will speak volumes about the 2005 team. Tim Redding against the Cookie Monster at 7:05pm. Get yer foam hand out and I’ll see you there.