Ladies and Gentlemen, for the first and only time in my life, I’m torn between two men. Millar and Olerud. El Bencho and The Magic Helmet.

Although he’s been mired in what seems a season-long slide, you can’t deny what Millar means to this team. After game three of the 2004 ALCS, when all seemed hopeless and the city was buried under torpor, he was the Sox’ personal Gallagher, keeping our chins pointed upward and mugging for the ESPN cameras and telling everyone in the world that this team wasn’t finished. Hell, he deserves props for calling the unprecedented reversal of fortune that was the 2004 ALCS in his now-famous, pre-Game Four “Don’t let us win tonight” speech which, as I see it, should be supplanting Cicero’s orations in textbooks across the globe.

Also: I love the antics, like the time around the trade deadline when he “introduced” Manny to the press. That’s comedy gold. And we need the funny. Before Millar, the Red Sox had never been known for their sense of humor [it is widely noted, for instance, that Teddy Ballgame’s favorite Marx Brother was “Zeppo”]. But since he’s been here, the whole clubhouse has developed an atmosphere that’s more Johnny Knoxville than Johnny Pesky. These guys are personalities and I can totally picture them all living at a beach house and sharing meals and oogling chicks a la The Monkees. And I know that Kevin Millar has had a lot to do with that.

The Magic Helmet, on the other hand, stands at the opposite pole. Quiet. Unassuming. Eschews processed meats and brewskis for a root beer and honey-glazed donut after the game, at least in my mind. Oh, and he wears that helmet. Plus: Actually hits the ball. Dude comes off the DL and instantly goes 2-for-4, driving in a run. Yeah, that’s not gonna draw too many Yaz comparisons, but the fact is, I’m just sick and tired of watching Millar strike out or fly out or ground into a double play after swatting sixteen foul ball home runs. It’s just becoming too much for my frail system and my knuckles are far too puffy from whacking the TV screen everytime he makes that grimace on a called third strike and shuffles back to the dugout.

I’m not suggesting casting Millar off like a piece of driftwood. I just wanna see what the Magic Helmet can do. Let him start three or four games in a row at first base. Millar can still do his thing. He can still wave towels like a goddam crazy person and inject that je ne sais quoi into the team water cooler. Hell, I’d cut loose Dale Sveum and let Millar be the third base coach and official “Good Time Charlie” of the clubhouse, kinda like the way they kept Carlos Baerga on the payroll for the sole purpose of providing man-hugs to Manny during his first year in Boston.

Again, I love the guy. I really do. But I think at this point it’s okay to consider him an offensive and defensive albatross and just fit him for pom-poms. It’s time to switch our collective clocks to Olerud Standard Time. We know what Millar can do when he’s on a streak, but can’t we just get a little back-to-back Olerud action while Kev tries to get straight?

I know it’s all a pipedream. I fully expect Millar to be starting at first base tonight, with Olerud’s ass collecting splinters. And I’ll just scratch my head, and hope that tonight’s the night the big lug can finally turn it around.