It wouldn’t be a Red Sox season without some sense of dread. Without some feeling that the Grim Reaper stands waiting behind each corner, ready to clock us over the head with a sack of pudding. As Red Sox fans, we’ve never been ones to stretch back in the driver’s seat, flip the switch to autopilot and cruise comfortably into October. I need these guys to step on my nuts from time to time just to remind me that I’m alive. And I thank them for it. Because these days, they’re doing a lot of stepping. In fact, it’s like some kinda off-Broadway production of Riverdance. The offense is slipping. The big guns are fizzling. Josh Beckett has become the boy with the paper ass. A game at Fenway is no longer an automatic W. And the Yankees are at the backdoor, working over the locks with a rusty screwdriver.

And yet, I won’t panic. Because I can’t panic. After the 2004 ALCS, I’ve realized that anything is possible. Even after watching the lads drop an 8-1 contest against the A’s yesterday afternoon, as that slow burn starting rising in my gut, I kept things in perspective. We’ve got Ortiz. We’ve got Manny. We’ve got the Schilldog. We’ve got A-Gon’s flirtation with .300 which has gone way past the awkward feeling-up stage. We’ve got one of the best defensive infields I’ve seen in my lifetime. And we’ve got the closest thing we’ve known to a “turn out the lights and kiss your sister for me” closer in the Papel-Bot. These are good things. Things you can’t keep down. So let Jay Payton come in and flop around our outfield like a man possessed. Come October, that whiner will be checking the blades on his snowblower and gawking-up sixteen year old girls at local high school football games. But we’ll be swirling about like madmen in the crisp autumn air, clutching pennants and foam hands and icy beers and reminding ourselves of just how unstoppably awesome playoff baseball can be.

Oh, and what better way to revitalize the body and soul? Kansas City’s come to town.

See you tonight.