Another ball-crunching loss to the Rays. Further slippage in the standings. A guy named “Corky” behind the plate. Things ain’t good, folks, but they aren’t nearly as apocalyptic as some media types might have you believe. In fact, I’m even more pumped up for the final months of this season than I was several weeks back, and I say this as a guy who would confidently submit to any sort of drug testing. Sure, between Tek’s injury, Beckett’s loss of mojo and the very existance of Julian Tavarez, we’ve got lots to overcome. But we’ve also got lots to be excited about.

Schilling and Papi. Think these two are gonna let the Good Ship Red Sox go tits-up? No, sir. Not on their watch. This year, they are bringing the noise, channeling Inspirado, and tapping into something bigger and more ferocious than all of us. When the dust clears, Papi could have 50 or more home runs and Schilldog 20 wins. But in a 7- or 5-game series, their powers become amplified.

The possibility that Foulke could return and not completely suck. Yeah, yeah, I know. The idea of a Keith Foulke comeback sounds about as appetizing as Mel Gibson Movie Night at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in West Roxbury. But if Foulke could bring even a fraction of his former self to the hill, I’d rather see him setting up the Papel-Bot than Tavarez. Hell, on any given day I’d rather see Stephen J. Hawking roll up to the mound than Tavarez.

A consistent Beckett. If he can stop relying on his fastball and overcome what I can only assume to be the adverse effects of Leeann Tweeden withdrawal, Beckett can shift the balance of power in our favor down the stretch. You know it’s only a matter of time until Curt gets on Beckett like Apollo Creed on Rocky in Rocky III, and has him running up and down Revere Beach while “there is no tomorrow” echoes in his head. And that may be just what he needs.

See, the future’s already looking brighter! What else we got?