There it is.

Right there.

See that?

The Papel-Bot, giving his boy Lowell the glad hand. The “beers on me all f–king week, my man!” gesture that served as the exclamation point to the most cathartic series of the 2006 season.

Cathartic because after our jazzless showings in Tampa Bay and KC — in which our boys morphed from AC/DC to Hootie and the Blowfish almost overnight — I wondered aloud if they had the spice. The stuff. That elusive elixir of equal parts cojones and four leaf clovers that the 2004 version seemed to have in endless supply. As we brace ourselves for a crank yanker of a week, this was just what we needed. We swept a team we had to sweep — that you could argue we were supposed to sweep — and suddenly I feel the planets re-aligning themselves.

Not that it came easy. This was a grinder. A slugfest. The kinda game that teeters like a boat on a wave, and you’re never sure if you’re gonna end up overboard, surrounded by sharks, or in the captain’s quarters, cozying up to a luscious and beer-buzzed Hazel Mae.

It was also… how can I put it… a weird game. Just in the general vibe. As if the shadow of the impending Tigers and Yankees series were projected far and wide over all of us. At least that’s how I felt. Then there was that oddly endearing pre-game interview of Kevin Millar by Dave McCarty, during which someone — Melvin Mora? — came up behind El Bencho and rested a Red Sox cap on his head. Next thing you know, McCarty produces a silver dollar from his pocket, and the two are reminiscing about how Millar handed out the coins to his teammates before game four of the 2004 ALCS as good luck charms.

There were other oddities on display. Eight hits by the Sox, yet nothing from Manny, whose hit streak officially closed out. And only silence from the bat of Ortiz, who sat out the game, presumably to receive an extra intravenous infusion of Vitamin Awesome in anticipation of the Detroit series.

In the ninth inning, it seemed like it could have gone either way, with the Bot sweating out 31 pitches with what seemed about 16 guys on base, all while shouldering the collective angst of a million Sox fans watching in the stands, bars and living rooms across the land. We all took minor heart attacks when Mora connected — anything in the outfield might have tied the game — but then, in the longest five seconds of my existence, Mike Lowell gloved it, delivered it, finished it. Miller time, and another game closer to the Yanks in the standings. As if the Gods of Baseball aren’t angling to get these teams deadlocked before their showdown later this week.

* * * * * * * *


In other news, we ain’t T-shirt designers. Hell, we’re barely bloggers once you subtract every lame-ass reference to Anson Williams and/or my onions. But over the past couple seasons, we’ve done up a shirt, mainly to satisfy our own warped-ass desire for somethin’ different. In 2004, it was the now-infamous “Who Died and Made You Mark Bellhorn?” In 2005, it was “Don’t Mess with My Cake.” Now, just in time for the pennant run, we’ve got “The Mighty Ortiz,” a complete rip-off of the classic Marvel Comics “Mighty Thor” logo.

Here’s the story: A couple weeks back, as Ortiz was pulling another walk-off number, I turned to the dude I was watching the game with and said, “This guy ain’t human. He’s like a God. He’s freakin’ Thortiz!” The next day, moving some shyte out of my closet, I found a couple old issues of Thor, and figured that this was kismet. So I looked at the comic’s logo and saw how it already contained three of the letters I’d need to spell “Ortiz” and right then and there I said, “Screw this, I want a shirt that says “The Mighty Ortiz” in this friggin’ Thor font.” And I knew I wouldn’t, y’know, walk into Bob’s Store and get one, so I made it myself. And I made some extras as well. So now we decided to sell off the rest of ‘em for a paltry $18. We got some Ls and XLs and XXLs, and even some babydoll sizes for the ladies and “adventurous” men. All proceeds go back into the site, although a goodly chunk will support Denton’s Brazilian coke and hookers habit. Want one?

If you’re going to Tuesday night’s game, I’ll be the guy rocking one of these. Say “Hi, Red.” Then feel free to kick my ass.

Tonight, we get Beckett vs. Robertson. It’s on.