The last time we got this much baseball news in November was when Theo sat his righteous ass down at the Schilling Family table for Thanksgiving dinner. Now the phone lines and NESN studios are white hot with Matsuzaka Mania, and I must admit, it’s good to be talking Red Sox in the autumn. Clears the sinuses. Keeps things real. Reminds us that even on the coldest nights, Remy is out there, waiting. Patiently. And I’ll be damned if a rotation of Schilling-Clemens-Matsuzaka-Beckett and Wakefield [we all know The Papel-Bot works best in the bullpen, 'specially with Foulkie out of the equation] doesn’t get me all hot and bothered. As in “start the season right now” hot and bothered.

But…

See, last year, I felt the same way when we signed Beckett. That, I figgered, was the slam dunk. The exclamation point on the season. Just lie down on the floor, Mr. Steinbrenner, sir, and we’ll step gently over you on our way to the top of the AL East.

And we know how that went down. At times, particularly those times when we were picking on the dregs of the AL and NL, Beckett showed flashes of brilliance. At other times, he cranked up the Suck Factor to unprecedented volumes, rubbing our dreams off the blackboard with every swipe of his pitching arm.

Matsuzaka — from what I’ve seen on, er, YouTube — looks good. Everything I read about his WBC heroics and his now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t gyroball tell me that this is a real, jump off the sofas kind of good thing. But it takes a certain kind of player to sack up in the Bandbox, with a couple thousand drywallers from Southie hanging over the railings, spitting venom and stale beer. Some people have it. And Matsuzaka may very well be one of them. Hell, twenty years from now we may be lining up for Matsuzaka Night in the Fens, welcoming back the best thing to happen to Boston since Pedro Martinez. But the fact is that until he gets here, until he takes the mound at Fenway and Yankee Stadium and the Rogers Centre and Ameriquest, we really can’t be certain what we’re gonna get.

The only thing we do know is that it’s gonna cost us about a hundred million bucks to find out. And what’s that worth to you? If The Mat goes anything but, say, 21-3, is it a bag job? If $100 mil buys you a 15-13 pitcher, do you go to bed with a smile on your face?

Oh, and lastly: You know how you always have that list of bands you wanna see live at least once before you die? One of the bands on my list is Cheap Trick, who happen to be playing Avalon, in the shadow of Fenway Park, this evening. So that’s where I’ll be. And after that, U2 will be the only band remaining on my list.

And here’s Bun E. and crew to kick off our Friday.