After Game Three of the 2004 ALCS, my blood still tainted with the residue of 2003’s immortal, blog-spawning collapse, I famously threw in the towel. Then, within a few seemingly endless days, the impossible became reality, and nothing in my world made sense. But it felt pretty damn good.

Thing is, after 2004, I figgered I’d be done worrying. That whenever things looked bleak, I’d just tug on my jacket lapels, light up another cigar, and chuckle like Old Man Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. Let the freakin’ Pirates and Astros fans worry if they’re team’s gonna make it, I’d say to myself. I know my team’s gonna pull it out.

But the fact is, although I’ll likely never hit the paint-my-ass-with-honey-and-straddle-a-wasp-nest desperation that defined much of my pre-2004 existence, I’ll always have one eye glued nervously on the rear-view mirror, anticipating disaster in all its various forms.

What got me thinking about my demons is an interesting article at Canada.com, which lightly examines the mind of the post-2004 Sox fan, with observations from the likes of Tek, Timlin and this bit from Jays G.M. J.P. Ricciardi:

But even though the Red Sox have been in first place since early May, even though they own the best record in baseball and, as of yesterday, even though they boasted a seven-game lead over the rival New York Yankees, it seems the Curse of the Bambino dies hard.

Just ask Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, a native of nearby Worcester, Mass., who has family and friends among the legions of Red Sox fans.

“You’re dealing with a hundred years of people watching this team, so you’ve got generations on top of generations that have seen this team play and have followed this team,” he said. “It’s been passed down.”

And winning the 2004 Series has done little to soothe their nerves.

“No, [they're] more panicked,” Ricciardi said. “They’re nuts. These are the nuttiest fans I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m embarrassed to say some of them are my friends. They’ve taken it to a whole different level.”

Of course, leave it to The Cap’n to lay down the law:

Catcher Jason Varitek, Boston’s longest-serving everyday player, thinks all talk of curses should be gone forever.

“The curse talk has definitely been quashed, they can’t really use that card any more,” he said. “There’s a sense of belief.”

It’s certainly hard to panic after last night’s game, in which Josh Beckett got his seventeenth win and looked sharp as usual, his only mistake being a long ball to Matt Stairs, AKA your high school gym teacher. Scenic Lowell went hitless to end his streak but Jacoby “How Can They Sit This Guy When Manny Returns?” Ellsbury was a double shy of the cycle with a majestic two-run homer, and Pedroia continued to get hits when hits were needed most. Also, give props to The Feet of Coco (a division of Viacom) for preventing a double play in the fourth and setting up Ellsbury’s dinger. Which sounds dirty, but was actually pretty awesome.

So the magic number is now 17. And we’ve got Schilling on the hill tonight. And both A-Rod and Wang went limp last night in the Bronx, as in walking off the field with potential injuries. Man, every day, in every way, I’m getting closer and closer to a free couch.

Also: Today’s post photo comes from Kelly, who is famous for being the first person to show up at the book signing Denton and I conducted in Kenmore Square last summer. Go to her site, gaze upon the unstoppable awesomeness that is her collection of Red Sox photos. Wonder to yourself why this woman isn’t on Theo’s payroll as Official Game Documentor.

Oh, and for your hump day amusement: Bounjjjjjjour, Newman!