Seriously, back in April, which of the following seemed a more likely scenario:

1) The Sox and Rays battling for an AL East title

2) Jim Nabors joining the Sox as “Official Team Muse,” ready to bust with a hearty “Help Me Make It Through The Night” after each particularly harrowing loss

3) “NESN Presents Tom Caron’s Pants Optional Dance Party”

4) The seventh-inning stretch replaced with a mandatory group Cupid Shuffle

5) Tom Werner and John Henry announcing installation of the Sylvia Plath Concourse

Personally, I would have gone with number 3 before 1 (especially if each episode included Ken Macha doing his best “Gene Gene the Dancing Machine”). But this Sox-Rays mash-up couldn’t be coming at a better time for us.

For one thing, the Sox just came off a series win in Texas, which is good, because if you harbor any sort of playoff aspirations, you simply can’t lose a series to any team with a guy named Taylor Teagarden. And we have Jon Lester — the veritable rock of our rotation — on the hill tonight.

On the flip side, the Rays have been stumbling, dropping five of their last six as they head to Fenway, where they haven’t won at all this season. And hanging over the proceedings–as if a heated pennant battle isn’t enough–is the spectre of the donnybrook that highlighted the Rays’ last trip to these parts.

Not to take anything away from the Rays–they’re comic book heroes, for christ’s sake–but this is a situation where experience and “having been there” gives the Sox the edge. Management may also want to consider chaining a foaming-at-the-mouth Mike Timlin to a stake near the on-deck circle just for added effect.

Either way, it’s great entertainment for us, the viewing public, as the days gets shorter, the weather blows a bit cooler and thoughts of playoff baseball fill my nights with excitement in ways that tossing pantyhose filled with chocolate pudding off rooftops never could. Even when I score bonus points for nailing the midtown bus.

Put simply, tonight, we get to see which team is hungrier. And I’d be surprised if Dustin Pedroia isn’t placing a photo of Edwin Jackson between two slices of whole wheat bread at this very moment.

Oh, and speaking of Gene Gene… why the f@#k not?