Look at that glorious filthy bastard! Look at him! Mere facial hair to most, but to clever people like me who talk loudly in restaurants, Youk’s beard is a magical portal to another world. The promised land, if you will. The place where young, upstart teams are silenced, outquaffed, and left for dead as silenced cowbells litter the fields and highways.

Okay, that’s a bit silly. But the fact is when Youk turns it on, this team churns like a greasy engine. And during last night’s Game One of the 2008 ALCS, Youk was most definitely on, going 3-for-4 and looking every bit the crazy hillbilly we hoped he’d be. And props to Matsuzaka for coming up huge, holding the Rays hitless into the seventh inning, and getting the win despite the TBS’ announcers best efforts to jinx him with their constant references to the no-no as the innings ran on. Dice looked a little sketchy early on, walking the bases loaded in the first, but he kept getting out of trouble. Which was fascinating to me, because I kept wondering aloud if Francona would consider lifting him if he’d given up, say, 15 walks but no hits through the first six.

It was a crisp, neatly played game, with the Sox–who, as the reigning World Champs, deserve a bit more respect than any of these broadcast teams have given them–showing the kids how it’s done. The Rays did get their licks in, when Grant Balfour–AKA The Incredible Hulk–hung a pitch all up in Drew’s grill. When Navarro stepped to the plate against Papelbon with two out and bases empty in the bottom of the ninth, you could almost hear him whispering, “Please, god, not in the genitals” with every pitch. But Paps, the consummate professional when he’s not prancing around the Fens in his jockstrap, kept his cool, and blew ‘em away.

Advantage, us.

Just like when we shipped to Anaheim last week, I wanted to at least split in Tampa Bay. But now that we got the first game, and have Commander Kick Ass on the hill tonight, I’m getting a bit greedy, and wouldn’t mind heading back home up 2-0. Again, it won’t be easy, and we take one game at a time. But, Jesus, that would be sweet.

Thanks to everyone who came by the site last night, either for our liveblog or the comments section liveblog. Two ways to play, really, because we love you so. Oh and hit us up on Facebook, too. It only get embarassing when Denton starts e-mailing you for dirty pictures. Unless you like that sorta thing.