From the rubble of game seven of the 2003 ALCS, there rose a phoenix. And that phoenix was… the potential signing of A-Rod. It was all we talked about that winter. Every twist, every turn, every time John Henry excused himself from his favorite corner table at Chilis to use the can, we got the updates. It was gonna happen. Any minute. The local media stationed reporters in pup tents up and down Yawkey Way. Peter Gammons was on 24/7 alert, prepared to make the call from his secret moonbase. It was everything we needed to wash away the misery of that f@#king Aaron Boone homerun, and that feeling of being kicked square in the pills, clutching a “Cowboy Up” placard to your chest like a goddam life preserver. Manny + Papi + Schilling + Nomar + A-Rod? Who the f@#k could stop us?

But it didn’t happen. Those dipshits from the Bronx got us again, stealing away with the prize and positioning us for further torment. And for all their bluster and bravado and cash handouts and secret handshakes and winking nods to the cute waitress at the back of the club they got… nothing. We delivered a beatdown of epic proportions and picked up a cool World Series trophy. The same one ol’ Steinbrenner put on layaway before the season even started.

So now here we are again. Just like 2003, we’re still smarting from an ALCS game seven loss (albeit the type of “smarting” that is easily remedied by a few viewings of Bring It On: All Or Nothing). Just like that fateful off-season, the Yanks have stuck it to us again, taking a free-agent we had designs on, and becoming the clear-cut favorite to win the AL East.

So, by my calculations, that means we’re gonna win the World Series. Write that down.

Seriously, though, there’s good news for us here. With their Legion of Superheroes line-up, every Yankees loss becomes magnified ten-fold. Every time we knock C.C. or A.J. to an early shower, it’s like we’re stealing money out of the Steinbrenner coffers. Each Teixeira strike-out at Fenway becomes a religious experience–a $350,000 home run that didn’t happen.

Theo has something up his sleeve. There’s a catcher, I assume (and I pray), in his sights. And at least one deal that will remind us that the guy didn’t win two World Series in four years by sleeping at the wheel. Of this, I am absolutely convinced.

So I dive into 2009 a happy man. Ready and hoping to watch another alleged championship team in the Bronx come crashing down like that big-ass Lawgiver statue in Beneath the Planet of the Apes.