The drunken, loutish side of me says that the Yanks, mathematically, have still not captured the AL East. Meaning we could conceivably beat them to it. It’s not impossible. The slide rules and flow charts will show you how it gets done. Also, that drunken, loutish side wants me to tell you, “nice ass.”

The clear-thinking, lucid side of me, after witnessing that ugly first night in Kansas City and seeing Jon Lester narrowly escape an old fashioned Bronx kneecapping, says just get the wild card, let the fill-ins play out the balance of the schedule, and keep our top guns safe and rested for the ALDS.

One thing that both sides agree on, however, is that Jason Varitek should be used only in emergency situations from here on out. Aliens taking over the world and holding Victor Martinez in the mothership? Well, call Fisk and Bob Montgomery. If they’re not available, then let Tek catch. End of story.

Opposing players are basically running on him at will. His bat is non-existent, as evidenced by his almost sub-.200 average and his 0-fer-4 last night, with two strike outs and a spirit-crushing double play. Can’t have that kinda shit in the playoffs, folks. Can’t be giving the other team extra bases or your own team automatic outs when you can avoid it.

Around here, we don’t forget what you’ve done. That’s why every member of the Class of ’04 who hasn’t gone pinstripes will always get the glad hand and a cold beer when they swing back through town. Tek was the heart and soul of two championship teams, and he’ll always be remembered as such. But what he’s bringing to the park these days is like some sort of painfully abrasive Andy Kaufman routine; we don’t know whether to laugh or to cry or just keep staring with blank-faced bewilderment. But we know it’s not a fun thing to watch.

It really comes down to this: in the post-season, you field the team that gives you the best chance to win. A team with Tek doesn’t give you that chance. It really is that simple.

Oh, and it’s a good thing Detroit’s gonna bounce the Yanks out in the first round. I don’t know that my liver can handle another Boston-NY ALCS.