Haven’t we been here before? Yes, we have. We’ve been thrust in the corner, had our backs up against the wall, watched helplessly as opposing pitchers hung Mark Bellhorn from Pesky’s Pole by his underwear.

And each time it happened, we rallied. Turned it around. Made the hunter the hunted and dismissed them with one of D-Lowe’s patented “Bite my tweeter” maneuvers. It was never over until we said it was over and with the hometown crowd behind us… it was never over.

So now we’re here again. On the tightrope, ALCS glory on one side, permanent vacation on the other.

And I have to ask, can we really do it one more time?

Seriously. How often can we go to that magic well, cross our fingers and tip our cans of PBR, and expect the Gods of Baseball to grant us three more days of baseball? It’s almost surreal to think it. Have the Red Sox — perennial underdogs who spent most of my younger years finding new and innovative ways to piss on my dreams — really become the team that will not die in the playoffs?

I certainly hope so. Although the Angels have the momentum and the “Win it for Nick” rallying cry and the far, far sexier story, I know the 2009 Red Sox are a better team than they’ve shown us thus far in the ALDS. I know we can hit the f@#k out of the ball. They know it, too. They just need to prove it. It won’t be easy against Scott Kazmir; the last time we faced him in the playoffs at Fenway, in game 5 of the 2008 ALCS, he held us to two hits and no runs through six innings. But whenever we’re facing elimination, as we were in that fateful game, we seem to dig a little deeper. And we’re gonna need to do that again today.

Selfishly, I just don’t want this to be the last day of Red Sox baseball in 2009. I want thunder, hellfire and Torii Hunter thinking he’d rather be on death row than standing on Fenway’s centerfield grass. I want the seeds of doubt and the ghosts of Octobers past flipping beer bottle caps off Chone Figgins’ head. And I want Mike Scioscia sitting in his hotel room tonight, swallowing Tagamet by the metric ton, and wondering if the Red Sox are really going to do it to him again.

But mostly, I’d like another day of Red Sox baseball. So let’s go.