During periods of my life marked by undue stress — long stretches of unemployment, selling and building a home, the release of a new Rob Schneider movie — I am visited by the ghost of Butch Hobson.

Last night, after the Red Sox embarassed themselves yet again at Yankee Stadium, Daddy Butch paid me a visit. As evidence, I present a transcript of our conversation here.

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Me: [throwing remote control at TV] Motherfuckers! A glove malfunction?!? We’re now losing games over glove malfunctions? Don’t you fuckers run routine maintenance on your shit every once in awhile? You’re professional athletes, for chrissakes!

Butch: Easy, Red. No need for that kind of talk.

Me: Fuck you. I can’t stand it any more. It’s over. We’re cooked. This was the nail in the coffin.

Butch: [taking a long drag on his cigarette, his face silhouetted in the shadows] You’ll be back. This is your cocaine, my boy. You can’t resist. Pedro goes nine tomorrow night and you’ll be blabbering on at the office about how this is the year and how the Yanks are toast. The foam hand will be out. The Schilling jersey on your back. You’re hooked, buddy.

Me: Not anymore. I just can’t do it. I’ve got too many other things that need my attention. The new baby, for example.

Butch: What better way to introduce your baby to Red Sox Nation than by telling her that the Sox finally won it all the year she was born?

Me: Actually… that would be pretty cool. I could tape her and me watching Game Seven, and then… [snaps out of it] Oh, no you don’t. I’m serious. I’m through with the Sox. Fuck ’em all. No more tearing my heart out after every excruciating loss. No more pounding my fists into the wall. You know how many bones I’ve broken for this team through the years? To this day I can’t snap my fingers when it rains.

Butch: Peaks and valleys, Red. Peaks and valleys. Don’t take your eyes off the prize.

Me: There’s no prize. This team is finished. This was the final insult. They had Leiber on the ropes early and kept letting him off. Two double plays in the first two innings? Bases loaded with nobody out and they can’t plate a single fucking run? They’re spiraling. It’s not getting better, it’s getting worse.

Butch: But Nomar’s back…

Me: …And doing absolutely nothing. Word is now he’s on the trading block again. I say let him go. Fucking worthless. Another “0-fer” and every time he lunges for a ball he looks like he’s having a seizure. Trade him now while you can get something, anything in return.

Butch: There’s always the wild card.

Me: No. No way. I can’t watch this year’s model play the Yanks in another ALCS. It would kill me. Last year, we had it. The magic. It was real, I saw it. They made a fucking movie about it. That was our chance to slay the dragon, but we had… well, before I met Tito I would have said we had a really, really bad manager. But now… Grady looks a genius.

Butch: Lotsa people thought I was a genius. You know, I came into the Manager job with a lot of promise–

Me: –and the way Tito rocks back and forth on the bench? This is the guy who’s gonna lead us to a championship? He looks like he doesn’t know whether to shit or wind his watch.

Butch: He’s a puppet, my friend. Bill James is really calling the shots. Well, him and the Rico Petrocelli robot. But that’s another story.

Me: Whatever. These Yankees. They’re dangerous. We beat ourselves tonight, but they are dangerous, top to bottom. And they won’t stop. They can’t be stopped. Imagine if they add the Big Unit? [grabs his stomach] My ulcer. Fuck. There it goes again.

Butch: You’ll notice the Rays won last night?

Me: I didn’t know that. But thanks.

Butch: Home run by that Rey Sanchez kid. That puts ’em three games behind the Sox in the loss column.

Me: Zim’s ultimate revenge.

Butch: Something like that. Well, I sure hope Williamson’s arm will be okay. Tough to lose him again.

Me: [growing increasingly despondent] I can’t believe Tito even took Wake out. The guy only gave up, what, three hits?

Butch: It’s a marathon, baby. Gotta preserve all your players. Give ’em a rest once in a while. Just like Jimy used to say.

Me: I had so much faith. After last year’s loss in the ALCS almost killed me, I spent the whole winter dreaming of revenge. Then we got Schilling. Then we got Foulke. Then we swept them in New York. This was gonna be different, I figured. The year everything goes right. But… I watch these guys play like they just don’t care. And they’re not coming through in the clutch like they did so many times last year. And in between the otherwordly pain of these wasted innings, I get Kevin Millar’s mug pitching fried chicken. I say no one does another ad until we’re sitting on top of the AL East. Yeah, that’s a good idea. Earn your fucking money on the field first. Stand up, and dare to shake off the shackles of this ridiculous curse and take back what is rightfully yours! Win, motherfuckers! Win!

Butch: See? I knew you’d come around.

Me: [shutting off TV] Whatever. I’m going to bed.

Butch: That’s cool. I’ve got some “mail” to pick up, anyway.