When we left on this most recent road trip through Colorado and San Fran, we were in third place, staring up at the Rays and Yanks. Now we’ve leapfrogged Tampa Bay and have sole position of second by a slim, one-game margin.

I dig second place. Nice area, good schools, fine place to raise a family. But I have my heart set on some other place. Namely, first place. And I don’t want to be slipping back to third anytime soon.

That’s where you come in, John Lackey.

While your 8-3 record is nothing to shake a stick at, you have yet to turn in a real guns-blazing, hell-raising, punching-out-a-charging-bull-with-one-beefy-fist performance. And I want one tonight.

The Rays are in town. And they’re doing a mirror-image of us right now; spectacular out of the gate, but slowly meandering back to earth. Your job is to cut the cords on their parachute, send them further down the spiral, and put at least another game’s worth of space between us and them.

I want the anger. I want the fierce. I want “who the hell just threw away my valuable collection of Mego super hero action figures”? I want you to point in the visitor’s dugout after every strike out (and I’m putting you down for 472 tonight) and say, “That was for 2008!” Even though you weren’t with us when the Rays knocked us out of the ALCS. But that will confuse them even more. And confusing your enemy is key.

I’ll make it as easy as possible. Tonight, we don’t want this guy:

We want this guy:


Oh, and as it turns out, fightin’ BJ Upton won’t be in the Rays lineup tonight. Which is fine with me. Because nothing ruins a good time like a guy named “BJ.”