Second, I just can't seem to get excited for the moment when Joe Buck says, "And with the series on the line, tonight the Phillies turn to their ace, Brett Myers." Maybe it's me. Maybe it's the five home runs surrendered in the last two starts. Who can say?

And third, there's the Biggio-Bagwell swan song, there's the chance (not all that remote) that Clemens and Oswalt go all Schilling and Johnson on us in some big game, when one or the other comes in for two innings of "I'm naming my baby after the man" relief, and maybe most importantly of all, there's the chance that Morgan Ensberg, with a few well-timed home runs, might continue his steady march (past Tracy Morgan and Morgan Fairchild) up the list of all-time Morgans in American popular culture. For those scoring at home, Ensberg's got Stanley Morgan and Morgan Stanley in his sights now, but is, of course, not even within dreaming distance of either Joe Morgan or Morgan Freeman.

Curt Schilling
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Are you used to Curt Schilling in the closer's role yet?

Would you rather have Curt Schilling or Keith Foulke come trotting out of the bullpen to finish a game that matters?

What do you think the odds are Terry Francona has Oil Can Boyd's cell number in his Treo right now? I put them at about 8-1. Unlikely, but not out of the question.

Anyway, Schilling looks wrong to me. And while we can't be sure that Foulke looks right, at least, since absence makes the eye less jaundiced, he comes with a sliver of hope now.

So give me Foulke, an airsickness bag, and, if you please, Big Papi warming up in the pen.

Seriously. I believe in Big Papi the way big-haired, pastel jumpsuit-wearing damsels in distress believed in MacGyver. I think he can improvise whatever is needed with whatever's around. I have faith that he can get his club out of any jam any time. I know in my heart that with the home runs and the RBI and such, we've only just scratched the surface of Big Papiness.

Would you rather have the Royals break the streak or break the record?

I'm rooting for the record.

Look, the 1988 Orioles had some actual players on the team. Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Fred Lynn -- these guys deserve better. They deserve, in fact, to have a club whose best player, whose only truly good baseball player (Mike Sweeney), is a bad back waiting to happen, break their AL record of 21 straight losses and take on the weight of shame and ridicule from now on.

And the Royals, for their part, should embrace the possibility. This is their shot at immortality. Lose 18 in a row and then win a game and you're nobody. You're just bad. Lose 22, 23 straight, lose maybe the entire rest of the slate, and people won't be able to stop talking about you. You're epically bad.

That's something to shoot for. In fact, now's the time to bring Tony Pena back. The club needs a motivator. They Royals have 43 games left. They're probably thinking they have no shot at losing all of them. But Tony gets in that locker room, and he jumps up on a tabletop, and he starts chanting: "Nosotros creemos. Nosotros creemos. Nosotros creemos!" After a thing like that, who knows what they might be capable of.



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