Point made

To live and die with L.A.

Take me out to the diary

Play ball!

All right, we need to figure out the whole “Opening Day and the NCAA title game happening on the same day” problem, especially when both events are happening on the same day as a “24” episode. And I’m not just worried about my TiVo, both of which nearly self-combusted last night. Opening Day has always been one of my favorite days of the year, along with the NBA Draft, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and the annual Doc Gooden/Darryl Strawberry arrests. It shouldn’t have to share the limelight with anything else.

So here’s my idea …

What’s wrong with moving every Opening Day game to the Sunday between the Final Four games and the title game? Just about everyone has Sunday off. (Well, I have every day off, but bear with me). Games would be sold out across the county. They wouldn’t be competing with anything except the Women’s Final Four, and that sentence is funny enough in itself. What’s the holdup here?

In the meantime, with the attention span of my readers stretched multiple ways, I took one for the team and TiVo’ed the UCLA-Florida game and “24.” Why? Because I wanted to get an undistracted, no-toggling first look at the Yankees and Red Sox, that’s why. In fact, I even kept a running diary …

11:00 a.m. PT — NESN leads off its telecast with a shot of Curt Schilling walking gingerly down the runway, looking like Ed Norton after the rape scene in “American History X.” Has he always walked like that? I think he has. Please tell me he has.

11:02 — As Schilling warms up in the bullpen, NESN’s Jerry Remy (calling the game with Don Orsillo) tells us that it was interesting to see Schilling this morning, “in typical Schilling fashion, prancing around that clubhouse with that war face on, ready to go after these Texas Rangers.” OK, good. I feel better.

By the way, the 2006 Sox have 12 new players, including four in today’s starting lineup:

1. Coco Crisp, CF
2. Mark Loretta, 2B
3. The Real 2005 A.L. MVP, DH
4. Manny Being Manny, LF
5. Gerry McNamara, RF
6. Jason Varitek, C
7. Mike Lowell, RIP-er, 3B
8. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
9. The Alex Gonzalez Who Always Does Well In The Winter World Series, SS.

11:06 — Starting for the Rangers: Free agent signing Kevin “I can’t believe somebody gave me five years!” Millwood. He’s pitching against Crisp, who replaces Judas Damon in center AND prompted the Sports Gal to ask two weeks ago, “Wait, Coco Crisp? That’s really his name? Who else did they sign, Count Chocula?”

(Coco Crisp is one of those names like Magic Johnson or Dick Pound — hear it enough times and you forget how ridiculous it is. Actually, that’s not true … Dick Pound ALWAYS sounds ridiculous. Back to the column.)

11:11 — Crisp strikes out, Loretta pops out to first … that brings up Big Papi. There are about 7,000 reasons why I’m excited to have baseball back, but I think the chance to have David Ortiz back in my life on an everyday basis cracks the top 10. It might even rank first.

(Other reasons: Fantasy baseball … every Sox-Yankee game … the thought of a half-asleep Grady Little relieving Derek Lowe three batters too late as a distraught Nomar looks on from first base … Mets fans getting overexcited about a team that looks great on paper and ends up underachieving … CC Sabathia somehow gaining weight as the season goes along … my buddy Sal randomly e-mailing me his first 10-team parlay that could win him $35,754 if all 10 teams come through … my dad pretending to be awake every time I call him after a late-inning Red Sox home run … announcers casually dropping phrases like “he’s got a big sinker” and “he’s not afraid to unleash the high hard one” … Joe Posnanski’s annual “My God, what did we do to deserve this?” column after the Royals start out 7-25 for the umpteenth straight season … and Tino Martinez’s hair in HDTV. That’s just the short list.)

11:14 — 2005 fantasy assassin Laynce Nix robs Papi of extra bases to end the first. By the way, on the list of “500 reasons that I’m NOT excited to have baseball back,” crummy home plate umpiring has to rank right up there. You could park a Hummer in Gary Darling’s strike zone today.

11:19 — As Orsillo tells us that Roger Clemens visited both clubhouses today, we see a live shot of Roger in the stands. “They introduced him between innings,” Jerry adds. “He got a standing ovation from this crowd in Arlington.” As well as two middle fingers from me. Don’t forget those.

11:22 — You know, Michael Young’s 2005 batting title was kinda like “Shakespeare in Love’s” Oscar back in 1998 — I know it happened, but I’m not quite willing to accept it. Are we sure Ichiro didn’t win last season? We’re positive?

11:23 — Just realized they’re showing this game on ESPN2, along with the following extras: HD and a visible radar gun. Do I cheat on Don and Jerry for Opening Day? Yeah, I think I do. Sorry, fellas. I need to see every whisker, whitehead, booger, pockmark and spit molecule.

11:26 — Two K’s and a groundout for Schilling in the first; he was throwing 93-94 on NESN’s gun and 90-91 on ESPN’s gun. Apparently it’s easier to locate a Cuban baseball player’s birth certificate than to coordinate readings from two radar guns in the same baseball stadium. Couldn’t we use this as a defense for any speeding ticket?

11:30 — Our first glimpse of Manny Ramirez, who grew dreadlocks and bleached them gold for the 2006 season. I’m just glad that he didn’t randomly decide to pierce his left eyeball or something. Manny grounds out to second, then jogs to the dugout with an “If I poop in the shower after the game, maybe they’ll try harder to trade me” look on his face. Thirty cents on the dollar, here we come!

1:33 — Nix robs Trot Nixon of a double. He’s on pace for 1,444 fantastic catches this season. Meanwhile, after 10 minutes of the ESPN guys discussing Clemens’ possible return and the steroids scandal in lieu of the actual game, I contemplate switching back to Don and Jerry (HDTV be damned). Is this “Around the Horn” or a baseball game?

11:37 — Lowell weakly grounds out to end the second. I don’t want to say that he looks finished, but the only thing missing from his Boston at-bats this spring is a pack of coyotes cautiously approaching him from different angles.

11:39 — Phil Nevin pops out. When you’re traded straight up for Chan Ho Park, it’s probably time to reevaluate things.

11:43 — Six up, six down for Schilling. Destiny isn’t exactly sitting at the bar waiting for him or anything, but he looks pretty sharp. Consider me pleased.

11:47 — Gonzalez flies out to right. And yes, the over/under on when my dad finally stops asking, “Which Alex Gonzalez did we get again?” is July 15.

11:59 — We’re scoreless through three. Today’s Aflac trivia question: “Other than Clemens and Pedro, who was the last Red Sox starter to start back-to-back Opening Days?” Dennis Eckersley. Has to be.

12:01 — Nix just ran down his third potential double (from Loretta). Did I mention that Nix’s face is completely shaven except for a rectangular patch of hair right under his chin? What’s the hierarchy for cheesy facial hair on guys? Doesn’t it go “porn stars, bouncers, wrestlers, baseball players, blackjack dealers, limo drivers?” Or should bouncers be in the No. 1 slot? I’m willing to listen to all arguments here.

12:06 — Ortiz rips a one-out single to center, followed by a feeble Manny strikeout, a four-pitch Nixon walk … and then a two-run double by Varitek. 2-0, Red Sox. Remy immediately points out that Varitek was sitting fastball after the four-pitch walk. See, that’s why I gave up HDTV, for observations like that.

12:08 — Lowell grounds out to end the inning. Every one of his at-bats could double as an opening for “Six Feet Under.”

(And yes, if this is leading to Yook playing third and Ortiz, JT Snow and Hee Sop Choi splitting time at first, I’m fine with it. Big Papi isn’t bad at first base. He really isn’t — he’s light years better than Mo Vaughn. You have to believe me.)

12:14 — On a grounder to Yook, Schilling cruises over to first, catches the toss and taps the bag in time. He looked pretty smooth on that one. More importantly, the answer to our Aflac trivia question: Dennis Eckersley (1982-83). I’m 1-0 for the season. Sure, it’s not like Undertaker going 14-0 in Wrestlemanias … but talk to me in two weeks when I’m still chugging along.

12:27 — Just a beautiful piece of hitting by Loretta in the 2-hole — took some pitches to allow Crisp a chance to steal, fouled a two-strike pitch off, got a full count, then doubled Crisp home for the ribbie. Basically, it was the complete opposite of every Edgar Renteria at-bat in the 2-hole last season. 3-0, Red Sox.

(We also learned from Remy that Crisp has the green light to steal whenever he wants. I always wondered how this works. Does Francona just send Crisp a “Yo, I forgot to tell you, you have the green light” e-mail? Does he call Crisp into his office and tell him? Does he quietly break the news during a baserunning meeting? Do other players get jealous that Crisp has the green light? Is this roughly the equivalent of giving your wife carte blanche on your credit card, when you eventually learn to regret it? I need more info.)

12:28 — Gary Darling has already received more head shakes and incredulous looks in four-plus innings than Shane during the entire 2006 season of “Survivor.” Good to see that the crappy umpiring in baseball holds up to the crappy officiating in every other sport.

12:30 — Big Papi, high and deep, toward the right field corner … OFF THE FOUL POLE! 5-0, Red Sox. That was a moonshot. I’m really enjoying myself. Just opened a Miller Lite and everything.

12:33 — My buddy Hench and I exchange giddy e-mails about the Loretta/Papi ABs — just two pros doing their thing and getting the job done. I’m talking about Loretta and Papi. By the way, is it too late for the Rangers to return Kevin Millwood to Best Buy? Did his 90-day guarantee expire yet?

12:38 — E-mail from Matt in Salem, N.H.: “I want early credit for Mike Lowell’s new nickname, ‘Last Out Lowell,’ or for short, LOL.” You got it.

12:40 — Rod Barajas ropes a one-out single to right. This seems like a good time to mention our AL-only roto league: Hench and I were allowed to keep 10 guys, so we kept Giambi at $8, Cantu at $6, King Felix at $6, Kazmir at $11, Papelbon at $5, Baldelli at $8, Street at $8, Haren at $10, Victor Martinez at $15 … and none other than Barajas at $4. Amount of time spent on the phone and by e-mail coming up with this final list, trying to swing last-minute trades and debating whether to keep Neil Cotts ($5) or Jose Lopez ($6) over Barajas: Approximately 930 hours.

12:44 — Schilling puts two guys on base, then takes eight pitches before retiring Wilkerson on a pop-out to third, followed by the trademark fist pump. Encouraging outing so far — he even hit 96 on ESPN’s gun that inning. I mean, if Schilling can win 20, and Beckett can win 20 …

12:54 — Hey, is it a bad sign for the Lowell Era that Texas’ outfielders are moving up 10 steps for his ABs, almost like the token chick coming up during a company softball game? I say it is. He just flew out to left. More importantly, the top of the sixth just ended with a pitcher named Feldman striking out Youkilis. That’s the Jewish baseball moment of the year so far.

1:00 — Good Golly. Manny just chased down a Michael Young bomb, hauled it in and crashed into the fence, followed by Schilling accidentally making an “I can’t believe that nimwit just saved my ass” face … quickly followed by Manny sitting down Indian style and eating three handfuls of paste. OK, I made that last part up. But the rest happened.

1:02 — I jinxed Schilling: We just had 800 feet of flyball outs to start the inning, followed by a squib single and a line drive homer by Hank Blalock. 5-2, Red Sox. This has all the makings of an emotionally scarring Keith Foulke blown save waiting to happen, followed by a 107-page Foulke thread on the Sons of Sam Horn site that ends up being locked because too many posters were swearing at each other. You can feel it.

1:15 — Just watched some of Derek Lowe’s first inning for the Dodgers: Single, out, walk, single, three-run home run … capped off by the 2006 premiere of the Derek Lowe Face. As Ryan from Akron later writes, “It’s nice to see the Derek Lowe face come out on Opening Day. It finally feels like baseball season.” Amen, Ryan. Amen.

1:16 — Random highlight of the Sox game: A father holding his young son leaned over the third base railing and nonchalantly one-handed a foul ball chopper with his left hand. Then he gave the ball to his startled kid. Now THAT is a dad, my friends. You have to love baseball.

1:23 — Ortiz ropes a two-out RBI double which would have been a one-out, two-RBI double if Gonzalez didn’t inexplicably wander off second base on Crisp’s pop-up to center. 6-2, Red Sox. Clearly, Big Papi realizes that he needs to hit .600 with 162 HRs and 486 RBI for a DH to win the A.L. MVP award. Nothing less will suffice.

1:28 — After a Trot Nixon single, Joaquin Benoit comes in for the beleagured Rangers bullpen. Have you noticed that “Joaquin” is the Latin version of Antoine? You can spell it Joaquin, Joaquim, Joaqim, Joakim … when will someone break out the “Joa’quine” for hoops? However you spell it, he gets Texas out of the inning.

1:43 — Schilling goes 1-2-3 in the seventh. His final stat line: 118 pitches, 2 runs, 5 hits, 5 Ks, 0 walks, 0 limps, 0 signs of old age, 7,500,000 sighs of relief (the approximate number of Sox fans and Schilling fantasy owners monitoring this game right now).

1:49 — Holy crap! Mike Lowell just ripped a homer to left field. So much for the “Six Feet Under” and “Last Out Lowell” jokes … well, at least for today. Plus, we were just treated to Benoit’s “I can’t believe I just gave up a homer to Mike Lowell” face. We can’t believe it, either, Joaquin. I need to rewind my TiVo to make sure that happened.

1:50 — Yup, it happened.

1:57 — Pitching the eighth inning: One of the keys to a 95-win season (and both of my fantasy teams) … young Jonathan Papelbon. And yes, I’m a believer. If there weren’t 25,000 companies making baseball cards right now, I would even buy one of his rookie cards.

(Of course, he retires the side on 13 pitches. If you don’t think he’ll be closing for this team within five weeks, you’re insane. Pick him up for your fantasy team. Do it. Trust me.)

2:05 — Shouldn’t Alfonso Alfonseca just change his name to “The Guy With 12 Fingers” at this point? He’s pitching the ninth for Texas. Buck Showalter has the same look on his face that the Korean guy had in “Lost” during the “you’re sterile” scene.

2:11 — As Foulke warms up, ESPN’s Steve Stone tells us: “This is one of the big questions [for the Sox] this season, can Keith Foulke close the door?” Considering his knees are bone on bone at this point, I’m gonna say no. Call me nuts.

2:13 — Foulke gives up a single to Blaylock and a double to Mench. Oh, boy. I’m switching to NESN. I need Remy to talk me off the ledge.

2:16 — With one out, Crisp robs Nix with a leaping grab at the warning track (not only was that catch a 9.9 out of 10, Damon wouldn’t have come within five feet of that ball). That’s followed by Barajas barely missing a homer down the left field line and eventually grounding out to end the game. Our final score: Sox 7, Rangers 3.

“Well, Keith Foulke, kind of a rough outing in the ninth,” Orsillo tells us, guaranteeing himself the 2006 ESPY for “Understatement of the Year.”

I can’t even speak right now. Why throw Foulke out there? Why? Couldn’t we enjoy one satisfying Opening Day win in peace? Now I’m going to spend the rest of the day worrying about this. Five-year grace period, five-year schmace period.

See you in five hours …

7:00 — And we’re back! I spent the past five hours talking to my dad (who’s simply traumatized by this Foulke thing), watching Bonds’ creepy, boo-riddled at-bats in San Diego, walking the dogs, bathing my baby, re-watching the “Flavor or Love” reunion special on VH1 (breathtaking work by everyone involved) and spending the rest of my time thinking about Foulke.

(We wouldn’t have won in 2004 without him; he has permanent immunity with me (and hopefully with every other Boston fan); and we all respect how he keeps fighting back. But when you’re done, you’re done. You can’t close games with an 85-mph fastball, a changeup, and nothing else. It’s impossible. I’m OK with giving him four weeks in non-pressure situations, but if he can’t get anyone out on a consistent basis, the plug needs to be gracefully pulled. There’s no other option. OK, I feel better.)

Anyway, it’s time for the Yankees-A’s game, live from whatever the hell Oakland calls its stadium. Our announcers tonight: Michael Kay, Bobby Murcer and Ken Singleton on the Yes Network’s feed. Our lucky day. Kay kicks things off during a graphic showing tonight’s pitchers (Randy Johnson and Barry Zito) by breathlessly yelping, “It’s the kind of matchup you would see in Game 7 of the World Series!”

(Well, if two American League teams could play each other in the World Series. But whatever.)

7:06 — This seems like a good time to mention tonight’s sponsors for the game: Avis, Charles Schwab, Geico, and, of course, Beezlebub. New York’s starting lineup:

1. Judas, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Alleged Roider Gary Sheffield, RF
4. Mr. March, Alex Rodriguez, SS
5. Roider Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Avid Porn Collector Hideki Matsui, LF
7. The Wuss, Jorge Posada, C
8. The Artist Formerly Known As Bernie Williams, DH
9. Robinson Cano, 2B.

7:10 — Damon is greeted by resounding boos. See what happens, Johnny? See what you get when you miss with the Warriors! Four pitchers later, Zito K’s him on a killer curve. Just a delightful 90 seconds.

7:12 — Jeter’s pops out to first for the second out, followed by Kay and the gang having the obligatory “tons of foul territory here in Oakland” conversation. You can’t find a more predictable group than baseball announcers — same rambling stories, same boring anecdotes, same redundant stats, same corny jokes, same complete absence of any comedic timing. It’s uncanny. Doesn’t matter if it’s a local broadcast or a national one. We might as well just have 2K Sports use its video broadcast teams for one of these games. Would anyone even know?

7:15 — After a Sheffield walk, Kay introduces the next batter by saying, “Here’s Alex Rodriguez, the reigning MVP of the American League.” But would you want him up there with your life on the line? Me neither. A-Rod ends up walking, leading to the inevitable Giambi strikeout to end the inning. Could somebody get his evening B-12 shot ready, please?

7:24 — A-Rod botches Mark Kotsay’s high-hopper, then Giambi botches his throw to allow Kotsay to reach second. Well done, fellas. That brings up Bobby Crosby, the preseason MVP choice of Jayson Stark AND Peter Gammons, who quickly strikes out. There’s no doubt that he’s hitting .230 this season before blowing out his knee in June — the combined jinxing powers of Gammons and Stark could practically alter the course of history if they tried hard enough.

7:29 — Chavez flies out to end the inning. By the way, the 2006 A’s have a weird beard thing going. Kendall, Chavez and Kotsay have those metrosexual, neatly-trimmed beards, kinda like the dad from “Hand That Rocks The Cradle.” Do you think they formed a Beard Club? How can we take these guys seriously?

7:31 — More Kay: “There’s just something special about [Opening Day], you can just feel it. Everybody’s happy on Opening Day, even miserable people.” I swear, that made sense when he said it.

7:41 — This happened even faster than it reads: Zito walked Matsui and Posada to start the second, followed by a shocking RBI single from Bernie (1-0, Yankees), followed by Cano reaching first on a sacrifice bunt to load the bases, then another RBI single from Judas (2-0, Yanks), then another RBI single to Jeter on a 3-2 pitch (3-0, Yanks).

Two comments here:

1. Poor Zito is behind on every batter. … At the rate he’s going, his 2002 Cy Young is going to be available on eBay in three years. Throw a strike, Barry.

2. Say what you want about the Yankees’ defense and their starters, but this lineup is pretty damned good. I would even use a word like “relentless.”

7:45 — Sheffield strikes out on a 3-2 pitch (bringing Zito’s pitch count to an even 300). … And if you don’t think we’re in “Cheap Grand Slam” territory for A-Rod right now, you obviously don’t know the man very well. Is there any way I can wager on this?

7:49 — Here’s Kay: “Driven deep to left field, going back, Payton, looking up … see ya! A grand slam for Alex Rodriguez, the 430th home run of his career! And the Yankees have a 7-0 lead!”

(You couldn’t make this stuff up.)

7:50 — Singleton breaks down what just happened: “And the Yankees, with one swing of the bat, they’ve scored the most runs they can score: Four.” Thanks for showing up, Ken.

Meanwhile, my cell phone starts ringing: It’s my old college roomie (and Yankee fan) Jack O., who starts screaming, “Lemme just tell you this right now — you don’t want this, Bill! You do not want this!” And the rivalry is back! Man, I missed baseball.

7:51 — We quickly jump into today’s “Enter the Sandman” controversy in New York — when new Mets reliever Billy Wagner shockingly entered the ninth to Rivera’s song at Shea — with Jack O. reconstructing Mike and the Mad Dog’s incredulous conversation about it this afternoon. For two straight hours, it went something like this:

— Mike: Dawg, that’s Mariano’s song. You can’t come out to that song in New York.
— Dog: Can’t do it, Mikey! You just can’t!
— Mike: Can’t do it. Not here.

(The best part? Jack O. doing dead-on imitations of both guys on the phone. Now that’s talent.)

7:56 — Beard Club member Kirk Saarloos gets a Posada flyout to end the inning. Final line for Zito: 59 pitches, 4 outs, 7 runs, 4 hits, 4 walks, 3 K’s, shortest start of his career, lost enough mojo that he probably couldn’t even make out with one of the Duff sisters at this point. In other words … a full-fledged roto bloodbath on every level.

8:00 — On Saturday, we turned the clocks forward … and tonight, we just turned them back! That’s right, Frank Thomas just went deep. 7-1, Yankees. He just passed Penny Hardaway on the “Most Improbable Comeback By A Former Superstar With An Outside Chance of Actually Happening” list. Next up: Oscar De La Hoya.

(Speaking of Daylight Savings, here’s how you know when you’re a parent: When the clocks turn forward in the spring, instead of thinking, “Crap, I lose an hour of sleep,” you think, “Cool, instead of getting up at 6:45 every morning, my kid will be getting up at 7:45!”)

8:07 — Michael Kay tells us for the 50th time in 67 minutes that there were reports of a major storm tonight and he’s surprised today’s game was played.

8:10 — While getting thrown out stealing second, Cano spikes Bobby Crosby’s hand and opens a decent cut on the finger of his non-throwing hand. Yup, the Gammons/Stark Jinx is already in motion! I wouldn’t want to be his ACL’s or the ulnar nerves in his elbows right now.

8:14 — You know, when Summer Sanders counts down the “50 Most Unfortunate Sports Names” on Fox Sports Net some day, I just hope Nick Swisher cracks the top 20.

8:16 — Interesting strategic move by the A’s: To make the park feel more intimate and create a demand for tickets, they covered the entire upper deck (all the way around the stadium), as well as the center field bleachers, with a green tarp. I’m not making this up. Now they have only 34,000 available seats.

(All right, I’ll ask: What kind of loony logic is that? Here’s an idea — move the freaking team to Las Vegas already. Could you do that for us?)

8:21 — The Yankees have an Aflac trivia question as well: “Which current Yankee player once played on Opening Day with enough artificially injected testosterone running through his body to kill a medium-sized child?” I’m going to say Sheffield … nah, I’ll say Giambi.

8:29 — Three-run homer, Matsui. 11-1, Yankees. This running diary is on life support right now. We might even give it the Silent Clock like Edgar got at the end of “24.” Just be ready.

(And speaking of “24,” it’s on in 31 minutes. Hmmmmm.)

8:31 — Here’s why you have to love baseball: Milton Bradley just made a tumbling catch in right, followed by Kotsay making a diving catch in center, and then Jay Payton had a chance to make a diving catch in left to end the inning … but he botched it. That would have been borderline incredible. You have to love baseball.

8:36 — All right, I’ll ask: What could Bradley and Giambi be discussing at first base right now? How would these guys know each other? Which raises another question: If you had to choose between a sideline reporter or a lip reader for an entire baseball season, do you know anyone who would choose the sideline reporter? Seriously, do you know one person?

8:39 — One more question: Who’s representing the Napoleon Dynamite guy? Shouldn’t another 5-6 years have passed before he was stuck starring in a movie with Rob Schneider and David Spade? What an outrage.

8:44 — Speaking of outrages, here I am, innocently sitting here and minding my own business, typing stuff down, TiVo-ing the UCLA-Florida game, not answering the phone, ignoring my e-mails, doing everything I can to avoid the score … and Michael Kay casually congratulates Florida for beating UCLA, 73-57. Unbelievable. They should call this the No Network.

8:52 — Matsui singles home Sheffield to reach base for the fourth time. 12-1, Yankees. And we’re not even out of the top of the fifth. On the bright side, that leads to Posada getting plunked in the back on an 0-2 pitch by Brad Halsey and doing wussy Jorge Posada things.

“Jorge’s not happy,” Singleton tells us. “He’s staring the pitcher down right now.”

(Yup, there’s comedy, there’s high comedy, there’s transcendent comedy … and then there’s Jorge Posada trying to stare someone down.)

8:59 — Halsey walks Bernie with the bases loaded: 13-1, Yankees. That’s followed by Cano grounding out to end the inning.

And you know what? I’ve seen enough. The Red Sox look ready. The Yankees look ready. We have all the makings of another six-month slugfest on our hands. Even better, baseball’s back and nearly everything’s right with the world again. If we could only get Jack Bauer to take care of Barry Bonds once and for all.

(Hey, that reminds me … )

8:59:57 — Beep.

8:59:58 — BEEP.

8:59:59 — Beep.

9:00:00 — BEEP.

Bill Simmons writes two columns per week for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. You can reach his Sports Guy’s World site here. His book “Now I Can Die In Peace” is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.

Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

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