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DAN SHAUGHNESSY

Some advice: Don't look now

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Going into last night's game, the Red Sox had lost six straight, the most since Joe "The Nutty Professor" Kerrigan manned Boston's Southbound Train in 2001.

The 2006 Sox had lost 10 1/2 games in the standings since July 4. They were actually a sub-.500 team (53-54) against American League competition, still hoping for a wild card thanks to their success against National League frauds. They were in complete free fall, virtually guaranteed to finish second to the Yankees for a ninth consecutive season. They were only three games ahead of the third-place Blue Jays. They were a national punchline -- looking every bit as foolish as Tom Cruise on the couch with Oprah -- in the wake of their historic five-game Fenway fold against the Yankees. They were facing eight more West Coast games, including a toughie tonight against the Angels' unbeaten Jered Weaver.

Some might look at all of the above and have negative thoughts. Not me. I have seen the light. I am buying the plan. This isn't about this year. Never was. The Sox are planning on being great in 2007 and even better in 2008. Let those foolish New Yorkers delude themselves into thinking that the future is now. We know better. We watch the Red Sox.

Remember what Theo Epstein told us Sunday night as he stood on the Fenway lawn before Game 4 of the Carnage by Lansdowne Street: ``We're not going to change our approach and all of a sudden try to build an uberteam and all of a sudden win now at the expense of the future."

There you have it. Let's not win now. This should help you enjoy the remaining 36 games of 2006. Just relax and check out Dustin Pedroia's footwork around second base. It's not about 2006 anymore. It's about the future.

Dr. Charles Steinberg is already working on some promotional material for the final Fenway homestands of this season. At this moment he's reviewing three prospective ad campaigns for the non-stretch drive:

``Save that pricey trip to Fort Myers and come see our prospects closer to home."

``Where Would We Play Bobby Abreu?"

``Red Sox: It's called Bruins."

I, for one, am already fired up about the 2007 Red Sox opener at the Metrodome. I'm expecting Curt Schilling to get the ball and he should be able to dominate the Twins. He'll have Jason Varitek back behind the plate and the pitch-calling will be just swell again.

The 2007 Red Sox go to Seattle after Minnesota and the Sox could sweep at Safeco. I wouldn't be surprised if they win their first six games. We might even be calling them an uberteam by the time they get to Fenway. The Sox make four trips to the West Coast and I think they're going to win every game. It'll be sweet to see Theo's '07 Machine march through Chavez Ravine. Take that, Grady Little! And those home games with the Yankees? Forget about everything that just happened. The Sox are only going to get better while the Yankees will only get worse. It's obvious if you really know baseball. So stop fretting about what just happened and take the long view for a change.

It's very exciting. Future-rama. Back to the Future. Future shock for the rest of baseball. It's going to be ``Sox in Heaven in '07" and ``Better than Great in '08". And here at 17 percent Daddy Globe we plan to bombard you with happy stories about all the great ballplayers the Sox refused to trade July 31, 2006. Trust me when I tell you that someday soon you're going to be glad to have Manny Delcarmen instead of Roy Oswalt.

If you can't see what's happening here, it is your own fault. The Red Sox, like the Patriots, are simply smarter than every other organization. They have vision while the rest of the baseball world wears bifocals. And they rely on a flock of fans who are willing to pay $12 just to walk into an empty ballpark and look at the ancient poles.

Let's face it: 2004 bought a lot of patience and solidified Epstein as a hardball genius. These are days of Camelot at olde Fenway and there's nothing that Edgar Renteria, Matt Clement, Coco Crisp, Rudy Seanez, Julian Tavarez, or Josh Beckett can do to change that.

Cynics might wonder about the rest of this year. Nattering nabobs might take issue with the top prices in baseball when it's all about the future. Cheapos might ask the Sox to scale back prices since we're no longer worried about '06. Not me. I have seen Baseball Future and its name is Boston Red Sox.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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