Is anyone else as fed up with the Red Sox as I am? They are playing like a team that simply doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the season. Not too long ago, they had the best record in baseball and were looking like a team destined to repeat. Now, they hold just the fourth best record in the AL and a loss tomorrow would drop that to fifth best and third in the East behind Tampa and the Yankees.

What has changed? In the past few weeks they have been man-handled by the Angels, swept by the Rays in Tampa (who had the balls to play “Sweet Caroline” after the final game) and are on the verge of being swept by the Yankees on their own turf. And right now they look like a bunch scared kids getting pushed around by pinstriped bullies on the playground.

Friday night was the perfect opportunity for the Sox to show what they are made of when Chamberlain threw a 97-mile-per-hour fastball straight at Youk’s goatee. This is the Kevin Youkilis who look like he’s gonna either blow and embolism or chew off his own arm when he gets a strike called on him. So when a pitcher, a Yankee pitcher, intentionally throws at him for the fourth time, well, he’s gotta go mound, right? Wrong. He cries to the ump, then strikes out on a pitch six feet outside.

It was the same time of year in 2004, July 24th to be exact, when Jason Varitek grabbed a similar moment by the short hairs, and put the Sox on a course to change history. After the leather facial Tek gave A-Rod, the Sox went 42-20 for the rest of the season before eventually winning it all. And I contend it was the July 24th brawl that set the tone.

Does this team have the same heart, or will they get sand kicked in their faces the rest of the way? Will Manny sit out games and leave the bat on his shoulder when we need him the most? Will Tito sit on his hands when Tek comes up to bat with the tying runs on base? Will our beloved Red Sox play the 98-pound weakling to the big bad Yankees? Or will these guys man up and take back their division?

I think the latter. Starting today with Lester and the bats.