The Sox’ offense has now pulled a pretty convincing Jimmy Hoffa for twenty-four consecutive innings, disappearing without a trace and leaving no indication that it’s coming back anytime soon. It certainly didn’t show any signs of a pulse during yesterday’s loss to the Yanks, the latest indignity of this increasingly maddening road trip that seems bound for hell.

But despite my swollen knuckles, scratchy throat and banged-up walls, this ain’t the end of the season, as some have suggested. Man, it’s not even close.

Yes, it’s embarrassing. Dropping five straight to our closest division rivals and looking like we have barely an ounce of fight in us shouldn’t go down easy. However, there’s still a lot of baseball left to play. Almost two months worth, in fact. And anything–from an Ortiz offensive tear to a season-ending Burnett injury–can happen in that time span.

What the Sox need right now is a leader. Someone to slap them upside their collective heads and inspire them to get up and fight like apes. That person used to be Ortiz, but he’s a bit pre-occupied these days. It might have also been Tek, but the guy seems so superfluous this season, so much like he’s just adrift in his own personal negative zone, that I can’t imagine any hardcore inspiration coming from his mug.

Maybe the inspiration comes in a moment in tonight’s game, when the Sox realize they’re done being the chew toy and want to do a little mauling of their own. But win or lose, the season isn’t decided tonight. Unless the Sox want it to be.