Over? You say the season is over for the Boston Red Sox?

Not quite. But it should have been.

There’s an excessive amount of profuse sweating, hand wringing and swearing in blank verse about the here-and-now with the Hose.

Our team’s notable non-performance the last four weeks against the dregs of American League humanity has made it necessary to construct a 20-foot-high screen around the rails of the Tobin Bridge and confiscate all pointed objects from every habitual WEEI listener or Sons of Sam Horn blogger.

I suppose acute pain is best tolerated as a shared experience. In terms of our mental health, however, Red Sox fans are the only segment of the population that would be better served drowning our sorrows in the past or anticipating the future than losing ourselves in the precious present.

It’s easier said than done, I realize, when you’ve just dropped a three-game set to the Kansas City Royals. Who’s next on the schedule, the Toledo Mud Hens?

Yikes, the last time the Royals swept anybody, Charlie Leibrandt, Mark Gubicza and Dennis Leonard were the winning pitchers. Garth Iorg and Darryl Motley probably delivered walk-off hits back when we used to call them game-winning RBIs.

This Missouri Compromise folded (um, I mean unfolded) on the heels of Boston dropping two of three to the almighty Tampa Bay Devil Rays, splitting four with the perpetually “building” Cleveland Indians, and dumping seven of 11 to Anaheim, Seattle and Oakland, monuments of mediocrity from the American League West.

Those indignities aside, the Red Sox were two games out of first place heading into Saturday’s nationally televised showdown with Anna Benson’s husband, Kris, and the Baltimore Orioles. Two games! I’m sure long-suffering Kansas City fans would perform ritual sacrifice of their Dick Howser bobble head dolls for a chance to be two games off the pace on April 12, never mind August 12.

Rather than surveying a two-game deficit to those damn Yankees and reading it as 20, or threatening to run Theo Epstein out of town in his gorilla suit for his apparent inattention leading up to the trading deadline, maybe we ought to consider placing the blame where it belongs.

Let’s not forget: The Red Sox had their chance. They were hale, hearty and relatively healthy after Coco Crisp sat out the first month. Most of us looked down the standings upon the geriatric, osteopathic Yankees and laughed our Big Papi-sized butts off.

Randy Johnson couldn’t throw a strike. Hideki Matsui attempted something so un-Manny like as diving after a fly ball and was rewarded by twisting his arm like Joe Theismann’s leg. New York’s greatest hope was a dude named Melky.

Fun times, weren’t they? Go ahead. Laugh it up.

So how did Beantown’s aspiring dynasty respond? By stomping on those broken wings and driving a stake through its tormentor’s heart, right?

Well, not exactly. Between April 11 and June 15, the Red Sox were swept by the then-staggering Minnesota Twins, frittered away two series with the Yankees, coughed up two-of-three in three separate series with Toronto and salvaged only one win in three-game sets with the Tribe and the D-Rays.

Stop me when this sounds familiar.

There’s no point in getting weepy about Boston’s mid-summer swoon, because the Red Sox had ample opportunity to make like the Mets or Tigers and run away with their overrated division. Instead, they failed miserably.

There’s also no point in concocting excuses. Yes, I know Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Matt Clement and Doug Mirabelli are banged up. But all of them were sputtering through sub-par seasons before they (or we) needed help getting out of bed.

Boston was either underachieving or fatally flawed from the start.

Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett were supposed to the second coming of Spahn, Sain and Three Days of Rain. They’ve been decent by modern baseball’s watered-down pitching standards, but they’ve also given up 56 home runs. And nary a No. 3 has even hinted at stepping up.

Much trust has been placed in the hands of rookie closer Jonathan Papelbon, who appears poised to follow an Eck-like first half with a Schiraldi-like second half.

Manny is just being Manny and Papi is being Papi, but who’s protecting them in the lineup? This year’s Moneyball experiment is coming up bankrupt. Quick, I’ll buy you a beer if you can tell me who’s third on the team in home runs.

Time’s up. Mike Lowell, with 13.

Maybe Theo knew something we didn’t when he steadfastly refused to part with prospects while other teams stockpiled veteran warm bodies at the end of last month. Perhaps he was waiting ’til next year.

Lord knows the Red Sox already missed their best chance to hoist a banner this year.

Kalle Oakes is a staff writer. His e-mail is [email protected]


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