Dudes. With all due respect, this is not the way you fall out of first place.

You’re supposed to go down swinging. Teeth gnashing. Veins bulging. Fists bleeding. Trot’s fist having to be forcably extracted from Jorge Cantu’s gut.

See, when there’s this much at stake, when someone’s trying to knock you down, you’ve got to get all Chumbawamba on their asses and stand your bloody ground. You don’t go gently into that good night, you’ve gotta rage against the machine. Make them earn that win. Stick it down the front of Papi’s trousers and dare them to come a-fishin’ for it. Slather it with Boomer’s drool and toss it in the corner, defying them to pick it up.

You don’t just put on a bowtie and bend over like it’s 3-for-1 falafel night at TGIFs. You start bustin’ heads and crashing through walls and using every last ounce of your strength to slap that bat against the ball that. much. harder. Don’t just casually roll out of that throne atop the AL East. Make someone drag you out of it, Conan style, and don’t stop until you hear the lamentations of their women.

Because when it’s all said and done, when the crowd has gone home and the moon has come up, you want to be able to point to your battle scars and say, “I gave it everything I had.”

But letting the D-Rays scam you up for five runs and six hits in the eight inning? Not good.

This was just a sick, sick loss, exploiting some of the worst features of the 2005 team: the penchant for errors, the sketchy bullpen, and the suddenly glaring holes in the line-up. Christ, this used to be an offense that gave opposing pitchers plenty to wet their pants over. Now, with the exception of Manny and Papi, there are far too many easy outs. In the seventh, when Hyzdu whiffed with the bases loaded to end the Sox’ seventh, I could feel my soul being sucked from my body. And it wasn’t cool. [Also, I’ll give Tito the benefit of the doubt and assume he was out on a popsicle run when Hyzdu came to the plate. Otherwise, why does Hyzdu hit with the bases juiced and Tek on the bench?]

This game also gave us a poignant snapshot of the gorgeous tragedy that is Manny Being Manny. Sure, dude belted a home run and drove in one of our four runs. But he also dogged it to first base when he might have been safe [as the first baseman got pulled off the bag on the throw.] Also, I have a feeling in my gut that Wilford Brimley could have gotten to Cantu’s shot in the eighth with greater facility than Manny.

Eh. Whatever. A half game out is no real reason to fret, I guess. But the fact is the Yankees have turned it on when it matters most, winning nine of ten and getting some alarmingly good stuff from Big Handsome. It’s time for our boys to decide how much they really want this thing, and adjust their level of play accordingly.

Let’s think about it tonight, lads. And come out swinging on Friday.

Also: Happy Birthday, Dad.