It’s easy to shrug off the weekend sweep in Detroit. It’s the cusp of the All-Star break, the guys are thinking of their impending vaykays, we’ve got a big-ass lead in the standings and you could practically drape the Ms. AL East sash across Hideki Okajima’s shoulders and just set our focus on October.

But, see, there’s a reason that Terry Francona shows up at these post-game press conferences looking like Captain Picard after losing half his fleet to the Borg. It’s because the Sox have been playing some pretty lousy baseball over the past month. Understand: I’m confident that the Sox are going to win the division. But these mash-ups against potential playoff partners only highlight the problems that could sink our battleship quickly in any postseason first-round.

To prevent myself from tonguing the car’s exhaust pipe after watching the boys drop yesterday’s contest, I tried to compile a list of things that I, personally, would like to see during the second half of the season.

Any sort of proof that J.D. Drew is alive.
That’s not a knock against his performance, although, to be kind, it’s been considerably less impressive than I’d hoped. I just want to see a little emotion, a little outrage, a little… anything. Yes, he cracked a smile last month, and we posted the photo here just to assure ourselves it really happened. But come on, man, break a bat, kick a nun or something. Look, the guy you’ve replaced, Trot Nixon, used to do everything short of staple his jimmy to his sack whenever he didn’t come through. I just need to know that these weak at bats and your inability to perform in the 5 slot in our order is upsetting you as much as it’s killing me.

The return of the Dynamic Duo. In the darkest of times, the most dire of hours, there was always one thing you could count on: Ortiz and Manny doling out atomic wedgies to pitchers of all makes and models. This year, Ortiz, the man who busted the record for most home runs in a season by a Red Sox player, is on pace for… 28. And Manny, a guy who could find RBIs in a box of Cap’n Crunch, is hitting .240 with runners in scoring position. Simply put, we need these guys to come up big in the second half if we want to be the team to beat in the playoffs. Of course, this is hardly a revelation; the power outage from our power guys has been the topic of the season. But it might be time to step it up in the motivation department. My suggestion: First guy to get to 30 home runs gets a rubdown from a shirtless Hazel Mae. Second guy gets teabagged by Johnny Pesky. Implement this, my friends at Red Sox Inc., and I promise that Manny will be at 500 dingers by Friday.

The return of Wily Mo Pena. And by return I mean… sending him back from where he came, or anywhere else for that matter. Surely we’ve still got the receipt and original packaging. Can’t we move him for a utility guy who’s a bit more versatile?

The ability to go back in time, tell Gary Sheffield not to mention that he wants to play in Boston, sign him. I don’t care that the guy always struck me as the sort of fellow who could wake up one day, tell the wife “I’m going people hunting,” and wig out at the local Wal-Mart. There is no one — no one — who looks more menacing at the plate than Sheffield. Obviously the Yanks didn’t want him falling into our hands, but the fact that Sheff mentioned his willingness to come here surely didn’t help.

A cloning machine for Youk and Lowell. Oh, like you wouldn’t want an army of these guys running amuck in the field, hanging out in local pool halls, buying cigarettes for underage toughs, and shaking down the chicks at BC.