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Dan Shaughnessy

The Red Sox are done

NEW YORK — Please. Can we stop this nonsense about a phony wild card and “playoffs?”

You have a team with a $175 million payroll trotting out the likes of Daniel Nava and Pedro Ciriaco as designated hitters. It’s embarrassing and it does not deserve to be rewarded with excuse making and silly playoff dreams.

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Red Sox fans are not stupid.

The Sox lost again Friday night, 10-3, in the Bronx. Since Sept. 1 the Sox are 56-71, yet still cling to the preposterous notion that they are part of baseball’s elite class. They make excuses about injuries and they try to keep you interested because they still have a chance at a one-game playoff and then . . . well, anything can happen, right?

No. Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, and Johnny Damon are not walking through that door. You now have tin soldiers Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Jacoby Ellsbury.

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From 1962 through 1968, there were 10 teams in the American League and 10 teams in the National League. Finishing last meant finishing 10th and only one team from each league made the playoffs, a.k.a. the World Series.

The baseball world is very different now. We have six divisions, one featuring only four teams. Ten of 30 major league teams will make the playoffs and you can finish in last place in the AL West and still say you are a fourth-place team.

The Red Sox of the 1960s finished eighth twice and ninth twice. Sox fans were blessed to have the Washington Senators locked in the AL basement.

If the old rules applied today, the Sox would be in 11th place in a 14-team American League. And there would be no hope of playing October baseball.

Instead, they wrestle with their identity, after 100 games (hmm, wonder if they sang “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’’), still not sure if they are buyers or sellers as Tuesday’s trading deadline nears. They cannot decide if they are World Champion hopefuls or enduring yet another bridge year.

Bobby Valentine Friday talked about this team possibly getting to 20 games above .500. That’s 42-20 the rest of the way. Is there anything to indicate that the Sox have a stretch like that in them?

New York has won six of seven against the Sox this season. Boston has lost six of seven overall, sits in last place, two games under .500 and a whopping 11½ games behind the Yankees (12 in the loss column).

In the midst of this horrible play, Sox ownership says nothing. CEO Larry Lucchino has appeared on team-sponsored/owned networks, but soccer obsessed John Henry and chairman Tom Werner continue to demonstrate that baseball doesn’t matter much anymore. Hope you caught the big AS Roma win over Liverpool at Fenway Wednesday night.

Perfect. The Henry entity can’t even win a Friendly at Friendly Fenway.

There was nothing friendly about the Sox’ reception in the Bronx. Boston failed to turn a routine double play in the first and it cost three runs. Aaron Cook had a very loud four innings — Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin each hit two-run homers.

Into the breach Saturday we get smilin’ Jon Lester, who is 5-8 with a 5.46 ERA and allowed 11 earned runs in his last outing. Good thing Boston’s dueling pitching coaches, Bob McClure and Randy Niemann, are around to straighten things out.

Stop the madness. Can everybody please stop pretending the Sox are about to go on a big run?

The Yankees are so much better (and so much better run) than the Red Sox it makes your hair hurt. Fox and ESPN are here for “big rivalry” games Saturday afternoon and Sunday night, but the notion of a rivalry has become little more than a reflex response. Many Yankees beat writers took the night off Friday. The Sox just aren’t worth it anymore.

Your Red Sox have not won a playoff game since 2008 and are about to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

Injuries, right? Hard luck, right?

The Yankees lost the greatest closer in baseball history for the season. They have lost Brett Gardner for the season. They never had Michael Pineda, the pitcher they acquired for Jesus Montero. CC Sabathia went on the disabled list. Andy Pettitte broke his ankle and Alex Rodriguez broke his hand.

“This group has been through it before and been able to overcome it,’’ said manager Joe Girardi.

Unlike You Know Who, scuffling in the cellar, waiting for the return of the varsity.

“There’s been a lot of stuff going on,’’ Valentine acknowledged in an exhaustively long pregame presser. “But I think we’re headed in the right direction. I don’t see things going backward.’’

A lot of stuff going on.”

There’s an understatement. There was a fire in the Red Sox front office at Fenway during spring training and on Friday Boston police reported that somebody stole Wally the Green Monster.

The Wally heist turned out to be a misunderstanding. But Fenway this year really is where amazing happens. Just not a lot of winning.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.
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