A disappointing end to the first half of the season for the fans, but a fantastic finish for the media. Not only do they have an uninspired loss to talk about for three days, they also have their favorite whipping boys, Manny and Pedro to kick around for leaving the team early. A two in one deal. the newspaper guys do a reasonable job of playing it straight, especially since Gordon Edes told Bob Lobel last night that not a single writer believes Manny’s story of his sick mother. Michael Silverman says that despite yesterday, you should still be pretty satisfied with the first half of the season. Steven Krasner also says it was a pretty decent first half. Joe Burris says yesterday was a good time for the team to reach the break. David Heuschkel says the Sox find themselves in a familiar spot at the break. As for Manny and Pedro, Bob Hohler manages to get through his article with a straight face, as he reports on Manny calling in yesterday morning, and that Ramirez does have sort of a backer in David Ortiz. Tony Massarotti says that Grady and Theo are enablers to this sort of behavior. Krasner also has a look at the Red Sox lite edition that was trotted out yesterday. Massarotti hands out his first half grades for the ballclub. Hohler adds that there is still plenty of work to be done on this team. He also chronicles the best and worst five games of the first half. Jim Parker looks at Wilfredo Ledezma, former Sox minor leaguer who baffled them yesterday. Howard Bryant’s pay column has Sox owner John W. Henry very happy with his club’s first half performance. He feels no urgency to move on Pedro or Grady, but feels they’ll both be here beyond their current terms. Bryant goes on to discuss the Bill James article, and wonders if having James in the office is going to make Theo Epstein’s job harder when it comes to dealing with other clubs. James, he says, has engaged in “open and maverick condescension” towards other clubs’ methods and means. Yesterday, John Tomase looked at what minor leaguers the Sox might part with at the trading deadline. Burris’ notebook says Tim Wakefield was just in a no-win situation last night. Silverman’s notebook says Grady was fine with the early departures of yesterday. Krasner’s notebook looks at Wakefield’s lack of support, while Heuschkel’s notebook has more on the missing Dominicans.

LeBron fever hits hub. Bob Ryan looks at the most hyped young athlete in American history. In one part, Ryan compares what LeBron did with his high school team and compared it to Larry Bird’s Indiana State college team. Makes you pause for reflection. Steve Bulpett has Cavs GM (and former Celtic) Jim Paxson talking about LeBron’s maturity. Joe Sullivan provides a capsule look at the Celtics Summer league roster. The NY Daily News reports that the Knicks are still very interested in Antoine Walker. Jerry Trecker says LeBron isn’t the only attraction at the Reebok summer league. Michael O’Keeffe looks at put up or shut up day for Lenny Cooke.

With the Boston Metro web site having been down for a few days, there’s no link available, but in John Molori’s Media Blitz today, he reports that Mike Kellogg will be leaving 1510 the Zone at the end of this week. Molori also knocks a few people this week, including Eddie Andelman, Bob Neumeier, Greg Dickerson and Larry Johnson.