The Red Sox had a chance to send a strong message to the rest of baseball by sweeping the World Champion White Sox this past weekend in Chicago. After taking the first two games in pretty convincing fashion, Boston couldn’t finish off the White Sox yesterday, twice blowing late inning leads before eventually losing 6-5 in a marathon 19 inning game that lasted six hours and 19 minutes.

The Red Sox still finished the first half of the season with a strong 53-33 record, good for a three game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East. Some in the media (Hello, Glenn) were quite strong in their opinion that the Red Sox weren’t interested in winning this season, but were more interested in building for the future. However, the consensus around baseball after the first half of the season seems to be that this is a better team than we saw in 2005.

Gordon Edes looks at a long, crazy afternoon at U.S. Cellular field in Chicago. Michael Silverman notes that yesterday’s game was long enough to tide anyone missing baseball over for the next three days. Sean McAdam observes that Ernie Banks should’ve been in attendance as the two clubs did play the equivalent of two games yesterday afternoon in Chicago. Tom Yantz has more on the third longest game in Red Sox history. David Borges notes that when Jonathan Papelbon took the mound to try and close out the game yesterday, no one could’ve imagined that there would still be 10 innings and three hours of baseball remaining. Bill Ballou says that no matter how frustrating or devastating this loss might be, it still only counts as one, no matter that it lasted longer than two.

Bob Ryan recaps the Red Sox chances to win yesterday, and how the White Sox finally were able to come through and end the marathon session in Chicago. Steve Buckley writes about the Red Sox kid pitchers, who give this team a bright future. He notes that the four of them all appear to have both the stuff and the makeup to handle pitching in Boston. Buckley also reports on Jonathan Papelbon blowing his third save of the season, giving up a ninth inning home run to Jermaine Dye.

Edes’ notebook has an update on Curt Schilling, who took a Jim Thome line drive off his elbow in the sixth inning yesterday. Silverman’s notebook has more on Schilling. Yantz’s notebook also reports on Schilling, who thinks he’ll be able to make his next start on Saturday. Borges’ notebook has a Wily Mo Pena update, as Pena has been feeling some soreness in his fingers which might delay his return to the Red Sox. Ballou’s notebook examines the Red Sox position in first place heading into the break.

Nick Cafardo has a brief All Star Notebook, with a note from the Futures Games, where Portland Sea Dogs reliever Edgar Martinez made an appearance.

Chad Finn has a brief look at a disturbing picture from a mid-1990’s Sports Illustrated.

Steve Bulpett talks to Paul Pierce’s agent, who says that his client wants nothing more than to stay in Boston. Shira Springer has a look at Ryan Gomes, who she says has shown the ability to make tough choices on and off the court look easy. Gomes is playing with the Celtics summer league team, and looking to build on his promising rookie season. Scott Souza notes that Gerald Green has shown he can dunk with the best of them, but is working this summer on being able to play the rest of the game with the best of them as well.

Frank Dell’Apa reports on Italy winning the World Cup. John Powers says that penalty kicks are no way to win soccer’s biggest prize, but that’s how the Italians did it. Jim Donaldson says the kicks were an “utterly ridiculous way to decide the biggest game in the world of team sports.” Maria Cramer and Stephanie Conduff report on the celebrations in Boston’s North End, while Gregory Smith looks at the joy of the Italian fans in Providence and Jeff Jacobs in Hartford. Alex Beam reports on the crowd in City Hall plaza.

Highlights From the Weekend:

Steve Buckley had the cover story of the back page of the Herald on Sunday, asserting that Manny and the Red Sox are making a mockery of the midseason classic. It’s my contention that a number of the knights of the keyboard (and microphones) have tried way too hard to make this whole thing an issue. If the fans were really insulted by Manny, wouldn’t they have not voted for him this year because he had missed previous All Star games under a cloud of media driven suspicion? Jon Couture says that the All Star game has bigger problems than Manny Ramirez’s absence. Alan Greenwood isn’t getting too worked up over Manny’s absence either.

Nick Cafardo had the Sunday Baseball Notes in the Globe, with old standby J.P. Ricciardi willing and eager to fill up space for the Globe scribe. I wonder if Ricciardi is on his way to becoming Nick’s baseball version of Tom Donahoe? Alex Speier looked at a fine first half for the Red Sox. The Globe Magazine also had a further look at Seth Mnookin’s new book “Feeding the Monster”, with this one focusing on the sections dealing with the relationship between Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein.

Peter May’s Basketball Notes has undrafted free agent guard Allan Ray taking his best shot the NBA after landing a partially guaranteed contract from the Celtics. Mark Murphy had a must-read feature on Celtics second round pick Leon Powe, who has battled adversity and tragedy his entire life, but has emerged as a strong force both on and off the basketball court. Murphy’s NBA Notes examined John Paxson’s move to bring Ben Wallace to Chicago. Scott Souza said that the Celtics could be playing even more small ball this season.

Ron Borges’ Football Notes had five questions he feels that the Patriots need to answer heading into training camp.

Stephen Harris’ The NHL column reported that Peter Chiarelli will have a free hand in his duties and will become the all-powerful hockey czar of the franchise. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell’s Hockey Notes looked at what the Bruins new additions, specifically Zdeno Chara, and to a lesser extent Shean Donovan and Mark Mowers, will bring to the club. Buckley slightly made up for his Saturday column with a look at the changing face of the Bruins in yesterday’s paper. Douglas Flynn noted that the Bruins have filled up their salary cap space very quickly and had better hope that their investments pay off, as they will be paying these bills for a long time to come.

ESPN has the Baseball Home Run Derby at 8:00.