From the first day pitchers and catchers report in February, it's coming. No matter how much we want to deny it, from Spring Training to the All-Star game to the last out of the World Series, it's inevitable. The baseball season will end; for the Boston Red Sox and Red Sox Nation it ended last night. Not at Fenway Park, but in a dump of an indoor park in St. Petersburg, FL of all places.
To a team that had never had a winning record and if anyone in the free world had the foresight to actually lay money down in Vegas on them winning it all? God Bless 'em, because I sure didn't see it coming.
I'm not gonna complain; the boys had another magical run and made it to one game away from the World Series. Along the way, they dealt with injuries to Mikey and JD Drew, Beckett suddenly turning mortal again, and Tek a shell of his former self. Mike Timlin suddenly got old, Ellsbury remembered he was a second year player, and at the end we had Mark Kotsay playing 1B and Jason Bay in RF. He was there because the brass finally decided they'd had enough of Manny being Manny and shipped him off to Cali, where all he did there was look like the greatest player who'd ever lived for a couple of months.
In my eyes? The fact they were even THERE at the end is a minor miracle; facing a team that apparently has destiny and all the good luck in the world on it's side? That's a tough row to hoe.
On a personal front, this was hands down the best baseball year I've EVER had. I got to go to Fenway Park for the first time in May for a three game set with the Brewers while at the same time getting to see some old friends and meet some new ones. We paloozed, we hugged, and we laughed our heads off. Then, thanks to my good buddy Rob, I was actually in Fenway Park for Game 3 of the ALDS against the Angels with Josh Beckett on the mound; the fact we lost doesn't change the fact I got to experience something I never imagined I would.
Fenway Park in October.
So now we wait. For next year and pitchers and catchers. For those first images from Spring Training, for Opening Day, and for the first home series. We wait for another Palooza in Boston, for that first MFY/Sox series, and for the All-Star Game.
In short? We wait for 2009. It'll come; just like last year and the year before, and the year before that. Others like Bart Giamatti and James Earl Jones have said it much more eloquently than me, but the message is the same.
Baseball, the Red Sox, and another gut busting, nail biting, pace the floor and curse under your breath season is just around the corner.
It can't get here fast enough.