The baseball season ended today, on a day of "rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets." There are a few more games left on the schedule, a couple of weeks to tie up some loose ends, but they are of lesser importance.
When Edgar Renteria ended the second consecutive Red Sox season with a infield grounder, I went out to walk my dogs, and I was somewhat surprised at how I felt. ... I didn't mind all that much. Sure, winning is better than losing. I'd rather be anxious and pacing, waiting for Game 4 to start. But it seems that within my baseball heart, the glow of 2004 has failed to dim.
Dropping the first two games in Chicago certainly helped cushion the final blow. Being unable to score the tying run with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth sent a final signal -- a few innings early, so it was hard to initially grasp its message -- that Boston would not be repeating as World Series champions. (Despite the best intentions of Manny Ramirez.)
The short series was frustrating --- the White Sox outplayed our boys in every facet of the game: pitching, hitting, fielding, baserunning -- but there was no real angst over the final result, certainly no weight of history on the shoulders. Later on in the evening, I actually said: "Hey, you can't win them all."
Which is pretty funny, coming from a lifelong Red Sox fan. And yet: Do you know how good it feels to say that? The Red Sox will be one of 28 other teams that will be watching the World Series later this month. I don't like that, I wish it wasn't so, but deep down, I'm content.
I think about that and I think about what happened to bring me to this place, and I have to smile. Soon, some other group of fans will be celebrating, but ... I'll be damned. The ripple effects of 2004 -- and the promise of 2006, now a mere dot of light on the horizon, but soon to come into clearer view -- will keep me quite warm through another winter.
I love baseball.