This is the end, beautiful friend…

It's okay, Okajima. Honest.

I did not watch last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game.

Instead, I made an 8 p.m. grapefruit juice run (I’ve been in a tea-and-medication haze all weekend). Then I came home, and watched the season premiers of The Cleveland Show and Family Guy, followed by my recently rekindled love, Mad Men. I then turned off the T.V., goofed off on the computer, listened to Sonic Youth, and finally passed out when the Walgreens version of Nyquil kicked in, knocking me out for a good eight hours or so.

And when I awoke, I learned that the Red Sox are all but officially, finally done for the year, barring winning out and both Tampa Bay and New York losing every game the rest of the way.

There were a few reasons for not watching last night’s game. First, I cannot stand to listen to Joe Morgan‘s continued campaign on baseball listeners’ eardrums. I could have done the “mute the TV, turn the radio to Joe Castiglione” routine, but I wasn’t up for it.

Also, the Sox had won the first two games in New York. They’d put enough of a scare into the Yankees that Joe Girardi switched Phil Hughes, on three days’ rest, in to start in place of Dustin Mosely. They were taking this Red Sox threat seriously.

And I’ll be honest; being out of the race at this point bums me out. I don’t know if I could really handle the thought of getting back in it, only to see the carnage unfold before my eyes. So between being sick, having cartoons to watch, tunes to listen to and Don Draper to stare at slack-jawed, I had more than enough to distract me. If they won, fantastic. If not, hey, no hard feelings.

As it turned out, the Sox got two runs off of Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning, only to see Jonathan Papelbon give up the tying run in the bottom half. And then Hideki Okajima walked in the winning run. And that should just about do it.

This has been a season unlike any I can remember (and for reader purposes, my Red Sox memory stretches back to about 1988). They’ve hung in there despite ridiculous odds, and took the race to the last week of the year. I went to Fenway Park more times (six) this year than ever before. For the first time since 2006, I was able to follow a complete year from beginning to end, at home, living with the ups and downs of the season as it happened rather than reading about them later via box scores and game reports.

So, hey, this wasn’t the year. This was still a great year for me as a fan, and there’s a week of games left, including Mike Lowell Night on Oct. 2. Baseball is the kind of sport that makes its fans soak in each moment, every inning feeling crucial, only to blur together by the end of the year as a collection of highs and lows, the poles always shining brighter than the middle. And there’s always a chance that something will happen that’s never happened before. And most days, there’s hope. In that way, baseball mimics life.

Disappointing? Absolutely. But that’s okay. There are always thrills to balance that out.

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