As with all good things, all bad things, too, must come to an end.
One year ago, the Red Sox were dealt a dramatic death blow. In the span of minutes, the Rays overturned a massive deficit against the Yankees and the Orioles staged a comeback to complete the most disastrous collapse perhaps in the history of Major League Baseball.
Tonight there was no such drama, no impressive buildup. The Yankees dealt the Red Sox a coup de grace--a "blow of mercy"--complete with all the fightback from the Red Sox that one would expect from a wounded, half-dead creature. Daisuke Matsuzaka was their offering on the mound--the man with the 7.68 ERA (now well over 8), the pitching equivalent of a white flag. Their lineup, even with Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, was as anemic as ever.
And now we're done. They're done. It's done. The 2012 Red Sox are an ugly footnote on the history of this franchise we loved. Where 2010 was a fun bunch of guys who just couldn't stay healthy, 2011 a complete disaster, 2012 is a smudge. We will not remember them beyond their record, because they gave us nothing to remember them by. No valiant last stand, no impressive victories to bother the Yankees. Their greatest achievement is losing three straight to the Orioles.
We have lots to look forward to now. A chance to rebuild both short term and long, a chance to clear some very unwanted baggage, a chance to get out from under the terrible weight of this season.
Of course, with this comes fear. The fear that their best efforts will fail, or that they'll stumble into the same pitfalls. Even beyond that there's the potential that things could get very ugly over the next few weeks as ties are broken and bridges are burned.
It's time to unwind, but also the time to brace for the worst--or at least hide from it. These are dark days, and they may get darker before long, but finally we've got a chance to head towards the surface.