It may have resulted in my team completing an historic failure, but last night was the greatest night of baseball I can remember.

I’ve seen great games, great drama and great playoff match ups, but full the scale and reach of the drama last night tops them all.

I’m sure there will be inquests in Atlanta and Boston right up until Opening Day 2012, but right now I’m finding myself being surprisingly objective about the whole thing. Sure, as a fan my first reaction to the Red Sox elimination was frustration, annoyance, despair an any number of other things, but I quickly found myself appreciating the spectacle of it all. I don’t say that to try and gain some sort of objective superiority, but I think it does show just how stunning an evening it was.

When the Red Sox were scrabbling for pitching and giving up what seemed like 10 runs a game for a fortnight it was, for me, the worst period to be a fan of the team. Bucky Dent was before my time so Aaron Boone’s homer in 2003 was the previous toughest moment. It may just be me, but this was harder to watch and not because of Robert Andino. As a one off event, Andino’s big hit is just not comparable to Boone or Dent. This wasn’t really about the one game. Any team can win or lose one game on any number of big events. It’s a gut punch but you know something like that could happen at any time in any game. It’s the death by a thousand pin pricks that made this so painful.

Up until last night I always had (apparently misplaced) confidence that somehow the Red Sox would hold on. I think enough people in that organization have earned fans trust to make more good moves than bad ones and the fact that we had Jon Lester going against Alfredo Simon should have given everyone a boost. The notion, in some cases from people that should know better, that starting Lester was wrong because two wins might be needed to get to the playoffs so he should have been saved for a game 163 that might never happen was one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. I’d had to take 999 pin pricks, but at game time last night I still thought the final prick might never come.

Once Andino and Evan Longoria had delivered their walkoffs however, the anger and frustration I anticipated was relatively short lived. Baseball has justĀ deliveredĀ a night of drama that those that sat through it won’t easily forget and I think that’s something worth setting aside a little bit of our partisan fandom and appreciating.

 

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