You can’t win them all. But, man… I really wanted to win them all.

Yet, when our boys had the bases loaded in the sixth and couldn’t plate a single bloody run, you knew it was over. Even the way they made those outs — Tek with a weak, almost desperate swat at a pitch far too high; Graff with a meager pop-out after what seemed an 86 pitches battle; and Johnny on a halting, couldn’t-quite-check-it swing at a sinker in the dirt — seemed to signal that the magic had dried up. They were tired. They were flailing. They, like us, could feel it slipping away. They certainly made it interesting — no way there was a single ass in a chair across Red Sox Nation when Olerud worked that walk to fill the sacks. But when Tek swung at that godawful pitch for the first of three miserable outs… a little piece of me died.

As much as I hate to say it, and as much as I despise seeing the season end on such a ballbusting note, last year makes this easier to bear. The vision of Aaron Boone’s home run to close the 2003 ALCS haunted me for months; hell, it inspired this goddamn site as a means of channeling the angst and torment that Denton and I couldn’t seem to legally contain otherwise. Because in 2003, we knew we could have gone all the way. “Gotta get to the Series while we’ve got Pedro,” was the matra in this town for years. “You’ve only got that small window of time to get to the World Series while Pedro’s so dominant.”

Well, the following year, we did. And Pedro — and everyone, it seemed, during that storybook year — came through when we needed it most. And it’s the memory of last year’s unstoppable awesomeness that’s probably keeping most of us from walking, single file, to the nearest bridge. This year… never really had that vibe. You know, that vibe. The same one that shook through your body when you saw the opening shot of Scarlett Johansson’s arse in Lost in Translation. Oh, yeah. That one.

In the end, what upsets me most is that I’ve got no Red Sox game to watch today. And, man, do I feel like watching a Red Sox game today.

More tomorrow… in the meantime, your thoughts on the season, the ALCS, and thanks to the boys can go in the comments section.