While this wasn’t the first time the Red Sox were one out away from closing the deal only to turn around and kick me in the jimmy, I was surprised at how quickly this one slipped through our fingers. One minute, I’m clearing up my schedule for Monday night, telling those orphans that they’re just gonna have to find someone else to drive their asses to the state fair. The next, I’m watching The Elf pop out weakly, and Mike Scioscia waddling out from the visitor’s dugout in triumph.

Did it hurt? Hells yeah. Even with two more World Series titles in my back pocket than I ever thought I’d experience in my lifetime, you never want to see your team vanquished so quickly from the postseason. Especially after holding the lead for so long in Game Three, and convincing me that the offense might have just turned a corner.

But after digesting this one — with the help of my good friends Bud and Coors Light — I’ve convinced myself that it just wasn’t in the cards for us this year. The 2009 Sox were a good team, not a great team. Not a world-beating team that wins championships. After that debacle in Kansas City, blowing a sizable lead to one of the worst teams in the business, the Sox sputtered through the final frames and literally dropped ass-backward into the postseason via a Rangers loss. Okay, I figured, that’s fine; they’re saving the awesome for the playoffs, where anything can happen.

But when our offense went AWOL for games one and two, digging us the hole that Papelbon filled with concrete yesterday afternoon, it became painfully obvious that no one got belted with gamma rays, no one was puttin’ on a cape. This was the same team that struggled through the last couple weeks of the season. There was no spark, no life, and no one to rally the troops and remind them that it was Big Pants Time.

After the Sox whipped the Angels in the 2008 ALCS, John Lackey complained that the better team lost. Well, Donut Boy has no reason to gripe this morning. The better team won. ‘Nuff said.

It will be odd, going from cursing the Angels this week to rooting for them against the Yankees next week. But it’s what needs to be done.