I saw every minute of it, well past midnight, and I still can't believe it. No one has ever seen a baseball season finish like that. The Rays were once down seven runs and still a run short and a strike away from losing, the Red Sox were a strike away from winning, the Braves two outs away from winning. And every result changed.
See you, chokers from Boston and Atlanta. Welcome to the playoffs, Rays and Cardinals. Take your places in home run history, Dan Johnson and Evan Longoria (showering fans at the Trop above).
Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe might have the start on new fodder for more of his Curse of the Bambino books. Wrote Shaughnessy on Page A-1 of today's Globe: "Truly unbelievable. This feels like revenge for 2004 and 2007. It is as if the baseball gods are punishing Red Sox Nation for hubris and arrogance and good times that seemed so good, so good, so good."
I like this Shaughnessy crack too: "They are the first team in baseball history to hold a nine-game lead in September, then fail to make the postseason. This makes them worse than the ’64 Phillies or the ’78 Red Sox. They are the poster boys of the Heimlich maneuver."
Wrote great friend of the blog Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant: "Now we know why 2004 happened. Now we know why 2004 was followed by 2007. Somehow the baseball gods knew Red Sox fans would never have been able to handle September 2011 if two exhilarating world championships hadn't interrupted all those decades of suffering. No, a few verses of Sweet Caroline and a pink hat under the Christmas tree aren't going to cure this hurt."
Another great friend, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post, was in Baltimore and recaps the chronology of events by calling it "the single most-exciting, most intense, most exhilarating night in baseball history."
In the St. Petersburg Times, John Romano calls it "Miracles 2, logic 0" while recounting the Rays' bizarre finish through the eyes of several team personnel who weren't on the field.
No one, of course, paid much attention to the Braves' collapse given the Red Sox situation. But as Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote, "But even a choking dog can have his day, or night, and the 2011 Braves tried to give themselves one Wednesday. They failed. They failed in the way this entire month had been a failure."
The Cardinals took until the last night of the season to finally get it together and win their 90th game. And it was shades of the 1964 team that came back on the Phillies.
So there we have it. Yankees-Tigers and Rays-Rangers in the AL. Phillies-Cardinals and Diamondbacks-Brewers in the NL. No Red Sox, no Braves. No way you thought that could happen when September started.
Photos of Evan Longoria (left) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (right)/Associated Press