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Until the Real Thing Comes Along

That was fun. We got to see the Cubs beaten, quite badly, and enjoy the Cards put up a big number. Even better, it was against Zambrano. Now, I would never wish ill on any baseball player personally, but watching Big Z get knocked around isn't, shall we say, exactly unpleasant.

And that's what we're really left with at this point in the season. Small victories, tiny packets of happiness even as the ship of the season sinks around us. We may contend next year; then again, we may not. None of us truly know until we get where we're going what we'll find there. So perhaps the time has come to appreciate what we've had, rather than try to diagnose where it went wrong.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not generally the most optimistic of people. I have a very, very tough time looking on the bright side of much of anything, much less something so very disappointing as the latter bits of this season. It's turned out to be a very tough time to follow the Cardinals, even as they've probably still overachieved a little bit, at least relative to what we all thought we were going to look at this season. A slow slide into oblivion? Hey, Aaron's totally into that sort of thing!

Surely, Dylan Thomas had the right of it when he instructed us all to rage, and yet also there is joy, even nobility, to be found in the acceptance of loss, the resignation to fate. To walk forward, sans illusions, to an ignoble end, is the ultimate expression of free will. In the end, we have the choice to accept, to give in, and to find the beauty even in our sorrow.

Thus, as the Cardinals', and by extension, our, season comes to an end, let us sing in our chains, rejoice in our bonds. Rather than raging at the onrushing darkness, let us meet it calmly, with the smile of greeting for an old friend we've met so many times before. 

Our season in the sun may be coming to a close, yet the joy still outweighs the sorrow. All beginnings are but the beginnings of endings; the journey to reach the end is the only reward any of us can ever truly hope to achieve.

What will you take from this season? What single moment, among all the good and the bad, will stay with you as the autumn closes in on another summer?

What will stay with me from this season? The fourth of July. The Cardinals lost the game that night to the Cubbies, 2-1. You may remember the game; the Cards were badly, badly hosed on a couple of late inning calls that night against Kerry Wood. Troy Glaus, in particular, struck out looking on two balls clearly out of the strike zone. The next day, in fact, I wrote a piece called "Tangled Up in Blue" here all about the umpiring, as well as my grilling problems.

But what I'll take from that game isn't the game itself, it was everything that went along with it. I remember running back and forth from the fireworks to the game, trying not to miss a pitch or an explosion. I remember being among friends, and the joy of just being able to spend the time with people I care about. The outcome of the game was secondary; that running from place to place, that thrill of anticipation, was the real point. The joy of being there.

So what will it be for you? What memory of the summer now gone will you bring out in the dark months to catch the reflected glow?

It's been a frustrating season, to be sure, in many, many ways. But it's our frustrating season. What has it meant to you?