No St. Louis Cardinals fan wanted the last season at Busch Stadium to end this way -- our bruised and battered team offering whiff after whiff at Roy Oswalt's devastating fastballs.
We all watched after Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina popped up a lazy fly ball to end the game, causing the Astros' mad dash to the center of the field to celebrate in our stadium.
That's what happened last week as we watched the Houston Astros win the National League Championship Series, advance to their first-ever World Series and our boys sent packing for the winter.
Many Cards fans were expecting another miracle, and why not? Albert Pujols had stunned the Astros faithful in Game 5 in Houston with a monster home run that gave his team the lead and Cardinal fans a reason to breathe again.
But there were no more miracles, only a dominating pitching performance by Oswalt and our aging and tired team unable to put together anything against him. Now the Astros are playing in the World Series and our boys are not.
Congratulations to the Astros and to the Chicago White Sox. We wait to see who emerges the world champion.
And we do what all other fans do whose teams don't win the World Series. We talk about next year, about which players will be back. Boy, don't we need another bat in the lineup? Sure wish we'd get some bullpen help.
When the Cardinals take the field in 2006, it will be a new beginning of sorts. They'll be playing in a new stadium and making new memories for baseball generations to come.
In the meantime, let the winter-time mantra begin: we'll get them next year.