OK, it might not seem like there is much to be happy about tonight. The Rays were getting killed… the Red Sox were winning.

The Rays were a strike away from losing and the Sox were a strike away from winning.

And then NOTHING went right.
So what can we feel GOOD about?

I found a few things.

1. Young Red Sox fans have THEIR moment of angst!

I have a formula that you start to follow a team and know the players when you are 7 or 8 years old.

Keeping that in mind, every Red Sox fan 15 years or younger only know the Sox as a team that is capable of winning the World Series. The idea of them being able to let you down is unheard of for them. They are too young to remember Aaron Boone… they have memories of 2004 but much clearer ones of 2007.

Now they have experienced 2011. They can turn to us older fans and say “Was it ALWAYS like this?” And we can say “It was WORSE!”

2. The loss shows that we are stronger as a fan base

Since winning the 2004 and 2007 World Series, the Red Sox lost a heart breaking 7 game series against Tampa, saw a Papelbon melt down to end the 2009 playoffs, missed the playoffs in back to back seasons including this year’s historic face plant.

And oh yeah. The Yankees won a World Series in that stretch.

A season like this will toughen us up a bit. Maybe it will weed out some of the band wagon pink hat fans.

And frankly the losses don’t hurt as badly as they used to. You don’t have the “When will I EVER see them win?” angst.

And when the Sox DO win again, it will be sweeter.

3. Isn’t it nice to lose without being reminded how long its been since you’ve won?

There were no black and white clips. No Bucky Dent homers being shown on a loop. No mentions of curses. Nobody was looking for a piano in the bottom of a lake in Sudbury.

This wasn’t metaphysical.
The answer to the question “Why did the Red Sox lose in 2011” isn’t being posed to an exorcist.

It is about baseball. Their pitching sucked.
Most of their starting pitchers were awful. Bard was rotten. No mystery.

4. There was no 2011 Red Sox champagne celebration

Even if they won, they didn’t earn it.

5. Maybe this will help Theo kick his “expensive free agent habit.”

Theo helped construct two World Series winners by following the blue print of the 1990’s Yankees.

These days they resemble the Yankees of the 1980s! Expensive, full of stars and yet not good enough to make the post season.

For the second straight year, injuries and a shockingly thin pitching staff derailed the Red Sox. And some gigantic unmovable contracts are eating up payroll.

With J. D. Drew and Daisuke Matsuzaka coming off of the books, the temptation will be “BUY MORE STARS!” I say no. Develop more Ryan Lavarnways! Throw that money into developing players from within.

Remember, we were all happy when Crawford arrived. And how symbolic was it that the ball JUST eluded Crawford to end the season while his old team went on to win because of superior young talent and a stronger farm system.

Another title can’t be bought, Theo. Develop the next winner. We’ll wait.

6. We still have the old DVDs to watch

The era of Idiots and Cowboy Up is over.

Varitek, Wakefield and Ortiz may or may not even be on the team next year. Papelbon is probably gone. Drew and Dice-K (both 2007 post season heroes) are all but gone.

Manny, Schilling, Pedro, Lowell, Meuller, Damon… they are all gone.

A new Sox team is slowly emerging. Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youk and Ellsbury are the new leaders but whenever a new pennant winner will emerge, it will look and feel quite different from the ’04 and ’07 team.

It’s the end of the greatest stretch in Red Sox history.
Let’s savor it.

It wasn’t long ago that were were resigned to the fact that we would NEVER see our team win the World Series.

It’s happened twice. It’s been glorious.
It’s over. And man it was fun.

7. You can spend this October with your family

Remember them?
Instead of fretting over the Red Sox all October and cursing at the screen, go talk to your wife, your kids, your husband, your mom and dad.

Go do some fun fall things.
Oh make a self deprecating Red Sox joke while you are at it, but you will be amazed how much time you will have on your hands now.

And wear your Sox hat while you go out too!

Show that you are not a fair weather fan.

Yeah it was a rough night. But that’s what makes us tough fans.

Walk tall Sox fans.

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