Last day of the season.
The sure things are fighting for their lives. The under performers have caught fire and pulled ahead, then away. Two divisions might not be settled, even after today; a playoff for a playoff between a team that once seemed inevitable and a team that seemed to have no chance is a distinct possibility.
A Hall of Famer is retiring with pomp and ceremony on the field of his only team's arch-rival. More of the era's defining (if not deified) players are bowing out as well; sneaky-good Bobby Abreu and endlessly consistent thumper Paul Konerko. In LA, a third baseman is managing his team and the likely MVP is serving as his pitching coach; it's a meaningless affair except for the joy people are taking in it.
And here is where the season ends: with races as tight as on Opening Day, with endings, with goodbyes, with anticipation of what comes next and a reminder that baseball is supposed to be fun, dammit.
The playoffs, as famously noted by Billy Beane, are a different beast. They require a different rotation, a different roster, a different style of play. In some ways, it's barely the same game that the teams played 162 times to get there. And while they offer their own drama and rewards, there's nothing quite like the regular season, with its long rhythms and unwinding storylines, unlikely moments and endless possibility.
So goodbye, 2014. It's been fun. And regular season baseball, we'll see you in the spring.