There's no more baseball in the Triangle now. Not after Monday. Not out Zebulon way, where the Carolina Mudcats were well-meaning but not very good this year. And not in Durham, where the team leader in batting average for the Bulls hid under .260.
The season ended for the Bulls a lot like Genesis' career did - there were lineup shifts, there was confusion, and there weren't a lot of hits. They went down meekly to the Norfolk Tides, who had themselves a thoroughly awful year, with the season ending on a tapper to the mound by catcher Hank Conger. Conger, one of the Rays' offseason acquisitions, was supposed to bring power and pitch framing to the parent club in Tampa. Instead, he ended up hitting around .150 in Durham, and that was that.
To be fair, Bulls fans have gotten a little spoiled over the years. The endless pipeline of Crawfords and Longorias and Prices and Jennings and all the playoff appearances and winning records that went with them were fun. Coming to the ballpark, you had a reasonable expectation of a win, or at least something special happening. This year, not so much, as the prospects fizzled and the guys riding the Tampa shuttle could never find a groove and the pitching, with or without Blake Snell wasn't quite enough. Too many first pitch hacks, too many 2-0 holes that were too deep to climb out of, too many bad base running decisions and questionable routes in the outfield...it was a long year, and not as easy or as fun to watch any more.
And yet, I was still there. Wouldn't have missed it, even with the rain of Norfolk home runs - one into the bushes in the green batter's eye in center, beyond the rope warning patrons seated in the "picnic" area not to cross and thus risk jostling the centerfield camera. And when that sad, soft last out was recorded, I felt a pang. Another season gone. They're all worth celebrating, even the bad ones, in their own way.
How many days till Opening Day? Let me start counting.