Seas of towels swirled. Chants erupted. The postseason-starved crowd got loud.
But faced with elimination, the outmatched team couldn’t muster much of an effort.

The visitors’ lead widened as hopes for a rally dwindled and then disappeared.
But as the score grew more lopsided, as the odds got more grim, the fans grew more raucous.

They chanted, clapped, and called out their favorite batter’s names.
The realization loomed that the party over a division-winning season was about to end.

They screamed their lungs raw and spun their futile rally towels down to the last out.
The stadium emptied out, leaving behind the detritus of beer cans, nacho helmets and peanut shells.

The plaintive wail of the busker’s saxophone haunted the station as fans piled on the train.
The parking lots cleared out. Sidewalks full of fans in jerseys both brand-new and well-worn emptied.

Even the team store turned them away as the stadium lights dimmed for the final time that season.
Street vendors tried to unload merchandise, pop, loose beers: ‘Going out of business, man.’

As the magic dimmed and the ballpark went into hibernation,
one fan muttered as he left his long-held seat, “maybe next year.”

He glanced at his calendar trying to figure out how many days until spring training.
“Maybe next year,” he repeated like a mantra, a seed of that eternal but elusive hope.
“Maybe next year.”