ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Don't cry for the Red Sox.
They're done for this year after the Game 7 loss to the Rays, but that doesn't mean they're done for good. They didn't become the first repeat champion in more than a decade, but that doesn't mean they'll never win again.
In fact, the Red Sox could return as soon as next year, with virtually the same cast. That's assuming they find a way to re-sign catcher Jason Varitek, which in this view, they should. Yes, it's true that Varitek has looked lost at the plate. But even in his disappointing postseason, it became obvious that the Red Sox still rely on him. They have no one ready to replace him, and the free-agent market for catchers is absolutely awful.
The Sox face few other big decisions. They will have to determine whether Mike Lowell will be fully healthy after hip surgery, but the other injuries that helped end their postseason run should heal over the winter.
Any hurt feelings should heal, too, if they haven't already. Even after losing a tough Game 7, most of the Red Sox players seemed to realize that there was no reason for regrets.
"We just kind of ran out of magic," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said.
"It didn't work out," said designated hitter David Ortiz. "What can you do?"
They ran out of magic this year. It didn't work out this year.
They'll be back, ready to battle the Rays in baseball's toughest division again next year.