THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Now is the fall of our discontent

For sports fans, blue is this season’s color

The keys to easing grief? 'Time, distance, and keeping busy,' says funeral director David Casper. The keys to easing grief? "Time, distance, and keeping busy," says funeral director David Casper. (David L. Ryan/ Globe Staff)
By Andrew Ryan
Globe Staff / October 14, 2009

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The frigid, spirit-sapping rain yesterday would have been enough, without a morning commute marred by a truck rollover and a massive water main break. But these days, New England seems to know no end of pain, still reeling from an epic ninth-inning Red Sox collapse that swept the team out of the playoffs before fans had a reason to cheer.

The Patriots then fell by a field goal in overtime, and the Bruins stumbled in their first home stand for a disappointing 2-3 start. So instead of the crisp, championship air that has dominated so many recent Octobers, the region’s collective psyche is curled in the fetal position.

But hope can sometimes be found in the most unlikely places, even if the Yankees seem poised to steamroll through the World Series. One of the shocked faithful who trudged out of Fenway Park Sunday afternoon was David Casper, a man with a unique perspective on loss.

“Time and distance, that’s the key,’’ said Casper, whose family has run Casper Funeral Home in South Boston for generations “Time, distance, and keeping busy. That’s how you move on with life. And happy thoughts.’’

Happy thoughts can be hard to conjure here in October when the baseball season ended unexpectedly and without fanfare, almost as if the leaves shriveled and died without changing color.

“I cried,’’ said Tami Warner, 26, an Air Force veteran from Southbridge who after eight years of watching the Red Sox win from afar in Louisiana and Iraq had tickets Monday night to Game 4, which wasn’t necessary. “I don’t think I’ve ever cried before when they lost. Part of me died.’’

The Red Sox season began with tantalizing promise after an 8-0 run against the Yankees, punctuated by Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home. But a three-game division lead at the All-Star break evaporated when Boston began the second half of the season with a victory but then lost five straight. The Yankees clinched the division at home with the Red Sox on the field. And Boston looked anemic against the Los Angeles Angels in the playoffs, which included just one game at Fenway Park.

“We try to help people reframe things and look at the bigger picture,’’ said John Plunkett, a managing partner at Mass Bay Counseling, which has offices in Quincy and Marshfield. “Yes, the Red Sox lost, but we were part of a small number of teams that made the playoffs.’’

Another way to “reframe’’ the loss: “By losing to the Angels, we are spared being destroyed by the Yankees,’’ Plunkett said.

Or think about it this way: Be glad you are not Jacob Bachelor, 28, who flew with seven friends from Duncan, Okla., with grandstand tickets for Game 4. Or Luis Quiñones, 58, who traveled with his Game 4 tickets from Las Cruces, N.M., to see what would have been his first game Red Sox game in Boston.

“We figured what the heck, we’ve still got to go see Fenway,’’ said Quiñones, who stood yesterday on an empty Yawkey Way as a maintenance crew with a high-pressure hose washed gunk off the sidewalk.

Inside the park, players cleaned out their lockers. A few autograph seekers stood in the rain.

A group met in a souvenir shop for a tour of Fenway Park, where the next scheduled game is on April 5, 2010. The Sox will battle the Yankees for an early lead in the division.

“One of the great things about baseball, it recycles,’’ Casper said from the funeral home. “No matter what happens, spring comes. Hope springs eternal.’’