As fun as the Rays' win streak has been over the last few weeks, there's been one major downside to them being in the hunt for the playoffs right up until the last moment: I haven't had nearly enough time to process that the season is coming to a close, and that after tonight, there will be no more Rays baseball for close to six months. This isn't an experience any of us have had to cope with in recent memory, considering the Rays have made the playoffs three of the last four seasons, and they were eliminated from contention considerably earlier in 2009.

And man, it sucks.

With the Rays being eliminated from playoff contention on Monday night, I've found myself to be a ball of unpredictable, turbulent emotions. I wasn't expecting myself to get sentimental regarding any of the players, as most of the team will be back next year and I've already mentally come to terms with B.J. Upton becoming a free agent. But then, listening to the game last night, I felt this weird emotion bubbling up inside my chest. Anticipatory sadness? A little bit of grief and loss, and a little bit of happiness? I obviously didn't fully appreciated how much I would miss James Shields until last night.