Thank you, Astros fans, from me to you.

Getaway day on Sunday was a little different than normal, because nearly half of the players didn’t travel back on the team charter. While we do have a several locals — Michael Bourn, Doug Brocail, Lance Berkman, etc. — most of the players are not from Houston and therefore made their own flight arrangements after the final game of the season at Citi Field.

Of the 33 or so players on the roster, only 17 traveled back to Houston. That made the packing up phase postgame Sunday a little more rushed as players made a quick getaway to catch other commercial flights or personal charters.

There was time, however, for a lot of goodbyes among teammates, and in the minutes immediately following the game, most players walked around and exchanged hugs and handshakes.

One particularly poignant moment occurred after the final out of the game. As the Mets walked off the field, Darin Erstad asked Mets third baseman David Wright to fetch third base and give it to Erstad, who handed it off to Geoff Blum moments after the final out. The players in turn presented it to Aaron Boone inside the clubhouse.

Few, if any, know what Boone has planned for the future. I sense he knows what he’s going to do regarding his career, but he’s keeping it to himself for now. If I had to guess, I would say he’ll probably retire. I thought it was a nice move for manager Dave Clark to start Boone at third base Sunday, which very well could have been Boone’s last game in a Major League uniform.

If Boone wants to play again, I would imagine he’d have to sign a Minor League contract and try to make a team out of Spring Training. I’m not sure he’d want to take that route. The important thing was getting back on the field this year, to prove to himself that he could still play after going through open-heart surgery. I was amazed that he made such a quick comeback and while he didn’t get any hits in the little playing time he did receive, it was a real pleasure to simply watch him play again after everything he went through.

The season is over for the players, but things are just getting started for the front office. Obviously, finding a manager is the club’s top priority. I wouldn’t expect any announcements arriving anytime soon — in fact, if this was done before the start of the world Series I’d be surprised. (After the World Series begins, the Commissioner asks teams not to make any major announcements until it’s over).

As for me, I’ll be continuing with the blog and Twitter throughout the winter, obviously with slightly less frequency. Still, there’s plenty going on in the offseason — Winter Meetings, hot stove rumors, Astroline, caravans and banquets, among other things, and I’ll be there for all of it. I’m also planning to have some fun, starting with traveling to Weir, Miss., to attend the opening of Roy Oswalt’s restaurant “Homeplate Fish and Steakhouse,” which he built from the ground up (with a little help from his friends).

Although it was a disappointing season on the field, it wasn’t all gloom and doom. Wandy Rodriguez had a terrific season and was named by Houston voters as the team’s Pitcher of the Year. Michael Bourn was named Most Valuable Player after an unbelievable breakthrough season both offensively and in the field.

Jeff Fulchino, who didn’t even make the team out of Spring Training, proved to be one of the most stable relief pitchers, and in turn, he was voted Rookie of the Year. Brian Moehler, one of the most professional and dedicated players I’ve ever met, was awarded with the Darryl Kile Award.

On a personal note, thanks to all of you for following me as I documented the Astros through the season. There are many great things about this job, but the best might be that I now have time to interact directly with the fans, both on this blog, Twitter and Facebook, as well as my direct email. Without your participation, this wouldn’t have been much fun. I’d be sitting in the press box saying, “Is anyone even reading this?”

But I always knew you were, so thank you. Here’s to 2010. Talk to you soon.

In the meantime, enjoy one last batch of photos from the final trip of the 2009 season.

Dave Clark addresses the media following the final game in New York.

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Tejada talks to reporters about falling one hit short of 200 for the season.

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Back in Houston…one last time unloading the equipment truck.

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Obviously, players packed up their lockers before the last road trip.

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An eerily quiet clubhouse…that’s Brian Moehler on the right, waiting patiently for his equipment bag. Moehler’s having surgery to clean out his knee at 7:30 a.m. Monday.

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Sean Berry and Moehler, hoping their bags are on that first shipment.

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An empty manager’s office…for now. Who will occupy it in 2010? Stay tuned…

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4 Comments

The empty lockers are kind of sad…

And are those a big stack of bobbleheads in Boone’s locker?

Thanks Alyson for all the pics – as a fan that is much appreciated. I enjoyed watching the Astros this year. Hope we can get ‘em next year!

Have a great offseason!

Boone seems to like collecting the bobbleheads as much as I do. Wonder if he has a spare Pudge, I missed that day because I had to work.

Thank you so much, Alyson, for the information, photos, and humor concerning everything Astro:) It makes being a long-distance fan much easier!

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