Our colleague M.D. Harmon argues on the opposite page that people like to talk about baseball because, really, baseball doesn’t matter much and so it makes for friendlier conversations than life-and-death issues such as war, religion and politics.

He’s right, of course, but you couldn’t have proved it Wednesday night when Boston Red Sox fans endured the agony of defeat as their beloved baseball heroes played themselves out of their last chance to participate in the postseason playoffs.

“Beloved” might be stretching the point a bit, at least in terms of the emotions fans were experiencing when they saw the Baltimore Orioles’ Robert Andino drive home the decisive run in a 4-3 victory over the Red Sox.

And then they watched helplessly as the Tampa Bay Rays polished off the hated New York Yankees to abscond with the wild card playoff berth the Red Sox thought they’d locked up a month ago.

If Sox fans were still feeling love for their favorite team at that moment, it was love mixed with disgust, disappointment and — dare we say it? — despair.

Baseball may not be war or geopolitics, but it certainly seems like a matter of life and death at times like this.

Longtime Red Sox fans are familiar with disappointment. This is, after all, a team that was thought to be cursed until its spectacular playoff comeback against the Yankees and ensuing World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004.

When you’re living with a curse, you don’t expect things to go your way.

But 2004 changed all that. The curse was lifted. The stage was set for another world championship in 2007. Suddenly, Red Sox fans expected their team to succeed.

Most Sox fans throughout New England and around the country were convinced by the time this season started that another trip to the World Series was inevitable.

In fact, the only unanswered question was which National League franchise would present itself for dismantlement in the 2011 Fall Classic.

Maybe the team was never that good, or maybe the expectations were just too much for mortal ballplayers to bear.

Either way, perhaps the reminder of past disappointments provided a useful dose of reality for an overconfident fan base.

And now, facing a Soxless October, we’ll retreat to the comforting words that once were a perennial lament for Red Sox fandom:

Wait till next year!