When I was in middle school, I played baseball. While I didn't know it at the time, I would stop playing baseball competitively at that level. For my last at-bat, though, I wanted something big. I wanted a big hit, to go out on a high.

Instead, I grounded out to second and an inning later, our season – and my career – was over.

It's tough to make those final moments amazing. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes, like 13-year-old me, we ground out.

"How I Met Your Mother" is much more than a show to me; it has been my lifeline since my sophomore year of high school. During Monday night's finale, I wasn't losing a television program, I was losing five friends who I had known for the past seven years.

With all of the emotional pressure riding on that final episode, it was never going to be as perfect as the audience wanted.

But that's the lesson this show has taught me: life doesn't always go according to plan. The tough ending shouldn't define the entire series, because one moment doesn't define a lifetime.

The finale was there to wrap everything up, and it did. If the finale felt rushed or had it's problems, blame the last season, which should have fleshed out the moments that need work more than blaming the finale for rushing them.

Yeah, we should have had more of The Mother in the finale, but I would have traded less of her in this episode for a lot more of her throughout the season. Why complain about this one episode when there have been a handful of episodes prior to it that could have been used as a preface for what we saw in this final hurrah for the gang?

It was disappointing that Cristin Milioti, who was the best part of the final season, didn't get more screen time, but it was also disappointing that the writers of the show didn't realize maybe they needed a few more episodes than just the last one to work out the ending for these characters.

The ending went like I'd imagined. We got that moment The Mother and Ted met, and it was beautiful. What took place after was something I had always thought might happen, though it was odd to see it finally come into fruition. But as the credits rolled and the series I loved so much was finally over, I realized something. They did it correctly.

The show that is titled "How I Met Your Mother" isn't really about meeting this dream girl. It is about a group of friends living in New York and making life choices together. It is about friendship, and while the romantic in me leaps at the moments when The Mother is hinted at or shown, I have come to realize this friendship is what matters in the end.

Ted found the love of his life, and in the end he got to spend time with her, even if we didn't get to see most of it.

Whenever I'm watching a baseball game or reading about the latest injury that is plaguing the Texas Rangers, I don't think of that final at-bat of mine where I grounded out unceremoniously. I think about my love for the entire game.

That's how I'll think of "How I Met Your Mother."

Zach Dennis is a senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at zdennis@utk.edu.