Game 162: Red Sox (90-71) @ Orioles (68-91), 7:05pm

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My dear Camden Chatters. My dear (here there is a long, rambling list of every Camden Chatter - yes, even you). Also my good lurkers that I welcome back at last to Camden Chat. Today is the one hundred sixty-second game of the season. It is one hundred sixty-two today! I hope you are all enjoying yourselves as much as I am.

I shall not keep you long. I have called you all together for a purpose. Indeed, for three purposes! First of all, to tell you that I am immensely fond of you all, and that one hundred sixty-two games is too short a time to blog among such excellent and admirable Orioles fans. I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. Secondly, to celebrate my final game thread of the year. I should say, OUR final game thread of the year, for it is, of course, also the last Orioles game for you as well.

It is also, if I should be allowed to refer to ancient history, one year and two months anniversary since the arrival of Buck Showalter as manager - though the fact that would be so significant slipped my mind at the time. We were 32-73 then, and individual game threads did not seem so important. The game thread was very splendid, however, though I had a bad cold at the time, I remember, and could only say 'thag you very buch'. I now repeat it more correctly: Thank you very much for coming to my little game thread.

Thirdly and finally, I wish to make an announcement. I regret to announce that - though, as I said, one hundred sixty-two games is far too short a time to spend among you - this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. Good-bye!

I'm not really going anywhere though. I can just never pass up a chance to nerd this blog up, and so there you go. Did you know I could set up a game thread for next year's Opening Day right now if I wanted? That would be a little weird.

Tonight's the end of the line of the 2011 season for the Orioles. This always makes me sad, even when the team sucks. I love baseball. I love its nightly comfort. I like the Ravens but football season can never compare to this.

You already know what the stakes are tonight. This is it. This is for all the marbles. If Boston loses and Tampa wins, then the Red Sox are out of the playoffs. If Boston beats the Orioles and Tampa loses, then Boston is in the playoffs. If the teams have the same result there will be a one-game playoff tomorrow, I believe in Tampa due to the Red Sox having gone 6-12 in the head-to-head matchup.

Jon Lester starts for the Red Sox. Andrew wants you to know that the Red Sox have only lost once against the Orioles when Lester started, and that was the game where Jay Payton hit a grand slam off of Hideki Okajima. Lester is starting on three days rest and he has been bad in his last three starts, but he always dominates the Orioles. This is a law of the universe.

For the O's, Alfredo Simon. The Rays better take care of business because they should not count on any help from up here.

One thing I think we have seen over the last two games - and the last two weeks, really - is that the Orioles are fighting. You could see it in that 9th inning last night where even Adam Jones worked a long at-bat on Jonathan Papelbon. You could see it in Nick Markakis' incredible diving catch and you could see it two nights ago in Robert Andino wheeling his way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. They are being the best baseball players they can be right now and I think they want to stick it to the Red Sox.

You can argue for many Orioles that their best is not good enough to be in the major leagues, or at least not on a contender, and that is fair. You can talk about skipped development or ruined development or other things that have players doing the wrong things and believing they are doing the right things. You can talk about year-long stupidity like burying Nolan Reimold and batting Vladimir Guerrero cleanup. This team has lost 91 games and may lose a 92nd tonight and that doesn't happen by accident.

They are a bad team, but dammit, they're my bad team. Tonight they might lose 12-0 or they might lose 8-6 or they might lose 2-1, or they might even win, but you can be sure they will fight to the end. Can we ask any more than that? For next year and into the future, yes, certainly. But for tonight, the final game of a lost, worthless season, with nothing on the line for our guys but pride, no, we cannot ask any more than that.

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