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Which outfielder would you deal Nick Markakis for?

First, let me offer my apologies to all the regulars.

I told you I wouldn't shut down the bar for a day without letting you know. And I am sure some of you showed up Thursday and saw the "closed" sign hanging from the door. I apologize.

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Based on a few e-mails I received, some of you were worried the place was shut down forever. You guys don't get off so easy.

We're back -- after what was probably the worst 48 hours of my professional career. As many of you know now, The Baltimore Sun underwent substantial newsroom layoffs this week, and we lost a bunch of great people in sports.

There was even an Internet posting floating around for a few minutes that a certain barkeep would be pouring drinks on the street. It didn't happen. Not yet, anyway. But in life and, especially, in journalism nowadays, we're all day-to-day.

I knew at one point I'd be the target of Internet rumors, but I assumed it would involve my BFF, Paris Hilton. Or at least a bizarre kiln accident. But not job security.

Anyway, you are still stuck with me, but some of my good buddies and colleagues lost their jobs. And it's hit me – all of us, really – pretty hard.

One particularly good pal, Childs Walker, lost his sports job, though he has the option of staying at the newspaper in another capacity. Childs was our super-utility reporter and writes well about anything.

At heart, though, he was a baseball guy, and we spent many hours debating baseball, at least until Jeff Zrebiec told us to shut up. One of our last discussions was about Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis.

We both agree Markakis is one of the best in the game. But we knocked around whether there were any outfielders that we would trade him straight up for. We agreed that Cleveland's Grady Sizemore is on the short list. In fact, he might be the only one.

Sizemore may be just a tick better than Markakis right now, but it is extremely close. And I know some of you would rather have Nick simply because he is already yours. No argument with that.

I asked a scout that I trust the same question. He named the New York Mets' Carlos Beltran and Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton immediately. Hours later, he came back with Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki and Milwaukee's Ryan Braun.

But that's assuming the question is for right now. If it is for the future, then the scout removes Ichiro and Beltran from his list. For the record, he said he'd rather have Nick over Grady, because Sizemore strikes out too much.

It's an interesting debate. So I thought I'd toss it out to you.

I am dedicating it to my buddy Childs, even though he is a Gilman grad, and the rest of my outstanding colleagues who are moving on to the next stage of their professional careers. Raise your glass to one heck of a good group of journalists and people.

Daily Think Special: Which outfielder/outfielders would you trade Nick Markakis for?

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