It is officially last call at Connolly's Bar.
In a few moments, we'll be flicking off the fake lights in this fictional dive, locking the nonexistent doors and calling an end to a bar that never really existed.
But it thrived for nearly eight years thanks to so many of you who stopped by online to talk Baltimore sports, and discuss plenty of other things as well. You will be missed.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
Although it's somewhat embarrassing to write, I sort of envisioned myself as a current-day John Steadman, a Baltimore boy who was afforded the crazy opportunity to work at his hometown newspaper and then spent decades upon decades chronicling the glories and pratfalls of the local sports teams.
I made it through one decade. Technically, a decade and a half if you count the four years I spent writing about, and traveling with, the Orioles for the York (Pa.) Daily Record.
That's 15 seasons covering the Orioles and one wild postseason chronicling the Ravens' first Super Bowl championship run -- I consider myself fortunate to have been part of all of that. And that's what I'll focus on the most going forward.
Wednesday is my final day at The Sun. I took a buyout and will move onto something else. Exactly what that something else is, I don't quite know yet. I may stay in baseball writing/commentary. I may write another Orioles book. I may finally finish that half-written novel. I may leave the business entirely.
Ultimately, I expect to keep writing in some capacity; it is my main passion. It's what allowed me to justify all of the nights and weekends I've worked, all the flights I've boarded and all of the things I have missed as a husband and father. For me, though, the rewards no longer outweighed the sacrifices required.
This isn't John Steadman's journalism world anymore. It has changed so much in the 24 years since I left college wide-eyed, ready to right the world's injustices. It's changed dramatically since I landed at this job in 2005, eager to be a part of an incomparable group of journalists that wrote about the Orioles for The Sun.
It will remain that way for me. That part of the wide-eyed kid hasn't been extinguished by the realities of what the job and industry have become. My parents loved telling the story about when I was a teenager and every time we would pass The Sun building while driving down I-83, I'd jokingly yell, "Save me a spot. I'll be there soon."
It's just now that spot will go to someone else. And my hopes of being the next John Steadman fizzled like Craig Worthington's chances of being the next Brooks Robinson. But that's OK; I can live with being lucky enough to ride out one childhood dream.
So I raise my glass one last time to the patrons of Connolly's Bar -- the readers of this blog and The Sun sports section. We had some arguments and we shared some laughs. We even discussed some of life's brutal curveballs.
I'm not sure what becomes of the bar after this. I'm half considering burning it down for the fake insurance money. Maybe it'll pop up at a new location with cheaper rent and better decor. Regardless, I enjoyed the challenge of finding topics that would intrigue you. And, more than anything, I enjoyed the camaraderie.
That's it. The plus-sized woman is crooning on the fictional jukebox.