PITTSBURGH -- Aramis Ramirez hoped for the chance to make an appearance in Wednesday night's game, but not as it turned out -- as a seventh-inning pinch-hitter in a game the Pirates already trailed by the final score of 4-0.
A.J. Burnett had hoped that the last time he popped out of Pittsburgh's dugout, he would be on his way to the mound, to pitch in for the team's extended postseason run -- not to merely take his place along PNC Park's third-base foul line for introductions prior to the Pirates' last game of 2015.
While the Chicago Cubs derailed the Bucs' fabulous season in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, they also marked the last days in a uniform for Ramirez and Burnett, who had announced that they planned to retire.
"Not the way I wanted it to end. I sure wanted the ball a couple more times," Burnett said, emotion etched on his face and in his eyes. "But I did my part. I helped us get here."
Ramirez appeared to have left the park prior to the media's clubhouse access. Earlier, he was seen pushing a cart full of mementos into a storage area of PNC Park, doubtless reflective of the poignant conclusion of his career: He had split 1,749 of his 2,194 career regular-season games between the Pirates and the Cubs.
Little was very good about the Bucs' coda. But the absolute worst of it was the sendoff it gave the two respected veterans.
"Playing this game, you come across a lot of different people and have different relationships," Josh Harrison said. "Every year, there's going to be pieces added and pieces taken away. I'm just thankful that I got a chance to play with both of those guys their last year. It's going to be a little different not having either one around next year. I'm thankful I got to enjoy their last ride with them. I think it's something everybody in this clubhouse is going to remember. Those are two big names. We would have liked to win it all for them. But at the end of the day, we were able to enjoy something special with them."
It could also have been the end of the line for Joe Blanton, who had already come out of retirement once to join the Kansas City Royals at the beginning of this season, then the Pirates after they acquired him at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"It will be a family decision. I can't tell you one way or the other now," said Blanton, an invaluable long-relief weapon for Pittsburgh down the stretch. "When you've got kids, that's how you have to make decisions. But I really enjoyed my time here."
Burnett went 164-157 during his time on the stage, and he sits in 31st place all time with 2,513 strikeouts.
Ramirez hit 386 home runs and collected 1,417 RBIs.
Blanton, possibly, goes out with a winning record. His 5-0 record in his two months with the Bucs set his career mark at 92-91.