When Cesar Izturis heard "La Vida Es Un Carnaval," by Celia Cruz after the sixth inning Sunday afternoon, the Orioles shortstop acknowledged sheepishly that his eyes began to water.
And that started a chain reaction: When his friend and teammate, third baseman Melvin Mora, saw Izturis get teary, he started to choke up. Then there was the female fan near the Orioles' dugout who was bawling as Mora stepped onto the field after the sixth, waved to the crowd and touched his heart as Cruz's salsa tune - the one that is played before Mora's at-bats at Camden Yards - blared.
The fan "took her glasses off and she was already crying, because it's been so many years she has been there," said Mora, who played his 1,256th and likely final game with the Orioles on Sunday. "I looked back and Izturis is crying, and I was like 'Oh, my God.' ... He was emotional, too."
The Orioles will not pick up Mora's $8 million option for 2010, meaning the 37-year-old will become a free agent in November after 10 seasons with the club. There is little chance he will re-sign with the club, ending his Orioles tenure in the top 10 in team history in most offensive categories.
The waterworks occurred after Mora had been removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth. When the inning ended, he stepped out of the dugout and acknowledged a standing ovation while being shown on the stadium's Jumbotron. His wife and six children, including 8-year-old quintuplets, cheered from a suite.
"That was just a spontaneous thing, and it was nice to see and, I'm sure, appreciated by Melvin," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.
New attendance low
For the second consecutive season, the Orioles have set a new Camden Yards low in attendance. With an announced 17,969 at the finale Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles drew 1,907,163, in 81 games, a dropoff from the previous low in 2008 (1,950,077), when they had 78 home dates.
It was the Orioles' lowest season attendance total since they drew 1.67 million at Memorial Stadium in 1988 - which also was the last time they lost more games than the 98 they dropped this year. The 2009 average of 23,545 was the Orioles' lowest since 1988.
"I don't think that honestly is a surprise, given the economy and the team expectations, and given what's going on around us," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "Everything considered, it's not as bad as I thought it might have been when we started."
The Orioles aren't alone in the predicament. Overall, Major League Baseball attendance was down about 6.9 percent this season after a 0.8 percent slide in 2008.
In Washington, the Nationals drew 1.82 million this year, a 22 percent decline from their inaugural season at Nationals Park in 2008, in which they had 2.32 million. The attendance drop in both Baltimore and Washington is likely a combination of a down economy and poor on-field play.
"To be only about 2 percent off last year's pace considering the history, the poor economic climate and the sub-par on-field performance is actually quite remarkable," said Greg Bader, the club's director of communications. "It's a testament to an extremely loyal fan base and their belief in the direction in which Andy is taking the club and the affordability of Orioles baseball."
The belief is that when the Orioles win again, the fans will return.
"This is a great baseball town, and I'd love to see us win our fans back, not just ask them to come back," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "You've got to do something to get them back. They will come back. I believe that."
Around the horn
Because the Orioles (64-98) won Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates (62-99) clinched the second pick in the 2010 amateur draft. The Orioles will select third, their highest pick since 1989. ... The home run Jeremy Guthrie allowed in the seventh inning to John McDonald was his 35th of the season, tying the team record shared by Sidney Ponson (1999), Scott McGregor (1986) and Robin Roberts (1963).