Much was made this season of the Chipper Jones farewell tour; he was honored in many visiting ballparks and received lovely "parting gifts" (as a TV game-show host might have called them) from teams he had routinely hit hard in his two decades as a major-league star.
Chipper, of course, isn't quite done; he has at least one more game, the wild-card play-in game Friday against the Cardinals, and perhaps a longer playoff run, on his way to the Hall of Fame five years from now.
But Jones isn't the only well-known player whose career is over, or likely so. Here are a few of the biggest names you won't be seeing when teams take the field for Opening Day 2013.
Jim Thome: The Orioles slugger (and that sounds odd, doesn't it? Orioles? He's played just 28 of his 2,543 career games in orange and black) turned 42 in August, has had significant back problems, and is also likely headed to Cooperstown with 612 career home runs. Thome, too, might have a shot at a ring -- it would be his first -- if the Orioles can survive the play-in game Friday.
Omar Vizquel: Vizquel is the final major-leaguer to have played in the 1980s (check out some of the players who played in his debut game with the Mariners), and he went out on a high note, at age 45, with a single in his final at-bat Wednesday for the Blue Jays. Vizquel has a reputation as one of the nicest guys in the game, and his longevity, solid defense and 2,877 career hits will get him Hall conisderation -- or, at least, a controversy over his credentials, five years hence.
Jamie Moyer: Give the 49-year-old Moyer credit for coming back from Tommy John surgery at his age and pitching credibly for the Rockies for two months before they released him (and given the state of the Colorado rotation after he left, it could be argued they'd have been better off keeping him). The Orioles and Blue Jays both tried him at Triple-A after that, but he was let go July 6, for what appears to be the final time. He might get some Hall consideration for his 269 career wins and the sheer weirdness of his 25-year career.
Jason Giambi: Giambi left the safety of American League designated hitting for the uncertainty of occasional starts and pinch-hitting for the Rockies; he did a credible job, hitting .248/.375/.452 in three seasons that comprised about one full year's worth of plate appearances (520). He hit 22 home runs for Colorado and helped them to an unlikely playoff berth in 2009. Giambi played in eight postseasons, but never with a World Series winner.
Lance Berkman: Though there has been some talk that he might re-join his former team, the Astros, as they move to the A.L., so he could be a designated hitter, Berkman's knee injuries might force his retirement. He says he won't make a final decision until the offseason, although he continues to work on his knee in case the Cardinals want him on their postseason roster. Berkman got a huge ovation from Cardinals fans in his final regular-season at-bat Wednesday; if he's done, he leaves with 360 home runs, a .296/.409/.544 line, and the undying gratitude of St. Louis fans, as he was a key part of their 2011 World Series title team.
Ben Sheets: The Brewers made him their No. 1 choice in 1999, and two years later he was winning major-league games for them... and getting hurt. And hurt, and hurt again. Sheets had Hall of Fame talent, but couldn't stay healthy. He came back twice from injuries that kept him out a full season, and finished his career Wednesday, starting and throwing one scoreless inning against the Pirates.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: Remember the huge bidding war for Dice-K's services? The more than $51 million the Red Sox shelled out just to be able to negotiate with him? And the $52 million, five-year deal he then signed? Boston got one very good year, a couple of other decent ones, and a number of injuries from the Japanese righthander. He returned from Tommy John surgery this season and was... bad, including getting hammered Wednesday night by the Yankees in what is almost certainly his final Boston start. He's not old; at 32, a team might take a low-money flyer on him. If not, he's probably headed back to Japan.
And one significant non-retirement...
Mariano Rivera: He'll be back. He says he'll be back. In fact, he wants to be back so badly that he threw in the outfield in August and had to be stopped from doing more, and Yankees GM Brian Cashman had to go so far as to issue a statement that Mo won't pitch in the playoffs no matter what. Rivera, presuming he does come back, will be the only major-league player in 2013 who was born in the 1960s. Tempus fugit, indeed.