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Toronto Blue Jays players and coaches step onto the field to acknowledge the fans during the fourth inning of their AL baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in Toronto, September 28, 2014.

Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press

The final day of the regular season in baseball is a lot like opening day, when most of those associated with a team are brimming with optimism at what the future could hold.

Such is the case with the Toronto Blue Jays who on Sunday put the finishing touches on yet another mystifying campaign, their 21st in a row without making the playoffs, now the longest such drought in the majors.

Despite that morbid history, the Blue Jays were essentially an up-beat group as they prepared to take the field for the final time this season to do battle with the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre.

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And the Blue Jays (83-79) went out not with a roar, but a whimper, with the Orioles (96-66) posting a 1-0 victory before 45,901 sun-drenched fans.

The roof was open and it was 21 degrees outside and the American League club was giving the first 20,000 customers cold-weather hats. It has been that kind of a season for the Blue Jays where they can't even get their giveaways right.

Although it was the 13th sellout of the season and lifted attendance this season to 2.3 million it was still a dip from the 2.5 million who came through the turnstiles in 2013.

When members of the media first sauntered into the Toronto clubhouse a couple of hours before game time, Green Day's Time of Your Life was blaring from the stereo.

Josh Thole, the personal catcher for knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey, was walking around the clubhouse wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs cap.

Now that's optimism.

Third baseman Danny Valencia was hunched deep in his locker punching keys on his smartphone looking fairly ridiculous with his cold-weather hat pulled low over his head.

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Even Casey Janssen, the Toronto closer and consummate professional through his tenure in Toronto who in all likelihood will wind up pitching for another team next year, was trying to take things in stride.

"If this is the end, it was a great 8 1/2 years and I'm definitely embracing the opportunity to see what free agency has," Janssen said. "Kind of just interesting to me just to see how everyone across baseball values me because I've never had the opportunity to go through this before.

"I'm either going to be humbled pretty well or I'm going to be in a pretty good place. I can't sit here today and know either way."

The Orioles had been staked to their 1-0 lead off a Jonathan Schoop home run in the fifth inning off Dickey, the Toronto starter who finished the year with a record of 14-13.

Even though it was not a save opportunity, Toronto manager John Gibbons still sent Janssen to the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Orioles in front.

It was a nice touch and after a three-up, three-down inning, Janssen was afforded a nice ovation as he left the field, tipping his hat to the fans in acknowledgment and perhaps a goodbye.

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Before the game, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos met with members of the media and did his best to sound optimistic about what has transpired and the shape the team will take moving forward.

"We didn't achieve our goals and I think that goes without saying," Anthopoulos said. "There's a lot of good individual stories, but when you don't reach the playoffs it's not what you wanted. It's more disheartening this season just because I felt like we were close."

They were certainly close back in June when the Blue Jays led the American League East by six games with a record that was 14 games above .500.

But the Blue Jays tailed off badly after that, done in by a combination of factors including injuries, poor defensive play and lack of timely hitting.

The team was humbled by a brutal August, during which the Jays went 9-17 and heading into September their playoff hopes were essentially extinguished.

Although Anthopoulos said he believes the team is close to contending there will likely be several new faces in 2015.

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"I'm pretty excited about this off-season," Anthopoulos said, relishing the opportunity to add some new players to put Toronto over the top in 2015.

Not only will those players have to have talent but also a track record of being able to stay off the disabled list, Anthopoulos said.

"Durability is going to be weighed more than it has," he said.

The Blue Jays' payroll was around $137-million this year, a franchise high.

There was speculation that the GM did not have any more to spend, one of the reasons the club did not make any moves of significance around the July 31 trade deadline that might have helped the Blue Jays cause.

Anthopoulos gave a lengthy answer when asked if he expected payroll to be on the same level for next year, saying those discussions will come at a later date.

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He really didn't say yes and he really didn't say no.

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