Nick Markakis doesn't want your sympathy, though he definitely deserves some.

The guy suffered through so many of those terrible years when the Orioles organization was wandering through the desert, and then he had to sit in the dugout last October and watch his teammates enjoy the team's first playoff run since 1997.

That's just not fair. Markakis has been the good soldier since he broke in with the Orioles in 2006. He has led by example. He has provided production and stability in an otherwise dysfunctional environment for most of his career. He is, by any measure, a terrific player and solid human who deserves the best that professional baseball has to offer.

So, he could certainly be forgiven for cursing the fates after a pair of freak injuries basically cut his season into thirds and the second one cost him the thing that every true gamer wants more than money or fame — the chance to go for the ring.