Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Monday, August 27, 2007

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think It Means

The AP's Jay Cohen had this to say about David Wells' Dodger debut:

Wells pitched five effective innings in his Dodgers debut and Los Angeles beat the New York Mets 6-2 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Here's Wells' line for the evening:

5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2K

Wells faced 23 men -- and ten reached base. For those of you scoring at home, that's a .435 on-base percentage.

The Mets managed to strand six (!) runners in Wells' five innings. One more (Lastings Milledge) was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on a David Wright double. Wright himself managed to get picked off second by Wells later in the game.

Wells walked Wright and Beltran to load the bases in the fifth before fanning Moises Alou to end the frame.

That's "five effective innings?" Perhaps my standards are a bit high, but to my untrainted eye Wells was more lucky than good.

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Come Hell or High Water

Perhaps...and this is just a "perhaps," mind you...MLB wouldn't have to squeeze games in at three o'clock in the sprocking morning if they weren't already cramming 162 games into six months, and then jamming over a month of post-season on top of that.

I resisted the idea for a while, but I'm beginning to see why some people want to scale back to 154 games (or maybe fewer). Either that or schedule some double-headers. Anything to build in a some leeway if the weather gets wonky during the season.

It will never happen, of course. At least it won't until the World Series is pushed back to Thanksgiving Day...


Sunday, August 26, 2007

More Triumphs from the House of Ideas

It's been an amazing week at the Tower...

Dave van Dyck grudgingly admitted that, well, maybe those computer geeks at Baseball Prospectus weren't too far off the mark when its computer predicted the White Sox would be (to put it charitably) not good this year.

Of course, van Dyck completely disappears his own hysterical reaction to the prediction, which his eds waved into print back in March. Fortunately the good folks at Fire Joe Morgan did a bang-up job mocking it in real time, so I don't have to dig it up.

Van Dyck outdoes himself with this piece on how the Chicago ballparks are holding up after this week's deluge of rain. And wouldn't you know it? In discussing what kind of shape Wrigley Field is in, van Dyck goes to the head groundskeeper at U.S. Cellular Field!

Will the field be safe and dry for Tuesday's big game against the Brewers? You won't have any idea after reading van Dyck's story. He spends nine words talking about what's going on right now at Wrigley. And then he spends 400 more talking about what the White Sox' guy is going to do this off season to improve the draining system.

Granted, the Cubs' groundskeeper is probably a little busy right now. But it would have been nice for van Dyck to spare a sentence or two about how the field is holding up.

Finally, Dr. Phil takes a look around and notices that that Chris Young guy the White Sox traded away for whatever's left of Javier Vazquez might have come in handy this year. You'd think a guy who wailed and gnashed his teeth over the short-sighted dumping of guys like Corey Patterson, Ricky Nolasco, Todd Wellemeyer, and Jon Leicester (you know, guys you can build a franchise around) would have noticed that Young is an OK player before now. You'd be wrong, though.

I mean, if you read nothing but Dr. Phil this year, you'd have no idea that this guy was having a pretty good year. If a guy hitting .358 travels under the good doctor's radar, I guess it's no surprise that a .235 hitter wouldn't make the grade...

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Crap in a Hat

My heroes have apparantly decided to take the rest of the year off. As noted last week, I figured it would be rough sledding with Soriano out for a month. But I didn't figure them to go off on an impromptu vacation the last two weeks.

If there's a bright side...well, not really a "bright" side as much as a "less dark" side...it's that the Brewers aren't playing much better. The NL Central has become a war of attrition.

Losing A-Ram for a week was in many ways worse than missing out on Fonzie. I've said for years that Ramirez is the best player on the team (and the amount of grief he takes lends credence to my theory that the best player on the team takes the most crap from the fans and the punditocracy); without him, the lineup is significantly less than impressive.

However, it appears that no deadline deals are forthcoming, so we're stuck with the Jones and Kendall sucking plate appearances into their black hole of bad offense, and hoping that Murton, Theriot, and Fontenot can hit enough to make them worthwhile.

The Cubs relying on unproven youngsters? After the Baylor and Baker years, who'd've thunk it? Things change, indeed...


The Mind Boggles

Presented without comment:

The Cleveland Indians have no plans to stop selling merchandise of opposing teams at the Jacobs Field gift shop.

Some Indians fans were upset at the amount of New York Yankees caps and T-shirts available at Jacobs Field during the Yankees' three-game sweep last weekend.

"It's just a big letdown," said Indians fan Matt Linse, 33, of Erie, Pa., who attended the game Saturday night. "It's almost like they're betraying us."

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Dim the Dashboard Lights, Please

Godspeed, Scooter.

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Maybe the Last Time -- I Don't Know

File this one under "There's No Crying in Baseball:"

If Cincinnati Reds slugger Ken Griffey Jr. has his way, he won't be involved in another double switch.

Griffey was replaced on defense during a double switch in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Chicago Cubs. Griffey, who has won 10 Gold Gloves, was surprised by Reds interim manager Pete Mackanin's decision.

"It was the first [time in my career] and it will be the last," he said before Wednesday's game against the Cubs.

Boo hoo -- you had me, then you lost me...

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A Real Prince

Brewer Fan has something else to worry about...

Prince Fielder is appealing the three-game suspension that was handed down by the commissioner's office Wednesday, allowing him to remain in the Milwaukee Brewers'
lineup until his appeal is heard.

Fielder was suspended and fined an undisclosed amount for "inappropriate and aggressive conduct"...

Really? Prince?? "Inappropriate and aggressive?" That doesn't sound like the Fielder we all know and love. Let's read on, shall we?

...during a confrontation with plate umpire Wally Bell on Sunday, when the Brewers lost 6-4 at Houston. The first baseman was ejected after arguing a called third strike and had to be restrained by bench coach Dale Sveum.

Oh. That explains it. Wally Bell -- the younger, less rotund version of Country Joe West. I'm sure Bell handled the situation like a professional, and did nothing to exacerbate the situation.

And here's one from the TMI file:

"We're both over 250 pounds, so if our stomachs touch, that's going to happen,"
Fielder said.

Not that there's anything wrong with that...

On the plus side, at least Prince didn't go all Jose Offerman. Come on, Jose -- it's an Atlantic League game! I respect your desire to keep the Major League dream alive, but honestly...isn't the Atlantic League about two steps up from rec league softball?

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Thursday, August 09, 2007


OK, so Alfonso Soriano is going to miss a month with a torn quad. I believe the technical term for this turn of events is "suck-tacular."

When we were at Wrigley Field a few weeks ago, I was pondering just how lackluster the lineup is outside the Big Three (Soriano, Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez). Now, Fonzie's gone, and A-Ram is missing time with a sore wrist (or hand, or something).

So lately, the lineup has been less that formidable. Here's today's Mollycoddler's Row:

Theriot SS
Jones RF
Lee 1B
Murton LF
DeRosa 3B
Fontenot 2B
Kendall C
Pie CF
Lilly P

We're approaching Royals-level lineup here, folks.

No one cares that Soriano and Ramirez are hurt, so it's going to be up to these guys to suck and up and try to score some more runs. I suppose there's a chance that this rag-tag collection can do it. But I'm not overly optimistic.



The Brewers' Pennant Express hit a little snag:

The loss of Graffanino represents a significant blow to the Brewers' depth because he appeared at all four infield positions this season, and also started three games in left field. The 35-year-old was playing on a one-year, $3.25 million contract he signed in January and batted .238 with a career-high nine home runs in 231 at-bats.

"He's obviously a big part of this team," said fellow veteran utility man Craig Counsell.

Yes, the fella with the .705 OPS was a "big part" of the team. I can appreciate that he's a great guy in the clubhouse, and his versatility is an asset. But after a while, don't those great intangibles get outweighed by the lack of production?

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Last One Out Turn Out the Lights

And for a while, it looked like the dark times were over for Royals Fans...


Hail The Conquering Hero

I think that I can safely speak for both Bob and myself in offering our congratulations to Barry Bonds for becoming the all-time home run leader.

I sadly take note that any celebratory mention of Bonds' feat is already gone from MLB's web site. After all, that was two whole days ago. Stop living in the past, Marge.

There is still room on the home page to promote Bonds memorabilia for sale through the MLB shop.

Why does this not surprise me? Cynical is too polite a word to describe these people.

Cut His Mike

For some reason, the Trib's Fred Mitchell thinks we care what Milo Hamilton has to say about the TV broadcasters' call of Barry Bonds' record-setting home run.

Just in case you do care, you won't be surprised to hear that he doesn't think much of them:

I don't think the call[s] [of Bonds' homer Tuesday] night will last 33 years.

Just to put Hamilton in perspective: Steve Stone thought he was a pompous blowhard. And Stone should know.

On another announcing front, you may recall last week that Vin Scully was all worried about the "awkwardness" of calling Barry Bonds' 756th.

Earlier today, another Vin Scully moment popped unbidden into my mind. Today, Scully, of course, is disturbed by the spectre of steroids. Was he disturbed by the "awkwardness" back when Big Mac and Sammy were "saving" the game back in 1998?

Let's go to the archives and find out! This is courtesy of Baseball Weekly's Bob Nightengale (12 August 1998):

[B]ut before baseball gets completely giddy, there is a possible glitch to all of this madness.

What happens if two players, such as McGwire and Griffey, break Maris’ record? What if there’s a third, such as Sosa? How about a fourth or fifth, if Greg Vaughn and Vinny Castilla get hot?

Just what happens then?

“I don’t care who breaks it,” Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully says, “as long as only one person breaks it.

“It would taint the record if more than one person breaks it.”

I've no wise or pithy summary for that. Compare and contrast, I guess...

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'Nuff Said

Both A.J. Pierzynski and Ozzie Guillen are down with Barry Bonds. Such fine character references should put an end to all the debates over Bonds' accomplishments...

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Boo Hoo -- You Had Me, Then You Lost Me

Jim's comment about Tom Glavine reminded me of his whining a few years ago. Glavine's, that is, not Jim's.

I haven't gone back into the Palatial Archives to verify the date, but sometime during the early days of QuesTec, Glavine was spouting off his usual cry-fest about how dastardly the system was.

His main complaint: the umpires, in trying to comply with the QuesTec strike zone, would not call a pitch a half-inch off the plate a strike.

Over the course of my lifetime, I have seen the height of the strike zone go from the armpits to barely above the belt. But one thing that has never been question is the width of the strike zone. If the pitch crosses the plate, it's in the zone. If it's off the plate, it's not.

One would think that's pretty cut and dried. In Glavine's case, one would be wrong...

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Hey Kids -- Comics!

Marvel Comics, not content with polluting the comics industry with its crapulance, decided to use its cloven hooves to trample on the game I love. The one-time House of Ideas has teamed up with the Durham Bulls (and Memphis and Buffalo) to publish Triple-A Baseball Heroes.

Here's how the Durham PR folks describe it:

The "Triple-A Baseball Heroes" comic book sees Marvel's legendary Super Hero family the Fantastic Four and their children, Franklin and Valeria enjoy a day off at the ballpark for an exciting game between the International and Pacific Coast leagues. Peter Parker (Spider-Man) is also making a day of it with Aunt May and hoping to get in a few photos for the Daily Bugle as well. Additionally, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is on hand to throw out the first pitch. Seeing the excitement of the fans and the potential financial windfall, Stark also considers making an investment in the League; however, fans, players and heroes all get more excitement than they bargained for when the villainous Sandman appears and the Incredible Hulk is there to tag him out! It all adds up to a Marvelous day for an amazing sport and fantastic League.

Jeebus help me, there are just so many things wrong with that paragraph I can barely contain the urge to prove to you all that I just might be a bigger comics geek than I am a baseball geek. I will indulge this desire by questioning why in God's name a major New York daily newspaper would want to run pictures of a random Durham Bulls game, and wondering how good ol' Tony Stark found the time in his busy schedule of beating up his friends and trampling our nation's civil liberties to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.

As godawful as this looks, there's no way it can be any worse than the last baseball-related comic I picked up at the yard.

On 8 June 2003, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Wisconsin Dental Association handed out a comic that taught the Heirs to the Palatial Estate the dangers of chewing tobacco. Handing out the smackdown against chaw were Brewer stalwarts Jeffrey Hammonds (who was released by the team on 4 June) and Glendon Rusch (who got lit up for 8 earned in six and a third that afternoon. Good times...

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I'm Going to Hell

** WARNING: Cheap Shot Ahead **

Hancock, LaRussa, now Spiezio...What is it about Saint Louis that drives people to substance abuse?

** Cheap Shot Warning Expired. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. **

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Crying Game

I'm a big fan of Tom Glavine, always have been. I am glad that he got his 300th win, and I admire his work ethic and his ability to continue to win and pitch outstanding ball as he gets older.

However, I was appalled by this self-serving statement:

"Maybe I would be retired by now if I'd stayed [with the Braves] and they didn't bring [QuesTec] into the game."

Yeah, Tommy, it's a pity that they introduced a device to try and make umpires call the actual strike zone instead of giving you strikes on that pitch a foot and a half outside. Damn that Sandy Alderson!

Armor Wars

The lengths to which the Bonds-haters are going to defame his achievements have gotten to be truly pathetic.

The comment that his elbow armor has padded (so to speak) Bonds' home run total by 75 to 100 homers is preposterous. But let's go off to the Faith-based world for a moment and pretend that it could actually be true. I will then ask Mr. Witte this question:

Craig Biggio has worn the same type of pad himself for years. Should we subtract 300-350 hits from Biggio, using the same logic?

Looks to me like Mr. Witte uses the same kind of science as critics of global warming or backers of intelligent design. Draw your conclusion, then cherry pick your evidence.

Next from Mr. Witte: proof of the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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Don't Say It's So, Joe

It seems that Bob and I aren't the only ones who think that Joe Morgan is among the very worst baseball analysts ever. Check out a couple of other examples here and here.

As Mushnick points out, the only problem with Joe's little Phillies story is that it never happened. Well, it sort of happened, but in the wrong year and in a game that didn't involve a famous pennant race. Look it up for yourself on Retrosheet. Joe Morgan made his major league debut on September 21, 1963, pinch hitting for Don Nottebart in the third inning. He popped out to Tony Taylor. He did have a game winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth the next night, off of Johnny Klippstein. And knowing Gene Mauch, he may well have overturned a table after the game. But not because the Phillies were blowing a pennant; the 1963 Phillies finished 12 games out.

The Phillies did play the Colt 45's six times in September 1964, all of them before the historic losing streak started. The Phillies won four of the six games. Joe Morgan didn't play in any of them.

Joe Morgan has one very famous game winning single to his credit. I'm not sure why he needed to make up another one. Perhaps because he's a terrible broadcaster with nothing of any value to contribute?

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Nice Going, Neifi

I think Sooze at Babes Love Baseball sums it up best…

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Grin and Barrett Part II

Saw this nugget of joy from The Sporting News’ Stan McNeal last week:

One thing to keep in mind about next Tuesday's nonwaiver trading deadline: Deals don't always help teams. Last month, the Cubs sent C Michael Barrett to the Padres for C Rob Bowen, who went 2-for-31 and was dumped on the A's for C Jason Kendall. Back in the N.L. Central, Kendall, a longtime Pirate, was hitless in his first eight at-bats with the Cubs and was booed near the end of his first game.

Just for the record: the Barrett trade went down on 21 June. Since then, the Cubs’ record stands at 26-12 (not counting tonight’s game, which is in progress as I write this). The Padres’ mark in the same time period is 19-21.

The Cubs were 8 and a half games behind Milwaukee when the trade was made. Now, we’re a game out of first. San Diego was in first place before they got Barrett. Now, they trail Arizona by a game and a half.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m piling on Barrett. I don’t think he’s a bad person, or a cancer in the clubhouse. Nor do I blame him for the many dumb things irate Cub Fan has blamed him for this year.

I do mean to take McNeal to task for his narrow focus. If, as many people have said, winning is what matters, why not mention in passing how the teams’ records have changed since the trade went down?

McNeal is right to point out how horrible Rob Bowen was for us. But he also failed to mention that Barrett was doing his best Bowen imitation in San Diego – to date as a Friar, Barrett has hit .227/.235/.289. That’s Ausmus bad.

And, yes, mean old Cub Fans booed Jason Kendall his first game at Wrigley. But even with the size eight collar he took to start his Cubs career, Kendall has hit .244/.354/.317 – not enough to make anyone forget Gabby Hartnett, but at least he’s getting on base enough to keep him from being totally useless.

I don’t know the Barrett deal has helped or hurt us. It might be prudent to reserve judgment until the end of the season, and not rush to give a big thumbs down after two games…

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Trading Places?

The non-waiver trading deadline has passed. For a change, there was actually a pretty big deal that went down (Mark Teixeira to the Braves).

Not as big a deal, but just as surprising, was the Pirates’ decision to take the remains of Matt Morris of Brian Sabean’s hands. I’ll let ESPN’s Jayson Stark explain why that deal is so shocking:

The Pirates called. And wanted Matt Morris. His 7.94 ERA since mid-June? Not a problem. That $9.5 million he's owed next year (not counting his $1 million 2009 buyout)? Not a problem. And so they swooped in and finished off a deal for Morris minutes before the deadline -- for a legit prospect (Rajai Davis), a second prospect to be chosen from an agreed-upon list and absolutely zero money changing hands. Well, it didn't take long. For the next two hours, after people around baseball learned of this deal, they couldn't stop calling, e-mailing and texting reactions that could probably be summed up with three succinct words: WHAT THE BX!GRZFDQ!!!!! Don't get us wrong here. We love Matt Morris. Terrific guy. Has had a wonderful career. Should be a fine mentor to those young Pirates starters. But the Giants were just about begging teams to take Morris and offering to chomp big chunks of his money if they had to. Then this team going nowhere dropped out of the sky and took the man and the money. What a country. "That move," said one incredulous front-office man, "is so far out of left field, it's in the Monongahela."

I can understand the Bucs wanting an innings-eater. Even if the pitcher involved doesn’t eat a lot of innings because he gets shelled. But to trade a decent prospect (or two) for the privilege of running Morris out there every fifth day? And not get any dough back from the Giants to pay for that privilege?

Morris isn’t enough to make this Pirates team respectable. And Morris isn’t going to be part of the next good Pirates team. So that prompts me to ask: How does Dave Littlefield keep his job?

Some other people took exception to other deals. People more famous than I am. Major League players, to be exact.

Like Padres closer Trevor Hoffman. What did the future Hall of Famer have to say about the flurry of moves that saw the trade of Scott Linebrink, the firing of Merv Rettenmund, and the acquisition of Rob Mackowiak, Morgan Ensberg, and Wil Ledezma?

It doesn't really serve a purpose, other than there's chaos in the clubhouse, and that's not a good thing, either…Today's kind of caught a lot of people off guard. There's a bit of scrambling around, not really knowing what happened or why. I think it forces you to just kind of keep your head down and focus on what you can do to improve the club personally.

I take it he wasn’t thrilled by the moves.

And neither was Twins’ ace Johan Santana. Here’s his reaction to the Luis Castillo trade:

That's exactly how they [i.e., the front office] are. That's why we're never going to go beyond where we've gone…Why waste time when you're talking about something that's always going to be like that? It's never going to be beyond this point. It doesn't make any sense for me to be here, you know?... If you only worry about the future, then I guess a lot of us won't be part of it. I've been here for eight years, and I've seen a lot of those kind of things. I've seen a lot of those guys (like Castillo) come in and leave. (The decision makers) don't care. They always talk about caring about it. I don't think they care ... it's not enough to go all the way to the World Series.

Yikes. Sounds like Johan ain’t happy. Anything else to add?

They protect their organization, their roots, everything. But I guess I won't be a part of it. A lot of guys don't feel like they can be part of it and they have to move on.

That can’t have Twins Fans feeling warm and fuzzy.

However, all that gab made me feel a little better. With Jeff Bagwell safely retired, I was worried that there would be no players willing to step up and play GM. But if guys as rational as Hoffman and Santana are willing to speak out about their team’s moves, we won’t have to worry about this trade deadline tradition disappearing anytime soon…

UPDATE: Just saw this on Dr. Phil’s blog post – Prince Fielder on the demotion of Rickie Weeks:

It sucks. I wouldn’t have done it.

Ah…another budding clubhouse GM. Kids grow up so quickly nowadays…

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Burying the Lede

Dr. Phil reports this on his blog:

SAN DIEGO -- Someone surprising is rooting for Barry Bonds in his quest to break Hank Aaron.

"I hope he does it, just not here,'' Greg Maddux said on Friday night. "I've been pulling for him the last few weeks or so, but not the next two days.''

Why would Maddux, seemingly as straight of an arrow as there has been in the major leagues in the contemporary era, pull for Bonds? Aren't they the alpha and omega of modern players?

"I've always admired and respected how he's played,'' Maddux said. "He's always played hard, for the most part. He's definitely been very good in the outfield, way above average; he's run the bases good, played the game right. How do you not root for that? I do. I don't care about all that other stuff. I appreciate what he's done on the field.''

Maddux, 41, came to the big leagues with the Cubs late in the 1986 season, which was also the first for Bonds in Pittsburgh.

"I just respect what he's done the last 20 years,'' Maddux said. "I've watched him, played against him for 20 years, and even though we were never teammates I can still respect what he does on the field.''

Dr. Phil mentions Maddux’ “surprising” comments in his story about Bonds’ record-tying homer. Except for his print story, you have to read through 923 words to get to that point.

On the other hand, Dr. Phil made several mentions of Hank Aaron and Baron Budhausen’s ambivalence towards Bonds in those 900-odd words. And, of course, he recapped the steroids allegations we all know so well.

“Surprising” comments? In today’s journamalism, those are buried at the end of a 1,200 word report. Scripts calculated to please? Those are put right in the lead graf.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Announcing His Intentions

Here's what Dodger announcer Vin Scully told Yahoo sports about the prospect of Barry Bonds' record-setting home run:

That time is upon us now. And I can't imagine what it's going to be like. I really don't want to...I'd like to think I'm the rare announcer who can keep his opinion out of it. That's not my job. I'm here to tell the story of what's happening at that particular moment and putting it into the appropriate context.

Wow. I think that qualifies as a professional, rational point of view, expecially when contrasted with some of what I've heard from the baseball punditocracy. Care to elaborate, Vin?
I probably would just as soon it not happen against the Dodgers. With Aaron, it was a privilege to be there when he did it. It was just a great moment. With Bonds, no matter what happens now, it will be an awkward moment. That's the best word I can think of now. If I had my druthers, I would rather have that awkward moment happen to somebody else.

Never mind. So much for keeping his opinion out of it...

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