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Archive for November, 2010


…. More on the Captain

I’m sorry, but I just can’t help myself. ;-)

Eric, one of my backtalkers, pretty much sums up the common thread in all of the internet-wide negativity surrounding Jeter’s negotiations:

“I don’t know that he deserves anything. He has given a lot to the Yankees, yes, but he has received a lot, too. How many other players have had the chance he has? Playing for the Yankees, especially in the last 15-20 years in an era of unprecedented revenue (allowing the Yankees to REALLY shoot off the charts with their payroll) has helped Jeter become the player he is/was. “

My question is this, how can Eric –and pretty much everyone else that is thinking along these lines– miss the single most salient point in this debate by so much?

The reason the Yankees’ revenue has gone up so much in the last 15 years is because they became a dynasty. It is because they won 4 World Series in 5 years (and just missed 4 in a row), and have made the postseason fourteen of the last fifteen seasons, and Derek Jeter is one of the main reasons that has happened. Not to pick on you, Eric, but, did you even read what I wrote? Do you, or for that matter, anybody, have any sense of history whatsoever?

Prior to Jeter’s arrival, the Yankees had won nothing for almost 20 years. NOTHING.

NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING! NOTHING!!!!!!

How can you even discuss this, if you have no apparent knowledge about the history of what has happened, unless you’ve already decided that you know everything there is to know about the issue? The Yankees in 1995, went to the postseason for the first time in Don Mattingly’s career. His last season. Prior to that, the Yankees hadn’t made the playoffs since 1981. The only reason people wanted to be a Yankee was for the cash General von Steingrabber was doling out, and even then, the lure of big bucks wasn’t always enough. There was no cache, no pizzaz. The “Aura” of the Yankees was a memory. No ballplayers talked about how much they wished for “the chance to play for the Yankees.” In 1992, Greg Maddux turned the Yankees down when Steinbrenner tried to sign him as a free agent. The “Boss” offered more money than Atlanta, and Maddux said no thanks. Forget about how ballplayers didn’t want to come to the Yankees, neither did the fans. No fans poured into Yankee Stadium to watch the greatest team the game had seen in the last 50 years, because that team didn’t exist!

The Yankees drew 1.7 million fans in 1995, good for 7th out of the fourteen teams in the league. SEVENTH!!!!! They were 7th again in 1996, 5th in 1997. In 1998, when the Yankees went 125-50 throughout the regular season and the playoffs, making a case for being the greatest baseball team in history, they were still only 3rd in the league in attendance. (By the way, you know who was the best player on that team, arguably the best team of all-time? Derek Jeter, with 7.8 WAR) They were 3rd again in 1999, and then again in 2000, as they were winning their third consecutive World Series. It wasn’t until 2003 that the Yankees led the league in attendance, after they had been in the World Series for the 6th time in 8 years.

Over the course of that eight year run, during the regular season, Derek Jeter led the Yankees in almost every meaningful, measurable statistic: hits, times on base, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, doubles, games played. He was a Rookie of the Year, an All Star every season. He played in 1,197 of a possible 1,296 games. In the postseason, he was simply a sensation. A quick look at what he did during those first eight years is illuminating.

In ’96, he hit .360. In ’97, he hit .333. 1998 saw him post just a .235 batting average overall, but he hit .353 in the Serious. In 1999, he was on fire, batting .375 to carry the team. In 2000, he posted a .317 batting average. In 2001, after going 8 for 18 while leading the Yankees back from an 0-2 deficit against the A’s, he hurt himself diving into the stands in Game Five and managed just 6 hits the rest of the playoffs. It should be noted that his injury certainly contributed to the Yankees falling to the D’backs and derailing their chances of winning their fourth title in a row. In 2002, against the eventual champions, the Anaheim Angels, Jeter did all he could, going 8 for 16 in the four game loss, with 2 home runs and 6 runs scored. And in 2003, when the Yankees went to the Series again, Jeter batted .314 for the playoffs, and .356 in the World Series. Today he is the all-time leader in virtually every significant statistic. He’s even third all-time in postseason home runs, with 20. Sure, he’s played in a lot of playoff games. He’s one of the reasons why.

And don’t give me that Core Four bullshit. Pettitte left. And, sure, Mariano Rivera is the best closer ever, but he’s responsible for something like 200-250 batters a season. Posada’s been the number one catcher for a while, but let’s not forget, Girardi was the number one catcher in 1996 and 1997, and in 1998 and 1999, he was still getting 75-odd games behind the dish. That’s three of the first four titles. During these fifteen years, the Yankees have had a parade of players at virtually every postion but short, many of them players who were paid more money than Jeter at the time. No matter how you slice it, it’s been Jeter who has been the one constant.

Nothing had changed in the world of the Yankees over the last fifteen years, other than all the winning. Steinbrenner was still going out and signing the best free agents available, as he had been since he took over the team in the 70′s. He was still giving those players –players who hadn’t contributed to any Yankee tradition, championships, or anything– huge sums of money, almost always more than anyone else was offering. Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, hell, people forget that Tino Martinez was a free agent they brought in to replace Mattingly. Roger Clemens, David Cone, anyone remember Chuck Knoblauch? When they signed Knoblauch after the 1997 season (his fourth All Star season in the previous six), they gave him a four year deal worth $6 million per. You know how much Jeter made in 1998? $750,000. Even Darryl Strawberry ($825,000) made more than Jeter in 1998. Virtually every player on the team did. Practically every everyday player in baseball did. Derek Jeter’s 7.8 WAR was second to A-Rod’s 7.9 in the American League that season. A-Rod made $2.6 million, even though he played for Seattle. That’s a terrific illustration of how much things have changed. The Seattle Mariners were paying their All Star shortstop three times as much as the Yankees were paying theirs.

Over the last 15 years, Derek Jeter has been the Yankee shortstop day after day, at the plate 600 times a season, gets 190-plus hits like clockwork, and has been

a team leader of the highest order. He is the face of the franchise, and the franchise’s outrageous financial success is intrinsically tied to what the team has done on the field, which is tied to the one player who has been there the whole time, a decade and a half that has changed the fortunes of the Steinbrenner family, and the Yankee franchise, forever.

The Yankees gave 37-year old Kevin Brown $32 million dollars for 200 innings of 5-plus ERA. Don’t tell me how they can’t overpay Derek Jeter, that this is a business decision, that his worth is set by the market. That is utter nonsense.

If the Yankees can throw $90 million dollars combined on the ground for Carl Pavano and Kei Ishigawa; they can absolutely, without question, and without reservation, give Derek Jeter the same amount of money for his last four years with the team. He is different. He is not just any player, and the Yankees are wrong to pretend like he is.



…. Nice touch

Tom Verducci chose the 2010 San Francisco Giants as his Sportsmen of the Year:

…. In three homes over 52 seasons did San Francisco follow this serial in wait for a championship. The Giants lacked the historical and literary embellishments of Brooklyn, Boston and Chicago, and so their suffering went underplayed, though much suffering did they know. Five times in those years they played a Game 6 or Game 7 with a chance to win the series, and lost every one of those games, getting shut out in three of those five potential clinchers.

The agony began with a 1-0 loss to the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series, which ended when Willie McCovey lined out to second base with the tying and winning runs in scoring position. In the 1987 NLCS, up three games to two, they were shut out in back-to-back losses to St. Louis. And in the 2002 World Series, up 5-0 on the Angels with one out and nobody on in the seventh, they managed the biggest collapse in a potential clincher in series history, followed by a 4-1 whimper of an elimination in Game 7.

This is all you need to know about the cruelty of Giants culture: Charlie Brown is a Giants fan. Two months after McCovey’s lineout, Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz, from Santa Rosa, drew a strip in which Charlie and Linus sit brooding silently for three panels, only to have Charlie wail in the fourth, “Why couldn’t McCovey have hit the ball just three feet higher?”

…. Not only did the Giants give their fans a winner, they also gave them an unforgettable one, one with a Playbill’s worth of characters who exuded joy and thankfulness about what was happening. They are now characters, and not unlike the misfits and urchins Dickens himself gave us, who are established eternally.

Wilson and that frightfully awful beard. Aubrey Huff and the red thong. Lincecum and the hair. Cody Ross, the greatest in-season claim in the history of waivers. The prenaturally cool Buster Posey. The unflappable Matt Cain. The very roundness of Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe. The redemption of prodigal Bay Area son Pat Burrell. Watching these Giants, you half expected Jean Valjean to pop up in the on-deck circle at any moment.

Well done, Tom.



…. The Captain, redux

Wow, I am stunned by the negative reaction. I know that many people feel Jeter is over-rated and all that, but to hear that he’s not a leader, already over-paid, in obvious decline, etc.. Stunning. I’ve always thought that his leadership qualities were overblown, sure. I mean, it was clear to me that when the Yankees landed A-Rod, A-Rod probably should have taken over short, and Jeter should’ve slid to center-field, like Yount did for Milwaukee about a thousand

years ago. In terms of what’s best for the team, that move was a no-brainer, A-Rod was clearly the better player, the Yankees at the time needed a center-fielder, and Jeter had always shown excellent instincts on fly ball. Of course, only Jeter could’ve have stopped it, and when he did, he dropped down a notch in my estimation.

That said, he is one of the constants during this historic run of dominance by the Yankees. This is a fact, and it is not in dispute. What is in dispute is what he is going to be paid for the next four years or so. The fact that the Phillies gave Jimmy Rollins a lesser deal, or gave Chase Utley, who is younger and a better hitter, the same deal as the Yankees are offering Jeter doesn’t matter at all. What other team are paying their players has no bearing on this at all. When the market said CC Sabathia was worth $100 million, the Yankees gave him $161 million. The Yankees pay more. They pay more, because they make more.

If you are the top software programmer for Bob’s software company, you’re gonna make a lot less than if you are the top software programmer for Apple. I would’ve thought this is common knowledge, but apparently, it isn’t. If a player comes to the Yankees and helps lead them to the playoffs and beyond, he is making an impact on the Yankees bottom line, and the Yankees bottom line is bigger, much bigger, than just about any other team’s. He is adding value to the franchise. Jeter has added massive value to the franchise over the 15 years he’s been there. You don’t compare his salary to what a player in San Francisco or Philadelphia makes, because there is no comparison.

And one of the main reasons that that is the case just happens to be the current dynastic run that Derek Jeter is an irreplaceable part of. Obviously, people don’t remember, but back in 1996, the Yankees hadn’t won anything in almost 20 years. Don Mattingly played his entire career as a Yankee, and only made the playoffs in the last year. And, Steinbrenner was considered a joke, a buffoon. Lupica called him General von Steingrabber, and he was –rightfully– regularly pilloried in the NY Daily News, the NY Post, and even Sports Illustrated for his antics. Remember Billy Martin? Steinbrenner hired him 5 times. 5 times! He fired Yogi Berra 16 games into the season, a move that prompted Berra to boycott the Yankees for some 15 years. Steinbrenner was a gas bag, a joke, widely ridiculed around the league.

Now, they’re talking about whether Steinbrenner will get in the Hall of Fame within a year of his death. The Yankees were rich, and they spent more than anybody, but they weren’t rich like this. They weren’t a team the rest of the league worried about at all, because they never won anything, even though they spent and spent and spent. During Jeter’s time with the team, they’ve made the playoffs fourteen of the last fifteen years, been to the World Series seven times, and won five championships. The Yankees have represented the American League in almost half of the World Series that have been played while Jeter has been on the team. Read that sentence twice. I mean, how can that be overstated? What team wouldn’t give $100 million dollars right now to have that sentence be written about their team instead of the Yankees? What team’s fans wouldn’t trade the last fifteen years of their franchise with the Yankees?

In the fifteen years prior to Jeter’s arrival, the Yankees had Don Mattingly, by all measures, a much better baseball player than Derek Jeter, a man who also happened to be considered Jeter’s equal in terms of being revered by the fans, being classy, in handling the media, the spotlight of Yankee stardom. He was surrounded by some considerable talent, including Hall of Fame players Rickey Henderson and Dave Winfield, as well as a few almost HoFers like Ron Guidry and Dave Righetti. The Yankees during those 15 years, the Lost Mattingly years, for lack of a better term, lost the 1981 World Series, and lost in the Wild Card round in 1995. That’s it. 15 years of baseball with the highest payroll, just like now, with the best player in the league for something like half the time, just like now, the Yankees won nothing. They weren’t on TV all the time, the series with the Red Sox weren’t considered the best baseball there was. They were an afterthought.

During the last fifteen years, the Atlanta Braves had a run of dominance that neatly coincided with the Yankees run. They’ve been to the Serious five times, and won only once. Why is that? They had plenty of talent. If you guys think it’s so easy to replace Jeter with Adrian Beltre, how come the Braves were only able to parlay all that talent into just a single championship? The Marlins were able to get two titles, for crying out loud.

Derek Jeter is one of the constants of this run. He is one of the Core Four, and they are one of the main reasons the team is where it is now, where the Steinbrenners are now. As a member of the Core Four, he’s been the top ranked player on the team four times during that stretch, a feat only equaled by A-Rod (four of the last six seasons). You want to tell me that it’s just a coincidence that the last fifteen years have seen the Yankees make the Serious half the time, while the previous fifteen it was once? Jeter’s not a leader? He should be paid like a Hanley Ramirez?

I don’t see it that way. He deserves a nice send-off, a thank you, if you will. Not to have his legacy trashed by a group of people who should know better, people who are riding on the coattails of some of his best work.

UPDATE: Still loads of vitriol all over the web about Jeter. Astounded to see how much of it is anti-Derek. Harvey Araton sees my point:

…. let the Yankees, who have thrown countless millions at players who gave back next to nothing, try to tell Jeter to go shop the qualities that have helped put such a classy face on a franchise run by people who would take the last dime from the pocket of a homeless person.

Let them say to Jeter with a straight face that there will be no position for him to play when he makes the inevitable move from shortstop — after winning 1990s championships with the likes of Charlie Hayes at third and a second baseman, Chuck Knoblauch, whose throws to first base were the stuff of tee-ball legend.



…. The Captain

…. I’d like throw in my two cents on the Derek Jeter situation.

The Yankees are blowing this.

Jeter is hyper-competitive. You don’t get to where he’s gotten without a certain kind of fire burning inside you. Jeter is ultra-intense, ultra-competitive, and he’s gotta be that way with everything. Knowing this, it seems obvious that he is insulted that the Yankees are playing hardball with him, especially after watching A-Rod get a contract extension three years ago worth more than he has made in his entire life, even though A-Rod –at the time– hadn’t brought the Yankees even a single American League pennant, let alone a championship. He knows that, at that time, A-Rod was being vilified as A-Fraud, with nothing but notable post-season failures as a Yankee. He knows that since signing that deal, A-Rod’s reputation and value have been tarnished by his steroids scandal, and that he, Derek Jeter, is, as he has always been, as clean as the driven snow. He knows that he, too, is going to be passing a significant career milestone next season, and that the Yankees will, once again –because of what he, Derek Jeter, is doing– be the center of the baseball, and really, the entire sports world, when he does.

He’s insulted, he’s angry, and he’s right to be. A-Rod is signed through his age 42 season, and the Yankees are telling Jeter they are only willing to go to his age 39 season. He knows that the Steinbrenner family is wealthy beyond their father’s wildest dreams, and he knows that he is one of the reasons, one of the main reasons that they are. For Hank and Hal Steinbrenner to try and tell him about who earned what and how much it should be is disgraceful. They were born into wealth, they have built nothing. Work? All they do is sign checks and wear expensive suits. They know nothing about real hard work. They were sitting in the luxury box watching Derek Jeter build their dad’s team into financial juggernaut and a modern-day dynasty the likes of which we’re likely to never see again.

Derek Jeter is one of the main reasons the Steinbrenners are as wealthy as they are, he is one of the main reasons the Yankees are worth $1.6 billion dollars, one of the main reasons they have a cash flow from television and radio worth some $500 million dollars a year –much of it from the YES network– on which he is featured about ten times a day.

He deserves better. He is different. He is Derek Jeter. And he deserves another contract that pays him big. A five-year deal worth something like $75 million would probably get it done, but I think he wouldn’t complain too much if it was more money for a year less. Three years at $15 million per? Really? That’s less than they’re paying AJ Burnett, for crying out loud. Javier Vasquez makes $15 million a

year. You think Jeter is gonna sit there and make as much money as a couple of the biggest busts on the team? No way.

See, here’s the rub…. the Yankees are forgetting who they are dealing with. When they say it’s just another contract negotiation, that it’s just another day in the life of running a team, that it’s business as usual; they are wrong. This is Jeter, the captain, the most beloved Yankee since Don Mattingly. And more importantly, Jeter is Jeter. He’s not Bernie Williams, who really did have no other baseball choice when the Yankees told him he would have to earn his way in the team. Williams said, the hell with it, I’ll go play guitar.

Derek Jeter is a proud man, cognizant of his place in baseball history, his place in Yankee history, and his own image. He is very much like Joe DiMaggio in that respect, in fact, old-timers around the Yankees say that he is like DiMaggio in many ways, and in that he is; the Yankees are going to lose if they keep going down this path. DiMaggion wouldn’t tolerate any form of disrespect. If you crossed him, you were as good as dead to him, forever. Jeter is very much like that. DiMaggio walked away when he felt he couldn’t keep up with his own level of greatness. He walked away from money, from fame, from everything. He simply disappeared. He said, if I can’t still be great, if I can’t still be DiMaggio, I don’t want to be here at all. You think there’s no way Jeter sees the writing on the wall? You bet he does. You bet he knows all about how DiMaggio walked away. You don’t think maybe he’d rather play golf than see his legacy tarnished by another year of leading the league in outs, another year of writers all over the country saying that he is old, that he has no range, that his Gold Glove was a fraud?

If the Yankees, if Hank and Hal think Derek Jeter is gonna sit there and allow his career, his worth, his image, his legacy, get treated this way by a couple of spoiled rich kids, they are out of their minds. If they think that he is going to sit there and listen to them talk about him like this in public, denigrating his worth to the franchise, to all of baseball, really, and that he is just going to take it, they are wrong. The Yankees think he has no choice, but he does.

Jeter can retire. Oh, yes, he can. He can walk away, tell the Yankees go ahead, see how easy it is to sell $10,000 dollar tickets with A-Rod as the face of your franchise. See how easy it is to be THE YANKEES when I am not here anymore. Jeter can retire, he can walk away right now. You think he doesn’t already know he is on the downside of his career? You think he hasn’t seen other great stars look like crap because they couldn’t walk away? He sure has. He’s seen players hanging on, just trying to get one more payday, one more chance to play. He is not that player. He can walk away. Jon Heyman asks the question from a different angle:

…. A friend of Jeter’s posed this question: Why not? Why can’t Jeter leave? The friend pointed out that most of Jeter’s dearest friends and allies are gone from the Yankees. Torre is gone. Mattingly is gone. George Steinbrenner is gone. Bernie Williams is gone. Tino Martinez is gone. The Core Four may still be there, but best friend Jorge Posada has been told he’s lost his catching job and the other three remain free agents at the moment (all three, including Jeter, were declined arbitration by the Yankees).

He can leave, but not to another team. He can retire. He can walk away proud, with his head up, instead of playing these games.

And he will, before he allows himself to be dragged through the mud by Brian Cashman and –more importantly– those two spoiled rich kids. He can walk away, satisfied that he is a five-time champion, that he is gonna be standing in front of the crowd in five years thanking everyone for helping him forge a Hall of Fame career.

Jeter can retire, and if the Yankees keep up this bullshit, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he did.



…. Roost

The chickens are coming home to roost. I actually raise chickens –well, my wife does– and I have no idea what the connection is between this old saying and the concept of something you were worried about coming to pass.

Anywho….

Here’s what I wrote on August 15th:

…. So, baseball fans, San Francisco Giants fans; we are stuck. If we win, this inept front office will be rewarded with new contract extensions, and we will almost certainly see more of the same. We’ll see Sabean give soon to be 34-years old Pat Burrell a four-year, $25 million dollar contract for three months of hot baseball. Career journeyman Andres Torres will celebrate his 33rd birthday with a three year deal worth something like $15 million. And Aubrey Huff will get a Christmas/34th birthday combo deal of something like 4 years, $30 million.

…. Of course, the team could collapse. They could go on a ten game losing streak at any time. Burrell could pull a hamstring. He is, you know, old. So is pretty much every player on the field, save Posey and Sandoval.

Which would you rather see? Giants winning, and staying with Sabean for another three or four years? Or the kind of total collapse that gets heads rolling?

Well, they didn’t just win, they won it all, which certainly means Sabean and his “winning ways” and his “veterans” will be around for at least another four years, I’d guess. And now, Aubrey Huff will be here for what will almost certainly be the rest of his career:

…. Huff agreed to a two-year, $22 million contract with the World Series champions Tuesday. The Giants matched a similarly structured offer from another club, knowing Huff wanted to stay. Huff receives $10 million in each of the next two seasons, and the Giants have a $10 million club option for 2013 with a $2 million buyout.

“He was obviously underpaid for what he did for us last year,” General Manager Brian Sabean said during a conference call. “He certainly did his part and received a just reward for it.”

If he stays for that third year, it’d be a three-year deal, but he would still reach the $30 million I predicted. It seems likely, however, that Sabean has reached a sense of understanding that he has been out of his mind with some of these contracts the last four or five years, as Pat Burrell and Cody Ross don’t seem to be in line for the kind of contracts I was worried about. At least not yet.



…. Just reward

Buster Posey was named NL Rookie of the Year:

…. Posey was a bit of a surprise, beating out burgeoning left-handed starter Jaime Garcia of St. Louis and Braves slugger Jason Heyward for the award.

Posey collected 20 of 32 first-place votes, even though he spent the first month of the year in the minors. The 23-year-old catcher was called up from Triple-A in late May. He got off to a slow start, too, hitting a solid-but-unspectacular .289 with one homer in May and June.

But he made a midseason charge in July and finished the season with a .305 average, 18 home runs and 67 RBI. That – and his steady work behind the plate with standout starters Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain – was enough to help Posey edge buy levitra us past Braves phenom Heyward (18 homers, 72 RBI) and the steady Garcia (13-8, 2.70 ERA), who finished second and third, respectively, in NL voting.

Interesting coincidence, both ROY’s were from the teams that met in the Serious.

Congratulations to Buster, and the Giants, who continue to show that 2010 was an historic year.



…. Gotta say something

No Giants have won any hardware yet.

Hoping on Posey….



…. CHAMPS!!!!!!!

Nothing to say. Renteria for MVP?

UPDATE: Um…. Nosdtradmus am I. I said 7 shutout innings, Lincecum just missed 7 shutout innings. I said Renteria for MVP. Renteria for MVP….

…. The unlikely hero for a Series winner that few predicted was Edgar Renteria, an injury-plagued shortstop from Colombia who declared he expected to retire after the season and whose two-year $18.5 million contract was ridiculed because the Giants gave it to a player thought to be washed up.

I admit that I have been one of the worst critics of his signing….

Now, I say this…..

I am amazed, flabbergasted, stunned. I never, for one minute, thought this would be the Giants team that brought a title to SF. Sabean, Bochy, Righetti, Baer, Nuekom….. the entire organization deserves kudos. Congratulations to the Giants, to San Francisco, and to us, the long-suffering fans. That was an awesome ride.

I stand corrected, altered, and humbled. I thought we could contend with this staff, but these hitters, they came through again and again;, guys with no pedigree,

buy levitra from canada
and guys like Renteria, who neatly bookends his career with a second World Series winning hit.

Outstanding!

UPDATE: Just wanted to let you guys know….. We had champagne tonight, and we sprayed it all over No drinking, no toast, just locker room goodness. Thought you should know.

:-)

The great Joe Posnaski says it best:

…. To San Francisco, baseball had always been about stars and heartbreak and a howling wind at Candlestick Park. To San Francisco, baseball had meant the aging Willie Mays, now turning on fastballs and hitting long home runs. It meant Willie McCovey, Stretch, standing in the box, as menacing a hitter as the game had known. It meant the high leg kick of Juan Marichal, the hustle of Gaylord Perry, the sweet swing of Will Clark, the brilliant blend of power and speed of the young Bobby Bonds. Baseball meant miserable nights at Candlestick Park with hot dog wrappers blowing in the outfield and underdressed fans wondering where summer went.

No more misery.



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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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