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Archive for the 'Most Valuable Player' Category


…. Twenty-seven

The Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th World Series championship. They’ll send AJ Burnett tonight to face Cliff Lee, who has dominated like few in history this post season. Odds are likely the series heads back to the Bronx for at least one more game, but should it end tonight, it seems like a tough choice for MVP. It seems like Damon has been involved in a lot of the scoring in Philadelphia, (but in reality, he’s been hot the last game and a half) Derek Jeter has the best batting average and the most hits in the Series, and A-Rod has made the most of his two safeties.

I think it’s gonna end up being Rivera. There’s no chance Burnett goes the distance, so without question, if the Yankees win tonight, Rivera will be getting the last three outs. If that happens, he’ll have three saves, allowed no runs, and basically saved the season with his two inning save in Game 2. Unless one of the two superstars singlehandedly wins the game, it’s gonna be the Sandman.

UPDATE: So much for that. It looks like Cliff Lee could be the MVP, whether the Phillies come all the way back or not. As for the Yankees, this is the first game of the postseason that they had a starter get knocked out early.



…. Next season

El Lefty Malo looks ahead:

…. One question to ponder as you see all the trade and free-agent suggestions thrown around this winter — the Giants should sign this guy or trade for that guy — is not just whom to get, but how many runs do the Giants really need to score next year?

750 runs is a must. No way can the Giants expect to repeat their 2009 pitching performance, so just adding 50 runs will do nothing. The average NL team scored 718 runs, the Giants scored 657, so 50 runs added and we’re still below average. You cannot expect to compete for a championship if you’re not at least be average, and even that’s not really what contending teams are aiming for. Back to runs differential, the Dodgers scored (oops) 780 runs, and allowed 611. The Giants scored 657 runs, and allowed 611. Need I say more?

Trading Matt Cain is the best way to address the hole in the lineup, as he will never be worth more than he is right now.

The player to look for? How about Hanley Ramirez? Lots of stories this year about how players and coaches with the Marlins don’t like how he goes about his business. Maybe he’s tired of playing in front of empty seats, and is looking for a change of scenery. Maybe he wants to play for a contender that spends money, (even if they spend it poorly). Maybe he thinks the Marlins are small time:

…. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez recently forced all of his long-haired players, including Ramirez, into an impromptu date with the clubhouse hairdresser. He also banned any jewelry worn onfield by Ramirez or any of his teammates.

“We want to look professional,” Gonzalez told the Sun-Sentinel. “Nice and neat.”

Only problem was that Ramirez, ranked first overall in Yahoo!’s fantasy baseball game, didn’t take kindly to having his shortish dreads shorn off or his chain yanked off his neck. Once the media entered the Marlins’ clubhouse on Thursday, Ramirez made sure he was seen sporting a strong message — “I’m sick of this shit” — written in Sharpie across his chest.

“I’m angry,” he told reporters. “I want to be traded … It’s incredible. We’re big leaguers.”

And here’s another article, in which Ramirez is portrayed as strikingly similar to another superstar we Giants fans are familiar with:

…. Here is the dichotomy of Ramirez: a player with admirable work habits, yet an almost displeasing demeanor. Ramirez as a person can be dismissive and distant, yet as a player he’s dynamic and impossible to dislike.

Everything about Ramirez, 25, is big league — his game and his attitude. This season, he’s quarreled with teammates about the validity of an injury, argued with management about the team’s hair policy, and bickered with reporters over their criticism — something that would drive most fans, not to mention team executives, crazy.

Yet he may be baseball’s most complete player, a combination of power, speed and hitting acumen, all things that he could not have mastered without a tremendous work ethic. Teammates and coaches still consider him a kid — a well-liked but at times capricious one. But as he finishes his most productive season — an MVP-caliber year — and heads into his fifth full season in the majors in 2010, Ramirez is inching toward veteran status.

Ramirez is everything we don’t have. His career line of .316/.386/.531 .917 OPS is simply sensational. Over his last three full seasons, he’s averaged a .950 OPS, with 74 extra base hits, 38 steals (80% success rate). I mean, he does it all, and he’s only 25 years old. We could package Cain with Renteria — a reunion tour with the team he won a World Series with, nice story line there– and maybe a draft pick, if needed. All that trade would do is transform the face of the franchise in one fell swoop.

Sure Cain is good, young and under financial control for another year or two. But, he’s not that good. He’s not Lincecum good. He’s not Cliff Lee good. He’s not Chris Carpenter good. In other words, he’s not untradeable.

Baseball Reference has his ten most similar players:

Moe Drabowsky (977)
Clay Kirby (974)
Jack Fisher (967)
Jose Rijo (962)
Mike Witt (959)
Tom Gordon (958)
Dave Stieb (956)
Lefty Tyler (954)
Jim Kaat (953)
John Smoltz (953)

There’s some good pitchers there, plus Smoltz, who is legitimately great, but every one of those guys played for a bunch of different teams.

That’s not to say we should trade him for just anybody. Cain is 24 years old, and a 24 year old pitcher of his caliber is extremely valuable. But this Giants team is several players away from championship contention, and something’s gotta be done. If you can trade a 24 year old very good pitcher for a truly elite hitter of approximately the same age, you probably should do it.

Of course, maybe the Marlins fall in love with Mr. No-Hitter, and would part with their problem child for him and and some spare odds and ends. Yeah, right. Not to mention, does anyone really believe that Sabean could pull this off?



…. Bondsian

Alex Rodriguez has sportswriters and talk show hosts all atwitter as they struggle to come up with adequate comparisons to his performance thus far this postseason. Of course, Giants fans know exactly who he is reminding everyone of, while theBud the Selig-imposed gag order on writing,m saying or thinking positive things about Barry Bonds is still in effect.

Bonds 2002 17 G 45 AB 18 R 16 H 2 2B 1 3B 8 HR 16 RBI 27 BB 6 SO .356/.581/.978 1.559 OPS
A Rod 2009 07 G 27 AB 9 R 11 H 1 2B 0 3B 5 HR 11 RBI 4 BB 4 SO .407/.469/1.000 1.469 OPS

Turns out, the comparisons are actually pretty much right on. A Rod is having a Bondsian postseason. He’s way off in the walks, but teams pretty much walked Bonds every chance they got that year, so he’s never gonna get there. But, he’s got the power, the on base percentage is right there, and he’s actually got a better batting average so far. He’s gotta do it for another seven or ten games, but. still in all, he looks great side by side with the greatest postseason performance in baseball history, which is saying something.

UPDATE: David Pinto also notices the lack of walks:

…. They pitch to him because the Yankees lineup behind him is pretty potent. This isn’t the Giants, with Bonds and a bunch of nobodies. Teams need to make an effort to get an out with A-Rod at the plate, otherwise they’re just playing to the Yankees OBP strength.

I’ve always believed that Bonds was walked as often as he was because he was so universally hated, but that’s probably the Giants fan in me being so pissed that they could get away with walking him so constantly.

Teams started walking him for real in 2001, after he started the year with 11 home runs in 75 April at bats (he ended the season with 177 free passes). But those ’01-’02 Giants were the best Giants teams of the last twenty years. Besides Jeff Kent, who was a truly great hitter, the Giants during that time had a still terrific Rich Aurilia, Benito Santiago was pretty good, David Bell had a terrific year in ’02, Reggie Sanders had 23 home runs in ’02. In ’03, the team started being weaker, Grissom and Jose Cruz Jr. each had 20, but Bonds ended up with 148 walks in 130 games played. In ’04, things got out of hand. Grissom and Feliz had 22 home runs, but they were useless as the second and third best hitters on the team. Bonds walked 232 times that season, 68 of them intentional, and probably another 50 or 60 as semi-intentional, and virtually no team paid a significant price for avoiding him.

So really, only once in that time did Bonds have someone even close to the hitter Texeira is, in 2002, when Kent hit 37 home runs. I remember it feeling different at the time, but now that I’m looking back, Pinto’s right.



…. Happy Anniversary?

Ten years ago today, SL Price, writing for Sports Illustrated, put the following words to paper:

…. As is our custom late each fall, we at sports illustrated sat down to discuss nominations for sportsman of the…. No, we didn’t discuss. We didn’t even sit down. It was automatic. It was unanimous. It was the easiest selection in our history. It couldn’t be one sportsman of the year. It had to be two. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. All in favor, say aye. All opposed, report back to your coma.

McGwire and Sosa gave America a summer that won’t be forgotten: a summer of stroke and counterstroke, of packed houses and curtain calls, of rivals embracing and gloves in the bleachers and adults turned into kids—the Summer of Long Balls and Love.

It wasn’t just the lengths they went to with bats in their hands.

It was also that they went to such lengths to conduct the great home run race with dignity and sportsmanship, with a sense of joy and openness. Never have two men chased legends and each other that hard and that long or invited so much of America onto their backs for the ride. Rarely has grace so swiftly begotten grace, $2 million pouring into Sosa’s foundation for hurricane victims in his native Dominican Republic and a flurry of checks for $62 and $70 into McGwire’s Los Angeles-based charity for abused children.

Reading his piece again, I am both reminded of what a great ride that was, and saddened by how that memory has been revised, cheapened and ultimately, denied. I ask you: Are we really better off having “exposed” the PED users? I certainly think not.



…. Stupid is as stupid does

Two recent articles involving steroids caught my eye, my attention, and drew my ire. The first one was in the NY Times, having to do with the attorneys in the Bonds case:

…. Barry Bonds is at home, awaiting trial and hoping that a major league team will ask him to play again. The prosecutors overseeing his case have gone back to working on other investigations. And one of Bonds’s lead defense lawyers has spent time helping to determine who the prosecutors’ next boss will be.

…. Whoever eventually becomes the United States attorney — the highest law-enforcement official in the Bay Area — will have an important decision to make in the Bonds case.

…. “I can see the concern that it looks worrisome,” he said, “but there are many layers in this decision, there are a lot of people on the committee — there is no direct decision-maker — it’s Boxer’s call, it’s Obama’s call and it’s subject to review of the Department of Justice and Congressional approval.”

Expressing more concern than the legal experts was Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees the testing of all Olympic athletes and promotes clean competition in all sports.

“Right or wrong, perception can become reality and the perception here is not good,” Tygart said. “Hopefully, this will not have anything to do with the truth of Barry Bonds’s doping from coming to light and his tainted home run record being expunged.”

…. Since prosecutors began scrutinizing Bonds in 2003, there have been three United States attorneys for the Northern District of California. The current United States attorney, Joseph P. Russoniello, said in an interview Wednesday that he wanted to remain in the post after his term expired in December 2011.

…. Russoniello declined to say whether the government would move forward with the case if the appeals court does not let them use the disputed evidence. But he took issue with those people who have criticized his prosecutors for going after professional athletes.

“With all people we expect that when we put them in front of the grand jury they will be truthful,” Russoniello said. “It would be wrong to impose different standards because they were celebrities; we prosecute regardless of who the people are. We prosecute what is in front of us.”

Russoni

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ello said that since he took over as United States attorney, in 2007, he has developed a greater appreciation for the Balco investigation and how the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes can influence teenagers.

“Stan Musial was my hero when I was a kid, and he smoked cigarettes,” Russoniello said. “I smoked cigarettes. Did I smoke cigarettes because of him? Well, there was not anything that he did to deter me from smoking cigarettes.”

That's two people charged with important decisions, being in important jobs, who are either lying or idiots. If Tygart really thinks that way, he's not an executive running an organization. he's a crusader wit a vendetta, who cares more about image than facts, and he should be fired.

As for Russoniello, he's a disgrace to Italians everywhere. I can't even believe a grown man would allow himself to think something so absurd, and to allow himself to say it aloud, in front of a reporter is embarrassing. “There was not anything he did to deter me from smoking cigarettes.” I'm sorry that Stan Musial never told him not to smoke. Wow.

I'll get to the second one in a day or so. I just had to point put the absurdity.

UPDATE: Speaking of Bonds and absurdity, here's the headline to this article about Bengie Molina:

Giants’ Cleanup Hitter Is No Bonds (That’s a Good Thing)

…. Is there a more improbable full-time cleanup hitter in the major leagues? In his first 80 games, Molina batted .259 with 11 homers and 50 runs batted in. He was on a pace to hit 20 homers and drive in 91 runs.

Those projected numbers would be decent, but Molina, 34, is hardly a fearsome or dependable slugger. He was hitting .239 with runners in scoring position and had walked a shockingly low three times. Molina had a .432 slugging percentage and a .267 on-base percentage, which was worst in the National League.

Yeah, who needs a guy who gets on base half the time, has the highest slugging percentage in the league, and is generally the best hitter alive?

That piece was written by Jack Curry, just one more slam job by a cadre of reporters and mass media idiots who are obviously under some obligation to relentlessly continue their attacks on Barry, even when there's no reason whatsoever. Disgraceful.

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…. Buzz Killington

Barry Zito tried to throw cold water cold water on pretty much the whole last week, coming out of the gate and allowing two three run homers –to a team that had been struggling to even get a hit– before most Giants fans had even sat down. He allowed 9 earned runs and got 10 outs…. enough said.

The Giants head into the All Star break 10 games over .500, with the second-best record in the NL. They have posted an outstanding team ERA, they have thrown a world-best 13 shutouts, they have two 10-2 pitchers, and a 22-year old who is leading the team in batting average, home runs, RBI, and OPS. Sandoval has 15 home runs, 55 RBI and run out a .333/.385/.579 .964 OPS line. Wow. That's a hell of a first half, all things considered.

All things being….

Barry Zito is a complete washout. Randy Johnson, 8 wins notwithstanding, isn't one of the top forty starting pitchers in the NL. Edgar Renteria (.260/.317/.326 .643 OPS) as advertised, isn't worth $18 dollars, let alone $18 million dollars. The jury is still out on Travis Ishikawa (.269/.324/.430 .754 OPS), who may be able to hit just enough to be the next JT Snow. I know, I know, that's a horrible thought, but still, he's not the problem right now, and that's saying something.

Randy Winn, Fred Lewis and pretty much any outfielder other than Aaron Rowand would be the problem. With a combined total of 10 home runs, our entire offensive weakness can be attributed to the lack of power being demonstrated by that group.

Joe Sheehan got me thinking:

…. What if a team offered the Blue Jays not its very best prospects (for Roy Halladay), but offered it the kind of payroll relief that would pay off for years to come? What if a team took Vernon Wells off of its hands?

When the Blue Jays signed Vernon Wells after the 2006 season, it was very clearly a case of buying high. The center fielder was coming off his age-27 season, his fifth as a full-time player, and just his second of those with an OBP above .340

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. Wells’ core skills showed him to be a good-not-great player, whose value was buoyed by excellent defense in center field, but lacking the on-base skills to be a true middle-of-the-order anchor, and with speed that was more perceived than actual (he was at 53/15 SB/CS to that point in his career). The contract was doomed the moment it was signed, massively backloaded to make it affordable to the team, but ensuring that Wells would eventually be an albatross. Here’s what’s left on it after this year:

2010: $12.5 million + $8.5 million share of signing bonus
2011: $23 million
2012: $21 million
2013: $21 million
2014: $21 million

That’s five years and $107 million, or about $11 million less than what’s left on Johan Santana’s contract. It’s just a bit less than what Sabathia will make in those years. It’s more than what’s left on the laughingstock contracts signed by Alfonso Soriano and Barry Zito.

Even as bad as Wells has been over the last year and a half, he would immediately be the best hitter in our outfield. We're talking blockbuster here –BLOCKBUSTER– but we're also talking about a team that has the best pitching in baseball, right now, and more importantly, we're talking about a team that has never, NEVER won a championship. It's a deal that would instantly alter the dynamics in the National League.

If the Giants were able to swing a deal like that, a deal that landed the All Star starter for the AL, a deal that would preclude giving up any of our true blue-chip prospects, they would transform themselves into a championship contender instantly.

Will Bowker hit enough to keep the Giants in contention? Will the Giants get enough pitching from the 3rd, 4th and 5th starters? Can Cain and Lincecum repeat their success? Can this team make the playoffs? All of these questions fall to the wayside after a deal like this. The only question that needs to be asked is whether Bill Neukom will take on another albatross contract. And, not for nothing, we seem to pretty much lead the league in albatross contracts.

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…. No no-no

Lincecum missed a no-hitter by the hair on his heady-head-head. If he gets Gwynn on that 3-2 pitch –slider?– (Chron says it was a change-up) stays in that groove, he's only 8 outs away. He certainly wanted it, was thinking about

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it, and was going for it. Oh well. 10-2 at the break, almost certainly gonna be the All Star Game starter…. Can't ask for much more, can we?

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…. Right stuff

Tim Lincecum simply destroyed the Cardinals last night, pitching a 2-hit shutout, with 8 strikeouts and no walks. Now 8-2, leading the world in strikeouts, and running out an utterly dominating June, (4-1, with 48 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched), Lincecum would seem to be moving into position to start the All Star Game. As the reigning Cy Young, the choice would seem obvious.

A quick look at his stats shows some awe-inspiring trends. Now halfway through '09, he has gotten better each year, and is approaching Pedro Martinez country:

2007 2.31 K/BB .308 OBP .364 SLG .669 OPS allowed WHIP 1.278 BB/9IP 4.0
2008 3.16 K/BB .297 OBP .316 SLG .609 OPS allowed WHIP 1.172 BB/9IP 3.3
2009 4.71 K/BB .275 OBP .305 SLG .576 OPS allowed WHIP 1.070 BB

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/9IP 2.2

His pitches per inning and per batter have gone down this season, as evidenced by yesterday's 96 pitch gem, and whatever early season issues he was having seem long gone. In his last 4 starts, he's had 37 strikeouts and 3 walks in 35 innings, with three complete games and one 8 inning stint. Read that sentence twice.

In 73 starts, he's now 33-12 for his career. Dwight Gooden, to whom he's occasionally compared, started 66 games his first two seasons, and at the end of his second, (when he was 20 years old!), Gooden was 41-13. Timmy's got a shot to have a similar record at the end of this season, and certainly appears to have a good shot at back to back Cy Young Awards.

The Giants have no excuse not to open up the checkbook, right fucking now, and get him signed to a long-term contract. Under no circumstance can he be allowed to see the light of day.

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…. Hall of Fame?

So new we learn that one more player was willing to do whatever it took to win, one more player who took the mantra that winning isn’t just everything, it’s the only thing as seriously as a heart attack.

One more reason for all of the talking heads to wring their hands, declare themselves the last bastions of decency and all that’s good, to remind us that while Manny Ramirez doesn’t care about saving the children, they sure do. One more overwrought response to an overblown issue, by one after another overweight and underpaid hacks.

The NY Daily News has nine articles related to Ramirez, this from a paper that considers itself the anti-steroids locus operandi of the sports world, but is, in reality, a joke; running one more innuendo-filled smear after another. Or, if smear jobs aren’t enough, the News will run flat out attack pieces, with enough anonymous quotes to make Selena Roberts blush. Here’s John Harper:

…. Unless you think that cheating the game shouldn’t matter, you continue to cross the names off the list of future Hall of Famers. Not that deleting Manny Ramirez’s name from consideration is particularly painful.

It was always going to be hard to vote for someone who quit on his team as transparently as Ramirez did with the Red Sox last year, when he forced his way out of Boston. So in this case, Ramirez’s suspension for using a banned substance just makes it easier to say no.

Or the poster boy for calling everyone a cheater, Lupica:

…. Ramirez talks about some doctor doing this to him. What doctor? He doesn’t give us a name on his doctor any more than A-Rod gave us the name of that Nurse Betty-cousin of his. Manny and Boras also fail to mention that there is a hotline ballplayers can call, one that tells them exactly what drugs they can and can’t use.

So, in a one-paragraph statement, Ramirez manages to give us a story as full of holes as the one Rodriguez gave in Tampa before he choked himself up.

Again, baseball officials and sportswriters know, FOR A FACT, that virtually every baseball player for the last fifty years has used performance enhancing drugs of some kind during his career.

Let me write that again, so you understand how disgraceful all of this posturing and hand-wringing really is:

BASEBALL PLAYERS HAVE BEEN USING PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS FOR THE LAST FIVE DECADES:

…. Here’s what Gilbert wrote FORTY YEARS AGO!!!!

…. “A few pills—I take all kinds—and the pain’s gone,” says Dennis McLain of the Detroit Tigers. McLain also takes shots, or at least took a shot of cortisone and Xylocaine (anti-inflammant and painkiller) in his throwing shoulder prior to the sixth game of the 1968 World Series—the only game he won in three tries. In the same Series, which at times seemed to be a matchup between Detroit and St. Louis druggists, Cardinal Bob Gibson was gobbling muscle-relaxing pills, trying chemically to keep his arm loose. The Tigers’ Series hero, Mickey Lolich, was on antibiotics.

Bob Gibson? He’s one of the heroes these guys keep going on and on about. He’s one of those guys who would never, ever have used steroids, right, Lupica?

…. “We occasionally use Dexamyl and Dexedrine [amphetamines]…. We also use barbiturates, Seconal, Tuinal, Nembutal…. We also use some anti-depressants, Triavil, Tofranil, Valium…. But I don’t think the use of drugs is as prevalent in the Midwest as it is on the East and West coasts,” said Dr. I. C. Middleman, who, until his death last September, was team surgeon for the St. Louis baseball Cardinals.

Tim McCarver was Gibson’s catcher, wasn’t he? When is McCarver gonna come out and tell the truth? When is McCarver gonna be asked a tough question? He and Joe Morgan can sit there during games and drone on and on about how horrible it is that this player or that player is cheating…. WHEN WILL THEY COME CLEAN?

Think about that when you listen to these guys talk about their heroes being so full of love for the kids, so true and honorable that they saved people from burning buildings before hitting the game winning home run. We know, KNOW that all of these guys, Reggie Jackson and Cal Ripken and Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and Tom Seaver and Joe-fucking-Morgan ….. all of these Hall of Fame players absolutely, positively used speed to play baseball. And we know, for a fact, that the only reason they didn’t use steroids is because they weren’t readily available.

And we know that the sportswriters and broadcasters knew as well.

Instead of another article quoting Cal Ripken as being disappointed or shocked, I’d love to read an article in which Ripken lists, in detail, every single thing he ever took to play in 2130 games in a row.

…. “I don’t know what people would think. You stand for what you stand for. If you’re asking me whether I juiced, the answer is no.

When different people are suspected or popped, there’s a kind of shock that runs through your system. This falls in the shocking category.

You can only control what you can control. You have to live your life and live it as consistently as you can, the way you believe.

Instead of looking at it from a pessimistic point and saying it’s dragging the game down, I still would like to believe most players are making the right choice and right decision based on who they are. That’s how I choose to look at it. Whether it’s going to prove out to be wrong, time will tell. The truth will come out.

Yeah, don’t ask him a real question, like, what did you take, at any point during your career, to take the field? Or better yet, did you ever use speed, or anything stronger than ibuprofen, EVER?

This is all bullshit. It’s all lowest common denominator, pander to the idiots, race to press and make sure everyone knows that you stand for honor. And it’s all a lie.



…. Lincecum, too?

Our reigning Cy Young winner has been pretty mediocre so far this season, after today's flat effort ran his season stats out to a dismal looking 8.3 inning, 14 hits allowed and 7 earned runs. Bleh:

“Something's not clicking and I'm going to figure it out,” said Lincecum, who took little consolation in the thought that by season's end, he will have d

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one just that. You worry about things going on, especially in the present. You don't worry about 35 games. You try to take any positives you can out every start and work on the negatives. Obviously, there have been more negatives than usual.”

The most aggravating thing about his slow start is that he's making Verducci look smart.

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All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
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