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Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Curse of Bunned Meat and Breadsticks: Why the Twins Can’t Beat the Yankees

On April 11, 1961, the Twins played their first game, beating the American League champion Yankees 6-0 in front of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Toots Shor, who sat beneath that white scalloped frieze at Yankee Stadium, its famous arches suggesting grandeur, antiquity and empire. The new home of the Twins, meanwhile, was a minor league ballyard in a former Bloomington, Minn., cornfield, providing the first of many comparisons between the two teams and the communities they represent in which Minnesota always comes off as a lesser New York—Big Apple vs. Minneapple, Yankees vs. Twinkies, Mickey Mantle vs. Mickey Hatcher.

Even the franchise’s inaugural victory was largely forgotten by the next morning, when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. But the ballgame remains historic, for it began the Twins’ own long-standing Cold War with the Yanks. As those two teams await the 2019 playoffs and another possible matchup, Minnesotans are keenly aware (as New Yorkers are not) that the Twins have lost a record 13 consecutive postseason games, an ignominious distinction they share with the Yankees’ more famous rivals, the Red Sox. Minnesota’s last playoff win was at the old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 5, 2004, in Game 1 of the AL Division Series. Of the 13 losses that have followed, all but three—a sweep by the A’s in the ‘06 ALDS—were to the Yankees, most recently in the ‘17 wild-card game. For almost the entire 21st century the Bronx Bombers have had Minnesota’s number, and that number is still stored in a Nokia flip phone.

The Yankees’ inexplicable domination in this century began very differently in the last one. In 1964, a recent graduate of George Washington High in Washington Heights—a Panamanian national then playing for a sandlot team in the Bronx called the N.Y. Cavaliers—traveled a couple of miles across the Harlem River to work out for the Twins at Yankee Stadium. After just a few swings Minnesota officials bundled the 19-year-old out of sight, lest he be seen by a Yankees executive with a fat book of blank checks. They spirited Rodney Cline Carew to an Italian restaurant in the Bronx, the Stella D’Oro, across from the breadstick factory of the same name, and signed the second baseman on the spot. It was a bank heist in broad daylight, and one for which there would be disproportionate karmic payback.

Carew would be named the AL Rookie of the Year in 1967, then win seven batting titles (while the scouts who signed him—Herb Stein and Monroe Katz—were given, for all we know, Bronze Breadsticks). But in ‘78, with the frugal Twins intent on dealing him, Carew expressed his desire to play for the Yankees, in the stadium where it all began. “I’d rather hit there than in any of the other teams’ parks,” said Carew, who also admired New York’s skipper, Billy Martin, his former manager in Minnesota and the godfather to the second of his three daughters. Alas, Carew also had the temerity to entertain other offers, upsetting Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who thought the future Hall of Famer didn’t sufficiently appreciate “the privilege of playing for the Yankees.” So Carew signed with the Angels and the Yankees maintained their imperious and often disdainful view of the Twins as backwater tightwads who didn’t sufficiently appreciate the privilege of playing against the Yankees, much less for them.

With Babe Ruth and the Black Sox and the billygoat and Eddie Grant no longer relevant as curses (and with Rocky Colavito coming within one overused relief pitcher of the same), it seems time for people to be creating new baseball curses, doesn’t it?

QLE Posted: September 21, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: breadsticks, curse, rod carew, twins, yankees

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Twins set MLB record as 5th player reaches 30-home run mark

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have set another major league home run record, becoming the first team in history to have five players go deep 30 or more times in one season.

Miguel Sanó gave the Twins the all-time mark with his 30th homer, a three-run shot to the third deck in left field off Chicago White Sox left-hander Ross Detwiler on Tuesday night. Nelson Cruz (37), Max Kepler (36), Eddie Rosario (31) and Mitch Garver (30) all made it before Sanó.

Something to add to our collection of notes on the effects of the rabbit ball this season.

QLE Posted: September 18, 2019 at 12:48 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: home run derby, twins

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

MLB Power Rankings: Just how good are the Twins?

We know a few things for sure. The Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are the three best teams in baseball this season. The Atlanta Braves are a rung below, but still very much a challenger to L.A. in the National League.

What we didn’t completely know, but do now, is just what the Minnesota Twins were made of. The Twins, the most surprising of this season’s division leaders, were in a position over the weekend to almost let go of an AL Central lead they’d held since April.

The Cleveland Indians, the team most people figured would win the AL Central, were hosting the Twins for three games and trying to make a 3.5 game lead disappear. If the Indians got hot and swept the Twins? Yikes. It was lining up like one of those moments where Cinderella loses her shoe.

Only it wasn’t. The Twins won two of three, including a doubleheader sweep on Saturday that virtually put the race to bed. The Twins have a 4.5 game lead with an easy schedule ahead. And now the question becomes: How good are the Twins?

So, what do we think of these rankings?

QLE Posted: September 17, 2019 at 12:22 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: power rankings, twins

Friday, September 06, 2019

LEADING OFF: A’s winning streak on line in suspended game

SO, WHERE WERE WE?

Before their regularly scheduled matchup in Oakland, the Tigers and Athletics will resume a game that was suspended May 19 at Detroit with the A’s leading 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Back then, the A’s were in the middle of putting together their first 10-game winning streak since 2006. But that could get wiped away if Oakland can’t close out the May 19 game against Detroit. If the A’s hang on, the winning streak will go to 11 games. If the Tigers rally to win, Oakland’s streak from that stretch will only be considered a seven-gamer. Center fielder Ramon Laureano is expected to come off the injured list for the A’s and play in the second game.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Minnesota has a chance to widen its 6½-game lead in the AL Central over Cleveland and perhaps all but salt away the division title when the Indians come to town for a three-game series. Michael Pineda (11-5, 4.11 ERA) pitches the opener for the Twins, back home from an 8-2 road trip. Adam Plutko (6-4, 4.53) goes for Cleveland.

Presumably, this suspended game won’t be over in a few minutes, unlike the last one.


MLB Postseason Picture: Twins extend AL Central lead with dramatic win

It’s September, so the baseball games matter a little more. That’s why every day between now and the start of the postseason we’ll keep you updated on baseball’s postseason picture.

The Minnesota Twins briefly lost their grip on the AL Central lead last month.

They’re determined to not let that happen again.

Minnesota extended its rebuilt lead to 6.5 games over the Cleveland Indians with a dramatic 2-1 win against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.

An update, for those curious about how the playoff hunt is going.

QLE Posted: September 06, 2019 at 03:46 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: al central, playoff implications, twins

Friday, August 30, 2019

Twins break MLB record for home runs on road

CHICAGO—The Minnesota Twins set a major league record for home runs on the road in a season, hitting three in Thursday’s 10-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox to lift their total to 141 away from home.

Jake Cave went deep twice, including a leadoff shot in the third against Dylan Cease that gave Minnesota 139 homers on the road, eclipsing the previous mark of 138 set by San Francisco in 2001.

C.J. Cron, the Twins’ next batter, followed with a drive to center to give Minnesota back-to-back homers in the third.

Cave added a shot in the seventh for his second career multihomer game, increasing the Twins’ overall total to 261, which leads the majors and already is the third most in a season in MLB history. The record for homers in a season (267) was set last year by the New York Yankees. The 1997 Seattle Mariners hit 264.

Exhibit #413 involving the excesses of the home run spike this season, ladies and gentlemen.

 

QLE Posted: August 30, 2019 at 05:04 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: home run derby, home runs, twins

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Even-keeled Twins trying to stay that way in tight race

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The home clubhouse in Minnesota was silent after the final game of the series was lost to Cleveland in distressing fashion, a fifth defeat in the last seven contests for the Twins that let the surging Indians create another tie for the division lead.

As players packed for a road trip, minus the usual upbeat music blaring in the background, the mood in the room was hardly somber or tense. Even having the would-be winning run get thrown out at the plate in the ninth inning and the team’s top relief pitcher give up a grand slam in the 10th did not qualify as a devastating development amid the 162-game grind of baseball.

Particularly not under the supervision of rookie manager Rocco Baldelli, whose perpetually relaxed and upbeat demeanor has had more of an influence on these Twins in his first year than any strategic decision or lineup change.

“We’re in a pretty good frame of mind,” Baldelli said following a 7-3 loss Sunday to the Indians. “You’re going to go through runs where you’re playing good teams. You’re going to go through runs where you’re playing well, winning some games but losing some games that you think you should win. We play so many games here and our guys give a tremendous effort every single night when we’re out there that there’s really nothing more you can ask for. We have a very stable clubhouse, which we’re very fortunate for. We have a lot of guys who show up every day the same way, regardless of whether we win or lose.”

A consideration of a team in the midst of a divisional race.

QLE Posted: August 13, 2019 at 05:00 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: al central, rocco baldelli, twins

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Twins reach new single-season record with 226th home run

It’s been quite the year for the Twins, who are currently positioned to upstage the 2018 Yankees for most home runs hit in a single MLB season. In the sixth inning of Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Indians, they reached a collective 226 home runs with Eddie Rosario‘s leadoff home run off of right-hander Shane Bieber, shattering the standing franchise record set for single-season homers in 1963.

What was that about the baseballs not being juiced, Manfred?

 

QLE Posted: August 10, 2019 at 08:18 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: home runs, twins

Yasiel Puig shows he’s still Yasiel Puig with a wave and a kiss on the basepaths

Yasiel Puig might be on his third team in the last calendar year, but he’s still Yasiel Puig. That identity was in full view as the Cleveland Indians outfielder ran the bases on Friday in an American League Central showdown.

After singling to lead off the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins, Puig ran all the way to third on a throwing error from Twins pitcher Randy Dobnak. For those not paying close attention, it was a standard advancement off an error.

Those focusing on the runner, however, got a pair of those quintessential Puig moments. As he ran past second, the Wild Horse waved goodbye to the Twins defenders in right field.

After he slid safely into third, Puig only got up after blowing a kiss to the home crowd.

Do you suppose he regrets not making Marty Brennaman’s head explode while he still had the chance?

 

QLE Posted: August 10, 2019 at 08:18 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, twins, yasiel puig

Thursday, August 08, 2019

LEADING OFF: Indians take aim at Target, Hamels rolling

A look at what’s happening around the majors Thursday:

TARGET TIME

A couple months ago, Cleveland trailed the Twins by 11 1/2 games in the AL Central and was being written off as too old and too banged-up. But by going a baseball-best 38-16 since June 4, the Indians have closed within two games of Minnesota heading into this four-game series at Target Field.

Mike Clevinger (6-2, 3.07 ERA) starts the opener for the Indians against Kyle Gibson (11-4, 4.02). Clevinger is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last three road starts.

It does seem that the story of the last couple of months has been surges and slumps- with any luck, it will make some races stay interesting until the end of the year….

QLE Posted: August 08, 2019 at 04:47 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, twins

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Twins set new MLB record after reaching 200-home run threshold

Max Kepler helped the Twins to a new MLB record on Friday after swatting a second-inning, three-run home run off of the White Sox’ Dylan Cease. With the homer, the Twins reached the 200-HR threshold — not only becoming the first team to do so in 2019, but the fastest in any Major League season to date.

According to MLB.com’s Russell Dorsey and Elias Sports, the last team to hold that record was the 2005 Rangers, who collected their first 200 dingers in 122 games. The 2019 Twins, on the other hand, needed just 103 games to reach that mark.

Well, at least this offers an explanation as for why they’re leading the AL Central other than “the Indians’ management is cheap and incompetent”....

 

QLE Posted: July 27, 2019 at 11:06 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: home run spike, twins

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Keep calm and mash: How the relaxed Twins are rewriting HR-hitting history

On Sunday, Nelson Cruz homered again. It was his fourth straight game in which he went yard, in his first five games back from the injured list. No big deal for a guy who came into this season with 203 home runs over the previous five seasons, right? Back in December, the Minnesota Twins signed the 38-year-old designated hitter to provide this kind of power. But what they didn’t necessarily anticipate was that Cruz would be just one slugger among many, because today’s Twins are putting on an unprecedented display of power at the plate, virtually a season-long Home Run Derby.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 13, 2019 at 09:57 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: home runs, twins

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Finally, Twins see White Sox, and bring memories of Jerome Holtzman: “The Dean”

The Chicago White Sox are the only team that has been in the same competitive grouping as the Twins throughout the 59-season existence of the Minnesota franchise.

The White Sox and the Twins were in the 10-team American League from 1961 to 1968, the six-team (and then seven) American League West from 1969 to 1993, and the five-team American League Central from 1994 to the present.

The Twins entered this season having played the White Sox a total of 920 games (including three ties), 65 more games than the second team – Detroit – on the list of games played.

The Twins also would see Chicago in spring training, what with the White Sox encamped in beautiful Sarasota from 1960 to 1997. Those March exhibitions were infrequent when the Twins were in Orlando, and then a regular occurrence when the Twins moved to Fort Myers in 1991.

A case of recollections, both of longtime competition and of a reporter now gone.

QLE Posted: May 25, 2019 at 06:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: jerome holtzman, twins, white sox

Friday, May 24, 2019

MLB roundup: Twins hammer eight HRs in rout

The Minnesota Twins slammed eight home runs, including two each by Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop, on their way to a 16-7 rout over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon in Anaheim, Calif., completing a three-game sweep.

The game was originally scheduled to be played Wednesday, but a rainstorm made the field conditions unplayable. The wait was worth it for the Twins, whose eight home runs tied a single-game club record. It also tied an Angels record for most home runs allowed in a game.

The Twins have scored a major league-high 289 runs this season, and they battered Angels pitching Thursday for 17 hits and six walks. Former Angel C.J. Cron had five hits, including a home run and two doubles.

Besides Sano, Schoop and Cron, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario also homered.

 

QLE Posted: May 24, 2019 at 07:29 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, home run derby, twins

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

If this keeps up, the Twins can compete in the land of MLB behemoths

ANAHEIM, Calif. — It’s a fragile existence out where the money’s a bit tighter and the depth chart’s a bit thinner, where trying to win baseball games – today and tomorrow – feels like a bold and risky endeavor.

Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to admire the Minnesota Twins, who don’t always get it right, who’ve endured some ugly ones, who’ve earned their share of dark Octobers, and who are pretty determined to try anyway.

So some years they win 85 and one year recently they lost 103 and as of Tuesday night they had the second-best record in the American League, and sometimes it all seems to rest on the back of a butterfly in a windstorm, but that’s the life, right?

Some do it better. Some don’t. Others just refuse to show up. And if you’re thinking that’s the bare minimum, then look lower. Look under the Twins. There’s plenty down there.

A rather entertaining thing to watch this season- especially as it serves to teach the Indians a lesson….

 

QLE Posted: May 22, 2019 at 08:00 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: twins

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Did Twins infielder trick his own teammates into committing a ridiculous error?

The Minnesota Twins committed one of the silliest errors you’ll ever see in a Major League Baseball game on Wednesday, and visual evidence suggests it was caused by an infielder who wasn’t even involved in the play.

It happened in the third inning of Minnesota’s 8-7 win against the Los Angeles Angels. Shohei Ohtani hit a sharp comebacker that Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi did well to field cleanly. But that’s precisely where the good defense on this play ended.

As Odorizzi gathered and flipped to first base, everyone in the ballpark was stunned when C.J. Cron whiffed on making the catch.

How could that happen?

So, is it just dumb luck that the Twins are dominating their competition, or just the natural result when half the teams are openly not trying?

 

QLE Posted: May 16, 2019 at 03:50 AM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: errors, twins

Friday, May 10, 2019

Twins figure out one weird trick to instantly increase attendance: $5 tickets

The Minnesota Twins are the biggest surprise in baseball. A year after winning 78 games, the Twins have jumped out to a hot 23-12 start. After being written off a little over a month ago, the Twins are legitimate contenders to win the American League Central.

Problem is, you wouldn’t know it by watching their games. The Twins have seen one of the largest attendance drops in baseball, according to USA Today. That’s not due to weather, either. Those figures are compared to last April, which featured more postponements and a lower average temperature around the country.

In an effort to reverse that trend, the Twins have come up with a bold, new strategy to get fans back to the ballpark: $5 tickets.

The Twins had a flash sale of $5 tickets that included the rest of the team’s home games in May. After the team sold 20,000 tickets with that plan, they made even more tickets available for those games.

Wonder how long before this hits other teams- my local team has had an attendance drop, and I’d like to take advantage of this.

QLE Posted: May 10, 2019 at 08:35 AM | 38 comment(s)
  Beats: cheap tickets, twins

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Willians Astudillo Is A Baseball Enigma

But there’s another thing that makes the 27-year-old rookie nicknamed La Tortuga is perhaps the most interesting man in baseball: his bat. No one in pro baseball hits quite like he does.

Among all major league hitters in history to record at least 100 plate appearances, Astudillo ranks first in batting average (.382). While he looks something like Bartolo Colon, he’s hitting like Ty Cobb.

Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 06, 2019 at 09:57 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: twins

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Orlando Cabrera To Retire From Baseball

OH NO, EXPO!

Last season, Orlando Cabrera batted .238 with the Indians and Giants, posting a 61 OPS+. The season before that, he posted a 76 OPS+. The season before that, he posted an 85 OPS+. Orlando Cabrera has been declining, and just turned 37 years old. As a free agent, Cabrera didn’t drum up much interest, which I’m guessing is why he’s intending to hang ‘em up. Enrique Rojas:

  “Orlando Cabrera to retire from baseball, he said in Colombia radio station. Thanks for memories!”

Cabrera had a long career that’ll be difficult to forget. He debuted with the Expos in 1997, and remained there until the giant Nomar Garciaparra three-way trade in 2004. That year, with the Red Sox, Cabrera won a World Series. He wound up with the Angels, earning the unfortunate nickname “The Wizard of O.C.”, and then he wound up with the White Sox, and the A’s, and the Twins, and the Reds, and the Indians, and the Giants ... He remained a shortstop to the end, and collected 2,055 hits. He will always be remembered as a pest. An absolute pest.

Repoz Posted: January 18, 2012 at 09:06 PM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, athletics, expos, giants, indians, red sox, reds, twins, white sox

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Zumaya agrees to deal with Twins

Game on!

The Tigers could end up seeing a lot of Joel Zumaya this year after all. It’ll just be in a different uniform, albeit an awfully familiar one.

After throwing for teams in December and holding out for a roster spot and the right situation, Zumaya has agreed to terms with the Minnesota Twins, the reliever told MLB.com. The two sides spent Saturday putting together a deal that could pay him anywhere from $800,000 to $1.7 million if he reaches incentives.

A Twins official would neither confirm nor deny the deal to MLB.com, but said they’ve been in negotiations since December.

Zumaya weighed what he called “good offers” from three other clubs,  but the Twins included guaranteed money rather than a minor-league deal with a Spring Training invite. If he’s healthy, they’ll bring him to the same mound at Target Field where he last threw a Major League pitch. He fractured his elbow throwing for the Tigers against the Twins on June 28, 2010.

Repoz Posted: January 15, 2012 at 03:00 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: tigers, twins

MLB Trade Rumors: Bartolo Colon Agrees to Sign With Unknown Team

Bartolo Colon has agreed to a deal with an unknown club reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). The right-hander wouldn’t divulge the team because he has not yet passed his physical.

Pretty sure it’s either the All-Stars or the Champs.


Friday, January 13, 2012

BBPro:  Heartburn Hardball - Jack Morris in Motion

Morris, who was the face of the Detroit Tigers’ pitching staff for the entirety of the eighties before spending the early nineties hopping between the Twins, Blue Jays, and Indians, has every right to be thrilled at the news. And the rest of us, especially those who were too young to see him pitch, have every right to ask…why Jack Morris? Why now?

To answer that question, I decide to watch the most famous performance of his career, the game that proved once and for all that he was a true ace and a true winner.

....

The Twins will win 1-0 in the bottom of the 10th, winning the second World Series title in franchise history and solidifying Jack Morris’s place in baseball history.

And when it’s over, I will be more convinced than ever that Jack Morris is not a Hall of Fame pitcher.

 

 

Completely Unbiased 3rd Party Lurker Posted: January 13, 2012 at 01:39 PM | 83 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, hall of fame, tigers, twins

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Goldman: Bernie Williams vs. Kirby Puckett

Let’s ask Erardi!...okay, maybe not.

I was watching the Hall of Fame announcement show on the MLB Network on Monday–congratulations to a very deserving Barry Larkin–and something Peter Gammons said as an aside in a discussion of Bernie Williams’ suitability for the Hall of Fame stuck with me: “He wasn’t as good as Kirby Puckett,” the Great Gammo almost muttered, as they cut to a commercial break.

I haven’t been able to put that comment out of my mind, because I’m not certain why Gammons is so sure. Both were excellent hitters with very different skills who nonetheless arrived at similar results. Puckett was short and stout, Williams long and lithe. Puckett reaped a huge benefit from his Metrodome home park, hitting .344/.388/.521 at home, .291/.331/.430 on the road. Williams was about the same hitter everywhere. Both were Gold Glove center fielders who won several of the defensive awards with their bats. Both won a single batting title. Puckett led the AL in hits four times; Williams walked too much to compete in that department.

Career-wise, Williams looks a little worse overall, but that’s because his peak isn’t quite so high and his career is a little longer. Due to glaucoma, Puckett’s career came to an abrupt end, depriving him of a decline phase, whereas Williams got to play until he was no longer useful. If you consider both through their age-35 seasons, it’s a virtual tie: Williams had hit .301/.388/.488 in 1804 games, while Puckett hit .318/.360/.477 in 1783 games.

Repoz Posted: January 12, 2012 at 05:52 AM | 68 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, history, sabermetrics, twins, yankees

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Greatest Animated Sports .GIFs of 2011

32. Cliff Lee declines to run out his own grounder

I’m a firm opponent of the designated hitter rule, because just as I love to watch a punter try to scoop up a bad snap and try to throw it, or see a 7’1” center with no range try to chuck up a last-second three, I love watching pitchers hit.

Never will I come closer to seeing what it would be like if someone with my skill set tried to perform on a professional level. I mean, how nuts is this: in the National League, five to 10 percent of all at-bats are taken by men who, by everyone’s admission, are profoundly bad at it! It’s Dada performance art, and the ubiquity of such comical nonsense—over the course of a game, a season, and the history of baseball—is unrivaled by anything in any other sport.

This GIF features a delightful bonus: the catcher starts jogging to the dugout well before the play ends. It’s beautiful.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:33 PM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, dodgers, online, phillies, twins

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jason Marquis, Twins agree on deal

Marquis de Target Field?

Gamingboy Posted: December 22, 2011 at 08:46 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: twins

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