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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sorry Nats fans, but history is not written by the losers | HardballTalk

History won’t be any kinder if Strasburg blows out his arm at some point and never gets to the playoffs.

Nats fans can look at Zimmermann and Jackson’s bad starts and say “hey, they would have started anyway, so it’s not the fault of the shutdown.”  They can look at Ross Detwiler‘s great start on Thursday and say Stephen Strasburg’s playoff rotation replacement did just as good a job as Strasburg would have done, if not better.  They can also say that they twice came within one strike of advancing last night, and Stephen Strasburg would not have been throwing those pitches.  But guess what: it’s futile.

Because everyone else will note that the Nationals (a) willingly chose to enter the playoffs with their best pitcher on the bench; (b) lost a series in which they gave up 32 runs and had only one quality start in five games; and (c) used a starting pitcher in relief in Game 5 on short rest, so all hands — except for their best hand — were obviously on deck.

And no matter what holes you can poke in that argument, Nats fans, the fact is that your team did not advance. They lost, and losers do not get to write the history when it comes to such matters. Believe me. I know from experience.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM | 390 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, playoffs

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   1. Tim D Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4268126)
Can't for the life of me understand why they didn't just pull him from the rotation and use him out of the pen a couple of times a week. They could have used him in mostly low-leverage situations just to keep him sharp so they would have had him there for a big inning or two in the playoffs. Not that you would need someone like a Strasburg to drive a wooden stake through the heart of the Cardinals or anything like that.
   2. Esoteric Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:34 PM (#4268127)
SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPDIEDIEDIE
   3. Tim D Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:42 PM (#4268133)
Touchy Washington fans introduced to the reality of October baseball................
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:44 PM (#4268135)
(a) willingly chose to enter the playoffs with their best pitcher on the bench


How do people get away with this ########?
   5. Joey B. is being stalked by a (Gonfa) loon Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:48 PM (#4268141)
I don't know any Nats fans who said that the Nationals were good enough to win the World Series without Strasburg; I know I sure as hell never did.

Yes, the haters will have a field day, but most of the nyeah-nyeah crap should be directed at Mike Rizzo. I was never happy with his uncompromising position and shady half-truths on this issue from the get-go.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4268143)
I don't know any Nats fans who said that the Nationals were good enough to win the World Series without Strasburg; I know I sure as hell never did.


Really? I think there were folks here who thought they could win without him.

I was never happy with his uncompromising position and shady half-truths on this issue from the get-go.


Duly noted. You and Chris were clearly not fans of the shutdown. But some others really bought into In Rizzo We Trust.
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:53 PM (#4268145)
It's hilarious that the Nationals - whose fans haven't had a good team in forever - shut down Strasburg as if they were in the middle of a late-90s Yankees run.

Of course, even the Yankees are smart enough to know that when you have a good team that is going to make the playoffs, you ensure that your best pitchers are healthy for the playoffs. The Nationals chose, er, the other way.
   8. Tim D Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4268151)
Bill James is still saying it was a good move.
   9. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4268154)

(a) willingly chose to enter the playoffs with their best pitcher on the bench


How do people get away with this ########?


? It's true. Strasburg is their best pitcher. It's quite easy to "get away" with the truth.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4268156)
Really? I think there were folks here who thought they could win without him.


Were they Nats fans? I thought they could win without him, and the only piece of evidence to go counter to that belief in my opinion, was them using Edwin Jackson as a reliever. That is the only thing time I saw in the entire series that Strasburg inclusion could have made a difference.
   11. Tim D Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:01 PM (#4268157)
BTW how is it BS to suggest the Nats willingly chose to enter the playoffs without their best pitcher?

   12. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4268160)
? It's true. Strasburg is their best pitcher. It's quite easy to "get away" with the truth.


He's their most talented pitcher, that doesn't translate into success on the field, he's at best is in a three way tied for best pitcher on the team, but right now Zimmermann and Gonzalez are more refined pitchers.

   13. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:04 PM (#4268162)
BTW how is it BS to suggest the Nats willingly chose to enter the playoffs without their best pitcher?


Because Zimmermann was on the roster.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:06 PM (#4268164)
BTW how is it BS to suggest the Nats willingly chose to enter the playoffs without their best pitcher?


He's saying it's BS to call Strasburg their best pitcher, which is true in a "what have you done for me lately" sense, but probably false in the more significant true talent sense.
   15. Shock Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:06 PM (#4268165)
Of course, even the Yankees are smart enough to know that when you have a good team that is going to make the playoffs, you ensure that your best pitchers are healthy for the playoffs. The Nationals chose, er, the other way.


Why would you waste your best pitcher in the exhibition games, rather than ensuring he's healthy for next season?
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:09 PM (#4268168)
He's their most talented pitcher, that doesn't translate into success on the field, he's at best is in a three way tied for best pitcher on the team, but right now Zimmermann and Gonzalez are more refined pitchers.


So it's BS to suggest that he's the best pitcher when he is arguably the best pitcher.

No, Zimmermann and Gonzalez are not better.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4268172)
So it's BS to suggest that he's the best pitcher when he is arguably the best pitcher.

No, Zimmermann and Gonzalez are not better.


Ray, you pray to the alter that is fip. I'm more inclined to look at results. Strasburg is going to probably be a much better pitcher over the next five years than Zimmermann and Gonzalez, no doubt about that, but as of right now, that isn't the case. Zimmermann and Gonzalez get more innings per start and still put up better results than Strasburg.
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4268175)
#17, I do look at peripherals for pitchers. And he has an 11+ K/9 rate.

The innings per start is kind of a deceiving metric because that's manager decision. In the vast majority of games Strasburg could have gone further.
   19. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4268189)
I think Craig is arguing a bit of a strawman here. From what I've read while Nats fans were certainly hopeful they could win without Strasburg that was obviously not the primary motivator of this move. Also, calling Strasburg the Nats best pitcher is a massive oversimplification. Even if you believe that be is the difference between him and Zimmermann or Gio is quite small. This isn't Pedro Martinez followed by Pete Schourek territory.
   20. Tim D Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4268201)
You can tell me all the numbers you want. Ask 10,000 baseball managers wich Washington Nationals pitcher they would want on the mound for the big game and they would all agree on Stephen Strasburg. All ####### 10,000 of them.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4268205)
This isn't Pedro Martinez followed by Pete Schourek territory.


Hey, Anglo Pete gave 'em a great start. That was an excellent call by ol' one M.

   22. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:52 PM (#4268208)
You can tell me all the numbers you want. Ask 10,000 baseball managers wich Washington Nationals pitcher they would want on the mound for the big game and they would all agree on Stephen Strasburg. All ####### 10,000 of them.


I think they would take Jack Morris in his prime first.
   23. joeysdadjoe Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:57 PM (#4268212)
This was always going to be a move that would be second guessed. Nats HAD to go all the way to validate it and they didn't. Not sure how I would have handled it but healthy scratch in the playoffs wasn't it.
   24. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 13, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4268215)
Nats fans, the fact is that your team did not advance. They lost, and losers do not get to write the history when it comes to such matters. Believe me. I know from experience.

Wait, is there a Craig Calcaterra to be found on BB-Reference that I don't know about? What "experience" is he referring to?

Not that his general point is wrong, but the personal reference in this context is meaningless.
   25. Tim D Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4268218)
All I know is tat the Nats got it mind-bendingly assbackwards. Shut him down for awhile in July. Put him in the pen. Use him as a one out guy. Anything but this.
   26. Bruce Markusen Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4268224)
What does it really matter if Strasburg is their best starter or their third-best starter? Bottom line, he is one of their three best starters, and you want three good starters (at least) going into the postseason. Eliminating Strasburg means adding a weaker starter to the rotation and moving up your No. 4 guy to your No. 3 slot. There is no question that not having Strasburg was a major strike against Washington's playoff chances.

I don't blame Washington fans one bit for being upset with Rizzo.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:13 PM (#4268225)
Wait, is there a Craig Calcaterra to be found on BB-Reference that I don't know about? What "experience" is he referring to?


He's a Braves fan. He knows that no matter how much the Sam-He-Am faction want to extol the Braves' greatness thanks to their run of 14 straight division titles, with only one interruption, the rest of the world sees one measly WS title and chuckles.

   28. cardsfanboy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4268227)
All I know is tat the Nats got it mind-bendingly assbackwards. Shut him down for awhile in July. Put him in the pen. Use him as a one out guy. Anything but this.


Looking backwards, the better plan was the Medlen plan, but I don't think that the Nats thought they were going to be the team with the best record. I think they felt that getting Strasburg into games early would help keep fan interest up while there was still hope(and the Phillies running away with the division) They probably should have started skipping his starts or something in July, or do something different when it became apparent they were probably going to make the post season, but ultimately they made a decision and stuck with it.
   29. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4268231)
They chose to play the postseason, with a ~100-win team, without their best pitcher, with the obnoxious assumption that they'll be in the playoffs repeatedly in the near future - with no basis to believe that this handling of him was any better than any other reasonable handling of him that would see him available for October.

   30. Steve Treder Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4268232)
They probably should have started skipping his starts or something in July, or do something different when it became apparent they were probably going to make the post season, but ultimately they made a decision and stuck with it.

No, they definitely should have started skipping his starts or something in July, or do something different when it became apparent they were probably going to make the postseason, but ultimately they made a poor decision and stubbornly and unnecessarily stuck with it.
   31. Tim D Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:24 PM (#4268235)
It was easily apparent by July 1 that they would at the very least be playing meaningful baseball in September. They had plenty of time to do do something different but chose stubborness. I understand the concern, but I still can't quite believe they actually did it. I kept thinking I would hear that "we have decided to transition Stephen to the bullpen," but no, nothing. Amazing. You play for September and October. Not for July and August.
   32. Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4268249)
What Tim said.
   33. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:44 PM (#4268251)
I don't think that the Nats thought they were going to be the team with the best record. I think they felt that getting Strasburg into games early would help keep fan interest up while there was still hope

I don't remember anyone this pre-season thinking that the Nats had zero chance at the postseason. Even if they were worse than the Phillies and Braves there was still the 2nd WC to aim for. And if for whatever reason they had missed the playoffs, the only negative consequence is that Strasburg would have pitched 125 innings instead of 160 or whatever. Is that really a big deal? All that being said, when you have a 7-5 lead with Storen on the mound against Descalso and Kozma you're supposed to win.
   34. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 06:46 PM (#4268254)
I think Craig is arguing a bit of a strawman here. From what I've read while Nats fans were certainly hopeful they could win without Strasburg that was obviously not the primary motivator of this move.


I would agree with that, but for all of the people saying that Strasburg wouldn't be a significant loss.

The Nats shot themselves in the foot.

Also, calling Strasburg the Nats best pitcher is a massive oversimplification. Even if you believe that be is the difference between him and Zimmermann or Gio is quite small. This isn't Pedro Martinez followed by Pete Schourek territory.


But it's not like one pitcher is pitching all of the postseason innings, or all 50 innings in the NLDS. They need several pitchers for that. So this "Who is their best pitcher?" inquiry is a fool's game. And he is their best pitcher anyway.
   35. BDC Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4268264)
I'm perfectly willing to reserve judgment for a few years to see how the Nats' Strasburg plan works out, but I am having a hard time deciding what criteria to judge it by in the long run …
   36. The Pequod Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4268267)
It's hilarious that the Nationals - whose fans haven't had a good team in forever - shut down Strasburg as if they were in the middle of a late-90s Yankees run.


I think the implication that it's not a big deal because they'll have opportunities in the future is the thing that bothers me the most. It sure looks like that now, but nothing is guaranteed. It's not hard to imagine them just missing the playoffs for whatever reason, or even just ending up in the coin flip game.

Ask the 2007 Indians what it's like to be sure you'll have another crack at it. Obviously there are huge differences (there always are), but this was one hell of an opportunity they put on the line by sitting Strasburg.
   37. Fancy Pants Handle doesn't need no water Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:15 PM (#4268277)
Sorry Nats fans, but history is not written by the losers

...unless they're the Cubs.
   38. Tim D Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:26 PM (#4268284)
Yeah, they look loaded for many years to come. But hubris is not a good attribute in a front office. All these young studs are going to be really expensive in 2-3 years and if they haven't won by then and their attendance hasn't picked up........
   39. Shock Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4268290)
I love how Ray just ignores it in people call him on his bullshit.

Even though I totally agree with him re: Strasburg.
   40. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4268293)
Wait, is there a Craig Calcaterra to be found on BB-Reference that I don't know about? What "experience" is he referring to?

He's a Braves fan. He knows that no matter how much the Sam-He-Am faction want to extol the Braves' greatness thanks to their run of 14 straight division titles, with only one interruption, the rest of the world sees one measly WS title and chuckles.


Okay, I was wondering just what his "experience" was, but that makes perfect sense. I've read his stuff here from time to time but I guess I zoned out the Braves fanboy part.

   41. Millon deFloss Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:50 PM (#4268298)
Sorry, but history can be written by the losers. I refer of course to all the Southern Confederacy "Lost Cause" apologists.
   42. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:51 PM (#4268300)
Of course, the Nats could easily have lost this series in five even if Strassburg had started one or two games. Getting shut out makes it kinda hard to win. Having two starters get bombed makes it kinda hard to win (and those are guys who were going to start whether Strassburg was active or not). OTOH, I am pretty damned sure that Strassburg pitching the last two or three innings of game five would have led to a different outcome, so I wholeheartedly endorse post #1.
   43. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:51 PM (#4268301)
Ooh, a Civil War hijack. That never happens around here.
   44. Millon deFloss Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:53 PM (#4268305)
Strassburg can't pitch worth a damn. That Strasburg fellow is pretty good at the baseballs.
   45. BDC Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:57 PM (#4268306)
I like this "Strassburg" thing. I want Strassburg shut down ever year in May. Nobody will complain, because, frankly, Strassburg is a terrible pitcher.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: October 13, 2012 at 07:57 PM (#4268307)
Sorry, but history can be written by the losers. I refer of course to all the Southern Confederacy "Lost Cause" apologists.

Given that it took about a dozen years for the former slaveowners to regain control over their state and local governments, and given that it took nearly 100 years for its caste system even to begin to be dismantled, I'm not so sure you can say that the South lost the Civil War.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: October 13, 2012 at 09:23 PM (#4268446)
They had plenty of time to do do something different but chose stubborness. I understand the concern, but I still can't quite believe they actually did it. I kept thinking I would hear that "we have decided to transition Stephen to the bullpen," but no, nothing. Amazing. You play for September and October. Not for July and August.

Ahh, the joys of rhetoric.

Are you sure they chose stubbornness? Is it possible that they took this new information into account and decided that it still didn't shift the tradeoff between short- and long-term sufficiently to change their minds? Is it possible they were not just weighing the benefits of Sept and Oct 2012 vs July and August 2012 but also the benefits of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 vs. 2-4 months?

Many here assume that Strasburg wouldn't have worn down over the last month. This is a guy with a total of about 160 innings over 2 years under his belt but you're certain that a 200-210 IP load (including playoffs) would not have been a problem. You're certain that shifting him from starting to relieving would not have been a problem. You're certain that shutting him down for 4-6 weeks midseason then restarting him wouldn't have been a problem. It's funny how Rizzo is accused of being stubborn without evidence.

Of course we'll never know. But in 3 of Strasburg's last 8 starts (or 4 of 10 to your taste) he got shelled. Of course in 5 of his last 8 starts (or 6 of 10) he was pretty much lights out. His last 60 innings were worse than his first 100 from both an outcome standpoint (ERA+ around 105) and peripherals (still excellent but worse than the 1st half and his career rates). That's probably just random bumping around but if you had already started with the plan that his long-term future would be better served limiting his workload, his second half performance is prima facie evidence he was wearing down.

Using our 20/20 hindsight, we can comfortably say that even a healthy and rested Strasburg would not have made a huge difference in the last series. Sure, maybe he'd have turned up with the heroic performance at the right time, but chances are he wouldn't have. The main takeaway is that 2 starters got hit hard and the bullpen (if I added up right) gave up 16 ER in 19 IP while the offense scored 3 runs a game with a sub-300 OBP. That's right, the Nats bullpen gave up as many runs as their team scored. Using our 40/30 foresight, we can project that he (like any single player) wouldn't have changed their chances much in the next two rounds had they advanced. And we really don't have a clue whether Strasburg was wearing down over the second half of the season and possibly would have gotten shelled anyway. Or he might have pulled a Verlander.

It is interesting that all the time folks around here excoriate a GM for trading a good prospect for a small improvement in a team's playoff chances. We ridicule Ned Colletti for trading the potential of Carlos Santana to fill a hole at 3B with Casey Blake, thereby helping his chances of making the playoffs (which they did) and winning the WS (which they didn't but they did win a round of the playoffs). Heck, Colletti gets ripped for trading a mediocrity like James McDonald for Octavio Dotel. But the GM who's trying to trade a small improvement now for a bigger improvement down the road is also raked over the coals for not going for it. One might almost think some of you folks like to have it both ways.

Finally, of course the Nats could have won the WS without Strasburg. Teams worse than the Nats sans Strasburg have won the WS. They were in the crapshoot and they just needed to get hot.

EDIT: Corresponding Cardinal bullpen numbers appear to be 24.1 IP and 6 ER.
   48. spycake Posted: October 13, 2012 at 09:27 PM (#4268451)
If Strasburg is in the bullpen, obviously that's a great weapon for the Nats and could have swung the series, even knowing what we know about their other struggles.

Or conversely, Strasburg starting moves Detwiler to the bullpen, which would have also come in quite handy.
   49. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 13, 2012 at 09:44 PM (#4268502)
I've said this once before and was pretty much dismissed as a dummy ... but I'll say it again because I think it's correct:

If he was going to be on a hard 160 IP limit, then delay the start of his season. Give him a few more weeks in his off-season regimen (ya know, to really be careful with his recovery). Then let him debut around mid-May. He's pitching a partial season either way you go; I'd rather get some innings in September/October than March/April.
   50. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: October 13, 2012 at 09:44 PM (#4268503)
Using our 20/20 hindsight, we can comfortably say that even a healthy and rested Strasburg would not have made a huge difference in the last series.


No we don't. Stop being ridiculous. He would have been very valuable last night.
   51. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 13, 2012 at 09:47 PM (#4268506)
If people don't think Strasburg was likely a difference-maker in this series, then he'll never be one in any series ever. And, as such, there's not much point in babying his precious arm. Some people want so desperately to buy in on Rizzo's strategy that there's no way anything is going to make them relent. Rizzo gave away this series. He prioritized "the future" over "right now" and got what he asked for.
   52. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM (#4268517)
Also, the Giants are stupid not to play Melky Cabrera.
   53. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4268567)
So Nolan Ryan excoriates Hamilton for stopping chewing tobacco and everyone with the exception of a couple of people vocally disagrees. A player's health is more important than baseball. Yet here, where there was a specific doctor's recommendation that Strasburg be shut down, all of a sudden if you choose a player's health over improved odds in the playoffs, you're history's greatest monster,
   54. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM (#4268574)

I am not a Nats fan, but I certainly thought they could win it all without Strasburg. That doesn't mean I agree with the decision to shut him down -- having him available clearly would have improved their chances of winning -- but they were clearly a team capable of winning the World Series. With Strasburg they were a 98-win team (96 by Pythagorean record), without him they were certainly no worse than a 90-win team, and 90-win teams win the World Series fairly often.
   55. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:10 PM (#4268575)
if you choose a player's health over improved odds in the playoffs, you're history's greatest monster


It's a false choice. They managed the situation poorly. They went into the year with the knowledge he wouldn't be available if they made the playoffs. That's not stupid, that's stoopid. Holding him to 160 IP and managing his rehabilitation so that he could pitch down the stretch was an entirely doable thing.
   56. robinred Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:17 PM (#4268590)
Finally, of course the Nats could have won the WS without Strasburg.


Some on both sides of this thing play the unknowns like trump cards, but there are too many of them for that approach to really work. However, there are some knowns, like that Strasburg is one of the most gifted pitchers in the majors,that there is no guarantee that the Nationals will be in as good a position to win the World Series as they were this year ever again, and that there is no guarantee that they have dramatically reduced the odds of his getting hurt again by doing this.

To me, those are pretty persuasive arguments against Rizzo's decision.
   57. The Ghost fouled out, but stays in the game Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:18 PM (#4268591)
If he was going to be on a hard 160 IP limit, then delay the start of his season. Give him a few more weeks in his off-season regimen (ya know, to really be careful with his recovery). Then let him debut around mid-May. He's pitching a partial season either way you go; I'd rather get some innings in September/October than March/April.


That makes a lot of sense. Now they would gt strange looks for holding him back early, but they could have preached caution --- and looked silly if they finished 10 games back. :(
   58. GuyM Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:25 PM (#4268604)
Holding him to 160 IP and managing his rehabilitation so that he could pitch down the stretch was an entirely doable thing.

What? Did I miss the announcement where September wins count for more in the standings than wins in July or August? This makes no sense at all.

If you want to argue the Nats should have just ridden SS until there were no more games to play, then fine. That's a coherent view, though I don't think I agree. But all these suggestions that the Nats could have split the difference are just nonsense. The team's first priority has to be making the post-season. The best way to maximize that probability is getting your 160 IP from SS during the regular season (and it doesn't matter a whit when that happens). If the team failed to get every possible inning from SS, because they were holding him back to pitch in playoff games that might never happen, Rizzo would have been excoriated as arrogant and a fool. And properly so. The Nats didn't clinch the division until, what, game 158? You simply can't assume you will make the playoffs, for all the good reasons being cited here by Rizzo's critics!

Once you accept the notion of an IP limit, Rizzo's plan is the only one that makes any sense.
   59. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:44 PM (#4268640)
What? Did I miss the announcement where September wins count for more in the standings than wins in July or August? This makes no sense at all.


No, but you apparently missed the one where October wins mean more than April wins.

You simply can't assume you will make the playoffs, for all the good reasons being cited here by Rizzo's critics!


What good is making the playoffs if you're not going to try your hardest to win when you get there? The players and fans, and Strasburg especially, deserved better. St. Louis won this series by employing the always controversial "Hey, let's use all our best players" strategy.

Once you accept the notion of an IP limit, Rizzo's plan is the only one that makes any sense.


They could've easily delayed the start of his season by six weeks - which, if anything, is even better for his arm. And, yes, maybe it would also be nice to adapt enough to realize 20-30 additional playoff innings probably won't kill him.
   60. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4268648)
So Nolan Ryan excoriates Hamilton for stopping chewing tobacco and everyone with the exception of a couple of people vocally disagrees. A player's health is more important than baseball. Yet here, where there was a specific doctor's recommendation that Strasburg be shut down, all of a sudden if you choose a player's health over improved odds in the playoffs, you're history's greatest monster,

You're confusing real health with baseball health. There's no comparison between risking baseball injury and something like oral cancer. Strasburg can blow out his elbow on pitch 1 of Spring Training next year, never pitch again, and have a wonderful life. He's already rich.

   61. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 10:48 PM (#4268653)
I love how Ray just ignores it in people call him on his ########.


If I answer will I be accused of "making the thread all about me"?

You're off base. I've said that postseason games are irrelevant in determining whether a player is a Hall of Famer. I've said postseason games are irrelevant in determining the talent level of a player. I never said that teams shouldn't try to win postseason series; I said the outcomes of postseason series were largely driven by fluke, and were not a test of character. I never said you should start your 4th or 5th starter instead of your ace, or that you should shut down your best players. I watch the postseason, all of it. It's great fun. I critique tactical decisions by managers and organizations. That the games are exhibition games doesn't change any of that. You still want to win a championship. You just need to understand what that means. It's fluke-driven, but you can and should still try to put yourself in the best position to win. That means putting your best players on the field, and concentrating the innings in your best pitchers. I never once said otherwise.
   62. GuyM Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:00 PM (#4268673)
What? Did I miss the announcement where September wins count for more in the standings than wins in July or August? This makes no sense at all.
No, but you apparently missed the one where October wins mean more than April wins.

I'm sorry, by "the stretch" did you mean post-season games? I'm not familiar with that terminology.

What good is making the playoffs if you're not going to try your hardest to win when you get there? The players and fans, and Strasburg especially, deserved better.

So you are saying the Nats should have limited Strasburg during the season, to save him for Oct games that might never happen? Let's imagine the Nats conducted a poll of fans in March, and asked "Which do you want: 1) let SS pitch 160 IP during the season to maximize the chance of winning the division, or 2) let SS pitch 135 IP, reducing the chance of making the post-season but having SS available to pitch if we make it?" Now that's an interesting question. My guess is that a majority of fans would pick #2. I could be wrong. But the idea that virtually all fans would pick #1 is just absurd.

They could've easily delayed the start of his season by six weeks - which, if anything, is even better for his arm.

You have absolutely no idea if that's true. You are shortening the break between 2012 and 2013, and maybe that's important. Having to pick SS's replacement in April rather than August also gives you less information, and makes it more likely you make a bad choice. And maximizing Nats' wins early in the season may have other advantages -- for example, maybe the Phillies will give up and trade half their team away. One could argue this in either direction. There's no obvious advantage.
   63. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:05 PM (#4268682)
No we don't. Stop being ridiculous. He would have been very valuable last night.


Exactly. Walt's comment was ridiculous.

Rizzo pissed on a chance to go to the postseason with the best team in the league.
   64. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:10 PM (#4268691)
It's fluke-driven, but you can and should still try to put yourself in the best position to win. That means putting your best players on the field, and concentrating the innings in your best pitchers. I never once said otherwise.


I may be misremembering, but didn't you say that you were pleased that the Nationals might shut Strasburg down because it was a sign that a front office shared your view that the postseason was getting too much attention?
   65. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:20 PM (#4268718)
(The post which I vaguely remembered was Post 103 from this thread, where Ray said this:

I'm kind of surprised they didn't do that in 2012, actually, given that they were going to shut him down come September or whatever anyway. Of course, wins in April count just as much as wins in September, and wins in the playoffs are grotesquely over-emphasized.

And picking up on that last statement, basically this is a new argument for my point that playoff games are exhibition games. Here, the upper management of the Nats care about playoff games so little that they're willing to shut the game's best pitcher down for the playoffs in return for speculative gain.


I got many of the words right, but Ray's angle was different from what I remembered.)
   66. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:21 PM (#4268719)
I'm sorry, by "the stretch" did you mean post-season games? I'm not familiar with that terminology.


I was referring to September/October - the period of time he's been unavailable. See #49.

"Which do you want: 1) let SS pitch 160 IP during the season to maximize the chance of winning the division, or 2) let SS pitch 135 IP, reducing the chance of making the post-season but having SS available to pitch if we make it?" Now that's an interesting question. My guess is that a majority of fans would pick #2.


Given that choice, I'd certainly take #2. Worst-case scenario, you lose 25 innings and narrowly miss the playoffs. Which, really, isn't a heckuva lot worse than what happened. Unless you're really into division titles - which are cool but ultimately unsatisfying.
   67. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:21 PM (#4268720)

So Nolan Ryan excoriates Hamilton for stopping chewing tobacco and everyone with the exception of a couple of people vocally disagrees. A player's health is more important than baseball. Yet here, where there was a specific doctor's recommendation that Strasburg be shut down, all of a sudden if you choose a player's health over improved odds in the playoffs, you're history's greatest monster,

The link between tobacco and cancer is a lot stronger than the link between an incremental 30 innings and arm falling off. Plus, what snapper said.
   68. PreservedFish Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:23 PM (#4268723)
Once you accept the notion of an IP limit, Rizzo's plan is the only one that makes any sense.


Even ignoring the first bit, I believe this is false. It hasn't been widely publicized, but Kris Medlen was also on something of an IP limit. Medlen's eventual transition from reliever to starter was charted in the offseason. Both pitchers had Tommy John surgery in August 2010.

In Medlen's case I don't think there was a hard cap on his innings, and I am sure he would have been allowed to pitch through October. The Braves put the emphasis on slowly stretching him out and building his endurance.
   69. PreservedFish Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:31 PM (#4268764)
I'm perfectly willing to reserve judgment for a few years to see how the Nats' Strasburg plan works out, but I am having a hard time deciding what criteria to judge it by in the long run …


Well, we can imagine how it will shake out. The way I see it, there are no circumstances that will allow the Rizzoites to declare a clear victory. If Strasburg is great and healthy in the future, both camps will decide that it is proof that they were correct. The Rizzoites will say: "See, he has blossomed under our protection." The anti-Rizzos will say: "Look how healthy he is. Surely he could have pitched another few games." And we don't know who will be right.

But there are lots of scenarios where Rizzo will look like he was wrong. If Strasburg is injured, or if he is ineffective, or if he's terrific but the Nats never again sniff the playoffs.
   70. McCoy Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:34 PM (#4268778)
So Rizzo had to absolutely start him at the start of the season because April games are the same as September games yet as far as I can tell May is further away from his surgery than April and what is the real difference between 140 innings and 160 innings? If starting him late causes him to pitch only 140 innings and the season runs out and they don't get the the playoffs the Nationals can have throw 3 100 pitch sessions over 10 days? The only way to rehab an arm is to throw in regular season games?

If Rizzo didn't think the Nats were going to compete this year then he should not have had Strasburg throw in spring training and start the season with the team. He should have delayed Strasburg's start to further strengthen his arm and get him in shape.

if Rizzo did think the Nats were going to compete then he should have came up with a plan that allowed the Nationals to maximize Strasburg's limited availability.
   71. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:42 PM (#4268850)
The "omigod what if they hadn't made the playoffs and he'd only have 125 innings?!" is silly. They could have simulated him, at that point.

And all of this hinges on 160 being some magical number. 190 is too many. 120 is too few. No, they can't possibly know any of this.
   72. GuyM Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:46 PM (#4268870)
Fish/68: this is simple arithmetic. If you limit SS to 160 IP, or any other number of IP, then you have to choose: 1) maximize your chance of winning the division, or 2) increase your risk of falling short, but have SS available for the playoffs if you make it. I don't think #2 makes much sense. As a Nats fan, I want them to do everything possible to win the division and bring playoff baseball to DC. If getting there means a slight reduction in our chance of winning the pennant/WS IF WE GET THERE, I can live with that. I imagine a Yankee fan might have different priorities. But I think most Nats fans would say "get me to the playoffs, and let's take our chances in the crapshoot."
   73. zachtoma Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4268888)
I posted this last night right as the omnichatter died, basically I strongly feel that Mike Rizzo deserves to lose his job over his handling of Strasburg this year:

There are lots of cautionary tales just from recent history of teams who thought they'd have "another chance": the '03 Cubs, the '06 Mets, the '07 Diamondbacks and let's not forget the '07 Indians either who got bounced from the ALCS with an "I'm sure they'll be back here again". You can't take anything for granted and that's why the Strasburg shutdown is the single most indefensible decision I've seen a major league front office make since I've been a fan of baseball - I'm not saying it would have made the difference in this series (but having another starter to go to having watched Zimmerman and Edwin Jackson crap the bed might have been nice), but it ought to cost Mike Rizzo his job. The way they handled this situation is inexcusable, and it ought to disqualify him as GM of a MLB baseball team.
   74. GuyM Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4268889)
If starting him late causes him to pitch only 140 innings and the season runs out and they don't get the the playoffs

That's fine UNLESS 20 more IP from Strasburg could have made the difference in terms of making the playoffs. Then, your decision to hold him back so he could kick ass in playoff games that will never be played will look really, really dumb. And it will look that way because it was in fact really dumb.
   75. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 13, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4268898)
I posted this last night right as the omnichatter died, basically I strongly feel that Mike Rizzo deserves to lose his job over his handling of Strasburg this year:


I've said for weeks that Rizzo needed to either be overruled or be fired.
   76. zachtoma Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:04 AM (#4268926)
Well that makes two of us. He's built a good team in Washington and if I was actually ownership I'd hesitate to throw out someone who's proven themselves in the job over one bad decision. But it really is an inexcusable decision - and it's disqualifying because it shows that the organization has lost sight of its goal, developing young players is a means not the end in itself, winning games in October is. The low point in this farce came when Rizzo insisted that Strasburg couldn't just be shutdown mid-season and then start back up again because it would be worse for his arm as if a) anyone could possibly know that and b) no pitcher had ever come off of a 14-day DL stint before. At that point, you are just insulting your fans' intelligence.
   77. McCoy Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:11 AM (#4268950)
That's fine UNLESS 20 more IP from Strasburg could have made the difference in terms of making the playoffs. Then, your decision to hold him back so he could kick ass in playoff games that will never be played will look really, really dumb. And it will look that way because it was in fact really dumb.

Well, I did say "if" meaning if you schedule him for 160 innings and because he gets shelled here or there or dinged up here or there he only gets to 140 they can do X, Y, Z. But I will say it is a helluva lot easier to defend the stance of starting the season late for a player coming off of TJ than it is to pull one of your best starters out for the season when you are the #1 seed and going to the playoffs.


Personally I think limiting him was fine. I think monitoring him and protecting him from dangerous fatigue was a correct course of action. I also think it was rather stupid that Rizzo absolutely refused to change how they used Strasburg when it became apparent that this was going to be a special season and that they were likely to get into the playoffs.
   78. GuyM Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:25 AM (#4268983)
I also think it was rather stupid that Rizzo absolutely refused to change how they used Strasburg when it became apparent that this was going to be a special season and that they were likely to get into the playoffs.

I know this is a popular view here, but I don't get it. At what point did the "specialness" become apparent, and what change in usage was supposed to follow this revelation (other than, let's forget the limit)? There is no usage change that allows you to avoid the core choice: give priority to winning the division, or give priority to winning hypothetical playoff games.
   79. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4268992)
Anything short of a WS win in 2012 was going to look very bad for Rizzo. Say they win one in the next four years. So what? They could have had two. And what are the odds of any team winning even one in four years? The Braves won just one, after being in the postseason forever. The Yankees have won just one in their last 11 trips. And that's *after they made the postseason*. Even if you assume the postseason it's hard to win it.
   80. Steve Treder Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4269016)
At what point did the "specialness" become apparent,

Early July or so. By early August it was beyond obvious. There was obviously no guarantee they were going to make the postseason, but it was crystal clear that they were going to be at least battling for it through September. To pretend otherwise is silly.

and what change in usage was supposed to follow this revelation (other than, let's forget the limit)?

There were any number of options other than "forget the limit." He could be used as a spot starter, a long reliever, a mop-up reliever, a ROOGY, a closer, you name it. There were many, many ways to limit his innings while keeping him available all the way to the end, whenever the end would come.

There is no usage change that allows you to avoid the core choice: give priority to winning the division, or give priority to winning hypothetical playoff games.

Yes, but guess what: tradeoff choices are what management is all about, not just in baseball, but in every walk of life. Finding the appropriate sweet spot between ultimates is something that management is there to attempt to do.
   81. PreservedFish Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:45 AM (#4269046)
If you're talking about a hard, non-negotiable cap on innings, then yes, the team did need to decide on prioritizing either April or October. But I think it's foolish to grant the legitimacy of the IP limit.
   82. Joe Kehoskie Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:46 AM (#4269050)
There were any number of options other than "forget the limit." He could be used as a spot starter, a long reliever, a mop-up reliever, a ROOGY, a closer, you name it. There were many, many ways to limit his innings while keeping him available all the way to the end, whenever the end would come.

Especially with expanded rosters in September. He could have stayed right in the rotation but thrown only 2-3 IP per start all month, or pitched 2 IP per start in early Sept. and worked back up to 5-6 IP by the time the playoffs rolled around.
   83. GuyM Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:50 AM (#4269071)
Early July or so. By early August it was beyond obvious. There was obviously no guarantee they were going to make the postseason, but it was crystal clear that they were going to be at least battling for it through September. To pretend otherwise is silly.

Who's pretending otherwise? The Nats were clearly in the hunt. And that's why it would be insane IMO to then cut back on Strasburg's IP. Then you are the one sacrificing the present for speculative gains in the future, exactly what Rizzo's critics accuse him of.

Yes, but guess what: tradeoff choices are what management is all about, not just in baseball, but in every walk of life. Finding the appropriate sweet spot between ultimates is something that management is there to attempt to do.

Well, sure. But what's the right answer? To me, the "sweet spot" is win the division. Give us playoff baseball. Give us a 1-in-8 shot at a WS.

I guarantee you that had the Nats announced "we are so sure we're going to win the division, we are going to cancel 5 of Strasburg's starts down the stretch so he can (hopefully) pitch in the playoffs," and then the Braves had passed them, the resulting controversy would dwarf this one.
   84. GuyM Posted: October 14, 2012 at 12:57 AM (#4269102)
If you're talking about a hard, non-negotiable cap on innings, then yes, the team did need to decide on prioritizing either April or October. But I think it's foolish to grant the legitimacy of the IP limit.

OK, that's progress. Would you place any limit on Strasburg at all? Or would you let him go to, say, 225 IP if the Nats made it to the WS?
   85. Steve Treder Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:01 AM (#4269119)
And that's why it would be insane IMO to then cut back on Strasburg's IP.

If it would be insane to cut back on Stasburg's IP, what was it to shut him down completely, then? What's more insane than insane?

Well, sure. But what's the right answer? To me, the "sweet spot" is win the division. Give us playoff baseball. Give us a 1-in-8 shot at a WS.

There is no one clearly right answer, precisely because there are so many reasonable competing alternatives. But the clearly wrong answer, IMO, is to go all in on a plan formulated long before the realities of the late season were becoming clear, and to rigidly stick with it no matter what. Especially since that 160 IP number is something they pulled entirely out of their a$$.
   86. GuyM Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:11 AM (#4269144)

If it would be insane to cut back on Stasburg's IP, what was it to shut him down completely, then? What's more insane than insane?

Are you being deliberately obtuse, Steve? If you have a fixed IP limit, then the only way to have SS pitch in the post-season is to reduce his IP in the regular season. This is 3rd grade math. In your scenario, SS will pitch fewer regular season innings than under the Rizzo plan. You are risking throwing away the division title. If you want to argue that set of priorities, fine. But this -- "There is no one clearly right answer, precisely because there are so many reasonable competing alternatives." -- is pathetic.

   87. PreservedFish Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:16 AM (#4269161)
OK, that's progress. Would you place any limit on Strasburg at all? Or would you let him go to, say, 225 IP if the Nats made it to the WS?


Guy, I have no idea. I haven't spoken to any doctors or studied any of the comparable cases. But if I was running the Nationals, Strasburg would have been available in the playoffs. Maybe that would have meant just throwing 225 IP, maybe it would have meant slowing him down in August and then stretching him back out again in mid September. Or something else. I don't know.
   88. Steve Treder Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:18 AM (#4269164)
Are you being deliberately obtuse, Steve?

Is that a trick question? :-)

If you have a fixed IP limit, then the only way to have SS pitch in the post-season is to reduce his IP in the regular season. This is 3rd grade math. In your scenario, SS will pitch fewer regular season innings than under the Rizzo plan. You are risking throwing away the division title.

News flash: THE NATIONALS ACTUALLY DID RISK THROWING AWAY THE DIVISION TITLE, by shutting Strasburg down in early September as they did.

We assume that is a given. The only question remains, how best to achieve the IP limit (assuming the 160 number was appropriate, which was, of course, utterly arbitrary and based on nothing more than best-guess) while not shutting him down and removing him from post-season availability. This is not complicated.

But this -- "There is no one clearly right answer, precisely because there are so many reasonable competing alternatives." -- is pathetic.

It's the furthest thing from pathetic. It's the plain truth. There are many, many ways to deploy a pitcher that fall between starter-going-up-to-100-110-pitches-every-fifth-day and shut-him-down-until-next-spring. Many, many, and all of them reasonable alternatives.
   89. PreservedFish Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:23 AM (#4269177)
News flash: THE NATIONALS ACTUALLY DID RISK THROWING AWAY THE DIVISION TITLE, by shutting Strasburg down in early September as they did.

This doesn't prove anything if you stipulate the 160 IP limit. GuyM is right.
   90. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:28 AM (#4269191)
Especially since that 160 IP number is something they pulled entirely out of their a$$.


But Rizzo consulted with experts! He had a 50-page binder!
   91. Steve Treder Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:31 AM (#4269194)
This doesn't prove anything if you stipulate the 160 IP limit. GuyM is right.

Well, as I've said, the precise 160 IP figure is complete BS, but assuming it's carved in stone, then risking the division title is a given. It's unavoidable.

The question then becomes, how best to hold Strasburg's regular season + post-season workload at whatever to whatever limit the team decided as appropriate, while still having him available to contribute in some manner in the post-season. There were a wide variety of reasonable approaches to achieving that. The Nationals chose to avail themselves of none of them.

That was a distinctly poor choice on their part, especially given they had more than enough time to formulate a plan that would achieve it.
   92. Steve Treder Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:32 AM (#4269195)
But Rizzo consulted with experts! He had a 50-page binder!

It's the double-secret expert 50-page binder plan.
   93. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:38 AM (#4269197)
. There were a wide variety of reasonable approaches to achieving that. The Nationals chose to avail themselves of none of them.



Yeah, you cannot argue with a straight face that the plan they chose was more protecting of Strasburg's arm than any of several other reasonable options that would have allowed him to pitch in the postseason.

Nobody is complaining that they implemented A plan to protect his arm; they are complaining about THIS plan IN LIGHT OF the fact that the Nats were on a collision course with the playoffs.
   94. zachtoma Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:45 AM (#4269204)
It was CYA from all corners, sheer cowardice from everyone who had a say. As a result, they sold out the players who busted their asses all year long to get here as well as their fans. That's why someone needs to be fired.
   95. Steve Treder Posted: October 14, 2012 at 01:46 AM (#4269206)
Nobody is complaining that they implemented A plan to protect his arm; they are complaining about THIS plan IN LIGHT OF the fact that the Nats were on a collision course with the playoffs.

- Take his regular turn, but strictly limit him to 3 IP, 50 pitches, whatever
- Have him take his standard start outing, but limit it to once a week, once every 10 or 15 days, whatever
- Have him be a long reliever, bailing out the struggling starter
- Limit him to the odd inning or two of mop-up relief in blowouts
- Target him against tough righties in one-or-two-out high-leverage late inning situations
- Make him your brand-new closer

Or any number of variations on the above, with any and all of them capped by an innings/pitches limit of your choosing.

But no, not one of them was a better alternative than what the Nationals actually did? Please.
   96. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: October 14, 2012 at 02:34 AM (#4269235)
It was CYA from all corners, sheer cowardice from everyone who had a say. As a result, they sold out the players who busted their asses all year long to get here as well as their fans.
This. If a team isn't going to actually try their hardest to win in the playoffs, then why should they even try to get in? If they weren't going all in for 2012, they should have just tanked a bunch of games, saved a bunch more pitching innings for not just Strasburg but Zimmerman and everyone else, and try again in 2013. After all, they're already taking 2013 and beyond for granted, right? It's in the bag!
   97. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: October 14, 2012 at 03:02 AM (#4269243)
That's why someone needs to be fired.

#fireDavey
   98. bjhanke Posted: October 14, 2012 at 06:18 AM (#4269257)
I don't know what the end result of the Strasburg Move will be, because it hasn't played itself out yet. But I do think that the Nats mostly just got ambushed by a VERY lucky Cardinals team (I'm from STL and am a Cards fan). The Cardinals have no business with a healthy Chris Carpenter, who pitched like 3 games in September after rehab, pitching like a staff ace. Nor Pete Kozma, who was hitting .232 in AAA ball, with an OBP of .292 and a SLG of .355, filling in for Rafael Furcal like he has. The Cards are, right now, the team that no one sane wants to face in the postseason, and it's really a matter of luck. They ambushed the Braves and Medlen, and now they've ambushed the Nats. I wouldn't want to be the Giants right now, although you never do know what will happen in seven games. Basically, I have sympathy for the Nats. They didn't deserve to run into this weird meat grinder. It just happened, Strasburg or no Strasburg. - Brock Hanke
   99. McCoy Posted: October 14, 2012 at 06:33 AM (#4269258)
This team that no one wants to face was taken to 5 games and won because the Nats' bullpen fell apart in the series. Other than mystique and aura there is no real reason to fear the Cardinals anymore than any other winning team.
   100. bunyon Posted: October 14, 2012 at 07:25 AM (#4269262)
I've long argued the plan was dumb. But I wouldn't fire anyone. The team just had the best season in their history and it was mostly unexpected. I think you hvae to evaluate personnel on the whole of their work and the whole of the folks involved certainly merits another year.

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