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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The CB Bucknor Experience | FanGraphs Baseball

Let’s get rid of replay and bad umpires.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 19, 2017 at 02:06 PM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: umpires

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   1. Davoice of Dapeople Posted: April 19, 2017 at 02:46 PM (#5438288)
I can only see the video, not listen to the audio. Why didn't the Nationals challenge the call?
   2. dave h Posted: April 19, 2017 at 02:49 PM (#5438294)
Neither foul tips nor general buffonery are reviewable.
   3. Brian Posted: April 19, 2017 at 03:05 PM (#5438303)
Was flipping through on Extra Innings and one of the teams TV broadcast guys were just laying it out there, without getting excited or ranting, that year-after-year Bucknor is terrible. Don't know if I've ever heard an announcer just plainly state that it's unfathomable how MLB can keep sending this fool out there to umpire.
   4. Man o' Schwar Posted: April 19, 2017 at 03:24 PM (#5438325)
It's hard to call this the worst call I've ever seen an umpire make, because I've been watching baseball for 40 years. I don't remember who the umpire was who called a runner out at first when the first baseman's foot was close to 3 feet off the bag - that's always been pretty near the top for me. But this was really bad. And it was understandable why Werth was so angry, given the strike calls that he had in a previous at bat. I've never seen someone go down looking when all 6 balls he saw were out of the zone before, with the 3-2 pitch being the worst of the lot.

Suffice it to say, I'm hopeful that this generates enough public outcry that the union is able to nudge Bucknor into retirement after the season. I'd say stick him in New York and make him a replay ump, but I'm not sure a man who shows no evidence of functioning eyesight should be given that role.
   5. Mike Webber Posted: April 19, 2017 at 03:44 PM (#5438348)
Serious question, why do they keep Bucknor? He's been awful at his job for years, and possibly because of this his games have conflicts with the benches at a much higher rate than most umpires.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 19, 2017 at 03:46 PM (#5438349)
I would imagine protection from the umpire union?
   7. villageidiom Posted: April 19, 2017 at 04:03 PM (#5438369)
I would imagine protection from the umpire union?
We would have to imagine it. The CBA between WUA and MLB has not been published. We have no clear sign what authority MLB has to fire an umpire. The WUA website appears to no longer exist; for that matter, nor does Maury Brown's baseball document archive site.
   8. Cargo Cultist Posted: April 19, 2017 at 04:29 PM (#5438398)
Replay is good. Replay prevents games being stolen by crooked umpires. But bad umpires? Fire them all. Every year every manager should get a job evaluation from every team. If the composite is low enough, fire them.
   9. Man o' Schwar Posted: April 19, 2017 at 04:41 PM (#5438408)
I would imagine protection from the umpire union?

Has to be. That's the job of a union. In the same way that teachers who have long past given up on caring about teaching, students, or anything else keep trudging on for years, old umpires do the same, and generally the employer is more or less powerless to stop it.

Bucknor is only 54. We could be seeing him for another decade or more.
   10. Cargo Cultist Posted: April 19, 2017 at 04:47 PM (#5438414)
#4 The worst ever was by Don Denkinger in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, St. Louis at Kansas City.

I was in the stands and literally wanted to kill the umpire. Everyone in the stadium knew Worrell had beaten Orta to the bag and had made the force with room to spare. Everyone except that ****ing idiot Denkinger.

It cost the Cardinals the Series. The other umpires, who knew the truth, would not intervene. To this day I find this episode to be extremely suspicious.

And calls like it are why we HAVE to have replay. No more stolen games. No more stolen World Series.

Video: http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/0/v13062921/-85-ws-gm-6-stl-kc-denkinger-misses-the-call

Story (warning, SI makes every possible excuse for Denkinger): https://www.si.com/longform/2015/1985/world-series-cardinals-royals/

He' s older than I am and I'm in good health. One day I hope to visit his grave with a six-pack and stay a long while.
   11. Hot Wheeling American Posted: April 19, 2017 at 04:49 PM (#5438416)
That's sad, Cargo Cultist
   12. Sleepy's still holding up that little wild bouquet Posted: April 19, 2017 at 04:54 PM (#5438418)
Replay is good. Replay prevents games being stolen by crooked umpires. But bad umpires? Fire them all. Every year every manager should get a job evaluation from every team. If the composite is low enough, fire them.
Good umpires are invisible. I watch 200+ games a year, and can only name a dozen umpires off the top of my head; since they only really get publicity when they screw up, it seems to reason that the vast majority are good enough at their jobs that we don't know their names.

One solution would be for MLB to hand out a list of 100 names to fans picked at random, with 25 of them current umpires and 75 of them randomly generated names. Ask the fans to pick ten umpires. Cull the umpires whose names appear the most on the lists. Give bonuses to umpires whose names don't appear on any lists.

   13. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 19, 2017 at 04:55 PM (#5438420)
Has to be. That's the job of a union.

Well, no. Unfortunately, that's how too many unions see the job of a union.
   14. Rob_Wood Posted: April 19, 2017 at 05:05 PM (#5438430)
Can I help come up with the "randomly generated" umpire names?

Frank Rockwell
Dirk Brockington
Brock Hammer

Okay, I'm terrible at this.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: April 19, 2017 at 05:06 PM (#5438432)
It cost the Cardinals the Series. The other umpires, who knew the truth, would not intervene. To this day I find this episode to be extremely suspicious.


It did not cost the Cardinals the Series, Whitey Herzog basically telling the team to give up cost them the series.

It arguably cost them the game, and I agree it was one of the worst calls of all time, but it's just like the Bartman play and other crap calls that have happened in baseball, the team was still in it after the call was made, and they broke like a cheap house of cards.

The only person I can blame for that series loss was Whiney Herzog who gave up, because he had a ready made excuse to make him look like a martyr, and the only thing Whiney cared about is his image.
   16. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: April 19, 2017 at 05:10 PM (#5438436)
He' s older than I am and I'm in good health. One day I hope to visit his grave with a six-pack and stay a long while.


Nothing says "well adjusted" like celebrating the death of a man because he made a mistake umpiring a baseball game.
   17. Sleepy's still holding up that little wild bouquet Posted: April 19, 2017 at 05:40 PM (#5438454)
The only person I can blame for that series loss was Whiney Herzog who gave up, because he had a ready made excuse to make him look like a martyr, and the only thing Whiney cared about is his image.
yeah, the Royal's win expectancy after the missed call went from 20% to 34%, not 100%. The passed ball that put runners on second and third was a bigger blow, at least in terms of WE, and Todd Worrell should have been able to get the 39 year old Hal McRae out. Or Dane Iorg, who hit .223 in the regular season.
   18. Perry Posted: April 19, 2017 at 06:08 PM (#5438472)
Big Cardinal fan here, I was absolutely sick about the Denkinger play and the '85 Series, but #15 and #17 are correct. Not only did they still have every chance to win game 6, they had their 21-game winner going in game 7, and they completely fell apart. It's absurd to blame Denkinger.
   19. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 19, 2017 at 06:18 PM (#5438479)
Can I help come up with the "randomly generated" umpire names?

Enrico Pallazzo
   20. Bote Man Posted: April 19, 2017 at 06:32 PM (#5438490)
Cull the umpires

Fieldin Culbreth!
   21. Franco American Posted: April 19, 2017 at 07:04 PM (#5438500)
The foul tip call was ridiculous, and Buxknor evidently missed a good many balls/strikes in that game... but perhaps he's not out of thr norm most of the time? Neyer ran a piece a couple years back entitled 'the truth about Bucknor' demonstrating he's not as bad as social media would have it.
   22. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 19, 2017 at 07:08 PM (#5438501)
I don't remember who the umpire was who called a runner out at first when the first baseman's foot was close to 3 feet off the bag - that's always been pretty near the top for me.


I'm pretty sure you're talking about this one by Tim Welke.

(It's a terrible copy of a copy, but it's from this game. Watch the second run through to see how far his foot was from the bag.)
   23. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 19, 2017 at 08:49 PM (#5438572)
I don't remember who the umpire was who called a runner out at first when the first baseman's foot was close to 3 feet off the bag - that's always been pretty near the top for me.
Well, the flip side was Jim Joyce calling the runner safe at first even though he was 3 feet away from the base when the throw got there, to ruin Armando Galarraga's perfect game.
   24. Man o' Schwar Posted: April 19, 2017 at 09:30 PM (#5438610)
I'm pretty sure you're talking about this one by Tim Welke.

You nailed it. Thanks.
   25. Cargo Cultist Posted: April 19, 2017 at 09:57 PM (#5438630)
Those of you making excuses for Denkinger (1) weren't there to see the Cardinal's morale collapse because of what Denkinger did to them, and (2) do not understand the effects of morale.

Napoleon famously said "The moral is to the physical as three to one," and he broke a lot of opposing armies' morale, so he should know. Based on my tremendously lesser experience than his, I would have said five to one. Break your opponents' morale and you've broken your opponent. I've seen 200 heavily armed men break and run from four Marines and a Navy Corpsman, a college fullback run from a guy half his size who had no special skills or weapons, and a number of baseball teams fold up like origami figures. Never, ever underestimate the effects of morale.
   26. Esoteric Posted: April 19, 2017 at 10:14 PM (#5438641)
Amazingly, Bucknor did it AGAIN tonight against the Nationals: Bryce Harper hit a fly ball that the Braves outfielder obviously fielded on a hop, but Bucknor called it a catch leading to a double play...until the rest of the umpiring crew immediately overruled Bucknor and gave the Nats runners on 1st and 2nd.

The Nats' announcers weren't even angry at Bucknor -- they seemed to feel sorry for him.
   27. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 19, 2017 at 10:31 PM (#5438645)

Napoleon famously said "The moral is to the physical as three to one," and he broke a lot of opposing armies' morale, so he should know. Based on my tremendously lesser experience than his, I would have said five to one. Break your opponents' morale and you've broken your opponent. I've seen 200 heavily armed men break and run from four Marines and a Navy Corpsman, a college fullback run from a guy half his size who had no special skills or weapons, and a number of baseball teams fold up like origami figures. Never, ever underestimate the effects of morale.


Prior to WWI, most European armies took this to heart, and reasoned that it didn't matter if the enemy has trenches, barbed wire and artillery, if your soldiers have more morale they'll win through, despite taking losses. This led, for example, to advocating the attacker should use the bayonet only, since it is much more demoralizing than mere bullets.

Turned out high morale only goes so far.
   28. Tom T Posted: April 19, 2017 at 11:10 PM (#5438664)
Well, no. Unfortunately, that's how too many unions see the job of a union.


Well stated.

One of my friends serves as the representative for teachers in grievance hearings with school corporations. He notes that while the rules of the contracts win him many cases, he finds that after probably more than 50% of his hearings, he ends up giving advice to the corporation on how to establish a set of guidelines for the teacher that will most likely result in their removal within 6-12 months unless they truly shape up. The guy hates keeping bad teachers, but says that most school corporations do an extremely poor job of following their published rules for pushing the duds out the door.
   29. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 20, 2017 at 06:32 AM (#5438717)
   30. Sunday silence Posted: April 20, 2017 at 06:41 AM (#5438719)
I think BUcknor is very likely having some sort of problem out there, this happened last week Not sure anyone mentioned it:

http://mediadownloads.mlb.com/mlbam/mp4/2017/04/16/1293296683/1492381878010/asset_1800K.mp4


the summary: Ball hit down the first base line, bounced on both sides of the line crossed over the bag and landed fair, Napoli fields it and tags first looks back for a call, Bucknor initially threw up his arms signaling foul, then consulted with Mike Napoli, and changed his mind. Actually got the call right with help from a player.

Also: Baseball Wisdom From Napoleon.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: April 20, 2017 at 07:54 AM (#5438733)
Those of you making excuses for Denkinger (1) weren't there to see the Cardinal's morale collapse because of what Denkinger did to them, and (2) do not understand the effects of morale.

Napoleon famously said "The moral is to the physical as three to one," and he broke a lot of opposing armies' morale, so he should know. Based on my tremendously lesser experience than his, I would have said five to one. Break your opponents' morale and you've broken your opponent. I've seen 200 heavily armed men break and run from four Marines and a Navy Corpsman, a college fullback run from a guy half his size who had no special skills or weapons, and a number of baseball teams fold up like origami figures. Never, ever underestimate the effects of morale.


Even assuming morale is important, it's a leaders job to get morale up, but Whiney Herzog just gave up. He didn't care after that, because he had a ready made excuse to blame his own failures on. That is what he does. A hand pick team finished in last place, with the third highest payroll in the NL, and he blames the owners for not spending more money. Loses a world series because he can't win a game on the road, blames the stadium, saying neither team was ever going to win a game on the road in that series, and proposes building a World Series only stadium in Tennessee, that can be used as a bingo parlor the other 350 days it's not in use. A bad call at first base...just give up, it's impossible to win now.

Basically you are saying that a hof manager, is not capable of uplifting morale of his troops. To me that is an example of a person who is clearly not a hof manager then. In the military, those are the guys sent to lead support units, because they aren't capable of leading in the trenches(or shot by their own men)
   32. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:24 AM (#5438750)

One of my friends serves as the representative for teachers in grievance hearings with school corporations. He notes that while the rules of the contracts win him many cases, he finds that after probably more than 50% of his hearings, he ends up giving advice to the corporation on how to establish a set of guidelines for the teacher that will most likely result in their removal within 6-12 months unless they truly shape up. The guy hates keeping bad teachers, but says that most school corporations do an extremely poor job of following their published rules for pushing the duds out the door.


You seem to have demonstrated the opposite of what you intended. Situations like that you describe is exactly why it is in the union's interest to ensure that agreed-upon procedures are followed and that all of its members are treated equally under the CBA. To say otherwise is akin to saying it's not the job of the police to protect the Constitutional rights of everyone, just the 'good people'.
   33. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:29 AM (#5438754)
Does no Cardinal fan remember that Jack Clark comically misplayed an easy foul pop before the Balb singled? That's just as damaging as the Denkinger call and no excuse for it.
   34. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:36 AM (#5438762)
Does no Cardinal fan remember that Jack Clark comically misplayed an easy foul pop before the Balb singled? That's just as damaging as the Denkinger call and no excuse for it.


Yup. I think cfb is right that Whitey gave the players a built in excuse but the fact is the Cards botched that inning. A leadoff single shouldn't be a death sentence for a team trying to win the World Series. But the dropped pop up and the passed ball were huge.

It's like the Buckner play the following year. Buckner, like Denkinger, deserves every bit of criticism he gets but at the same time there was a lot to that 10th inning that sunk the Red Sox. Umpire calls don't win or lose games, you put yourself in a position to allow them to beat you.
   35. Franco American Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:49 AM (#5438766)
I feel bad for Bucknor. Seems like a good guy whose not up to the job anymore. Ironically, he first got called up to the majors after John McSherry died.
   36. Tom T Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:51 AM (#5438769)
You seem to have demonstrated the opposite of what you intended. Situations like that you describe is exactly why it is in the union's interest to ensure that agreed-upon procedures are followed and that all of its members are treated equally under the CBA. To say otherwise is akin to saying it's not the job of the police to protect the Constitutional rights of everyone, just the 'good people'.


Was trying to illustrate that some unions get that their job is NOT just to defend people for the purpose of defending people. Rather, his union feels they need to ensure that people who have quit do fade away, such that the folks whose current activities warrant protection are, in fact, protected.
   37. wjones Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:01 AM (#5438778)
I feel bad for Bucknor. Seems like a good guy whose not up to the job anymore. Ironically, he first got called up to the majors after John McSherry died.


Wasn't McSherry the ump who died on Opening Day? Which further enhanced the legend of Marge Schott as she:

1) Was angered that the game was called off

2) Sent the family flowers....flowers she was given for opening day, which she regifted to the family.
   38. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:09 AM (#5438790)
1) Was angered that the game was called off

2) Sent the family flowers....flowers she was given for opening day, which she regifted to the family.


I knew about number 1 but not number 2. Marge really was, well a big pile of number 2.
   39. PreservedFish Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:40 AM (#5438821)
In situations like the Welke one linked above - where the call in your favor is absurd and you know it - do you think that Todd Helton has any obligation to tell the umpire that he was incorrect? Would the umpire even care?
   40. Franco American Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:41 AM (#5438822)
She was really cheap, and didn't care what other people thought.
   41. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:47 AM (#5438836)
do you think that Todd Helton has any obligation to tell the umpire that he was incorrect?


I don't think he needs to volunteer that information.

Just the same as an umpire doesn't have to tell a third baseman that the runner left early and he should do an appeal play.
   42. Jose is El Absurd Bronson Y Pollo Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:47 AM (#5438837)
In situations like the Welke one linked above - where the call in your favor is absurd and you know it - do you think that Todd Helton has any obligation to tell the umpire that he was incorrect? Would the umpire even care?


No and no.

1. Bad calls go both ways so I don't think there is any reason for a team to give up the benefits of one when they will still suffer the costs.

2. How does the player know it's absurd? I'm sure there are examples but how many times have we seen someone ejected for losing the plot over a "bad" call that was actually correct. Players often think something happened one way but it didn't actually happen that way.

As for the umpire getting in the habit of believing players is probably a habit they don't want to be in.
   43. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:55 AM (#5438845)
You seem to have demonstrated the opposite of what you intended. Situations like that you describe is exactly why it is in the union's interest to ensure that agreed-upon procedures are followed and that all of its members are treated equally under the CBA. To say otherwise is akin to saying it's not the job of the police to protect the Constitutional rights of everyone, just the 'good people'.

Well right, but the situation in the original post was that the union rep would explain how to (most likely) achieve the outcome that both sides agreed was desirable, the removal of a bad teacher, while also following the agreed-upon procedures. That's a lot healthier than the "it's the union's job to prevent any of its members from ever being fired, no matter how incompetent" stance.
   44. Lassus Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:01 AM (#5438851)
I corrected the umpire once on a 4-3 groundball DP where I tagged the 1B-2B runner and threw to 1B. But I actually missed the tag and told the umpire after he made the call. My team started screaming at me from the dugout. There was a brief discussion and he finally said "well, he looked out to me, so he's out." I was 9.
   45. bunyon Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:20 AM (#5438866)
I think a player should tell an ump if the call is obviously blown and they have no doubt. But, even with Bucknor, that rarely happens. The play that should have ended the perfect game is also not in that league. The runner is running for the bag. He probably thinks he's out but he doesn't KNOW. So when the ump says safe, he's going to assume he was.

I'm thinking something like this: runner on first heads to second on a ground ball. The 2Bman fields the ball, tags him square on the chest 40 feet from second base and throws to first. If the ump called the runner safe, without calling any kind of obstruction or something, I think a player has an obligation to say something. Obligation is the wrong word. I'm just saying if an umpire is sufficiently in error as for there to be no doubt, everyone should go with what is obvious.

None of the calls above, Cargo's yelps notwithstanding, meet that criterion.
   46. SoSH U at work Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:51 AM (#5438893)
The Helton played begged for some help from the rest of the crew. Because of the direction of the throw, Welke was positioned so he was looking directly at Helton, not able to see his foot. Surely one of the other three should have had an angle that allowed them to see how far off the bag Helton was.

As for informing umps about making a mistake, I can't see it happening at the MLB level*. Players specifically try to convince umps that they've made a catch when they knew it was a trap, or got hit by a fastball when it caught the end of the bat, and that's basically accepted as part of the game.

* I have had players inform me when I've missed a call that went in their direction in soccer at the junior high level, and I've made the change to reflect that.

   47. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:53 AM (#5438898)
Players specifically try to convince umps that they've made a catch when they knew it was a trap,

Where's Admiral Akbar when you need him?
   48. Rickey! will gladly sacrifice your janitor Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:19 PM (#5438918)
I haven't watched that many Fox telecasts from the new stadium, and Werth's reaction clearly indicates that he thought the pitches were well outside at the time, but I have heard from folks that I trust that the Fox Trax plotting seems a bit "off" in the same direction (showing called strikes outside to RHB) for every ump, not just Bucknor, at SunTrust Field. Is it possible that they haven't quite got the bots calibrated correctly to the new stadium and camera angle from the OF?
   49. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: April 20, 2017 at 12:23 PM (#5438921)
Chuck Knoblauch's phantom tag in the 1999 playoffs against the Red Sox was the worst I remember after the Joyce call.
   50. Bote Man Posted: April 20, 2017 at 01:01 PM (#5438956)
Is it possible that they haven't quite got the bots calibrated correctly to the new stadium and camera angle from the OF?

There were plots from 3 different sources, 2 of which agreed that all pitches to Werth missed the zone; the plot from Fox showed that one, and only one, pitch to Werth juuuuuust caught the outside edge. Take your pick.
   51. Karl from NY Posted: April 20, 2017 at 02:45 PM (#5439080)
I think BUcknor is very likely having some sort of problem out there, this happened last week

I think it's more likely just ordinary random clumpiness. Two or three unusual events doesn't mean there's a systematic problem with Bucknor. An umpire can have a "What's Wrong With Mariano Week" too.
   52. A triple short of the cycle Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:35 PM (#5439207)
Who was the plate umpire when Nathan struck out Zobrist looking on three outside pitches?
   53. Hot Wheeling American Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:39 PM (#5439212)
Who was the plate umpire when Nathan struck out Zobrist looking on three outside pitches?


Marty Foster (also, woof)
   54. Franco American Posted: April 20, 2017 at 04:44 PM (#5439217)
The first time you went to a ballgame of any sort, were you disappointed there was no replay for the elements you missed?

Of course, they have replay on a huge screen at nearly every sporting event now.
   55. Tony S Posted: April 20, 2017 at 06:29 PM (#5439289)
Regarding the 1985 Cardinals, there are plenty of examples of teams that endured wrenching setbacks that should have destroyed their morale, and managed to play on anyway and not quit. The 2005 Astros were one out away from their first-ever World Series when Albert Pujols launched his mammoth soul-crushing homer that's still in orbit; but the team shook it off and Roy Oswalt took care of business the next game -- on the road, no less. The 1975 Reds, four outs away from their first world title in 35 years and having endured several near-misses in recent years, had to deal with Carbo and Fisk in Game 6 and a quick 3-0 deficit in Game 7. They still rallied to win.

Even teams that lost post-season series after suffering sudden, dramatic reversals in what should have been their clinching game, like the Buckner Red Sox and the Bartman Cubs, still competed strongly (and led for awhile) in the unexpected Game 7s that followed, even if they didn't win. The Cardinals' reaction to Denkinger's blown call (which, as others have noted, was hardly the end of the world) was more the exception than the rule, and certainly not characteristic of a championship team.
   56. Man o' Schwar Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:57 PM (#5439518)
The first time you went to a ballgame of any sort, were you disappointed there was no replay for the elements you missed?

Not for baseball, but the first time I went to an NFL game I found myself instinctively looking toward the big screen after every play. And sometimes during the plays. The action on the field was really not holding my attention from where we were sitting. Maybe it's better if you're 20 rows up on the 50.
   57. villainx Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:10 AM (#5439661)
Thanks everyone, very enjoyable thread. Love the video links!

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Last: He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB)

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