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Playoffs Newsbeat

Friday, November 01, 2019

MLB playoff starters’ strength reminds us of Madison Bumgarner’s brilliance

SAN FRANCISCO—For a dozen years, Madison Bumgarner has been associated with the Giants, and for most of that time he has served as the face of the franchise and cornerstone on the field. But Bumgarner woke up Thursday morning looking at free agency and an uncertain future.

The 30-year-old will hit an open market that has been unkind to some veterans in recent years, but as free agency approached, Bumgarner was always confident in the case he could present to other organizations.

It was bolstered as the Giants sat at home in October.

This was a throwback postseason, one in which a game that increasingly has focused on hard-throwing bullpens took a step back and embraced starting pitching. Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke got the Astros to a Game 7. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin pushed the Nationals to their first title.

 

QLE Posted: November 01, 2019 at 01:21 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: madison bumgarner, playoffs, starter usage

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Gerrit Cole shuts down the mighty Yankees, and is about to become a very rich man

NEW YORK — The short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium has gotten the best of several pitchers over the years.

Yet Houston Astros righty Gerrit Cole — arguably the greatest pitcher on the planet these days — was able to withstand the dreaded 314 sign and the mighty Bronx Bombers on Tuesday night.

He didn’t have his best stuff by any means. But that’s what makes him the best in the business. He can keep putting up zeroes on the scoreboard without it.

“He wasn’t as electric or as sharp as usual,” a scout in attendance told Yahoo Sports. “But he was still able to win. And that’s what makes him great.”

All day long, will he biddy-biddy-bum?

 

QLE Posted: October 17, 2019 at 12:13 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: gerrit cole, money, playoffs

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Lawyer asks for a delay in a case due to the Nationals’ playoff run

From personal experience, I can tell you that lawyers will ask for extensions of deadlines for any number of reasons. Sometimes they’re legitimately overworked and can’t get a brief ready for filing in time. Sometimes they are still trying to gather information and it’s just taking longer than expected. Sometimes they have a vacation coming up or something like that and don’t want to ruin it with work. Sometimes they just procrastinated.

No matter what the actual reason for an extension, though, rarely if ever do you they say they need it for purely personal reasons like that vacation or personal failings like procrastination. They tend to cite “the press of business” or the impossibility of meeting the deadline for reasons out side of their control. It’s always outside of their control.

Which makes the honesty of this lawyer’s request for the delay of a filing deadline so refreshing. He’s been watching the Nationals’ playoff run with his nine-year-old son, dang it, that keeps them both up late, and for that reason he wants some more time to get his work done:

So, which one of you requested this?

 

QLE Posted: October 16, 2019 at 12:44 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: lawyers, nationals, playoffs

Sunday, October 13, 2019

What the Cubs can learn from the 2019 MLB postseason so far

For the 10 teams that qualify for MLB’s postseason, October represents a chance to climb baseball’s mountain and secure a championship. For the 20 other teams sitting at home, though, October is a chance to evaluate those in the Big Dance.

Less than two weeks into the postseason, here’s some things that the Cubs can take away from the action thus far.

1. Starting pitching matters

With bullpens being relied on more than ever, starting pitchers aren’t used the same way as just a few seasons ago. The Brewers rode their bullpen all the way to Game 7 of the NLCS last season, while the Rays used an “opener” (a reliever who starts a game and pitches 1-3 innings) in Game 4 of the ALDS this season – beating the Astros 4-1.

Mind you, one of these points is one which learning from seems to be avoided at all costs, so…..

QLE Posted: October 13, 2019 at 12:38 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, managerial decision-making, pitching, playoffs

Cards’ front office says playoff baseballs have lost juice

The St. Louis Cardinals’ front office says baseballs have suddenly lost their juice this postseason, supporting a claim from a prominent data scientist that the balls have changed following a historic, homer-friendly regular season.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Saturday that St. Louis’ analytics department has found the ball is flying 4 ½ fewer feet on average in the postseason. Players in both leagues have been stunned when hard-hit balls have fallen on the warning track this month, raising more questions about the makeup of the baseballs after hitters clubbed a record 6,776 home runs in the regular season — a rise attributed to unusually far-flying balls.

“I mean there’s probably all kind of different theories behind that that I won’t really get into,” Shildt said before a 3-1 loss to Washington in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series. “Just the fact of the matter, it could be any number of things.”

The numbers don’t leave much doubt, says data journalist Rob Arthur. He was among the first to suggest tweaks to the ball may have caused home runs to spike as early as 2015, and he thinks something is off with this year’s October model, too.

So, where were these balls during the regular season, and what do we do to have them used during it?

 

QLE Posted: October 13, 2019 at 12:25 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, juiced baseballs, playoffs

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Braves’ [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs, either

The Athletics have been something of a punching bag over the years because executive vice president and president of baseball operations Billy Beane was famously quoted in Moneyball saying, “My [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. My job is to get us to the playoffs. What happens after that is […] luck.”

Since 2000, the A’s have reached the playoffs 10 times. They have advanced into the ALCS just once, in 2006, when they were swept out by the Tigers. They’re 1-6 in the Division Series and 0-3 in the AL Wild Card game, accounting for their last three playoff losses (2014, ’18-19). To call their performance in the playoffs disappointing would be an understatement.

The A’s, however, are not the only team whose [stuff] doesn’t work in the playoffs. The Twins, who were just swept out of the ALDS by the Yankees, haven’t reached the ALCS since 2002. They have failed in their last six appearances in the ALDS — mostly against the Yankees — and lost the AL Wild Card game in 2017 as well (to the Yankees).

A consideration of losing streaks in the playoffs, albeit one that has gone out of date since between when I found it and when I posted it…..

QLE Posted: October 10, 2019 at 12:44 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, braves, nationals, playoff streak, playoffs, the agony of defeat, twins

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Bullpens? More like blowpens as playoff relievers get rocked

Kyle Gibson kept hoping he’d someday pitch in October, take the mound in a big game when the whole sport was watching. Last week, he got that chance.

Summoned late at Yankee Stadium, the 31-year-old Minnesota right-hander entered the AL Division Series opener. The result — one inning, three runs on three walks, a hit and three stolen bases.

“First postseason opportunity, didn’t go how I thought it was going to go,” he said.

He’s not alone.

What are “Headlines I Would Never Have Expected The Associated Press To Run”, Art?

Right you are- select again!

 

QLE Posted: October 09, 2019 at 01:04 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: bullpens, playoffs

Despite loss, starting Justin Verlander on short rest was right call

The Astros were stopped in their tracks by the Rays on Tuesday night, dropping Game 4 of the ALDS 4-1 to force a decisive Game 5 on Thursday. AL Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander, who was excellent in Game 1, started on three days’ rest. It did not go well.

The Rays bombarded Verlander for three runs in the first inning a Tommy Pham solo homer and RBI singles from Travis d’Arnaud and Joey Wendle. Verlander would also serve up a solo homer to Willy Adames in the fourth. Verlander was unable to complete the fourth inning. His final line: four runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 84 pitches across 3 2/3 innings.

Tuesday marked Verlander’s shortest postseason start of his career. His 33 game score is tied for his worst in the postseason along with his Game 1 start in the 2012 World Series against the Giants.

Starting Verlander on short rest was a bad call by manager A.J. Hinch, right? I’m not so sure. The data we have on pitchers pitching on short rest isn’t terribly great but Craig Edwards at FanGraphs worked around it a bit by focusing on a potential symptom Verlander might show starting on short rest. He created two data sets, called “High Velo Start” (fastball averages 94.5 MPH or better) and “Low Velo Start” (fastball averages 94.4 MPH or lower). Edwards found that in 10 “low velo starts” this season, Verlander’s strikeout rate significantly decreased and his walk rate increased, as did his home run rate. His “low velo” FIP was 4.09.

A rather suspect argument, if we can be frank on the matter…..

 

QLE Posted: October 09, 2019 at 12:29 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: justin verlander, playoffs, short rest

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Driven out: Twins rookie _ and ex-Uber guy _ tagged by Yanks

NEW YORK (AP) — Just too much traffic for Twins rookie Randy Dobnak.

The feel-good story of the Uber driver-turned-big league pitcher came to a screeching halt Saturday when the New York Yankees tagged him from the get-go in an 8-2 rout, putting Minnesota in a serious jam in the AL Division Series.

“Nerves were fine,” Dobnak said. “I don’t know what it was.”

A week removed from his in-season wedding in Maryland, and with new bride Aerial in the stands, Dobnak soaked in the mocking, taunting cheers of “Uber, Uber” from the bleacher crowd at Yankee Stadium when he limbered up in the outfield before Game 2.

Yankees fans, showing (as they have so often this season) the sort of class and dignity that explains why so many people root for anyone else…..

QLE Posted: October 06, 2019 at 12:36 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: playoffs, randy dobnak, twins, yankees-no-fun-as-usual

Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in tow, the Nationals’ bullpen defies its reputation

LOS ANGELES — This bullpen, man. This damned bullpen in Washington D.C. is some collection of survivors and has-beens and can-bes and scar tissue and facial hair and thunderclap contact and breathtaking falls and Darwinian endurance and on two nights this week alone Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, all stuck together with something that might be ear wax.

This bullpen is so gloriously self-aware, so defiantly willing, so exhausting, it really is a wonder, like a mutt with one eye sewn shut and both hips going and such bad breath, that’s been around so long you could hardly consider life without her.

And, yes, that’s right, three days after Strasburg followed Scherzer when the Nationals beat the Milwaukee Brewers to escape the wild-card round, Scherzer followed Strasburg when the Nationals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2, on Friday night here to tie this National League Division Series at a game apiece, because at the end it can be ugly, it can be something slightly less than ugly, but it’s always something.

Two wins into a postseason that will require 12 of them, Strasburg and Scherzer have combined to get 45 of the 54 outs in those wins. That’s maybe not sustainable. It may also be their chance. And as long as the co-aces are game, and as long as the off days keep coming on schedule, and as long as the survivors and scar-tissued among them can be leveraged prudently, then keep ‘em coming. Game 3 is Sunday in D.C.

Does this mean that keeping your starters in the game as long as possible is the new market inefficiency?

 

QLE Posted: October 06, 2019 at 12:20 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: bullpens, max scherzer, nationals, playoffs, stephen strasburg

Thursday, October 03, 2019

MLB Tonight: Bracket Challenge | 09/30/2019 | MLB.com

OOTP has predicted the last two champions. Can they make it three in a row? Carlos Pena’s and Jim Thome’s picks too.

Tom Verducci and Bill Ripken’s picks.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 03, 2019 at 02:35 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: ootp, playoffs, predictions, world series

Building a Better Postseason | Ryan M. Spaeder

Sixteen teams in the postseason? No thank you.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 03, 2019 at 08:47 AM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: playoffs

David Ortiz Will Return to Fox for MLB Postseason Coverage

Nearly four months removed from a shooting that almost ended his life, former Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is returning to FOX’s MLB broadcast team for the 2019 postseason, according to The Big Lead.

The ex-Boston slugger will rejoin Kevin Burkhardt, Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez in the studio for pregame and postgame analysis through the conclusion of the World Series. Ortiz tweeted a photo of the quartet on Tuesday afternoon with the caption “soon.”

Best wishes for him in returning to broadcasting.

 

QLE Posted: October 03, 2019 at 12:17 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: broadcasters, comebacks, david ortiz, playoffs

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Postseason OMNICHATTER - 10/2/2019 - Rays vs. A’s

Technically it’s a UNICHATTER given there’s only one game. Whatever.


MLB’s best managers tell you how to win in October

Baseball is smarter than ever, so the path to winning a baseball game in 2019 isn’t as linear as it used to be.

And how to win a baseball game in October? Well, that’s a task that MLB front offices obsess over like they’re doctors in a laboratory.

Baseball’s information age has made it such that the old formula isn’t the only formula. Feared starting pitchers, hitters that get on base and middle-of-the-order boppers who can hit the ball over the fence — those things still work. But modern baseball teams, in their neverending quest to get an edge, have employed some tactics that startle fans who have watched the games for decades.

Strikeouts aren’t as frowned upon if they lead to home runs, relievers sometimes start games and a starting pitcher going five innings is sometimes good enough.

 

 

QLE Posted: October 02, 2019 at 01:03 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: managing, playoffs

How the Astros Nabbed Zack Greinke and Built a Postseason Rotation for the Ages

At 7 a.m. Central on July 31, Gina Luhnow descended the stairs of her house in Houston with her four-year-old son, Henry, in tow. When she had woken up, her husband, Jeff, was not in the bedroom, and soon she and Henry discovered why. He was in his home office, where he’d been experimenting with different combinations of names and numbers and pinging various members of his staff for several hours already—three hours, in fact, after a virtually sleepless night. The 12-cup carafe of Colombian dark roast he’d brewed had only one or two cups left. “Oh, boy,” Gina said. It was going to be another one of those trade deadlines.

The 53-year-old Luhnow, in his eighth season as the general manager of the Astros, is often accused of being entirely left-brained, and his sometimes bloodless analytical leanings served him well as he transformed the terrible club he’d taken over into the 2017 World Series champion, and then a consistent power. Even so, he swears he internalizes public opinion, and everywhere he went in midsummer—in radio interviews, down onto the field at Minute Maid Park, whenever he walked past a screen tuned to the MLB Network—he heard the same thing. Which was that even though the Astros seemed destined to become the sixth team ever to win 100 games in three straight seasons, and even though they already had the two best starting pitchers in the American League, they still needed to trade for another quality starter. The worst part was that everyone who said that was absolutely right.

He had acquired his dominant one-two rotational punch via trade. Justin Verlander came from the Tigers with officially two seconds to go before the waiver deadline—a secondary deadline that no longer exists—in late August of 2017, and Gerrit Cole arrived from the Pirates in a less stressful deal finalized the following January. Over their two seasons together, Verlander and Cole have ranked first and second (in some order) in the AL—and, in most of these categories, in the majors—in ERA, wins, strikeouts, batting average against and WHIP. Luhnow’s third starter, the veteran lefty Wade Miley, had at the time far outperformed his bargain one-year, $4.5 million contract; he was 9–4, with a 3.06 ERA.

But no one else had stepped up to secure the fourth, let alone the fifth, spot in the rotation, not Collin McHugh, not Brad Peacock, not Framber Valdéz, not Corbin Martin. Luhnow did not believe he needed another pitcher in order to win the AL West for the third consecutive season; the Astros were already 7 1/2 games up on the second-place A’s and had the league’s best run differential. He needed someone who could reliably start one or two games in a seven-game playoff series, four outings of which would undeniably go to Verlander and Cole. He needed someone who was as good or better than Miley.

A case study concerning the front-office search for pitching.

 

QLE Posted: October 02, 2019 at 12:33 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, pitching, playoffs, zack greinke

Tuesday, October 01, 2019


The Storylines of the Postseason

A sample:

Tampa Bay Rays

Narrative you’ll hear a lot: Did you know that the Rays have a small payroll and don’t draw well? Did you know that they basically invented and perfected bullpenning? Did you know that no one was bullpenning back when [insert retired player who is doing color commentary] was in his prime?

Narrative you’ll hear less of but should hear more: Kevin Cash is an excellent manager who probably deserves to get more Manager of the Year hype than he tends to get (getting short-changed even by me this morning) because he is really good at doing more with less and because we tend to praise front offices far more than managers these days. A lot of teams bullpen now. Not many of them do as good a job as Cash does with the Rays.

An old friend of the site, commenting on both the narratives we are likely to hear and the ones we probably won’t.

 

QLE Posted: October 01, 2019 at 12:24 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: narratives, playoffs

Jack Flaherty, Juan Soto and more fresh faces to watch during the 2019 MLB playoffs

A new baseball postseason brings with it a chance for new players to have their star moment.

Around Major League Baseball right now, there are quite a few young players who have had stellar seasons and are now ready to approach the biggest month of the season — when the lighters are brighter, the headlines are bigger and the whole nation is watching.

Sure, we’ll see the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Alex Bregman, Max Scherzer and Aaron Judge playing October baseball. But we’ll also see stars-in-the-making like Jack Flaherty, Juan Soto, Yordan Alvarez and Gavin Lux.

Our crew of MLB writers picked one such fresh face from each postseason team, names you should know about as you prepare for baseball’s exciting final month.

Note to self: Check back in when the playoffs are over, to see how well they performed during it.


Monday, September 30, 2019

2019 MLB playoffs bracket, postseason field

The playoff field and the 2019 MLB postseason bracket has been set. The Cardinals clinched the NL Central on the last day of the regular season, finalizing the playoff picture. The postseason will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 1 with the NL Wild Card Game, and if the World Series runs goes the distance, the seventh and final game would take place on Oct. 30.

The full schedule and bracket for the 2019 MLB playoffs can be found below. Postseason games will air on ESPN, Fox, FS1, TBS and MLB Network. Games on TBS and the Fox networks can be streamed on fuboTV

Make your plans and set your DVRs, everyone!

 

QLE Posted: September 30, 2019 at 12:28 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: broadcasting, playoffs

Ranking every possible World Series matchup

As it stands right now, there are 25 possible World Series matchups that could come our way. Hopes and dreams die quick in October, but right now five teams on each side are still alive and fighting for a championship.

Some of them are big names from big cities — we’re talking the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves. There are a couple of small-market Cinderellas, like the Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays.

And, let’s be real, within all that are some World Series we’d like to see more than others.

So, like we do every year, the Yahoo Sports MLB staff ranked every possible World Series matchup to figure out which ones we’d like to see most and least. Eight different writers cast ballots for this tally, and you’re not going to be shocked to see what’s on top of the list.

Wondering what it says about me that the matchup they’d like to see the most is one that would lead me to see what else is on, whereas some of the ones they’d rather not see are ones that would entertain me….

 

QLE Posted: September 30, 2019 at 12:24 AM | 86 comment(s)
  Beats: playoffs, rankings, world series

Friday, September 27, 2019

Good Luck Stopping the Astros in October

For the third straight year, the Astros are champions of the AL West—and for the third straight year, arguably the favorite for World Series honors. Ever since Houston’s roster went into overdrive in 2017, when it beat the Dodgers in the Fall Classic for the first title in franchise history, every season has begun with World Series aspirations. This one is no different, particularly given how brilliant this year’s Astros are. But are they baseball’s best bet to win it all? Let’s make the case for Houston emerging from the postseason with trophy in hand.

1. The Astros have Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke, and no one else does

Honestly, I don’t think I need to elaborate much on that point. The Astros have Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke, and no one else does.

If you want to dive into that a little further: The Astros have the two frontrunners for the AL Cy Young award, plus a guy with a career 3.38 ERA and 125 ERA+. Since joining Houston at the trade deadline, Greinke has posted a 3.02 ERA and 154 ERA+ in 62 2/3 innings, and he’s the third best pitcher on the staff. He also came within two outs of a no-hitter Wednesday night. Verlander has a strikeout-to-walk rate of nearly seven and a strikeout rate of 35.0%, which would be far and away the best mark in the AL if it weren’t for the fact that Cole is toting an absolutely stupid 39.8% strikeout rate. That’s the highest strikeout rate for a qualified starting pitcher that FanGraphs has on record—better than Pedro Martinez’s 1999, than any Randy Johnson season, than anything Chris Sale or Max Scherzer have done.

On the minus side: Anything can happen in a short series.

 

QLE Posted: September 27, 2019 at 12:27 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, playoffs, world series

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Three Reasons the Surging Cardinals Can Win the World Series

Baseball’s closest division race is on the final stretch, with the Cardinals (90-68) all but officially taking home their first NL Central crown since 2015. Entering play Wednesday, St. Louis’ magic number to clinch the division is three, and Fangraphs giving the Cards a 93% chance to win the Central. They’ve gone from postseason afterthought to legitimate World Series contenders in less than two months. Here’s the case for the Cardinals to win their 12th Fall Classic.

1. Formidable Starting Pitching

The Cardinals lost five of their six games in the first week after the trade deadline and went from first to third place in the NL Central. Playoff prospects fading, their decision not to acquire an impact starting pitcher at the end of July was looking even more like a failure. However, in the 44 games since, St. Louis starters have posted an MLB-best 2.69 ERA, with a formidable rotation trio emerging in the process.

Jack Flaherty has emerged as one of baseball’s best pitchers, and his 0.97 second-half ERA ranks first in the majors among qualified starters. In his four starts this season against the Braves and Dodgers—assumed to be the two leading contenders to win the pennant—Flaherty is 2-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 31 strikeouts over 25 innings. The only run he’s allowed against L.A. this year came on a Joc Pederson solo home run, and he’s struck out 18 Dodgers hitters and walked just one. Overall, Flaherty is 10-8 with a 2.85 ERA, a 0.988 WHIP and 225 strikeouts across 189 ⅓ innings this season.

 

QLE Posted: September 26, 2019 at 12:30 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, playoffs, world series

Brewers 9, Reds 2: Ryan Braun’s first-inning grand slam helps punch a second straight postseason tic

CINCINNATI – The Milwaukee Brewers wanted desperately to punch their return ticket to the postseason on Wednesday night.

Ryan Braun was more than happy to oblige.

He hit a grand slam off Tyler Mahle 20 pitches into the game, Eric Thames hit a solo home run two pitches later, and the Brewers coasted from there to a 9-2, wild-card-clinching victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Keston Hiura also went deep against Mahle in the second inning, helping chase the right-hander from the game after only 2⅓ innings.

And, with this, the National League playoff picture is largely settled- all the teams are clear, and only the NL Central still has a race left.

 

QLE Posted: September 26, 2019 at 12:11 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, playoffs

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Braves Have What It Takes for a Surprising World Series Run

The Braves were the National League’s premier franchise in the 1990s, ripping off 14 consecutive NL East titles from 1991-2005. Are we at the doorstep of a new golden age of baseball in Atlanta? It may be a bit premature to even raise such a question, though after winning the NL East in 2018 and 2019, the infrastructure for sustained success is in place. So allow us to hopscotch ahead to a bigger question: Could the Braves win it all ... this year?

There’s a case to be made, and we’re here to lay out the blueprint.

Dominant Top Four

It’s hard to find a NL team with a better top four in the lineup than Atlanta. The Braves scored a run in 35.7% of first innings this season, second in all of baseball. Their leadoff hitter is largely to thank. Ronald Acuna Jr. enters the season’s final week leading the NL in runs and stolen bases, three steals away from becoming the fifth 40-40 club member in MLB history. He’s one of three players to hit 40 homers in a season before turning 22. Only seven players under 22 have scored more runs in a single season. Acuna is perhaps the most valuable asset in the National League. One hot month could swing the postseason.

Mind you, with baseball being baseball and playoffs being the playoffs, it could end like five of their last six NL East titles did in that streak….

 

QLE Posted: September 25, 2019 at 12:32 AM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, playoffs, world series

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