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For me, Russell Martin coming and going means that the Pirates are now more like other legitimate teams than the way they used to be for all those years.  They are now the type of team that brings in a free agent who helps the team, then the player leaves.  The fans got to debate whether or not we should have signed him, whether or not we should have kept him, whether we can replace him, etc.  That is the type of debate that legitimate baseball clubs get to have - which now includes us.


Also - I think the conversations about Russell Martin highlight an interesting issue - how the debate over a sports team can include conversations about how to make the team most cost effective (what does player X deliver vs. how much does he cost) and conversations about how to make the team better.  A team that is cheap but finishes .500 could be more cost effective than a team that is expensive but .600.  Put another way, I bet that somewhere there is a statistic to illustrate that to improve from 81 wins to 82 wins is cheaper than to improve from 99 wins to 100 wins.  


In manufacturing there is a word for "the cost to produce one more item."  I think it is supposed to be a fixed number that only considers the raw materials and the energy and the labor to produce that item - I think it doesn't include the cost for infrastructure, training workers, licenses/permits, etc.  It is just about the resources to produce one more item.  But I think that wins are not like that.  I bet that for each additional win, the price of the additional win is probably more expensive.  


I think about this with Russell Martin b/c part of the debate over whether or not he should have been brought back broke down into two viewpoints - "he makes the team better" vs. "it is not cost effective over the next several years."  The Pirates have to be keyed into both of those issues - they cannot make the team better and ignore how cost effective it is, nor can they try to make their team cost effective and forget about whether or not they are a good team.  Both of those issues are extremely important - and I think that is an issue that has emerged in the debate over Russell Martin during the last few weeks.

1 week, 1 day ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/november-2014/farewell-and-thank-you-russell-martin.html

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At least Russell Martin is going to the American League.


Late thought on AJ Burnett - if he can come back to the Pirates and have some success, that would be incredible, and every struggling pitcher should be beating down the Pirates door.  Before the Pirates he was okay - he was great (or at least really good) with the Pirates - he was mediocre (or bad) with the Phillies - now if he can come back and do well it will show how the Pirates can make a pitcher look great.  

1 week, 2 days ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/november-2014/russell-martin-signs-with-blue-jays-braves-trade-jason-heyward-to-cardinals-for-shelby-miller.html

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I like the move.


I think the discussion about qualifying offers broke down into two categories - how to make the Pirates the most cost effective team in 2015 and how to make the Pirates the best team they can be in 2015.  Both of those types of conversations are super interesting and important - but I like that this move puts the questions about 2015 a little more in the second conversation.  I think.

3 weeks, 2 days ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/uncategorized/pirates-make-qualifying-offers-to-russell-martin-and-francisco-liriano.html

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One of the things you wrote about the the spending situation is that the Pirates may have "$8 million in reserve from last year’s underspending."  Is that the way baseball teams really think about it?  I hope the answer is yes - but I suspect the answer is no.

4 weeks, 1 day ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/october-2014/the-pirates-payroll-and-russell-martin.html

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I'm not sure I agree with the angst over not taking a step forward this year, and maybe even taking a step backwards.  Improvement is not a linear progression.  I don't think it is uncommon to get better, a little worse, a little better, a little worse, then a little better - but ultimately to be improving the whole time.  This of a runner who starts at 10 seconds in the 100, then runs 9.6, 9.7, 9.4, 9.5, 9.6, then 9.1.  The runner is improving the whole time, even though the runner is not necessarily going faster every race.  I think baseball seasons can be like that.  The collapses in 2011 and 2012 were like that - improvement, but not the linear progress we would like.  I suppose only time will tell if this works out - if over the long term the Pirates continue to improve, even if each season is not necessarily an improvement over the last season.


But, it sure is disappointing to lose in the wild card game.  It is hard to rationalize a way to feel okay about that.  Except for that the phase "wait until next year" actually might mean something again for the second year in a row.

1 month, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/october-2014/the-aftermath-2.html

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It is super fun that we get to have this post in late September - for the second time now in 20 years!  We couldn't do that before - even if the internet had been around back then.  What will happen next?  Two separate and distinct fun things get to happen next - (1) we get to talk about it and say all our insights and opinions and all that stuff, and then (2) we get to watch the game(s)!  And all over our team - how lucky is that?


As far as whether my opinions will matter, or anybody elses? - well that's why they play the games

1 month, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/september-2014/the-2014-regular-season-was-frustrating-weird-and-amazing-so-whats-next.html

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@wkkortas @nickjuneau24 I have been thinking more about this - and maybe I think we should be okay with it.  (I say "maybe I think" - b/c if we lose the wild card game, well ...)  


If we accept that having Liriano and/or Cole over Volquez is a significant improvement, lets play that logic out a little bit.  The goal is to win the World Series, not to just win the Wild Card game.  So which scenario does more to improve our chances of winning the World Series?  Scenario 1 - Play Volquez against the Giants (a lesser opponent) for what we all agree is a relatively flukey one game playoff and get at least three (or maybe four) games from Liriano/Cole against the Nationals, or Scenario 2 - Play Liriano or Cole against the Giants for the wild card game, but rely on Volquez/Locke/Worley instead of Liriano/Cole for a game against the Nationals (the best NL team this year) over a five game series.  In other words, to try to make a deep run in the playoffs maybe the benefit of potentially having Liriano/Cole available more against the Nationals is better than the potential risk of having Volquez against the Giants.


Of course - this takes the view that anything less than the World Series is crap (if it isn't Scottish it's crap!) - which might not be true.

1 month, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/uncategorized/pirates-officially-announce-edinson-volquez-as-wild-card-game-starter.html

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If Volquez does start - here are the thoughts I will think (1) no lead is safe, (2) I hope he is on, (3) if things are not working out we have a whole bunch of spotty relievers to go out there - in other words, we don't have a backup plan in the bullpen, but (4) if we win - I will say Hurdle is brilliant for lining up to have Liriano and Cole available in the first two playoff games.

1 month, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/uncategorized/pirates-officially-announce-edinson-volquez-as-wild-card-game-starter.html

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How about Starling Marte putting up a heck if a season all of a sudden? He is hitting .290/.356/.455 with 13 homers, 54 RBI and 27 stolen bases. I wasn't paying much attention to him, but that has turned into a solid year.

2 months ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/september-2014/game-157-pirates-beat-braves-3-2-and-clinch-their-second-consecutive-playoff-berth.html

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What is the Pirates magic number? Can you throw that in your blog for us non-mathematically inclined folks?

2 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/september-2014/the-final-push-begins-now.html

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Every time we play the Reds I worry that Jay Bruce will beat us. I am worried about him for today's game now.

2 months, 4 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/august-2014/game-133-pirates-2-reds-1.html

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This was the first time the Pirates have has some fight in them on a long time.

3 months ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/august-2014/game-128-pirates-8-brewers-3.html

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It took until the 9th inning, but you were right. The Diamond Backs had to prove to the world that they are idiots.

3 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/brace-yourselves.html

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I'm not quite sure how finances work in baseball.  I have a basic knowledge, but not a lot more.  


A few people at the beginning of the season said that although the Pirates kept payroll low at the beginning of the season, it meant they could add payroll as the season went on.  (I think I read that here and at Pirate Prospects - but I don't remember.)  That hasn't really happened though - payroll seems like it is probably what it was at the beginning of the year.  So where does that money that could have been spent go? If I remember right, it seemed like the Pirates could have spent an extra $4 or $5 million this off season, but did not.


Could they squirrel that money away and then renew McCutchen when the time comes?  I know that McCutchen's contract doesn't expire for awhile, but it would be good foresight if the Pirates had a piggy bank they were putting money in now to save up to try and make him a lifelong Pirate.  


On the other hand, the cynical part of me says that the extra money not put into payroll is ending up as mai tais on a beach for some rich person in ownership.  

3 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/uncategorized/a-brief-recap-and-a-few-more-thoughts-on-the-trade-deadline.html

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I'm worried that all the Pirates have done is enough in the last few years is to push them into the average or above-average category.  That means they will beat bad teams, win some against good teams, but not win often enough against good teams to be serious contenders.  


Their roster is sort of like that too - no weaknesses that are below-average.  But no areas where they are exceptional.  Except McCutchen.  I am worried that their problem is that they are just so darn average that they will have no problem hanging around, but they will not go to the playoffs.


I think the way to get over the average/above-average category is not to go chasing anybody right now though.  I think they need to maintain their approach and hope a few more players emerge to become great.  If Polanco, Cole, Taillon, or a handful of other prospects end up being great, we would be there.  If they do not become great they will still be useful players, but I think we need a few more all-star caliber players like McCutchen to get over the top.


In the meantime though, being in the playoff hunt and being relevant is better than wandering in the wilderness.

4 months, 1 week ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/july-2014/the-2014-pittsburgh-pirates-first-half-not-good-or-bad-but-enough-of-both-to-be-maddening.html

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It is strange shifting from the mentality of a team who is running experiments with players to get some value to changing into a team that is trying to win now. But I'm not sure it is too different - get your regulars in place, and figuring out "who else to put where" is more of an art than a science.

4 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/july-2014/game-95-reds-6-pirates-3.html

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It sure would be nice to see a 7 or 8 game win streak. It seems like we ought to be able to do one or two of those a year.

4 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/july-2014/game-92-pirates-9-cardinals-1.html

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You said you didn't want to talk about the ninth inning again - and in an odd and super narrow way - you got your request. Maybe now say you don't want to talk about the bullpen letting a lead slip away any more and we'll get that too.

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/sunday-morning-recaps-previews-ruminations-etc.html

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I can't believe this! I wrote "start making your legend" and a home run ! This guy I am going to like!

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/7954.html

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I didn't think he would really get a hit like that!!!

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/7954.html

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Holy sh*t!!!

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/7954.html

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One out, man on second. Come on Polanco! Start making your legend!

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/7954.html

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Anybody out there?

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/7954.html

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CGSHO/CG0 - Walter Sobchak says "are we gonna split hairs here?!?!"

5 months, 2 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/game-63-pirates-6-cubs-2.html

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Six scoreless innings for Locke. Time for the Bucs to put some runs on the board.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/a-big-start-for-jeff-locke.html

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Exciting baseball right now.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/a-big-start-for-jeff-locke.html

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I wonder if part of the logic is that if you cannot sign one of the elite prospects (b/c they are drafting below the first 25 picks the elite prospects are gone) it is better to stock up on many of the players who are very good even if they are not elite. The bell curve says there are small numbers at the very high end, but then more results are more closely packed as you move over. In other words - the difference between 1 and 5, or 6 and 10 might be a lot - but the difference between 20 and 50 or 50 and 100 is not much. So instead of prioritizing the 30 ranked player over the 40 or 50 ranked player - try to get a bunch of the 70-100 ranked players b/c there is not a lot that separates 30-100 anyways.

5 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/june-2014/pirates-take-two-high-school-arms-with-second-round-picks.html

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I've read a bunch of criticism of the Pirates on this. Not here - but since this is the only place I comment I want to write a thought.

The criticism to the Pirates I don't agree with is the complaint that the Pirates are holding back Polanco for just monetary reasons, b/c Polanco is ready to move up and the Pirates have a need in RF.

Even if that is true - it is fine. No team should be criticized for running things just with an eye on the money. Players do that all the time - they make decisions based only on the money and no one complains. It is fair for a team to do that too.

6 months, 3 weeks ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/may-2014/passan-pirates-offered-polanco-7-year-deal.html

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You wrote that Alen Hanson "probably doesn't belong at shortstop." What makes you say that? Up to now I've only heard things like Hanson "has the skills to stick at shortstop." But it has been an open question forever and keeps getting debated. What puts you in the he-can't-play-shortstop camp?

8 months, 1 week ago on Morosi: Pirates interested in Didi Gregorius

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How is his bunting?

8 months, 3 weeks ago on Gregory Polanco and Big League readiness

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I have read this conversation before - that the Pirates sign players instead of trusting their inernal options.  But, I suppose waiting is okay.  Like you say a lot, wait to evaluate an offseason of work once all the moves are in instead of evaluating them one by one.

But, something I saw in a comment on Pirate Prospects, do you think this could have been done with an eye towards carrying three catchers and using Russell Martin to play 3B against left handers?  Sanchez could start when Martin rests or plays 3B, and Stewart could be the third-in-line.  Then, this move could mean that the Pirates figured Stewart as a backup catcher is cheaper than getting a platoon partner for Alvarez.

11 months, 4 weeks ago on Olney: Pirates close to trading for Chris Stewart

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One final thought - in negotiations and in planning for the future, a key is to focus on your biggest weakness.  I think our biggest weakness is 1B.  I think going after AJ Burnett is a bigger priority b/c of the stability he brings t the rotation.  But our weakest position for now, and with no obvious answer in sight, is 1B.  As you pointed out - there are going to be more problems in a year or two when other players go.  It would be nice to focus on our weakness now and get rid of it by implementing some long term stability so it doesn't keep hanging around when other weaknesses emerge.

1 year, 1 month ago on There and back again: What do the Pirates need to do this winter?

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I like this.  But I would flip around RF and 1B as priorities.  I am not sure if you put RF first in your article b/c it is more important , or if it just ended up there, so I guess I can't tell whether you think RF or 1B are bigger priorities.  But, my opinion, I think that b/c we are waiting for Polanco right now - and that might be a long term solution, we need to think a little more about 1B.

This would be my priorities for the 2013-2014 offseason - (1) resign AJ Burnett, at the same time (2) figure out the future at 1B, and whether that is a free agent, a platoon, or waiting for a prospect - and while we are figuring out the answer to that question, (2a) see if we can get a short term patch at 1B - beginning with Morneau to form a Morneau/Sanchez platoon, and then (3) look into a one year patch for RF to buy time waiting for Polanco to get ready and/or see how he does at a major leage level - and the first stop is to see if Marlon Byrd will sign for a one year deal, but if he won't then (3a) decide if we want to go with Tabata/Snider or look somewhere else.

That didn't work out quite as smoothly as I hoped, but I think those three things are our top three priorities.

1 year, 1 month ago on There and back again: What do the Pirates need to do this winter?

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"Wait 'til next year" - now it actually means something for us.  I can handle a winter doing that.

1 year, 1 month ago on NLDS Game 5: Cardinals 6 Pirates 1 (and so much more)

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I am really glad we are not the Reds at least.  They are benefiting from this in a big way.  What chumps.

1 year, 1 month ago on The one game playoff is ridiculous

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Well written.  The point about how 94 wins vs. 87 wins would put the Pirates in the playoffes either way is especially good.  But I am also glad you put this post up to get this frustration out of the way and to get excited about the game now!

1 year, 1 month ago on The one game playoff is ridiculous

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And the best part, we just made a trade for a month of baseball b/c the next month of baseball matters!  I haven't thought about the Pirates in this way since I was in 6th grade!

1 year, 3 months ago on Marlon Byrd and the urgency of the moment

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When I first read about the trade I was disappointed to see Dilson Herrera go.  He is the type of depth that I think is nice to have in the system - the type of player that is more likely than not to do well.  In other words, a few things have to go right for him to do well, but there are a bunch of things that have to go wrong for him to do poorly.

But then I thought about all the players I would have been more disappointed to see go - Jameson Taillon, Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham, Clay Holmes, Luis Heredia - and probably a whole bunch of other players I am not thinking of right now.  In other words, when I was thinking about players I would hate to see leave, Herrera didn't crack my top ten. 

And after that, I started thinking about all the players I would have been disappointed to see the Pirates trade prospects for, and Marlon Byrd didn't crack my list.  I don't like that he is a little old and that he used dope, but aside from that, he seems fine.  When rumors were flying like crazy there were a lot of players I wasn't really inspired by, but Byrd seems fine to me.

And most importantly, it seems to me like somebody on Pirates Prospects said it right.  Our needs included a RF, a hitter who can hit a left handed pitcher, and catching depth.  I guess I prefer Tony Sanchez as our backup catcher, but those other two needs sure got checked.

1 year, 3 months ago on Marlon Byrd and the urgency of the moment

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This team's problem is lack of offense - which of course we all know.  We lost three extra inning games over about the last week and during 15 innings of baseball we could not manage one run.  And all the while, our pitchers could prevent runs.  I think extra inning games are interesting b/c it usually only takes one run at any given time to win.  But, over 15 innings, almost two full games worth of baseball, where the only thing we needed was a run, we couldn't do it.

I don't think we will collapse, but this does not bode well.  We are a baseball team that cannot get a run when we need it.  It is like a football team that seemingly cannot get a first down when it is necessary.  That team can win a bunch of games, but it does not bode well for the playoffs.

1 year, 3 months ago on When 'should win' becomes 'have to win'

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Yeah - but I sure would like to see a win tonight.  The first two losses against the Rockies almost seemed okay.  I'd rather lose big and get it out of our system then lose close games.  Afterall, each loss is only worth one - whether it is by a lot or a little.  But the last two losses were both games that we tried really hard to win, but didn't.  That is harder for me to handle.

1 year, 3 months ago on Game 118: Cardinals 4 Pirates 3

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I sort of like this team as we are.  I want to get into the post season as bad as anybody, but I sort of like the idea of getting there with the team we had at the beginning of the season.  Now the only trick is finishing the job, which is no small order, but I think this team can do it.

1 year, 3 months ago on Friday afternoon links

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Thanks - I'll have to check it out.

Pat - You ought to set up some cool type of forum where all of us talk about our memories from the last 20 years.  Maybe it is too silly to do a reminising-type of post, but I think it would be fun to talk about.  Ending 20 years in the wilderness is a big deal - we need cool ways to celebrate!

1 year, 3 months ago on 70 wins

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I like the format of the march to 82 wins - give us a little recap with the last season we won X amount of games to relive the 20 years in the wilderness.  It will be fun and a little cathartic - I hope you keep doing it!

1 year, 3 months ago on 70 wins

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I am still struggling to figure out when a noun can be a verb.  The other day I heard somebody refer to "droning" - which apparently means a drone strike.  Now, I have to adjust to the accronyming of our language too??!!

1 year, 3 months ago on Tuesday morning links

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Maybe this is in the video - but do you think Charlie Morton should be a starter or a reliever for the playoffs?

1 year, 3 months ago on Tuesday morning links

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What does "TNSTAAPP" mean?

1 year, 3 months ago on Tuesday morning links

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I have been in the "don't even trade for Stanton" camp.  A few weeks ago we exchanged a few posts about that.  Maybe you win though.  I think we would have swept the Marlins this last series if we had Stanton and they didn't.  On Friday we lost 2-0.  Stanton went 2-2 with a home run and two walks.  Yesterday we lost 3-2.  Stanton went 2-3 with a home run and a walk.  If we had that performance on those two days we might have won.  That would put us with two more wins, which would have us leading the NL Central right now.  I know baseball doesn't work like that, but it is still fun to torture myself over this.

1 year, 4 months ago on The Cardinals, the playoffs, and the trade deadline

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