Tag:Francisco Liriano
Posted on: May 4, 2011 10:44 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 2:49 pm
 

Pepper: Phillies symbol of Latin transformation

By Evan Brunell

LATIN Phillies: When Orioles third base coach Juan Samuel played for the Phillies in the late 80s, he was lucky if he had one teammate of fellow Latin descent. There were years when he was the lone one. Those were the memories Samuel recalled all these years later, even as Philadelphia has changed its fortunes with eight Latin representatives on the active roster.

"When I came to spring training, I'm like, 'We have our own little neighborhood over here,' " Samuel said earlier in the season. "I was joking with Danys Baez and Carlos Ruiz in spring training. I called that end of the clubhouse the barrio. 'Let me go to the barrio and talk to the guys.' "

Most of that increase comes with the explosion in the game of Latin players, which has increased the level of talent and given these players more teammates to identify with. That's important to these players.

"Every organization has a signed a lot of players from Venezuela, Panama, Dominican Republic, Cuba, everywhere," reliever Danys Baez said. "So most of the time there are a lot of guys to talk to and share experiences from when you were a younger age.

"It's very important. Sometimes it's good even when you're supposed to talk in English. When you're learning, it's important to have somebody to talk to. Again, you can tell them about how it was when you were younger and how things were in your country. What it's like. Because every [Latin] country is different. So it's good to have somebody to share that kind of experience with."

The increasing globalization of the game is a good thing. Hispanic players now are a healthy percentage, but there is still much work to be done. Japanese players are coming to the states with increasing frequency, but the decline of African-Americans is concerning. MLB is to be commended for its efforts so far to reverse that trend, though, and are also making significant in-roads in European markets. (Philadelphia Daily News)

WHIZ KID: Growing up a Red Sox fan, I'm not a fan of Sports Illustrated covers because of its featuring of Nomar Garciaparra in the famous (at least, it's famous locally) "A Cut Above" cover; that cover ran around the time Nomar's career took a permanent turn for the worse after being hit by a pitch on the wrist. SI also predicted a World Series victory in 2000 for Boston with yet another cover... except it would take four more years for that ring. (And yes, I remember both covers well.) Ah, the Sports Illustrated jinx... well, anyways, SI.com is touting Starlin Castro on its next cover. Manager Mike Quade was quick to speculate on whether the dreaded jinx applied to Castro.

"How many do you have to deal with?" Quade said. "You have the sophomore [jinx], the S.I. [jinx]. If there's two jinxes, do they cancel each other out?" (MLB.com)

HEART-ATTACK ROBBERY: This is a disgusting story to write, but here goes: in early April, a Pirates usher was found dead in the middle of the street with only a superficial head injury. Turns out he was suffering a heart attack in the car. Along comes a 17-year-old who pulled the usher out of his car -- not to help, but to rob him of his wallet and car, leave the usher dying in the street. That 17-year-old was just arrested for the robbery, although he will not be charged with homicide. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

EMPTY SEATS: Low attendance is starting to scare some in the game, and several St. Louis reporters write about what the 3 percent dropoff at Busch Stadium thus far might mean. Here's the thing: it's just too early. Once school comes out and the weather warms up, one will be able to better evaluate the numbers. It seems as if every April we have this discussion, although gas prices and a housing market that many predict has hit rock-bottom may prove a tipping point. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

SIX-MAN ROTATION: Rotations these days are growing, even if there isn't any clear evidence that a five-man rotation is any better than a fourth. The White Sox may try their hand at a six-man rotation when Jake Peavy returns, both to ease him back into game action and to keep an impressive Phil Humber in the rotation. (Chicago Tribune)

BANGED-UP Twins: The Twins placed DH Jim Thome on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday night and recalled shortstop Trevor Plouffe, who will handle short until Tsuyoshi Nishioka returns. Incumbent shortstop Alexi Casilla is being shifted to second where he indicates he is more comfortable. But it doesn't stop there -- manager Ron Gardenhire said that outfielder Jason Repko is probably headed to the DL with Ben Revere being recalled. (Star Tribune)

BELT'S BACK: Or rather, he will be eventually. Belt is tearing up Triple-A and with the injuries the Giants have been hit with lately, Belt could be back in the majors sooner rather than later. The only problem is who the team kicks off the squad in the outfield -- Nate Schierholtz is already going to be dumped for Andres Torres once Torres returns from the DL. It's too bad Belt can't play shortstop.

LIFE IN SEATTLE: The Mariners were 4-11 before embarking on a 5-1 streak that ended with a loss Sunday to the Red Sox, but there's life in Seattle once more. Peter Gammons has more. (MLB.com)

RETURNING MARINERS: Life in Seattle will only get better once the team is back at full strength. The nearing return of closer David Aardsma and progress of center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, then, are things to be celebrated. (Seattle Times)

PAY ATTENTION: The Royals are stepping up warning fans of the danger of batted balls and bats after a four-year-old suffered a fractured skull after being hit with a foul ball. There's some discussion in the article of expanding the netting behind home plate all the way to the foul poles. Sounds awful, right? Is it more awful than a four-year-old's shattered skull? (Kansas City Star)

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Posted on: May 4, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 1:45 am
 

3 up, 3 down: Liriano's no-no

Francisco Liriano
By C. Trent Rosecrans

3UP

Francisco Liriano, Twins -- I'm making a new rule here, you throw a no-hitter, you get in 3 up, 3 down. I'm sure Francisco appreciates it. A tip of the cap to White Sox starter Edwin Jackson, who was pretty good, too. Jackson gave up one run on six hits in eight innings.

Daniel Descalso, Cardinals -- The infielder's first career homer, a three-run shot off of Clay Hensley in the seventh inning, gave the Cardinals the lead, and ultimately the 7-5 victory over the Marlins. Descalso was 2 for 3, playing second and third in the game.

Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- Ibanez snapped an 0-for-35 streak with a fourth-inning ground-rule double off of the Nationals' Livan Hernandez. He added another double in the seventh inning that scored a run in the Phillies' 4-1 victory. He's now hitting a robust .168.

3DOWN

Mike Leake, Reds -- After Tuesday night's performance, the Reds announce Leake would be headed to the bullpen to make room for Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey to return to the rotation. Leake allowed seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 10-4 loss to the Astros, but he did strike out five in that short time.

Rangers bullpen -- The Rangers' Pedro Strop gave up leads in the seventh and eighth inning as the Rangers lost in an opponent's final at-bat for the sixth time this season and second time in a row, also losing to the A's in the 10th inning on Monday. Darren Oliver allowed Hideki Matsui's walkoff on Monday, and gave up an RBI single to Jack Cust on Tuesday to score the winning run (even though it was charged to Strop). Neftali Feliz is scheduled to return soon, and it won't be too soon for the Rangers.

Josh Thole, Mets -- With bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, the Mets catcher did the one thing his team couldn't afford him to do -- ground into a double play. The Mets then lost the game in the 10th on Aubrey Huff's homer off of Taylor Buchholz. Thole also had a throwing error in the fourth inning the helped lead to a Giants' run.

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Posted on: May 3, 2011 9:54 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 11:06 pm
 

Francisco Liriano no-hits White Sox

By C. Trent Rosecrans 

Francisco LirianoEntering Tuesday's game, Francisco Liriano was 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA, allowing 10.3 hits per nine innings. Tuesday, he didn't allow a single hit.

That's the beauty of baseball -- while your numbers may give you an idea of what's expected, they have no bearing on what's going to happen on any given day.

Liriano walked five batters -- including Juan Pierre three times -- but it didn't hurt him, as the Twins won 1-0.

Liriano has looked unhittable at times in his career, but Tuesday wasn't one of them. He struck out just two batters, and just 66 of his 123 pitches were for strikes. But he still became the fifth Minnesota Twin to throw a no-hitter.

The 27-year-old had never thrown a complete game until Tuesday, his 95th career start.

Not only was a no-hitter on the line in the ninth, so was the game, with Minnesota clinging to a 1-0 lead. Shortstop Matt Tolbert had to rush on Brent Morel's grounder leading off the ninth, but Justin Morneau was able to come up with the one-hop throw and get Morel at first for the out. Liriano then walked Pierre before Alexi Ramirez popped out to Tolbert and then after going 3-0 to Adam Dunn, Dunn hit a liner to Tolbert on a full count to start the celebration.

There were other close calls --Liriano got help to end the seventh, when third baseman Danny Valencia made a nice play to get Carlos Quentin. Quentin hit a chopper down the third-base line that Valencia fielded in foul territory. He then set his feet and made a strong throw to get Quentin.

The Twins also dodged a bullet in the eight, when a bad call at first ended the inning. Justin Morneau missed a tag on Gordon Beckham at first at the tail end of a double play, but he was called out. 

Liriano had pitched so poorly this season, the team was stretching out Kevin Slowey in the minor leagues in case they needed to replace Liriano in the rotation.

White Sox starter Edwin Jackson, who threw a no-hitter last season for the Diamondbacks, pitched well, too. He gave up one run on six hits, while walking just one and striking out two. Minnesota's lone run came on a Jason Kubel home run in the fourth.

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Posted on: April 29, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Liriano in danger of being bumped for Slowey

By Evan Brunell

LirianoWhat a surprise.

After Liriano coughed up seven runs in three innings Wednesday to balloon his ERA to 9.13, the writing was on the wall: shape up or ship out.

We've been talking about our options with him, and the first option is trying to get him right and relaxed out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said of Liriano to 1500 ESPN Friday. The left-hander seemed on the way back to 2006 levels after injury and ineffectiveness sapped two years of his career. Last season, Liriano posted a 3.62 ERA in 31 starts, but so far this year has given up 27 hits and four home runs while walking 18 against just 18 strikeouts. That's a recipe for disaster, and the Twins have begun thinking about alternatives as the 27-year-old just can't seem to get anyone out.

"There's times when he looks totally dominant and he'll go an inning or two like that, but then he just kind of starts misfiring, and I think once we get ahead he just kind of backs away a little bit. So, if it's a confidence thing, then we've got to really work hard to get it there, but if not, we're going to have to make a decision and see where we go from there," Gardenhire added.

Minnesota has already started preparations, as the club is stretching out Kevin Slowey. Slowey, a former starter, was shifted to the bullpen to begin the year but quickly went down with a shoulder strain. He's been working his way back since and will throw 65 to 70 pitches in his next rehab start before returning to the roster. That will allow Liriano another start in Chicago against the White Sox to prove himself. If he can't, Slowey will likely step into the rotation.

"It hasn't been good," Gardenhire said. "I keep talking with [pitching coach Rick Anderson], and Andy says he believes there's a lot of confidence missing in there. I know Frankie said he just couldn't feel the ball the other day. But the other guys are throwing the same ball in the same weather, and he's misfiring pretty much a lot this year."

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Posted on: April 2, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: April 2, 2011 11:56 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 4/2: Big bats, slow arms

By Evan Brunell

SanchezToday felt like baseball season with a full slate of games, all in the afternoon and night. It was a fun day to pig out if you're a baseball fan, which we all are 'round these parts.

3 UP

Chase Headley, Padres -- Headley broke through with some fireworks Saturday, netting four RBI on the night including a two-run shot in the ninth to cap off an 11-3 victory. Ryan Ludwick had some fun in front of Headley, scoring four times. Headley isn't known for a stick, so it'll be interesting to see if his power sticks.

Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays -- Drabek had such filthy stuff that Denard Span would say afterwords it was a relief that the Twins didn't end up no-hit. Drabek went seven strong, whiffing seven, walking three and giving up a lone hit and earned run. Drabek is quite the exciting young hitter and it appears the Jays are well on their way toward replacing Roy Halladay -- as much as anyone can, I suppose.

Freddy Sanchez, Giants (pictured) -- Freddy celebrated a one-year extension by delivering a 3-for-4 night, adding a walk while scoring two runs and banging home 3 RBI. Sanchez delivered a double and home run -- things you don't commonly see Sanchez do in a single game -- as the Giants routed the Dodgers 10-0.

3 DOWN

John Lackey, Red Sox -- Not exactly the way you want to start the second year of a much-maligned five-year contract. Lackey, after struggling last season in his first year (despite a nice run to finish the year), really came through with a clunker in going just 3 2/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and a staggering nine runs, walking two and whiffing three. The big hit of the night was an Adrian Beltre grand slam after intentionally walking Josh Hamilton. Just not a good night.

Michael Bourn, Astros -- Bourn had the most pitiful batting line on the night, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Not exactly what you want from your leadoff man. Bourn is a wizard with the glove and can outsteal anyone in the majors provided he's on base, which will be something to track.

Francisco Liriano, Twins -- Maybe Minnesota was smart after all to table talks on a long-term extension. Liriano didn't look good at all in spring training and that carried into the season with four runs coughed up in 4 1/3 innings, struggling to locate the ball with five walks and three whiffs, throwing 90 pitches. Not the way to endear yourself to your employers or other teams on the prowl such as the Yankees.

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Posted on: March 29, 2011 4:43 pm
Edited on: March 29, 2011 10:02 pm
 

Possible 2011 trade candidates, obvious and not

By Matt Snyder

One of the big reasons preseason predictions are often blown to bits is the number of games played by certain players for certain teams. Major injuries, for example, but also because players end up being traded. Underachieving and overachieving teams end up becoming sellers and buyers, respectively, by the deadline.

There are going to be names already being thrown around in rumors and on fan message boards from the get-go. We'll give you five obvious names sure to appear in trade talks. Then, because it's so much more fun to throw stuff at the wall, we'll dig deeper and find 10 not-so-obvious names that could end up being traded or at least discussed. In those cases, certain things have to happen in order to clear the way for a deal, but those things can't be absolutely outlandish.

Remember, many players have no-trade clauses or are 10-and-5 guys, so every possible deal is contingent upon that. We're just making a list and enjoying it as a fun discussion point.

Let's get it on.

FIVE OBVIOUS TRADE NAMES

Michael Young, Rangers. No explanation needed, really.

Heath Bell, Padres. He wants to stay in San Diego and the Padres might want to try and keep him (without having to pay much long term, of course), but when the market for late-inning relievers gets strong in July and the Padres are well out of the race, he'll be one of the most mentioned names.

Felix Hernandez, Mariners. For now, the Mariners have sworn up and down he's never going anywhere. Even if the team is brutal again this season, it's reasonable to believe the Mariners will immediately hang up the phone any time someone like Brian Cashman says the name Felix. But if they start listening and someone is desperate enough to absolutely bowl them over, it very well might happen. He's in the obvious category because I'm sure people will not stop talking about the possibility. My initial feeling is he ends the season in Seattle, however.

Fausto Carmona, Indians. Remember CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee? Carmona is a big step down, but he's still a starting pitcher on the Indians who is not going to re-sign. He only has a club option left on his contract after 2011. When (not if) teams become desperate to add starting pitching in the race -- Yankees and Cardinals come to mind as candidates, but it could be anyone if unforeseen injuries or ineffectiveness pops up -- teams will come calling for Carmona. That is, of course, assuming he's been productive and the Indians are out of it. And you know the Indians will listen. My prediction is he's the most sure bet on here to be traded.

Grady Sizemore, Indians. Same as Carmona, except Sizemore has tons more upside and tons more downside -- due to injury woes. If he shows he's healthy and the Tribe don't inexplicably stay in the AL Central race, he's gone. Only a 2012 club option remains on his contract after this season.

10 NOT-SO-OBVIOUS NAMES


Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers. He's a free agent at the end of the year and we know about the Dodgers' money woes. As long as they aren't in the midst of the race, some team is going to want to bolster its bullpen. This one is pretty feasible, actually.

Chris Carpenter, Cardinals. As with every player's present team on this list, the Cardinals would have to fall out of contention pretty early. If they did, Carpenter has already said he's not averse to a deal. Plus, he's a free agent after the season and there's some big-name soon-to-be free agent the Cards desperately want to keep.

Francisco Cordero, Reds. Only a '12 club option remains on his contract. What if Cordero loses his closing job to Aroldis Chapman early a la Frank Francisco yielding to Neftali Feliz last year? What if the Reds fall out of contention? Easy to see a chain of events here.

Prince Fielder, Brewers. Least likely candidate on here. The Brewers would have to fall really, really far out of the race. If that did happen, yet he was having a big season, another team might pay enough for him that the Brewers couldn't refuse, especially considering he's a free agent after the season and almost certainly leaving.

Travis Hafner, Indians. He's not obvious like Sizemore and Carmona because Pronk has that pesky $13 million due to him in 2012. Of course, let's give an example of someone that might pay: Say the Yankees are five games behind the Red Sox, Jorge Posada is hurt, Jesus Montero either gets traded for pitching or isn't hitting well in the minors and none of the other spare parts (like Eric Chavez) are working. On the flip-side, Pronk is raking. Would the Yankees make that move? I think they might. His pull power from the left-side would fit well in Yankee Stadium.

Aaron Hill, Blue Jays. The Jays are building a good foundation and a Hill deal would give them some flexibility both financially and defensively. They could move top prospect Brett Lawrie back to second base -- the only position he ever played professionally prior to this spring -- and then use Jose Bautista at third or keep him in the outfield, whatever worked best moving forward with the makeup of the roster. If Hill gets off to a hot start and the Jays don't, I like this move.

Francisco Liriano, Twins. He's here because it's already been rumored and the Twins have the option -- at least for now -- to move Kevin Slowey back into the rotation. As long as the Twins are in the thick of the AL Central, though, which should be all season, I don't see it happening.

Brandon Phillips, Reds. Not as far-fetched as you might think. OK, well, the Reds have to fall far out of the race in the NL Central (which seems incredibly unlikely), but if they do, Phillips is a big candidate to be shipped. He has a club option after the season and will be 30 by the deadline. Plus, his power has declined rather significantly since his breakout 2007 campaign.

Aramis Ramirez, Cubs. It's hard to see a scenario where the Cubs would pick up Ramirez's 2012 option, so this could easily be his last season in Chicago. If he stays healthy, hits like he can and the Cubs are not in the race by mid-July, he'll definitely be available.

Jose Reyes, Mets. A free agent at the end of the year, if Reyes proves he's healthy and produces numbers while the Mets fall behind in the NL East, he's certain to be dealt.

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Posted on: March 23, 2011 10:22 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/23: Seven strong for Shields



By Matt Snyder


3 UP

James Shields, Rays. Roy Oswalt getting clocked in the head overshadowed this outing -- and rightfully so at the time -- but Shields threw a masterpiece against the Phillies Wednesday. It wasn't against scrubs either, as names like Rollins, Howard and Ibanez were in the order. He went seven shutout innings, allowing just four hits and one walk. He struck out four while lowering his spring ERA to 1.88.

Carlos Silva, Cubs. With Randy Wells nailing down the No. 4 spot in the Cubs' starting rotation, there's only one opening remaining. Silva had been brutal so far this spring, but he made a case to remain in consideration Wednesday. He threw six innings and coughed up just one earned run. In fact, he only allowed three hits and walked none. I still like Andrew Cashner for that job, but reports had Cubs' skipper Mike Quade very pleased with Silva's outing.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers. The 26 year old continued his torrid spring, crushing a three-run bomb off John Danks to highlight a 2-4 day. He's now hitting .320 with a 1.072 OPS this spring. He has five home runs and 15 RBI in only 50 at-bats.

3 DOWN

Matt Cain, Giants. He entered the game with five scoreless innings under his belt in the spring. He left with a 5.63 spring ERA after giving up seven hits and five earned runs in three innings. Good thing the spring games don't count.

Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks. The promising young arm for the Snakes couldn't get through three innings after allowing eight hits, two walks and seven runs. Only one of the runs was earned, but a Hudson throwing error was what helped open the door for the huge Rangers' third inning.

Ryan Doumit, Pirates. An interesting case, as you could glance at the box score and see Doumit collected two hits in four at-bats. But look deeper, as his ineptitude in everything but handling the stick was illustrated Wednesday. He allowed his third passed ball of the spring and was picked off on the basepaths -- twice! As the Pirates reportedly continue to shop him, efforts like these won't help.

BONUS -- YOU MAKE THE CALL

Francisco Liriano, Twins. He struck out nine hitters in three innings. Yes, every out he recorded was of the punch-out variety. Of course, he needed 76 pitches just to get through those three innings and along the way he walked three guys and gave up four hits. The one earned run isn't awful (it would be a 3.00 ERA), but a walk per inning is, just like the WHIP of more than two. Still, love seeing nine K in three innings. So would the outing be listed in up or down? You make the call.

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Posted on: March 18, 2011 10:39 pm
Edited on: March 18, 2011 10:40 pm
 

3 up, 3 down for 3/18: Wake and Rake

Wakefield

By Evan Brunell

It's pitching day here at 3 up, 3 down with only Melky Cabrera the non-pitcher to be featured in this lineup. While some hitters had some fine days, the most interesting lines came from pitchers, as we'll find out...

3 UP

1. SP Francisco Liriano: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Liriano has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, with the rush continuing into spring training. Apparently Liriano's now going to be the hot name in trade talks after Cliff Lee dominated that arena for two years. Lirano got spring training off to a brutal start but really shined Friday against the Orioles, who had a dominating performance by Brian Matusz to hang tough.

2. SP Brandon Morrow: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. Don't sleep on Morrow, whose K/9 would have led the AL had he pitched enough innings to qualify. The Jays will lift their protective hands off Morrow just a bit more in 2011, and Morrow could soon become a household name after coming within a final out of a no-hitter last season. His showing Friday knocked his spring ERA down to an eye-popping 0.75.

3. CF Melky Cabrera: 3 AB, 2, R, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 K. The Melk Man is hitting a scorching .529 and it could actually be possible that Cabrera's ready to bounce back from a dismal season in Atlanta, where he was out of shape and it showed. After thrilling fans with the Yankees, Cabrera seems doomed to being overhyped and flaming out. But while spring statistics don't mean much, Cabrera's strong showing so far means the still-just-26-year-old could actually have some life in his bat.

3 DOWN

1. RP Tim Wakefield: 3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 4 HR, WP. Um... yeesh. What is there to say? Wakefield's spot with the Red Sox is tenuous at best, as this sobering piece from the Boston Globe reports. Could the knuckleballer's career be coming to an end? Probably not, but four home runs in the span of six batters is pretty gosh-darn bad. For what it's worth, manager Terry Francona said Wake's knuckler has been the best he's seen so far this spring, but starting in the second inning, the knuckler wouldn't move outside of the strike zone. Such is the life of a knuckleballer.

2. SP Wily Peralta: 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5 HR, 2 BB, 0 K. Ouch. Double ouch. Triple ouch. The first ouch was for Zack Greinke getting hurt. The second for Shaun Marcum experiencing shoulder tightness that could be an issue. And triple ouch for Peralta's day, which gives him a spring ERA of 9.00. Peralta's just 21, but was thought to be right up there in terms of getting a shot to start with Greinke out. But this start doesn't help him leapfrog ahead of... uh... who are the other candidates again?

3. SP J.A. Happ: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. It's not every day that allowing zero runs gives you a bad day, but Happ is quite an interesting character. He has long defied the laws of ERA, as his career mark is 3.27 against an xFIP of 4.61. How long can Happ continue to defy the baseball gods with a criminally-low BABIP and strand rate? So far, he's defying them just fine.

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