Tag:Kenny Williams
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Sox choice of Robin Ventura innovative, shocking

Leave it to the Chicago White Sox and general manager Kenny Williams to zig when everyone else thinks they'll zag, to take the path through the woods when everyone else is looking at the paved roads.

The White Sox picked a manager Thursday straight out of left field, a guy who has never been in a major-league dugout as a skipper or as a coach.

But you know what? Because Robin Ventura was in the dugout for 2,079 games as a player, and because of who he is, the choice is perfect.

Ventura was in a White Sox uniform for 1,254 of those games. He was a player's player, beloved in the clubhouse. He knows the White Sox. He's popular in Chicago. -- maybe moreso than Ozzie Guillen was (though not as loud, not nearly as loud).

Can he manage? We'll find out.

This is one of those hires that could turn out to be out-of-the-box brilliant ... or a spectacular failure.

 I will say this: Last time the White Sox named a manager who had never called the shots in a big league game, they won a World Series title. His name was Ozzie Guillen.

Consider this another promotion from the White Sox Alumni Club (Ventura will become the 17th former White Sox player to manage the club). There are no guarantees that it will work, but say this for owner Jerry Reinsdorf: He's been around a long time and the guy appreciates -- and facilitates -- White Sox tradition.

The biggest names in the Sox rumor mill were two highly respected coaches, Davey Martinez of Tampa Bay and Sandy Alomar Jr. in Cleveland. If Chicago was going with a rookie manager, why not Ventura? He knows the players very well, he knows the Chicago media, he knows the South Side terrain.

Ventura had been working as a special assistant to director of player development Buddy Bell since June. Every GM has special assistants, but I've never heard of a director of player development having one.

But that's what savvy GMs do: They stash talented people in their organization, because you never know when, say, an Ozzie will wear out his welcome.

Williams, on a late afternoon conference call Thursday, called Ventura "one of the classiest people I've ever met in the game." The GM, while admitting this was an unexpected development, said he interviewed Ventura from 1994-1998, when Williams worked in player development and Ventura was the White Sox third baseman.

"He just didn't know it," Williams said.

Among the criteria Williams listed that Ventura fit: "A passion for the city, for the organization and the drive to win a World Series championship. This person had to have leadership and communicative ability, I think, that will work with our veteran players and with our young players."

Will that lead to managerial brilliance? Who knows?

"I have a passion for it, I have a passion for this team and this city," Ventura said on the conference call. "the passion is there to do it. I was asked to do it. I'm honored to have this opportunity."

Ventura, 44, has a lot in common with White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko in terms of character, baseball acumen and blue-collar work ethic. Clearly, after the rifts in the organization that developed under Williams and Guillen, Ventura is a uniter, not a divider. Which is exactly what the Sox need.

Now, if he can just get Adam Dunn to hit ...

Posted on: September 2, 2011 1:31 pm
 

Love Letters: Hurricanes, Sox & O's all blow

Of hurricanes, Orioles and White Sox ... which really aren't all that different, when you think about it:

FROM: Nick D.
Re.: Last-place Orioles remain stuck in familiar late-season rut

I started to read this article and then I stopped. ... Stop writing articles giving me hope for my woefully bad O's. I read these every year and every year they're the foundation holding up the AL East. Stop. Please. You people keep opening the same wound.

Next time I'll bring the cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide.


FROM: Rob
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Rain postponements taking toll on 2011 - then comes Irene

Scott,

The fact that fans who purchased tickets to Saturday's games at Fenway Park had to wait out those delays is absurd. The greed of the organization is the reason. They did not want to have to cancel the games and reschedule, or God forbid they would have to offer refunds or tickets to an alternate game. To try to play those games through the hurricane was absurd. It is frustrating to read your articles because none of this is mentioned and you show an unreasonable bias to the Yankees. If it was the Yankees organization that did this, you would be the first one criticizing them.

The Red Sox were so greedy they let fans into Fenway for free following the rain delay in Game 2 Saturday.Appalling, wasn't it? It's called trying to make sure the games get played when there is precious little time left in the season to reschedule them, mister.

FROM: Bill

There is no reason to have rainouts anymore. If a small-market team like Seattle can have a retractable roof stadium, why haven't the BIG GUNS protected game revenues with new Stadiums, including retracting covers. Hellloooo Yankees!

Put a retractable roof on Yankee Stadium, the ghost of Babe Ruth will rip his plaque out of Monument Park and install it somewhere in Montana.

FROM: J D

Hey, Miller ... More Yankee bashing, huh? Shocking. And you're not right. Like Joe Girardi said, a lot of other games in baseball and other sports changed their schedules to be amenable to Hurricane Irene. They still could have played an actual DH, not split, and honored Flanagan -- which the Yankees did the night before in very good form, btw, before their game with the A's. Or they could have played a game on Saturday in the early morning before the storm hit. It's all about the fact of the O's not wanting to lose a gate in one of the rare times they would actually make some money with the Yankees in town. Now, the Yankees will have to use up one of their rare September off days to play a game in Baltimore after finishing up a three-game series with the aforementioned O's the very next day, and with a long West Coast road trip looming. ... And way not to mention the Red Sox's unwavering interest in getting both games in no matter what the weather to improve their standings and keep a September off day.

You lost credibility with the sentence "And you're not right." Because, fact is, I'm almost always right. Including on this topic. 

FROM: Jack L.
Re.: Up-and-down White Sox look to final month to save season

Scott:

I'm a lifelong, die-hard White Sox fan who literally follows the team hour by hour, not just day by day. You did a very nice job of summing this season up. The only difference between being a gawker checking out a freeway wreck in the other direction and watching the White Sox play this year is that the freeway wreck is at least somewhat interesting, even if you can't really see much of it. IMHO, Kenny Williams is clearly the guy that needs to go. Trader Kenny completely lost his touch with the first stinker of a Nick Swisher trade and has just made one bad move after another ever since save for unloading Edwin Jackson prior to the trade deadline.

At least don't follow the White Sox minute by minute. Think how miserable you'd be then.

FROM: Richard

Fire Kenny Williams, he sucks as a GM. It's been his signings that brought the White Sox four of the worst contracts in White Sox history. Let's not forget the Manny Ramirez deal last year as well after letting Jim Thome slip away. The Sox paid Ramirez multiple times what Thome was paid all year for one month of services. If not for Zambrano's and Soriano's contracts on the North Side, Williams would really be exposed for the horrible GM he has been. I think the players enjoy playing for Ozzie Guillen, and he has gotten a lot out his players considering the start the Sox have had in the last two years.

According to my Love Letters readers' poll, Williams' approval rating drastically trail those of Guillen.

FROM: Mike M.

Love your work. Love it if you could do a story about the Angels owner (Arte Moreno) vs. Scott Boras and include why Boras has that ground level box behind home plate at Anaheim Stadium. Boras looks like an idiot standing in the TV background of most pitches while he talks on his cell or works his laptop. As a Mariner fan I laugh thinking what Angels fans think about seeing him all the time.

It's a simple, economical issue: Boras' company purchases that ground-level suite with old-fashioned greenbacks. But while you may laugh, think of all the advertising that TV time translates into for hundreds of players who might be watching in other cities and contemplating what Boras could do for them.

FROM: Scott
Re.: Weekend Buzz: Yanks getting stronger down the stretch

Scott, while I respect your opinion, how has the Yankees pitching been woeful? Their ERA is better than Detroit, Boston, and Texas's, their bullpen ERA is the best in baseball, and outside of A.J. Burnett, no one on that staff has been woeful outside of Phil Hughes before his injury. Right now, Ivan Nova and Hughes are pitching as well as anyone, CC Sabathia is an ace, and between Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, the Yankees have a respectable four starter for the playoffs. It just makes no sense why people are so quick to discredit the Yankees pitching without looking up the numbers.

If you read the column, and not just the headline and sub-head, you'd have your answer: I was EXAGGERATING, teasing Yankees' fans for being so quick to panic.


Likes: LA Marathon founder Bill Burke making a $1.2 billion bid for the Dodgers. It's funded in part by Chinese investors, and wow, think how much fun we all could have with THAT. Great take by Harold Meyerson in Friday's LA Times on the op-ed page: "There's no need to rehash the McCourts' destruction of one of American sports' most fabled and successful franchises. At this point, anyone who takes the team off their hands would be a better owner, right? Could there really be a more problematic proprietor? And then, along comes China." ... Absolutely loved Thursday's A-1 headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: "Obama jobs speech up against Packers opener." ... Good job, Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High, getting on the board with a 12-6 win over New Boston Huron on Thursday after a tough opening week loss.

Dislikes: Sports Illustrated's rare regional covers. I know, business is business. But I'm old school and I don't like not having a particular cover.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hey barkeep
"What's keeping you, keep pouring drinks
"For all these palookas, hey you know what I thinks
"That we toast to the old days and DiMaggio too
"And old Drysdale and Mantle, Whitey Ford and to you"

-- Tom Waits, A Sight For Sore Eyes
Posted on: November 10, 2009 4:28 pm
 

GMs pass on voting for instant replay

CHICAGO -- The word at the general managers' meetings here Tuesday: Don't hold your breath for expanded instant replay in 2010.

The GMs discussed instant replay as one of their agenda items Tuesday morning, then they quickly moved on to other topics -- like revamping the Arizona Fall League in order to get younger prospects in and possibly modifying the amateur draft so it more accurately reflects the previous season (e.g., the World Series winner would draft last, even if it didn't have the game's best overall record).

As for discussing what was expected to be the hot topic this offseason ... not so much.

"If the general managers would come up with some kind of consensus of what they'd like to see [regarding instant replay], they would likely do it through a subcommittee of general managers and the committee probably would speak for the GMs in general and then a report would be made to ownership and to the commissioner," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice-president for baseball operations.

"If that took place then the commissioner would have probably the deciding vote on it."

As of now, Commissioner Bud Selig, who instituted replays on boundary calls (mostly, involving home runs) during the 2008 season, is on record as saying he is not enamored with adding more.

"Life is changing and I understand that," Selig said during a conversation at the World Series last week. "I do like the human element and I think the human element for the last 130 years has worked pretty well. There have been controversies, but there are controversies in every sport."

Part of the reason the GMs didn't wade too deeply into the instant replay question could be because it's been on their agenda in multiple years over the past decade and never got very far.

Also, it is not up to them to make the decision. As White Sox GM Kenny Williams said Monday, it's up to Selig and the owners. Williams long has been a proponent of instant replay and has placed it on the agenda at the GM meetings himself in the past.

"The commissioner is a very forward-looking person but he also has an ample respect for tradition," Solomon said. "So he doesn't take this lightly and doesn't make a lot of changes without giving them a thorough vetting.

"I think the current process we have came into play because he thought about it long and hard, he saw where technology was and made a decision it would not have an adverse affect on the pace of game, so much so that he decided to go forward with it."

Like most of the rest of us, the GMs watched umpires like Phil Cuzzi, Tim McClelland and C.B. Bucknor stumble their way through a miserably umpired postseason.

Yet here, it's as if that happened years ago, not simply a month ago.

"You've got to understand, we just put instant replay in in 2008," Solomon said. "We only have a season and a couple of months of experience. And now there are those who clamor for more and more instant replay.

"I think we need to digest what we've got. We need to look at the technology and look at where we are in the sport. The commissioner will talk to a lot of different people before making a decision on whether to impact our sport. I think you all will agree that he is very methodical in making those decisions."

Posted on: September 24, 2009 8:03 pm
 

Shorter Hops

 Don't underestimate the different look Brett Gardner's wheels give the Yankees into the playoffs. The guy can flat-out fly. Comparing Gardner with some of the American League's fastest players, like Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury and his own Chone Figgins, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said gave the nod to Gardner. "He's one of the fastest guys we've seen," Scioscia said. "Put them all in a race and he might win by an eyelash."

 Damon, of course, can run -- though not like he once could -- and Robinson Cano and even Mark Teixeira make this Yankees team more athletic than some clubs in the past, especially when Jason Giambi was manning first. "We don't want to be one-dimensional, whether it's home runs or all small ball," Teixeira said. "Gardner gives us another option."

 Not surprising that the only form of celebration from the Yankees after clinching a playoff spot against the Angels the other night was a few handshakes and smiles. As Damon said, "Winning the division would make us a little happier. Unfortunately, this doesn't seal the deal for us like winning a World Series." Ah, how Johnny has grown from his Kansas City days.

 If Milton Bradley's apology was sincere, then why did Cubs players not even find out about it until the statement was issued? Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat Twittered that the players knew nothing of an apology until the statement.

 Indians general manager Mark Shapiro has been fiercely loyal to manager Eric Wedge, but with the Tribe having lost 10 in a row into Thursday night's series finale against Detroit and showing little sign of life -- combined with the fact that they're finishing a second consecutive disappointing season following high expectations -- he likely will have no choice but to make a change. The Indians have been outscored 65-25 during the losing streak and had scored three or fewer runs in seven of the 10 games. Indians starting pitchers were 0-9. When they took a 2-0 lead Thursday against Detroit, it was their first lead in 69 innings. Ugh.

 Talk about blowing up a disappointing team: As Wedge waits to learn his fate, only 10 of the current 30 Indians on the active roster were active with the club on opening day.

 Mr. Clutch: Colorado catcher Yorvit Torrealba, over his past 26 at-bats with runners in scoring position, is hitting .654.

 Jim Fregosi, now scouting for Atlanta, would love to manage again. One dark horse candidate for openings this winter: Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke, who is very good and deserves a chance to interview somewhere.

 Closest thing to solid evidence of significant changes this winter for the White Sox: General manager Kenny Williams had some strong things to say to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times this week. "I know who's quit and who hasn't, who's willing to sacrifice," Williams said. "It's hard to win. Winning and success, whether it be baseball or any other facet of life, if you are not willing to sacrifice, you're not willint go put in the work, you're not going to be successful. You're just not. ... If you are not willing to do that, I can't have you here and I will send you to a better place for you."

 Loved the fact that it was Strike Out Violence Day two Sundays ago at San Francisco's AT&T Park ... and then the game was followed by a Bob Arum press conference promoting a fight between Manny Pacquiao and another guy I've never heard of. It was almost as good as the Dodgers giving away Manny Ramirez Bobblehead Dolls on Drug Prevention Night at Dodger Stadium.

Likes: The Panda Cam, as they refer to replays on San Francisco telecasts that feature Pablo "Kung Fu Panda" Sandoval. ... Bobby Cox back managing Atlanta next year. Say what you will, and I know there are detractors out there who diminish his streak of winning division titles because the Braves only won one World Series, but he's a Hall of Fame manager. ... Glad X-rays were negative after Yankees catcher Jorge Posada fouled a ball off of his foot the other night. You hate to see injuries to significant players at this time of year, especially for teams headed to the playoffs. ... My Weber grill. ... I mentioned James Maddock's disc Sunrise on Avenue C the other day. It's great. Especially great is the cut When the Suns Out. ... Entourage has been especially well-written and acted this year. Last summer, I feared it had jumped the shark.

Dislikes: There were a couple of chat-room comments on the last Bull Pennings disparaging David Letterman after I gave him a shout out for the show earlier this week when President Barack Obama was a guest. Memo to you who wrote the comments: Glad you're reading. Thanks. But sorry, you're dead wrong on Letterman. He's sharp, and it's not even close at 11:30 p.m. -- and hasn't been for a long, long time. Conan is likeable and funny. But Jay Leno? Come on. He's one of the top 10 exhibits for the dumbing down of America. ... My wife has enjoyed the first few shows of Glee, and the critics love it, but I just can't go there. If I wanted to watch pseudo-Backstreet Boys videos, I'd ... well, come to think of it, I absolutely, positively don't want to watch pseudo-Backstreet Boys videos.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I ain't got much sense
"But I still got my feet"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Girls in Their Summer Clothes

Posted on: October 6, 2008 11:08 pm
 

"We got every ounce out of this team. ..."

CHICAGO -- When their remarkable run of winning when they had to was finally finished, there were no tears in the Chicago White Sox clubhouse. At least, none that were visible.

Maybe it was simply sheer exhaustion as their wild, two-week sprint to out-race time finally expired. Maybe there was comfort in knowing that, yet again, they had out-shined the crosstown Cubs (check this out: In the White Sox's last two postseason appearances, they've won 12 games. In the Cubs' past two postseason appearances, they've won zero).

Most likely, however, it simply was accepting the reality of what was.

"We feel we can hold our heads high," first baseman Paul Konerko said in a subdued and disappointed -- but not distraught -- clubhouse. "We got every ounce out of this team that we could."

Konerko -- and others in the room -- mentioned the absence due to injury of "shoo-in MVP" Carlos Quentin, third baseman Joe Crede and starter Jose Contreras. But it was more matter-of-fact. It wasn't in a whiny, searching-for-excuses manner.

"We did our best," Konerko said. "We just ran out of gas."

General manager Kenny Williams said he will step back and let a bit of time pass -- "get away from the moment" -- before assessing everything and again assembling a club "that's going to give you a run for your money."

The one saving grace of this season, Williams said, was the fact that many of the new White Sox who weren't around for the 2005 World Series run learned what the postseason is like. Guys like Alexei Ramirez, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Josh Fields, Jerry Owens and reliever Matt Thornton.

"We have a new core," Williams said. "That's one of the things we've tried to do, rebuild and compete at the same time, have the new core learn from the World Series core, add to the puzzle for sustained success.

"In that respect, that might be the only happy thing standing here today. Our young guys got some major, major playoff experience."

Williams perhaps was most pleased that this particular White Sox club showed him some fight and, in that respect, he and his manager were thinking alike.

"We played hard," Ozzie Guillen said. "I feel proud of my ballplayers. We went through a lot of tough times. One thing nobody can take away from us is we fight every day. We fight every day."

Guillen said he spoke with his players after Tampa Bay ended their season, telling them "make sure you keep your head up, feel proud of yourself, walk on the street with your head up and feel proud of what (you) did.

"It's not an easy season for us, but we do a lot of nice things for this organization and for the players."

In beating Cleveland, Detroit (rain makeup) and Minnesota (one-game playoff) last week, the Sox became the first big league team ever to defeat three different teams in three days, all while being on the verge of elimination.

Then they beat Tampa Bay here in Game 3 on Sunday, again while facing elimination. As their run progressed, the White Sox appeared to thrive on the pressure.

"Most of us said a couple of weeks ago that if we don't make the playoffs, let's not let it be because we're tight," Konerko said.

And, in the end, they didn't lose because they were tight.

Their season simply ran out because they weren't quite good enough -- especially in the end, playing without injured outfielder Carlos Quentin, third baseman Joe Crede and starter Jose Contreras. And for a team that, this spring, was an afterthought behind Detroit and Cleveland, there's no shame in that.

"All in all, when I look back at this year, I think we went exactly as far as we were supposed to go," Konerko said.

Likes: Late night at at Giordano's Pizza on Rush St. Sunday following a day with the White Sox and Rays. Fabulous deep-dish sausage pizza at the bar watching an even more fabulous Angels-Red Sox game from Boston. ... The good people who have worked in Tampa Bay's organization for so long finally getting to enjoy a winner.

Dislikes: Just how many Viagra commercials must we endure this postseason?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Who's the man who hired all the criminals
"The White House shadows who hide behind closed doors
"They bend the facts to fit with their new stories
"Of why we have to send our men to war"

-- Neil Young, Let's Impeach the President

Posted on: September 25, 2008 9:39 pm
 

No squirrels involved

MINNEAPOLIS -- You don't hear the term nearly as often as you do the phrase "stretch-run" or "pennant race", but baseball men for years have had a fond way of describing the pressure in these final days of the season.

"It's nut-cutting time," Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said in the anxious moments before Thursday's near do-or-die series finale here with the Twins.

And it was the White Sox's whose were on the chopping block as they looked to avoid a sweep and allowing the Twins to move past them into first place in the AL Central.

"These games mean more," Williams was saying. "You've got to play better. We controlled our destiny when we came to Minnesota. If we fool around and don't win tonight's game, we don't control our own destiny.

"There's no need to dissect it anymore."

What was on the line for the White Sox, trying to hang onto first base, was clear.

"It would be a shame, with all the things we've had to go through, the criticisms and doubts, Scott Linebrink going down, Carlos Quentin, Joe Crede, all those things ... it would be a shame to walk in here in control of our own destiny and not close it out.

"The fact of the matter is, you've got to do it on the field."

Likes: Stat of the day, computed by crack Yankees beat man Ed Price of the Newark Star-Ledger: Carl Pavano threw what surely was his last game as a "Yankee" in Toronto on Thursday night (note, very far away from the playoff race) and at the expiration of his $39.95 million deal, it essentially paid Pavano $1,536,538.46 per start (26), $4,438,888.89 per win (9), $274,256.29 per inning (145 2/3) and $17,606.88 per pitch (2,269). ... Adele's Frozen Custard in Excelsior, Minn. Wonderful little small-town place. I had the Mudd Pie and Orange Creamsicle on Thursday.

Dislikes: Rain, rain go away on the East Coast. We certainly don't need postponements stacking up. ... Cell phone batteries. Do any of them last as long as they tell you they will?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The whole damn town was sleeping
"Dreaming the same dream
"The radio was playing
"Roger McGuinn singing
"'To each and every thing there's a time and a season'"

-- Uncle Tupelo, Train

Posted on: September 5, 2008 6:33 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2008 8:40 pm
 

Terrible blow for White Sox

Sure, the news Friday for the Chicago White Sox could have been worse. U.S. Cellular Field could have been condemned. A Black Sox Scandal II could have been uncovered. Ozzie Guillen's arch-enemy columnist, Jay Mariotti, could have been re-hired.

But failing those disastrous possibilities, dang, it's difficult to imagine anything much worse for the poor White Sox than slugger Carlos Quentin heading to the surgeon's table.

He will undergo surgery Monday and have a screw inserted into his fractured right wrist. He'll be re-evaluated in two or three weeks and, though he hopes to salvage the season, it doesn't look good. There is a very real possibility that he's done for the year.

Wrist injuries, particularly serious wrist injuries, are temperamental things, and for the White Sox, losing Quentin is no less of a blow than if Boston were to lose David Ortiz, or the Los Angeles Angels were to lose Vladimir Guerrero. That's how important he's been to them in his first season on the South Side.

Sox general manager Kenny Williams absolutely stole Quentin from Arizona last winter, sending infielder Chris Carter to the desert in exchange, and Quentin has responded with a Most Valuable Player-type season. He leads the AL with 36 homers, ranks fifth in the AL with 100 RBIs and has provided needed heft for the White Sox lineup.

"He's had a phenomenal year," general manager Bill Smith, whose Minnesota Twins are battling the White Sox for the AL Central title, said Friday afternoon. "He was probably one of the best pickups of the year.

"You never like to see players get hurt, and I'm sorry to see this. He's had a huge impact for them every game he's played against us this year, I can tell you that."

The Sox play the Twins three more times, at Minnesota from Sept. 223-25, in what likely will be a key series to determine the AL Central title. Entering the weekend, the White Sox had opened a 1 1/2-game lead on Minnesota.

Most aggravating, and manager Ozzie Guillen was vocal about it before Chicago opened its weekend series with the Angels, was the fact that the probable season-ending injury appears self-induced. Quentin says he angrily slammed his bat with his right fist after missing a pitch during his final at-bat Monday in Cleveland. It's something he's always done, Quentin says, only this time, he missed his spot and hit the bat with his wrist instead of his fist.

Undoubtedly, it will go down in the freak-injury annals of stretch-run baseball. Nobody ever plans on getting hurt, but Quentin's fracture would be more understandable if, say, it occurred when he was hit by a pitch.

"Quentin is one of those guys who's led every league he's ever played in in being hit by a pitch," one scout said Friday.

Quentin, who has been hit by a pitch an AL-leading 20 times this season, also led the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in hit-by-pitches in both 2006 (31) and 2005 (29), and he led the Class A California League in 2004 (27).

Now, thanks to one brief instant in which his self-discipline disappeared, Quentin is out.

And no surgery is going to fix the hole he's leaving in the middle of the White Sox lineup.

 
 
 
 
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