Extraordinary reader responses and the wisdom of crowds

One thing I really like about this site is our comments section, which I believe to be one of the best around and proof that not all Cubs fans are meatballs, tourists,  beer-swilling frat boys, or some combination thereof.

I posed a thoughtful question today, Is Joe Girardi really the best guy to develop Cubs prospects?  It's a question that I believe needed to be asked and I was planning a counter view/response for the question for tomorrow.  But unsurprisingly, I got some thoughtful responses.  So I started thinking, instead of writing the article myself, I'll let some of you do it.  Besides, it's been too hectic for me to concentrate on guest posts lately (but I promise I will).  Until then, consider this a guest post of sorts.

There were great arguments on both sides, but since my article covered the question, I want to focus on the ones who had counterpoints today.   I'm not going to alter them in any way. I think they speak for themselves.

From MMU Cats Ball:

I've always looked at the manager's staff as the ones really developing the players. The manager is more about putting them in the position to succeed and keeping the clubhouse a positive place for them to grow, rather than doing the actual skill development. That would lie on the shoulders of the Bosios and McKays. I know every manager is a little different with respect to how they run things, but I think a lot of them are this way. How often do you think TonyLa's influence on a player was by tweaking a swing or a pitcher's mechanics? How often do you think his influence on a player was putting them in a position to succeed in a clubhouse that had great communication and chemistry? I think the latter happened more often.

To me the manager's top priority will be communication. As far as development, I think that lies more on what staff the new manager would bring over. Rothschild will never allowed back, so would Bosio stay? McKay? Would the FO want Girardi's staff coming over to develop our young players? Would Girardi want to come to the Cubs if he can't bring them? These questions are the ones that I think need the most attention. One man is not going to be relied upon to develop the young players, it's the crew that comes with him. My point, Girardi is fantastic at what he does, communication in general and putting players in a position to succeed. His staff on the other hand, does not come off as developmentally savvy like say, a St.Louis or TB staff.

From UcanDoIt:

The definition of "development" is what is causing different opinions.

I don't think the cubs are asking the new manager to recommend different batting stances to the players. This is more of a grammar school development

When they talk development I think its more a college type developmental environment. It's creating a consistent message. It's asking player what their goals are and keeping them accountable.

- Imperative that we create the best environment possible for young players
In Sveum's second year at the helm was that players were getting "different signals from different directions
- Communication skills will be emphasized.
- A manager who is "dynamic something that the low-key Sveum was not.
- someone who is "creative"
- "tremendous energy."

From Mike Partipillo:

John, I'll tell you why I feel Girardi would be an excellent choice to lead the young Cubs moving forward. Girardi is a leader. The reasons he was asked to address the crowd the day Kyle died are the same reasons he is a quality manager. He is respected. He is a clear communicator and people trust him.

When Girardi essentially told the crowd, "Go home. I can't tell you why, but something bad happened and you'll just have to trust me." They did. 40,000 people trusted him. There was no grousing, they did what they were told. Why? Because Girardi is a born leader who was trusted and respected.

He may not be the best at "developing" talent. He doesn't have to be. Development can mean a lot of things, but Girardi isn't being hired to tinker with someone's swing, he's being hired to be a leader. He's meticulous, prepared and professional, and doesn't need to resort to gimmicks like a bunting contest with participants that aren't even ball players.

With Girardi, there will be no doubt what's expected of the players, and there'll be a real leader at the helm, showing them what it means to be a professional. No circus, no games, no BS.

From SkitSketch Jeff:

As with anything with a manager, it's difficult to say what always begins and ends with him. Which managers are good developers of talent? And why? Well, we know Lou Pinella wasn't because he preferred playing veterans. But are Tony LaRussa and Joe Madden great developers of talent, or are they solid beneficiaries of a very well honed development pipeline? But what does make for a good manager of young talent are three things: 1.) Instills confidence, 2.) Commands respect, which allows him to be listened to by the young players, and 3.) Allows young players to play through mistakes. In the first half of 2013, Sveum obviously lost Castro - perhaps because of Castro, perhaps because of both of them. Castro's agent was calling the FO and complaining about comments by Sveum in the paper. Castro also wasn't happy with his performance and, until his high profile mental gaffes later, seemed eager to blame someone else. What you get with Girardi (and I too don't think he's our lone silver bullet here, but think he would be the best option all things considered) is someone who commands respect and eager ears. Winning World Series as a player and manager will do that. Also Girardi is far better with the media and players than when he was a first-year manager with Miami; however, in some ways, he had an easier situation in NY managing many seasoned veterans who were also his former teammates (Jeter, Rivera and Pettite). So it wasn't hard to maintain respect in that clubhouse when the team leaders are also your good friends. But if the Cubs sign Girardi and Rizzo & Castro don't further develop, then we do know that the problem is all with them.

From Dave Kreis (@swmrdak79)

I get Cubs R looking for manager that can help the young padawans, but I see a manager's biggest role is managing personalities and Girardi has show he can manage the up and comers(FLA) and the seasoned vets (NYY)

From Megan Montemurro, who writes for The Northwest Herald via Twitter (@M_Montemurro):

A valid point, makes Hinch intriguing option. Then again, would Girardi's stature garner more respect, etc from younger players?  Also, I think hiring Girardi - instead someone like Hinch/Alomar/etc - would suggest to players Cubs are serious about winning soon. Girardi has a proven track record in terms of success and I think that'd be a powerful tool for a team with so many Ls past few yrs.

From Jordan Zuniga via Twitter (@chistyle82):

His stature but more importantly relating to bringing up to guys who was drafted like he was and went thru cub system.  in other words he can relate to what they are going through to finally hitting wrigley plus he cn talk about leaving and coming back to cubs. It shows his commitment to bringing a title. After all that he just shows his 4 fingers.

Keep in mind that these are just a few of the great responses and there were many others -- on both sides of the coin.  Wish I could do more, but I think these cover most of the bases.

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  • I vote for Rickey Henderson, just because I never got tired of hearing him talk about himself in the 3rd person. As manager then, would he discuss the Cubs in the 4th person? Teh awesome.

    More seriously, after hearing the arguments pro and con, I'm really starting to lean towards Alomar. Another former catcher, smart, paid his dues on multiple coaching staffs, hungry to manage, respected. I like it.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Ha! Rickey Henderson is local to. East Chicago guy. I think we have a fit.

    Really a big fan of Alomar, Jr. I go between he and Acta as my second choice, but I'm also intrigued by Hinch.

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    In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    One of my favorite "Ricky" stories is the time he was playing for Seattle near the end of his career. Jon Olerud was a Mariner then too and Ricky said to him one day, "You know, I used to play in Toronto with a dude who wore a helmet to play first base."

    "I know, Ricky," Olerud replied. "That was me."

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    I love that story as well. Classic.

  • John
    This is a great site. I truly value your analysis but what also makes this site great is reading the comments. All off the posters also bring good points to the articles & most everyone have a good grasp of what this rebuilding process is all about. This is a perfect example of this. Even when there is a disagreement between posters, it never turns ugly.

    This blog (& there are others I enjoy) has made the painful rebuild a bit compelling & your input has made me better at understanding baseball.

    Thanks as always!

  • In reply to Cub Fan Dan:

    Thanks Dan. I think the comments here are considered a must read!

  • Terrific choice, John.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    Thanks. I almost put yours in there, Bloomie. I put the longer ones in from the blog since they covered a lot of ground.

  • When Girardi addressed a packed house ,half full of Cardinal fans, he was a part time player with a sorry batting average. One could have heard a pin drop. If that that kind of respect doesn't indicate the 'it' factor, I'm missing something. I think Joe loves the Cubs and Cub fans love Joe. He is one of us. Turning around 105+yrs of losing will require his kind of leadership and (excuse the hokieness) love.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I think his leadership skills are outstanding and he'd do a great job of conveying the Cubs message.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I was at they game. It was a very hot day.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I was at that game. It was a very hot day.

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    Comment section has always been where it's at, imo. When we get a chance to do a go around and put in our views. This site is great because of the diversity of folks that visit here. We have folks everywhere and take time to discuss what they saw at a minor league game, shoot a video, scan twitter for breaking news, talk with scouts, etc.

    Don't get me wrong, John gets it. He seems to have an uncanny ability to give us an article that always hits the nail on the head. But the comment section lets us have our cake and eat it also.

    Love this place!!!

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    Thanks Bobby!

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    In reply to bocabobby:

    Very well said. Couldnt have put it any better myself Bobby. Agreed 100% even disagreements are fun and intellectual. No name calling and things. Just constructive arguments.

  • I hated Sveum's bullpen management, but I loved his shifts. I don't think it's a totally fair assessment regarding the "player development" tag. Look how well Rondon did, and Wellington Castillo, and Junior Lake. Blake Parker. Strop. Still all fairly young guys as well, and they all thrived.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    No doubt he did excel in some areas. It was not a total miss by the front office. He did some good things here.

  • Your site is fantastic John. It is always refreshing to go to a site where there is intelligent and passionate discourse, without the rudeness of most blog sites comments.

  • Thanks cubbie ron (and thanks to all of you, of course)

  • Speaking of player development, and don't slam me, because I know that this is something "dumb Cub fans" say, but wouldn't Sandberg have been perfect right now?

    He knows the system, the young guys, was a big part of making Barney who he was. It still baffles me that he wasn't made a part of the MLB staff when Sveum was hired.

    I can't see the difference in philosophies being that wide between him and Epstein.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    He certainly is familiar with some of these players. Downside is he's an old school guy. I think he's probably a good one on one teacher but he's a quiet guy and I'd question his command to be able to lead a staff and convey a message. I don't know this for a fact, just speculating on possible reasons.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I cannot understand why being an "old school guy" is considered a bad thing. He won at every level he managed at and if I remember correctly he was ejected for arguing with the umpires on several occasions. I don't think that's something a quiet guy would do. I can remember people remarking about his managerial style was about 180* from the way he played. I guess we'll see how well Philly plays for him but I'll bet if they have success, you'll hear Cubs fans screaming from the mountaintops that we were robbed of having him manage our beloved Cubs.

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    In reply to givejonadollar:

    I'm not trying to be contradictory, but Sandberg has been gone three years now and most of our best prospects/young players were acquired after he left the organization. Yes, he had a great run in the minors, but so did the guy he lost out to. In fact, Quade's resume was longer and more impressive than Ryno's, which just goes to show, great minor league managers/coaches do not always translate to good or even decent major league managers. Just as some HOF college football coaches are lost in the NFL.
    That said, I do believe Sandberg will be a good major league manager, but we won't know until he has some sort of body of work on which he can be judged.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Whatever, the Sandberg ship has sailed. Girardi has a better body of work as a leader. He may be available and it may be his dream job. The timing is too obvious to ignore.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I don't think it's correct to assume that a "quiet guy" would never argue with an ump. That is also a one on on scenario. Not vocal leadership (or even often clear communication).

  • What is it about the cubs that keeps fans coming back even when they lose? This has been the history of those that follow the cubs year after year - except perhaps the last two years The fans are still there but the one intangible element the new manager must rekindle is HOPE! Girardi can do that and not just because of his ties to Chicago, He has built a career that players and fans respect. I'd like to see him back as manager.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    As I explained to a Cardinal fan at his wedding reception: if you were raised a Cubs fan, you'll always be a Cubs fan. It's like family, if a family member goes to prison, can you just turn your back on them? No! Cubs are family.

  • In reply to giamby:

    That was smart comparing it to something a Cardinal's Fan can relate to, i.e. a family member in prison.

  • In reply to pricewriter:

    But.. You're talking about the way things have always been. ..Which has never - in our lifetime - lead to actual winning.

  • We are gluttons for punishment. I hope he can provide that as well. Sometimes you need that spark.

  • Everybody roots for the utter dog.

  • Its the "Cubs disease" once get it, you have it for life.
    Developing and mentoring our great group of great prospects
    should be the managers main job (after winning)

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Very true. The very first game I went to was when I was about 5 years old. Steve Stone gave up 5 HRs to the Big Red Machine. If that didn't scare me off, nothing will.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Nice that the Cubs games were after Bozo the Clown

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I always loved the Grand Prize Game.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Haha ;) It got us int he right frame of mind.

  • Thanks for posting this article, I have been too busy to post constantly in the past month or so and I couldn't read some of these responses, but it is nice to see them posted as an article... Kudos to all these great posters, I do agree this is one of the most impartial and intellectual boards around... People don't just come here and post the first thing that pop in their minds, I can see that people read the article, analyze every situation, look at the big picture and then generate a proper response, not to say, I can see people here post with their own take of the matter instead of pulling to one side or the other all the time.

  • In reply to Caps:

    You're welcome. I have to thank all of you for writing it. Maybe it's a feature I can do from time to time.

  • Great stuff, John! Cool idea and really good choices to include!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Thanks. Had to leave some good ones out too!

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    I've been thinking about this since Girardi's name came under serious consideration. I think I support it now with some reservations. Let me mention the other candidates. Hinch may be a good fit thanks to his FO experience. But I worry about his one year managing for the D-Backs. His record was very bad, albeit with a very weak roster still it is a concern along with about one season more or less of experience. Acta I like some of the things I've been reading. Still I have a friend who is a huge Nats fan who tells me how much he despises Acta. He told me he was overwhelmed by the job and told me he would flop in Cleveland. Which he did, which gives me hesitation. Sandy Alomar Jr. I've heard nothing but good things about. So I'm intrigued by him as a candidate But now on to why I believe in Girardi.

    Girardi as many have already mentioned does have those leadership qualities. He will never back down when it comes to defending his players. Also his media relations skills are far superior to Sveum. So there should be fewer tire fires in the media to put out. The player development questions are fair ones, but are we sure how any manager handles young players. It doesn't seem like Girardi is opposed to playing young players. Also the Yankee farm system is a joke I don't think we can leave that on Joe's feet. Here's the thing that sold it for me. The Yankees this year fell apart at the seams. To get 85 wins out of a team with a crumbling bullpen and a lineup almost as weak as the Cubs is a miracle. This season proved to me that Girardi is more than just a creation of Yankee money. Maybe I don't give enough credit to Cashman. But that's why I lean towards going for Girardi.

  • In reply to Sean Holland:

    All good points Sean. Looks like Girardi got his offer. Let's see what happens in the next few days.

  • I think UCanDoIt has the best summary of for what Theo and Jed were looking. When Theo was originally talking about "The Cub Way," my immediate thought was "the existing one is losing." His aim seems more like what the Twins claim they have--that everyone from rookie league to major league have the same training and understanding of how to play the game. However, I don't know who can perform that task for the Cubs (and apparently Theo didn't the first time either).

    Now that the team is down to the core (and despite what someone challenged me a few days ago, all the newspaper articles include Barney), the first task would be getting the core to performing at a consistent high level, and then instill that on the players coming up.

  • I've only been coming here a few days (I do know a couple of the posters from other places), so I'm still feeling things out. So far, I've seen baseball talk and none of the silliness common to so many places.

    That's a good thing.

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    In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Amen to that.

  • In reply to GAHillbilly:

    Thank you. I think it's amazing how much we can all learn from each other when we respect each other's opinions, even when we completely disagree.

  • Really cool article. The effort John puts into all of his work deserves the effort we all put into the comments. It's what makes this place unique.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Thanks. it's much appreciated.

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    Great article John. Development is an ongoing process that doesn't stop at AA or AAA. Very few major league players arrive to the show as finished products. It is often not until their third or fourth seasons that you see a player who has hit the point where everything clicks. Indeed, that has been one of the biggest negatives with past regimes is that minor league players were promoted to the major league level but continued to play like AA and AAA players, Felix Pie and Corey Patterson being the perfect examples.

    Then there is the importance of implementing a development system that is repeated at each level and continuing at the major league level. That continuity is what separates teams like the Cardinals from the rest of the pack. Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are prime examples of players who had to adjust on the fly and have yet to make that adjustment.

    Very cool of you to recognize your ever-growing community. I hope you never tire of your tireless efforts to deliver Grade A quality content. Happy weekend, bro. I'm excited to be spending a weekend in Berwyn and Chicago. Blackhawks game tomorrow night and fundraising party for Berwyn Burn Camp. Hopefully we will have a new manager before Monday.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Thanks. You're right next door. I'm actually going to Forest Park tonight to have a drink at Old School Tavern. Stop by if you have the chance.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I may do that. Shoot me an e-mail and I should be in town around 9pm-ish-ish.

  • I went to high school with Joe in Peoria Illinois. Joe was the best athlete in the school, the star all-state qb and all-state catcher.

    I was one year behind Joe in school and skinny cross country runner and golfer. I was paired with Joe for a physics lab and remember being a little nervous on how that might go. I can tell you when I see Joe on tv its like I see the same guy that I worked with in high school. Respectful, businesslike, someone you just like being around. I am not sure Joe is the Madden like SABER king I love in a baseball manager. But Joe is my first choice for the CUBS.

  • In reply to Illini88:

    Cool. Thanks for sharing. I think ultimately, all things considered, he is the best manager available and I'm hoping he's the best fit as well.

  • In reply to Illini88:

    Wonderful insight, Illini88... Thanks so much!!

  • Well, hell, a dozen before me have said it but I want to say it too. This site is unique in its intelligence in both column and comments. Keep on trucking!

  • John... I come for your intelligent, thoughtful posts and stay for the remarkably knowledgeable, respectful responses.

    That you would post a small sampling of thoughts from others who follow you shows a fabulous amount of respect and humility.

    You know how I feel about you... this is for all the rest of the Den's Denizens!! Thanks to all of you from a Cub fan for more than half a century!!! JJN STH since '88 ... Section 235, Row 1

  • I'm still not sold on Girardi as manager,.... but then again - I'm not running a team, building a talent pool, and trying to find the 'right' leader for a bunch of developing kids.

    If they bring in Girardi (or for that matter whomever they bring in) I hope that the pitching coaches, and the defensive coaches are retained. The hitting this last season may have been a disaster - but the wonders worked with Wood, and the progress made in assembling that bullpen as the year went on were fairly remarkable.

    We could definately do far worse that Girardi.

  • John, what's this business about the Maddux brothers getting involved? It has to be just Chicago sportswriters throwing crap out there for the sake of throwing it out there as usual....right? Because if not, whoa, definite new wrinkle.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    Just wrote on that. They are not considered candidates at this time.

  • Bad news John, Phil, the cub reporter is reporting that Jen-Ho Tseng had his first appearance of Instructs League and was hit by a comebacker on his left lower leg and was in so much pain he didn't even retrieve the ball to throw out the base runner... He was helped off the field... Hopefully its not fractured but I don't think we'll see him back in instructs, maybe in Boise next year.

  • In reply to Caps:

    That is very bad news indeed. Was looking forward to hearing how he did this fall.

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    It's gotta be coming up on ten years since Bartman. I should finish my screenplay. But, how about the Mark Prior game against ATL in the 2003 playoffs. Oh how different things could have been.

    I miss Wrigley being that electric.

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    In reply to Michael Canter:

    It will be again soon. The shift in positive energy actually feels real this time.

  • The sentiment that Girardi's record of achievement with prospects might not be as stellar as many people believe is understandable, but the appeal of JG as Cub manager goes way beyond that IMO. In regards to the Pythagorean record of the Marlins, that was Girardi's first gig. I'd argue he's become a much more effective manager today, and a record of 85 wins with a run differential of -27 is quite awesome. And I'm not so certain that a Pythagorean record can be totally attributed to managerial effectiveness anyway- in many cases the extra wins are simply a matter of winning more blow-out games than one-run affairs or vice versa. To me, the selection of the new Cub manager can be summed up in this portion of Theo's statement:

    "We must have clear and cohesive communication with our players about the most important parts of the game. And – even while the organization takes a patient, long view – we must somehow establish and maintain a galvanized, winning culture around the major league club. I believe a dynamic new voice – and the energy, creativity and freshness that comes with this type of change – provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the major league environment we seek."

    Yes, Theo mentioned that player development would be prioritized, but he also said there wouldn't be any universal trait they'd use to evaluate candidates. What is huge is getting that dynamic voice that can establish a winning culture. Girardi's been a world champion as a player and coach, and the Cubs have no players or coaches with that pedigree. That's why JG is needed, and I'd argue that snagging him from the Yankees would send a clear jolt to the Cubs and signal a new winning culture for the organization.

  • If he were available, hiring a guy like Bob Melvin would be perfect. Excellent motivator. I believe if we want this to be our long term answer at manager, we have to find someone who is really good at motivating the players, and a guy who will hopefully be able to keep bosio and mckay and add more solid coaches to our staff!

  • How is the staff now? What I mean is will they let the new manager fill coaching spots or will theo get rid of some ppl regardless or is it completely up to new manager?

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Theo said it's completely up to the new manager, although they would make "recommendations"

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    Thanks. Will they let some coaches go before they hire a manager?

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    In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    You're welcome. From what I understand, the new manager will be free top retain or dismiss any of the current staff, although Theo said the organization will make "recommendations."

  • Just read a brief report on SB*Nation that the Yankees have (or are rumored to have) just made a 'very generous' contract offer to Girardi that would make him the 2nd highest paid manager (behind Scioscia) in MLB.

    Don't know if anybody else had seen that yet - I assume you all have better things to do on a Friday night than futz around on the internet.

    No word yet whether he has accepted it.

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    In reply to drkazmd65:

    I have heard that the Cubs are wiling to offer Girardi 5 yrs and $30 million. heard from multiple sources more than once.

  • In reply to Mike Partipilo:

    That may be a beginning offer. Could they go to seven years with their offer? Say five years as manager plus two years in an administrative position, That would certainly provide him with security.

  • It's a process-oriented front office. They'll look for a guy who can take the heat. So we know the managerial pick will be thoroughly fetid.

  • I know I'm repeating what so many have already said, but this site is a "shot in the arm" for this old diehard - every single day. John, et. al., you've done a splendid job of not only providing the most extensive info out there, but the culture of the site is nothing short of superior. I also participate in a political forum and the downright hatred is something to behold. Here, it's actual conversation with friendly disagreement being the worst one sees in all but a few exceptions. We all are after the same thing and it's really refreshing to be among people that have experienced the same pain that I have over the years. It helps, believe me. Without even realizing it, John, you have provided therapy to a lot (I would surmise) of wounded souls. Thanks so much!

  • I love the fact that the Cubs are going all in on Girardi, they are not intimidated by the Yankees. I really think this will be a last second decision by Girardi, though I still think Girardi weighing everything will stick with the safe thing....the Yankees. I don't think it will be a smart move, the Yankees are an aging , bloated team with a weak farm system. While I like the Maddus bros....the Cubs are looking for communicators now , who can talk with players....which leaves them out.

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