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I Take it Back!!!
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
bernie and torre The only person more hurt by the minor league offer than Bernie is Torre...aka the most sensitive soul in sports

A few weeks ago, I confessed that despite my love for Bernie I felt it was time for the Yanks to let the guitar-weilding outfielder go in favor of more pitchers and a younger core. I explained that while Bernie has proved that he is certainly capable of continuing to be productive, the Yankees have no need for another outfielder - - Melky is more than capable of serving as the 4th man - - and going with 12 relievers rather than another bench player simply makes better sense. It broke my heart to admit it, but I was confident that the time had come to let the Bernie era end. I thought it was a kind gesture that the Yankees offered him a minor league deal and a spring training invite to allow him to compete for a roster spot, but I thoroughly expected Bernie to make a retirement announcement imminently.

Fast forward one month, and I am choking on my words. Bernie has turned down the minor league deal and declined to show up to Spring Training, and he has been very vocal about his hurt feelings and choice to keep holding out for a guaranteed roster spot with the Yanks. Everyone from Torre to Jeter to Cano has expressed their support and desire for Sir Bernie to give the Spring Training gig a shot, but the rest of the crew has shown up in Tampa to begin getting in shape and there's no Bernie in sight. Surprisingly, despite my past convictions, I find myself feeling incredibly sad about these recent turn of events.

bern bernie bernI pride myself on being as objective as possible in my fandom, eschewing emotions for strategy, and am generally more than happy to ditch a veteran (sorry, Tino Martinez) to usher in a youngster. When the Yankees made the decision to remove Bernie from daily center field duty after the 2005 season, I was happy with the decision and even excited about the signing of Damon (although it did mean I had to learn to stop calling him "Demon"). Like many people, I considered the 2006 season to likely be the last season Bernie would play not just with the Yankees, but for any team.

I suppose I am a bit more sentimental than I originally thought, though, because now that the Yankees have all but written dear Bernabe off I find myself inexplicably changing my stance to one of staunch bring-back-Bernie support! Unlike some supporters who contend that the Yankees "owe" a roster spot to Bernie in honor of his loyalty and legendary contributions to the team over the past 16 years (including a .275 lifetime post-season average and lifetime .990 fielding percentage), I actually feel that the Yankees could still benefit from Bernie's skills on the field. His addition to the roster would give the Yankees 3 switch hitters (Posada and Melky are the others) and is in great health and has been throughout his career, meaning he is likely not much of an injury-risk. His numbers of tapered off over the last few years, but he has continued to hit when it really counts: over the past 3 years his average with runners on base with 2 outs is .293 and his post-season average since 2000 is .278.

bernie rookieNow that I've copped to being an emotional little baby, I must remind you that I am not impractical. I recognize that with the Yankees' current plan of a platoon at 1st base and a reliever-heavy pitching roster, there is logistically no room for a 5th outfielder/pinch hitter. This is not to say that finding a spot for Bernie would be impossible, though. Theoretically, though I like Andy Phillips, the Yankees could forgo the platoon and use Mientky and Giambi as the 1st base handlers; another option would be choosing to go with one fewer reliever. I'm not 100% sold on either of those ideas myself, but they are options. Had Bernie opted to accept the minor league deal, it is possible that he would have been brought up to the active roster at some point during the year if the platoon did not pan out or in the case of another injury, like last year...but alas, Bernie's pride won out and I highly doubt he will relent on his current "no thanks" stance.

Ideally, Bernie will either choose to accept the minor league offer and show up at Spring Training (albeit a day or two late), or else he will retire and show up on opening day as some sort of coach. Certainly I am not alone in the feeling that seeing him in another team's uniform would break my heart....after all, I am practical, but not unemotional.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, February 21, 2007  
13 Comments:
  • At 10:15 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    I'm gonna miss Bernie, but theres not much we can do for him. Even if we didn't have Melky, you think a guy who spent 16 years in pinstripes would want such a bit part like that? Idk...All I do know is I will definatly miss Bernie, and I will MORE than definatly be at opening day in the bleachers, and when that roll call is over I'm standin my ass up and I'm gonna get that whole stadium to chant "Ber-nie Will-iams" the whole inning. You just watch, it'll happen.

     
  • At 9:51 AM, Blogger Maryland Orioles' Fan said…

    Good work! Gave you some love on my blog ... Hope all is well and God bless the Yankees for the world of content they have given us...

     
  • At 11:07 AM, Blogger randy said…

    the bernie issue has now morphed into a much larger problem for the yankees.
    with bernie, mariano rivera has now seen how cashman will handle a veteran that thinks he doesn't need. mo has, because of seeing cashman's attitude with bernie, demanded a long term contract or else. posada sees it also. he'll do the same at some point.
    the problem the yankees now have is simply that cashman's new found power has gone to his head.
    though it may seem unrelated to the present bernie issue and though not many fans know about this, another example of cashman's lack of baseball smarts that has hurt the yankees is his firing of neil allen as the yankee bullpen coach after the 2005 season. cashman did not think allen was doing enough in the bullpen. the problem with cashman's opinion is that it was neil allen while at columbus who taught chien-ming wang the grip for his sinker that overnight changed wang from an average minor league pitcher to a stud. sal fasano was the triple a catcher when this happened and he gave all the credit to allen. wang backed it up. how could any coach have contributed more than than allen considering that wang won more games than anyone in baseball last year? yet cashman inexplicably fired him . cashman tends towards the statistical dogma that a lot of other young gms that haven't played the game have. cashman replaced allen with joe kerrigan who focuses on coaching based on stats. all that allen focused on was producing 19 game winners.
    cashman will continue making similar bad decisions like the one with firing allen, his handling of bernie, his ticking off mariano,etc. because he has more power than his baseball knowledge warrants.
    cashman's new found arrogance reminds me of theo epstein's handling of johnny damon when theo wanted to get younger and cheaper. we know how that worked out. the yankees should be about being good, not about being younger and cheaper.
    the connection between cashman's treatment of williams,rivera,and allen is that cashman thinks he knows best when he doesn't. the yankees are bigger than cashman and can overcome his bad decisions, but the sooner yankee fans get on his case the better. cashman can be useful ,but not when he thinks he knows it all.
    i personally hope bernie gets so revved up about his treatment by cashman that he signs with another team and adds to his already lofty career totals. bernie can still play, and there are plenty of teams that could use his veteran championship experience.

     
  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Randy-

    I think your argument is pretty good, but there are some flaws in it. I agree with the fact the Yankees could have handled Williams' siduation a lot better, but Bernie could have too. A selfless player will do what is good for the team, and do whatever he can do to help the team, whenever he can. You can still see some players doing this way past their prime, in Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson. These two are long retired but still come to Yankees spring training to help and see what they can do. By declining the spring training invite, he proves that he isn't willing to do anything for the Yankees, he won't fight for a spot that is realisticly there. Torre has said that he might not take either Josh Phelps or Andy Phillips. If Bernie cane to spring traing, hit better than Phillips and Phelps, like we know he can, how could he not have a spot? But as I said in my previous comment, even if he does get a spot on the team, it would only be a bit part, ast year was a freak seaosn as two starting outfielders were out most of the year, so who knows if Bernie could even take only begin a bit plaayer for a whole season? If neither outfielder got injured, I think the idea of Bernie being on another team would have came much quicker. For your argument comparring Bernie to Damon....Come on, "getting younger" in Damons case ment "We dont trust your arm so we won't risk 52 mil on you, but will risk 100 mil next season", getting younger in the Yankees case is Melky, 21, is younger than Bernie, 38. As for the Yankees getting "Younger and cheaper", hoooold up, the Yankees are still the highest payrol in baseball, and Steinbrenner is willing to use whatever money nessecary to get what is needed. Getting cheaper is not, and will most likely never will be a problem for the Yankees. Getting younger I think is an extremly smart move on Cashman's part, it is a path the Yankees haven't been on in a while, and it might just be the way to get them out of their World Series "Drought" if you can call it that. The only difference between the Yankees bringing up young talent, and a team like the Marlins bringing up young talent, is that when the Yankees bring up young talent, they stay there. Jeter, Mo, Posada, Williams, these guys were the core of what made the Yankees great. As for the Neil Allen thing, I really can't say that I know the siduation too well, Cashman said to step it up in the 2005 mid season, and Allen didn't. I can understand he struck gold in Wang, but if you don't do your job you can't keep going back to the one gret thing you did. If you could, Aaron Boone would have more money than his brother Bret.....Alright bad example. Point is, Cashman is the GM and he will make the desicions, thats what he is paid for. If he doesn't deliver a WS soon however, it might not be his job anymore. Would you argue that Cashman should keep his job because he helped create the 96-00 teams? Other than that...I don't think there is much else.......You just wait for opening day...(Ber-nie Will-iams....Ber-nie Will-aims.....)

     
  • At 7:09 PM, Anonymous nyyfaninlaaland said…

    If I've said this here before I apologize, but I'm older than most of you and we forget.

    I hear a lot of Yanks fans banging on Bernie for not taking the invite and making an effort. The constant we all seem to agree on is his class. And yet there's little questioning of the lack of class on the orgs part in this situation. A minor league invite! A lifetime Yank who might have the last plaque placed on the wall of Monument Park in the House that Ruth Built has to go out by declining a minor league invite? Would Baltimore have given Ripken a minor league invite for his finale?

    You give him a major league deal (DFA Bean or Reese, I don't think earth's rotation will stop) for a $mil. Tip money for this org, and who deserves a bigger tip - he earned the money over and above the $1.5 he got last season by bailing us out from May thru Aug., over which period he hit .302. Hmmmm, sounds washed up to me.

    If it wasn't gonna work, Bernie would do the classy thing and hang 'em up. Now he's insulted, and rightfully so. We didn't give him a dignified way out. And likely he would have made it, beating out AP (who gives a ___ about Phelps). Giambi has to play a little 1B? Fine, it reminds him how to put on a glove for NL park interleague and Series games, and gives Melky, Bernie, or a resting OF a handful of games to DH.

    As it is I'm worried Melky's not going to get enough PT - he's 22 and needs to play to keep developing. "Defensive replacement", which we also don't really need, is not a 22 yr olds job. Our 3 OF's have each historically played almost every game when healthy. Maybe he should go to AAA to play, get some time in right which is the first potential opening and where he didn't play much in NY. Anybody gets hurt, we do the Mirabelli police escort thing and whisk him from Scranton to the Big Apple. Frankly, Melky shouldn't start instead of any of the 3, that doesn't make us better, and it's not like these guys are Julio Franco with great-grandchildren! Damon's the oldest at 33, Matsui's 2 weeks older than Jeter. I wish I was near their age.

    Pete Abraham at LoHud among others argues Bernie's "not suited to be a reserve", pointing out his .237 BA in Sept. when playing less. That he hit .317 in Aug with all of 5 more AB's, well... No "baseball instincts" (what's he been doing for 16 years?), can't bunt (Cairo's job, and Melky's even worse), not a pinchrunner (Cairo's other job).

    Bernie, bring your guitar and play us a tune on the bench. Keep everybody calm. We should be nicer to the guy.

     
  • At 9:11 PM, Blogger randy said…

    brian
    i credit bob watson and gene michael for laying the foundation for the 1996-2000 run. the tampa faction had so much power that cashman functioned more like an assistant manager during this time. i agree with you that bernie could have come into spring training and torre would have given him every chance to make the team. i wish he would have,but i think he sees through cashman because he's the one in cashman's sights. veteran players can't say it, but do you really think they respect cashman the way he has handled bernie and mo? rivera went to him for an extension and cashman didn't even get back to him. if that doesn't show cashman's true colors i don't know what does. younger and cheaper is his new stated mantra. we're talking about rivera here still at a high level in his career. that's what i was referring to when i compared cashman to theo with his underestimating the value of damon. if cashman takes mo to the brink i think mo will walk just like damon did with the red sox.as a yankee fan do you want to take that chance? yankee fans need to get on cashman to get him to snap out of it and show some respect to core veteran players before it's too late. bernie, mo, posada, and jeter are core championship players who deserve the right to go out on their own terms. these players come once in a generation. they define a team and the way it plays. bernie is just the tip of the iceberg. nyyfan is right that the orioles wouldn't have treated ripken this way. bernie unfortunately is done with the yankees . cashman has seen to that. but what about rivera and posada? what about jeter sooner than you think? do you want someone like cashman making that decision?
    cashman went from maybe not having enough power to now having too much. how about a balance where players who have played the game have more input in this organization? bob watson and gene michael both were players before they were gms. as i said before, it was them and not cashman who set up the championship run. taking the tampa faction where there is a lot of real baseball experience out of the equation may have been a mistake. maybe cashman needs them to keep him from extremes.

     
  • At 12:14 AM, Anonymous nyyfaninlaaland said…

    Randy - while I'm bugged by the Bernie treatment, I don't really lay this all at Cashman's feet. Your point about the '90's dynasty predating him development-wise may be valid, but I think Cash has largely done a very effective job, and increasingly so through to today. Actually that's why I'm kind of surprised by Bernie's treatment, and I think there's more here than meets the eye.

    Look, we're about the most spoiled baseball fans there are, that we could whine so about the Series despite 9 straight division championships, 12 straight playoffs. Baseball is nothing like the 20's to 60's. No free agency, no player draft back then. You signed, you stayed, and scouts found & signed everybody. The Yanks had a built in structural advantage - as a player, if you thought you were the best, you wanted to be a Yankee to prove it.

    What the Yanks did in '96 to '00 might not be seen again. That was the fluke. That we and Atlanta did what we've done was amazing. The money sure helped.

    But getting back to Cashman, I don't think the players are nieve, they know how it is. It's kind of nice, and a bit quaint, that some of the Yanks vets are speaking up as they are. Bernie clearly doesn't want to move on, and might not have an option. But the Mo thing is a calculated risk, just like Schilling with the Sox today. Why commit before you must. The fact is you might have to pay more by waiting, but it's big injury risk avoidance. The player may negotiate in the media, it's to be expected. If Mo's effective (a little if I think), we'll sign him. Obviously I believe Mo wants to stay as well. Same with Jorge, but he's a 35 year old catcher. The second highest paid in baseball at $12 mil (behind Kendall, a FA after this year) and has a player option, and only 4 other catchers make over 1/2 what he does. Extend him now? I think waiting is prudent. Look things are really gonna get shaken up in '09 and '10. But the new Stadium opens in '09, we can't suck that year, so any holes will be plugged, and Cano, Jeter, A-Rod (maybe), Matsui, Damon, Cabrera, Wang, Igawa are all signed/controlled through then. Jorge and Mo know what it means and probably want to be there for it, but Bernie just wasn't gonna make it. But thanks to a better draft approach and a greater willingness to promote - given the recent successes and the coming need, and with lots of close pitching prospects we're in pretty good shape. The trades of Johnson, Sheff, and Wright were really good for moving forward.

    And come on with the Jeter thing - he's virtually a deity in NY. The only guy we've seen that could get the big headstone. A single digit Yankee! He's going nowhere. George Steinbrenner himself would get tossed before him.

    In Yankee lore, almost the same with the Sox, there's your lifers and your big splashers. Contrary to your Theo take, Damon was a splasher - they loved him, and he was there in '04 - THE YEAR - but he's no Yaz. Murcer's a lifer. Reggie was a big splasher for the Yanks - Munson was the lifer. Clemens - toe dipper. Jeter, Posada, Mo are lifers. Only Pettitte was let go from that mold recently - a dive back in splasher?

    Bernie is a lifer. We could have treated Bernie better, and should have.

     
  • At 6:56 AM, Blogger randy said…

    nyyfan-the problem with cashman is that he appears to have gotten carried away with his new found power. if the bernie fiasco is an aberration, while unfortunate, then it's no big deal long term, but i think the treatment of bernie is the new cashman. really good organizations have a way they do things. there used to be an oriole way. there is now a twin's way that permeates their organization. this way of doing things is passed on by long time coaches and the core players. what is the yankee way? it's a hard thing to define, but bernie understood it. all the core players get it. that's why they are core players. i honestly don't believe cashman gets it. some general managers think they are the center of things. others realize they are part of a team. terry ryan with the twins is that kind of gm. theo is the other kind that thinks management is more important than the players or coaches. the player turnover at boston shows this. the organizations i like are the white sox ,the twins, and the mets. they all have gms who understand they are not the center of the baseball universe. two of the three played the game which is no coincidence. look at how united the mets are with minaya, randolph,and rick petersen . all are there for long term. look at the yankees. torre and all his coaches are all on a short leash. don't forget stottlemyre being dumped from the organization too. the treatment of coaches and players by management behind the scenes isn't so obvious to the casual fan , but it's what sets the tone for an organization. right now cashman is sending out the wrong message.
    nyyfan, you obviously have a good sense of history with the yankees and a good read on the team, but the one thing i don't understand is you thinking that it's a good strategy for cashman to take mariano down to the wire before extending him. it's not the same situation as with shilling. shilling is a mercenary . cashman should extend rivera asap and send a strong message to the organization that the yankees take care of the players and coaches who get it.
    all this said about cashman , i think the yankees are loaded. the offense is a powerhouse,and the pitching may be surprisingly strong. the personal trainer who helped pavano this winter trained justin morneau,freddie sanchez, and wang last year. i'm hoping he gets similar results with pavano. pettite seems like he's going to take pavano under his wing. pavano just might be the surprise of the year.

     
  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Randy-

    You do put up a good arguement, and everytime I read your comments I hate Cashman a little more... But you are putting too much enphisis on the player and not the team. Cashman's job is to make the team better, not make every player happy, not to listen to the fans points of view, and not to make this personal. Baseball is a business where players come and go. You knwo what I'd give to live back in the 1900's when Ruth, Joe Jackson, Geireg played? No free agency? No massivle amounts of money? It would be god-like. Unfortuatly, we live in a lucritive world, and because of it this like this happen.

    You can't compare Bernie to Mo. Bernie reminds me kind of like Mattingly. A great player, should be a hall of famer, but personally, I don't think he is going to get there. Mo is a sure fire hall of famer, there is no one in the Yankees system that can save more games than him, and he is a lifetime Yankee. Those factors will keep him in pinstripes. Bernie was fizzled out by more productive players, its not as simple as "Just send Melky down to AAA for Bernie." You think it is fair to keep Melky out just to give Bernie a spot? You also cant compare time in the minors to time in the majors, you just cant. pitching is TOTALLY different, and so is the defence since Melky would be playing in a different park. The Yankees have an option to not sign Abreu and put Melky in right in '08, the time in the majors is invaluble if that siduation holds true. Cashman is trying to save his own ass in the Mo siduation. Look at what happend to Sheiffeild, he wanted an extention before the '06 season and he got injured. you know how much s*** Cashman would have gotten if he signed Sheff? Baseball is a geussing game, you make good and bad desicions, on and off the feild. If the Yankees dont sign mo, and he becomes a free agent, then in '08 he brakes down, who looks smarter than Cashman? Would you sign Rivera if when this year is all said and done, he saves 10 games and blows 15? Of course wed have to live in another universe for that to happen, thats like...if the Red Soxgame bac down 3-0 in the ALCS.........Fu***d up, but it can happen...

    ...Look, I'm gettin too into the what-if games, the basic point is, Bernie is in the drivers seat, if he wanted a spot on the roster he would fight for it if he had to, or atleast he SHOULD fight for it, but instead he is rolling over and dying. He is just going to wait for someone to get injured instead of standing up and taking the spot he KNOWS he can get? That doesn;t sound like the Bernie I know and loved for years, and to tell you the truth, thats not the kind of Bernie I want on my team. Again, i am in NO WAY saying I am against Bernie, I will never be agaisnt a Yankee as long as he is in pinstripes...But for now....and for the first time in a while...Bernie isn't.

    Good point on Watson n Michael btw.

     
  • At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Big Papirazzi said…

    Why is there no post here on the A-Rod/Jeter saga?

    Come on Yankee Chick, we can never get enough of the Yankee equivalent of Brittney Spears and Justin Timberlake can we?

    "When Man Love Fades"
    http://www.bat-girl.com/archives/001805.php

     
  • At 7:12 PM, Blogger YankeesChick said…

    Big P, good call. Fear not, tomorrow's post will certainly feature the A-Rod - Jeter breakup!!!

     
  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger Fenway Blogger said…

    Great debate here! Hopefully your not all grinding your teeth over my login name. Yes! I am a Red Sox fan, but I am always happy to see fans of any team loyalty reacting. I appreciate the concern over Bernie and Cashman. Fortunately or unfortunately it obviously is a business. I would hope that the likes of Jeter,Rivera and Posada would be calling Bernie to urge him to report to camp. They all might be serving their own interests down the road on that. You all know Torre cares about Bernie and would make a case for him. As for GM's you could have a guy like Theo who won't give Damon $13 mil a year, passes on Abreu and then signs "DL" Drew for $14 million/5years a year later! Drew may work out for the Sox with his Fenway swing and improved D, but he has an ego as big or bigger than Curt Schillings waistline! Seems like a player interested in his self vs his team. We all know the phrase there is no "I" in team! Let the games begin!

     
  • At 1:39 PM, Anonymous nyyfaninlaaland said…

    Fenway - gotta love someone from any fan background that will step up and admit their team isn't always right.

    Brian and Randy, obviously we're conflicted in this situation. I don't think Melky should be sent down, but I also don't think sitting on the Yankee Stadium bench makes him a better player, and I don't think he should start ahead of any of the 3 current OF's to any appreciable degree. But I don't see choosing Bern over him this season as unfair - Melky's got his whole career ahead, Bernie's strolling off into the sunset. Melky still needs developing; playing in AAA is better for him than sitting in the majors. Again, I'd argue that to be ready to replace Abreu in '08 he needs to play more RF - that was Bernie's job last year, and remember Melky's debut in right vs. the Sox in his '05 cup of coffee - I'm sure Mr. Torre does. Bernie is now suited to bench duty. Even if my approach was somehow followed, I expect Melky could get a significant amount of PT for the Yanks - that's actual playing time - in case of 1 or more DL appearances (let's hope it doesn't happen, but we're lucky to have the Melk at the ready). My true preference would be for the multiple 1B situation to be replaced by Bernie's presence. There's the real improvement. But my feeling is that Bernie shouldn't be forced to publicly earn it at this stage and after a decent performance last year - give him a guaranteed contract, but if he can't cut it the hard conversation has to take place - in private.

    I'm not a fan of kicking guys to the curb, especially still highly functional guys like Mo. I wasn't particularly happy when Andy P. left, but I don't lay that only at Cash's door either - it appeared Andy wanted to be closer to home. Maybe home is where the rings are. I wouldn't have a problem with extending Mo now, but I don't have a problem with waiting. We've seen significant demos of players being pushed to the contract time limit but opting to stay (Matsui), and Bernie doesn't seem eager to go elsewhere. I frankly expect similar with Mo and Jorge. You don't see Jorge saying "Nobody has an advantage" like Mo tossed out lately. Why no bitch at Mo for a "lack of loyalty"? It's a 2 way street; if he really wants to stay like he says, we've got time even after the season to get the deal done. As he said "I know the Yankees respect me". But he's negotiating! He's got leverage, Bernie has much less. And that's part of the biz.

    What Cashman knows is that in '10 and '11 the current group will be unraveling, and he has to prepare for that too. He's got the prospect chips in place to fill the gaps between now and then, and has amply demo'd his willingness & ability to do so in the past. And some will hopefully develop into the homegrown Yankee core of the next decade. Successfully navigating that transition won't be easy - but at least he's planning for it, and in the right way, by spinning off the "mercenaries" (Johnson, Sheff, Wright). I'm reasonably comfortable on balance with the approach. Let's remember it's Cashman who appears to have argued successfully for Torre's retention. He doesn't operate in a vacuum, given his Boss. None of the other 3 GM's you mention have that hanging over their head. And we are nothing like the Twins, who must rely on significnat internal player development to remain competitive. I have all the respect I could for Ryan, it's just a non-comparable environment. The Mo sitch is the perfect example - the Yanks could eat the $10 - 12 mil for a couple of years if Mo blew out, which given his mechanics, limited pitch repertoire, and history seems pretty unlikely. That would be a disaster in Minny.

    As for Schilling, he's Boston's other Damon, the adopted and favored son. They love him up there - his "I won't go to the Yanks" is just what they love to hear, given the Boggs, Clemens, Damon (who said the same) stories. You have to remember how big '04 was to them - anyone part of that is a legend in Boston, who more so than Mr. Bloody Sock. But perhaps even his act is getting stale, given F.B.'s comments.

     
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