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Friday Wakeup Call: Fourteen

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

>> The Friday column is about Jarome Iginla, the Penguins and the false notion of this extra pressure.

>> Meanwhile, in that big yellow box Uptown …


It’s 14


As in, 14


Which is to say, 14 and ALL IN, as our talented cover designer Matt Rosenberg deftly illustrated …

Three to go to tie the NHL record, and the roster is only about to get just a bit stronger.

But, as the column advocates, don’t forget about those who brought the team here, notably Pascal Dupuis, who now is tied with Steven Stamkos for even-strength goals at 15. Game coverage is by Josh Yohe.

Much more news coverage on the Iginla trade by Rob Rossi.

And, of course, our nightly no-frills video analysis …

>> There are some NHL teams that match up well against the Penguins. It is very safe to say that Winnipeg’s beloved Jets are not among them.

>> Say what? Steelers and a feature running back? Anyone?

>> Fertilizer issues at PNC Park?

>> Rushel Shell in or out at Pitt?

>> This was yesterday’s chat transcript. By conducting it right here on the blog, by the way, we had record participation. Great to see. Thanks to all who hopped aboard.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.


  1. ALL IN. For sure. As electric as this thing is right now, it almost hurts to wait 48 hours between games! Can’t wait to watch this team jell.

    Hope someone is paying attention on the other side of town.

    DK: If it makes you feel any better, it’ll be less than 48 hours. Faceoff is 1:08 p.m. Saturday vs. Isles.

  2. A few silly thoughts:

    - Since the Malkin-Neal-Morrow line seemed to work just as well/better than any of the previous Malkin-Neal-* lines, it’ll need a name; I propose the “MNM Line”. (Ah. Ha. Ha.)

    - Douglas Murray plays like a certain other “Swedish linebacker”:

  3. Been following this the part few days. Neal’s take is exactly what any professional should feel “You strive in your career to have that kind of pressure. We’ve got the pieces right now to be a great team, and we’ve got that hunger.”

    You know everyone’s bringing their A-game to the ice after today and our team sounds ready to meet the challenge.

  4. If I go to sleep will I wake up in the morning with my car gone and a junior Yale center in my driveway?

    I’m scared.

  5. Just waiting until 1:31. Then it will be safe to go to bed.

  6. *Pens
    - Unreal trade to acquire Jarome Iginla for the equivalent of Ross Lupaschuk, Michal Sivek, and Kris Beech. Ouch Calgary and poor Boston, left at the altar again.

    - After watching Morrow play so well, drive the net, hammer the corners on a line with Malkin and Neal, I’m fine with Bylsma’s initial thoughts of keeping the Crosby, Kunitz and Dupuis line in tact. It would be wise to leave those two lines alone and have Sutter center Cooke and Iginla.

    - Iginla could get 14-16 minutes per game, taking 1-2 shifts per period with Crosby and Kunitz. Bylsma did it last night with Crosby, Malkin, and Kunitz and the game before with Crosby, Kunitz and Neal. I see no reason why Iginla and Dupuis can’t do the same. There’s no doubt, he’ll see time on the first or second power play unit as game situations probably dictate when Bylsma decides to load up on the man-advantage.

    - Douglas Murray provided a strong 18 minutes last night, blocking one, two hits, and two shots on goal. He’s not the fastest skater but he doesn’t have to be. He has to know when to pinch, when to back off, and when to slide from the wall to the middle. It is a wise decision by Bylsma (say what?) to pair him with a quality puck-moving mobile defenseman like Matt Niskanen.

    - Based on what Bylsma likes from his fourth line and penalty-kill rotation, I really can’t imagine him wanting to take Craig Adams and Tanner Glass out of the lineup, which leaves one spot for Joe Vitale, Tyler Kennedy, Beau Bennett, and Dustin Jeffrey.

    - Vitale’s 63% faceoff numbers are outstanding and as much as I dearly want to see Bennett in the lineup because he’s learning to be a professional two-way winger, can’t see it happening this year.

    - Kennedy is a good candidate to be traded because the team needs to get back a draft pick (maybe 3rd or 4th round value) or two after trading away their 1st (’13) and 2nd (’13/’14) in the last week.

    - That leaves the forward lines to look something like…
    Kunitz – Crosby – Dupuis/Iginla
    Morrow – Malkin – Neal
    Cooke – Sutter – Iginla/Dupuis
    Glass – Vitale – Adams
    Scratches: Jeffrey – Bennett

    - Defense pairings, figure go something like
    Orpik – Martin
    Despres/Eaton – Letang
    Murray – Niskanen
    Scratch: Eaton/Despres – Bortuzzo – Engelland

    - Burnett, Rodriguez, McDonald, Sanchez, and Locke as opening day rotation. (All In)
    - Liriano, Karstens, Morton and Cole can’t get healthy soon enough for 95 to happen.
    - If I’m the Pirates, I start Sanchez at 1B and Jones in RF
    - Huntington and Hurdle handing a scholarship to Snider is concerning

    - When Ahmad Bradshaw is exciting your fans, you’ve got RB problems.
    - Emmanuel Sanders still unsigned. I’m thinking Pats wait until last day to sign him.

    *Pitt football
    - Rushel Shell needs time. I hope for this young man’s sake, whatever is going on isn’t the result of recruiting by other schools or adults feeding him bad information. If he wants NFL career to help support his kids, not sure transferring to another school is the way to go as it does nothing but delay his development by a year. If he wants to leave Pitt, I don’t agree with it but some people shouldn’t make this to be the end of the Paul Chryst era, somehow blaming him for the situation.

    * Two weeks until I’m in sunny Florida…. I bet Drew is preparing a parade for me?

    ….oh yeah “Fire Bylsma”

    • I don’t know if Bradshaw is even exciting me, but I agree with the point you are making. (Still, I hold out hope that Dwyer can be more productive with a more stable O-line in 2013. I don’t think Bradshaw would do any better if our O-line still isn’t winning it in the trenches.)

    • I almost always agree with you, Eric, but I don’t think you trade for Jarome Iginla and put him on the third line. And I say this as a huge fan of Pascal Dupuis, who has developed into a fantastic player and epitome of a Pittsburgh Penguin. His speed and skill on the third line turn them into a scoring threat and give Jarome a spot he deserves–a chance to play with Sid.

  7. The last time the Pirates came even close to being all in was when they traded for Shawon Dunston. But I’ll cling to the recent good outings by Jeff Locke and his 2.63 ERA for this spring. The games may not count for much, but Locke did, in fact, separate himself from McPherson. I don’t know what next to say about this without sounding silly — these are the Pirates, after all — so I’ll just leave it at that.

    • I too was pleased by Locke’s outing. The proto-typical thing would have been a collapse and shelling. And he IS a lefty. That counts for something…

    • Shawon Dunston reference? Did not wake up this morning thinking I’d read a Shawon Dunston reference. Quite a memory!

      I got laughed at here for saying this last year, but Jeff Locke did not pitch as bad as the box score looked. He was above league average in K’s, below league average in walks, and right at league average in hitters allowed to reach base. The one thing he was awful at was keeping the ball in the park, giving up 6 HR in 34 IP.

      This spring he’s given up 1 HR in 27 IP.

      I don’t expect him to put up a sub-3 ERA, heck I don’t even expect him to be sub-4. But if he can continue to keep the ball in the yard, he’ll be absolutely fine in the back of the rotation.

  8. As a Rangers fan I hope every night they can hold onto eighth place and make the playoffs. And for what? To meet up with this incredible Penguins team? The only way the Rangers could win an opening-round series now is for Hank the stand on his head and win four games one to nothing, and we know that is not going to happen.

    • The Pirates have a better shot of winning the World Series than the Pens getting shut out four times in the same playoff round.

      That said, I just hope they don’t get too full of themselves or get burned out because of this winning streak. This is the best team they’ve had talent-wise since that 92-93 team.

  9. After watching the Vancouver Olympics and the pressure that Sid faced daily…mass press conferences, carrying his Country on his back as one of the alternate Captains and ‘face of the team” including winning two games, the one in a shoot out with half his Country watching, and the second the golden goal with virtually the whole Canadian population watching….I don’t think it is possible to have MORE pressure and would hazard to say that Sid is more than up to the challenge of Penguins Management expectations for a Cup without breaking a sweat.

  10. JAL’s The Greatest Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Season Preview: The Infield

    Pirate City Results: Pimentel Continues to Impress, Cole Gets Work Bunting

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Will the Bucs be Better this Year? A final look at PECOTA Projections

    7 City of Champions

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Could this be A.J. Burnett’s final ride?

    8 Rant Sports

    Alex Presley One of Several Cuts For Pittsburgh Pirates

    9 Rumbunter

    MLB Bold Predictions 2013: Thirty Teams, Thirty Predictions

    10 Green Weenie

    Bucs End On Upbeat Note; Edge Yankees 2-1

  11. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Yahoo Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates’ Projected Opening-Day Lineup–mlb.html

    12 Beyond the Box Score

    2013 Team Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates

    13 Patriot News

    Playoffs or bust for the Pittsburgh Pirates?: 2013 NL Central preview

    14 KDKA

    Pirates GM Talks Roster, Gerrit Cole & Opening Day

    15 Bleacher Report

    Pittsburgh Pirates Season Preview: Relief Pitchers

    16 Altoona Mirror

    Curve ready to host Pirates

    17 ESPN

    Previewing the NL Central

    18 PBC SITE

    Pirates poised to push back past, break through

    Locke closes spring with scoreless start vs. Yanks


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    Pre-Season Predictions Staff Picks for 2013

    20 Fangraphs

    Building a Farm: National League Central

  12. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Seahawks Russell Wilson disagrees with Steelers Mike Tomlin

    Should the Steelers pursue Browns knockaround guy Colt McCoy?

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Terrible Podcast: 1ST Round Draft Prospects, Free Agents, Heath Miller, and more


    23 Daily Telegraph

    Roberto Mancini: the title is gone, but I’m staying at Manchester City

    24 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 28th March, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Ray Shero press conference transcript (March 28, 2013)

  13. Bradshaw at running back? Who would replace him at Fox? Just kidding……… this doesnt excite me in the least. Draft should be VERY interesting.

    There have been “fertilizer issues” with the Pirates for 20 years now…………. if you know what I mean.

    Let the 2nd-guessing begin once Iginla arrives, in relation to the setting of the lines.

    I watched the game last night………Winnipeg is leading their division, and they looked like an AHL team against the Pens last night. This team could be scary good……..

  14. Johan Santana for the Mets:
    109 starts
    46 wins
    $137.5 million dollars

    • He stats indicate he gave them roughly 3 pretty good years. His first was Cy Young worthy. Trouble is, it took 4 more years to accumulate 2 years worth of good numbers.

  15. The USA today National League Central preview surprisingly has the Pirates second behind the Reds. They like the Pirates bullpen, but they think PA at the plate is a weakness. They think this team can become a good blend of established and younger players. Most optimistic preview of the season I have seen.

    • Take their logic, tone it down, and it matches my opinion.

      I think this team can become a mediocre to OK blend of established and younger players.

  16. we got so much better in front of the net with Morrow and Murray. They both are like big rocks, one on each end. just wow

  17. “Fertilizer Issues at PNC Park”

    I know what “Fertilizer” means. I thought, Oh Crap. What did they say now?

    But no. It meant FERTILIZER.

    So much for the world of allegory. I guess PNC Park has turned into a reality show.

  18. DK: Something you said in the chat yesterday caught my attention; “Journalists don’t root. There’s no rooting in this business. None. I really hate how much that surprises people.”

    While I understand that your job as a journalist is to be obective you are also human and not a robot. You grew up in Pittsburgh. No one is more passionate about the city than you are. You are also clearly a huge sports fan. Is it really possible to just turn all that off? I mean c’mon, you don’t secretly sit in your seat and root for the home team?

    DK: No. Ask anyone who’s done this.

    • he just won’t admit it. I’m the one who started all that…just bustin on Dejan cuz he has such a soft spot for Winnipeg. And the Pens played the Jets last night…

    • He’ll never admit that even if Florida froze over, so you’re wasting your typing breath.

    • I think he try’s to keep it separate, as a journalist he you have to if you want to give the best coverage possible. Think of it this way, if you have kids and compare them to other kids in public don’t you think we all look at our own through rose covered glasses? Same with sports, if I was covering one of the teams in town I think I would have to forget I am a fan of the team and look at the bigger picture. Who knows he may be a fan of another team and we all know how that would play here on the blog. . JMHO

    • I just made it through this broken mosh pit (formerly known as the blog) to read the chat.

      If you read all the journalist-columnist-editor-press box-Philly Qs and As.

      Putting it ALL together, I think Dejan is saying:

      1. Journalists don’t root
      2. Editors are not journalists.

    • I totally get what DK is saying about rooting.

      But I also can’t help to think that he won’t be happy if the Penguins win the Cup this year. He’ll be happy for Mario, Crosby, Iginla, Shero, the equipment guy. He won’t hoop & holler in the press box or dressing room, but he will be happy—at least on the inside.
      (and NO, he won’t celebrate with a beer either).

      Now if the Pirates win the World Series, with NH and Kyle Stark still employed, all bets are off on regarding rooting or his happiness.

    • Lets put his journalistic ethics to the test. Have the Trib send him to a concert with one of his favorite bands playing, perhaps the Dead Kennedys, and see if he doesn’t cheer when they break into “California Uber Alles.”

  19. Coaches, like journalists, are supposed to remain neutral.

    I coached both my daughter and my son in baseball. I said I was neutral, and even put their names in the batting lineup where they should be and not where as a Dad I would want them.

    Yet when they got a hit or made a good play in the field, my smile was broader, and went all the way down into my heart.

    Dejan’s just shooting blarney . . . . . . he still smiles deep in his soul when McCutch makes a running grab or Garrett Jones drives a ball deep over the Clemente Wall or Karstens throws up a 65 mile an hour curve ball.

    The more he denies it, the less believable it is. It would be like me saying I still don’t have feelings for my ex-wife. (I didn’t say what kind of feelings!)

    • No doubt, you’re right. He just can’t and won’t admit it. Maybe in the bobblehead room with a close friend or family member, but never here or in print anywhere or on Twitwell. Just can’t do it.

      We can read betwixt the lines, though.

      • Happy Easter to you and Groat. Mine won’t be happy, the in-laws are coming. And my brother, the Mets fan. I think I’ll recite Thunder’s stats when I meet him at the door.

        • Thanks, John. You’ll be fine. I feel certain.

        • My happiness in life all revolves around Easter!

          My happiness this weekend focuses entirely on Michigan State and then Louisville. Who drew up these brackets?!?!?!

          Michigan State, then Louisville, then Ohio State, then Kansas . . . . . . . if DUKE can run that gauntlet, they will indubitably (I just wanted to use that word!) be National Champions!!

          “In-laws are just another word for nothing left to lose.” Isn’t that a song?

  20. So DK is still pushing for a Kunitz to the second line situation as I was early in the season.

    her eis the issue. That pushes Morrow to the third line. I don’t think they brought him in to be a third line guy. Morrow showed last night he briongs to that line the work ethic that Kunitz did last year. I really enjoyed watching that line work. That line is set. I am almost certain. Iginla was certainly brought in to play with his old olympic line mate. So that leaves the question…Kunitz or Dupuis. Dupuis has earned it, but so has Kunitz. So lets look at it stylistically. Kunitz is the hard worker. the forechecker. The get to the dirty areas player. Duper is more of a hybrid. Get to the right spot and uses his speed to make things happen. I personally think a player of Kunitz’s style is needed on every single line especially in Bylsma’s tilt the ice forechecking system. Duper is the odd man out.

    But don’t cry for Duper. Cook, Sutter, and Duper sounds like a winner. A lot moreso than Cooke, Sutter, and TK. Though we may see Duper, Sutter, and TK and Cook back to a line with Adams and Vitale/Glass. If it is glass Adams is a natural center.

    • Dupuis leads the National Hockey League (tied with Stamkos) in even strength goals, an over-the-top important statistic in the playoffs.

      Kunitz is 2nd in National Hockey League in points.

      Kick ‘em both down to the 3rd line! Punks! Play Sid and Iggy and Tyler Kennedy as #1 Line.

    • Yes. Don’t cry for Duper.

      He isn’t either.

      In fact he was heard singing Don’t Cry For Me, Our Iginla.

      Ok, that didn’t work.

  21. >>> there was a play last night–among many–that illustrates the caliber of personnel Shero brought in perfectly (and I think BIB telestrated this):

    – Morrow was being his typical obnoxious self in 5-15 feet around the front of the ‘Peg net, jousting with someone, when Depres pinched in, and immediately, Morrow backed up the ice to around the blue line to cover for Depres pinching in. That’s outstanding hockey right there.

    With play like that, I see the CUP going for another swin in Mario’s pool over the summer!

    This time, when I say “Raise it!”, I aint talking about the Jolly Shuttlecock.

  22. Dejan. Who are you rooting for in the NCAA Tournament?

  23. <———- is rooting for Pitt in the NCAA's

  24. I’m gonna love me some college basketball tonight, when my alma mater DUKE goes up against Michigan State at 9:45.

    Syracuse over #1 Indiana and Marquette over #2 Miami last night, plus Ohio State over Arizona. GREAT tournament thus far! Two #1′s gone!!

    DUKE must face consecutively Michigan State, then Louisville, before it gets an easier game against probable Ohio State in Final Four!! (for you, Lucky!) DUKE has already beaten Louisville and Ohio State each once this season——can they do it again? Can they get by Michigan State?

    Can a DUKE/Kansas game for the National Championship be in the offing? DUKE has already beaten Kansas earlier this season. A “one-and-done” tournament for the National Championship surely is exciting!

    The thrill of victory; the agony of defeat!

    • Anybody but Louisville and, God help us, Syracuse.

      • Amen, Oshkosh.
        ____________________________________________________________________Spoke to my nephew this morning who is a graduate of Indiana. Seriously bummed that IU got dumped by the Orange. Me, I’m looking for a final of Wichita State and Florida Gulf Coast! LOL. Hey, why the heck not?

    • Anybody but Kentucky… or Duke… my goodness, groaty, you’d think that way back in November the dookies won it all with a win over a UL team playing without its center. Sheesh…

      And Lucky… enjoy the offseason… what goes around, comes around.

  25. Just a note here to say I am relieved that the folks at the PBC have spared no effort in perfecting a hamburger served between slices of donut with someone’s breakfast dropped on top of it. They have been working on this since August of 2012.

    If only Huntington had that sort of work ethic when it came to putting the starting pitching together…and right field…and the bench…


    • Jose:

      Good to see you my friend!
      Heres to a healthy heart (not eating that thing you described).

      • As if Travis Snider completing the dream outfield, Inge on the bench and whoever the heck is pitching after AJ and Wandy won’t cause/contribute to a little V-tach in the afternoon…

    • I can tell that the BMTIB is losing their touch . . . .

      . . . . . because they made the Jonathan Sanchez made the roster and Jeff Locke as #5 starter news the day BEFORE the big Iginla trade, instead of burying their tepidly received pronouncement on the SAME DAY as Iggy’s entrance——as they normally would.

      Heads will roll on Federal Street.

    • I guess the Pirates want everyone to get a heart attack so it puts the 21 straight losing seasons into perspective.

      • This just in: The PBC has relocated the All You Can Eat seating to avoid fans “sharing” the goodies (courtesy of this morning’s Post-Gazette).

        Good to see that the crack management team at the corner of Federal St and Shambolic Avenue has that laser focus on the really important stuff.


        DK: Our paper covered the same topic, JP, if you’re interested:

        • Same “topic” maybe, but nary a word about moving the all you can eat seats to avoid fan “sharing.”

        • So they drop a gazillion dollars into remaking the McKechnie experience. New concourse behind/above the outfield wall. Very nice. They add, like, 17 new places to buy beer but have the same old crappy 1970s food.

          How about putting some of that new PNC Park gourmet junk food down in Bradenton? The most exciting food they have at McKechnie is a footlong. And maybe the never-warm pulled pork sandwich.


          I want one of those 8,000 calorie burgers that they have up in Pittsburgh.

          Hey it’s Florida. How about a freaking grouper sandwich? Not my thing (assuming it’s fried) but the tourists and visitors would go nuts over something like that.

          No wonder Popi’s Place, the deli right outside McKechnie, is always packed before a game.

          Ok. I’m done whining.

          Well. At least about THIS subject.

        • Thanks, DK, I read that too, but as Arriba pointed out, the Trib guys missed the Big News about moving the All-You-Can-Eat section to Prevent Pilfering! I did not mean to snub the work y’all are doing there…

          To be honest, as far as on-line editions go, I far prefer the Trib. The P-G takes forever to load up…


          DK: Thanks!

        • I gotta admit, though, there were some interesting comments to the PG article:

          “This would be a perfect example of a “WHO CARES?” article. No I didn’t read it, just stopped by to say “Who cares?’”

          “Id eat food out of the Garbage can, as long as the Pirates could finally have a winning season!”


    • No worries. Pirates Charities will hold a fundraiser for heart disease research.

      • Good cause. I’ll root for that.

      • Right after all of those “awareness raising” messages we were going to see from Frank C regarding the dangers of over-indulging in alcohol…

        Maybe they can add a montage of cheese fries and interior views of clogged arteries to DK’s favorite Pirate Charities sign…


        • Speaking of which, I notice PNC doesnt have an “all-you-can-drink” section, in honor of Francois Coonelly………..

          • But last season he was given the task of waxing rhapsodic about the new beer-sponsored bar they had installed in RF. I thought that was a bit tone-deaf on the PBC’s part, but seeing as how being tone-deaf is one of their strengths they should keep playing to it…


            • While visiting last year I went to a summer game, a 10-0 home run bonanza, but still couldn’t make it through the 3rd while being cooked alive. This bar had great shade, TV’s, and a good selection of brews. If only the Pirates put as much thought and money into the team….

    • Stop by more often, Jose. I still read Bob’s stuff, but miss hearing input from guys like you.

      Speaking of the crafty veteran, I loved his line today regarding Travis Snider:
      “He’s done nothing to deserve this job, other than he might be better than the other candidates.”

      Oh, so all he’s done is be better than the other candidates? How dare they start him!

      • I have a feeling that Travis Snider is this years Jeff Clement………..
        a power hitter without power. :(

        • Clement had tons of power. He just couldn’t connect.

          • Good distinction, AW. Snider may very well fit that mold, but it’s just flat out wrong to say he doesn’t have power.

            Every fan on a Pirate blog now magically remembers Jose Bautista showing signs of good power before he was traded. Jose hit a homerun once every 32 PA’s with the Pirates.

            Snider hit one every 25 with the Jays between ’09 and ’10.

            It’s in there, just a matter of if he’ll ever show it.

            • Thanks, but that wasn’t really my point. Clement was more of a power guy who couldn’t hit, but when he did he could hit it a LONG way. Snider, since he’s been with the Pirates, has shown he can hit, just with, at least to this point, non-existent power. I hope it’s in there, but so far he’s looked more like a Matt Diaz who could hit.

            • Unfortunately, it is neither 2009 nor 2010 anymore.


              • I might rephrase that to ” fortunately”. ;-)

                I tell ya, Jose, this year I’m going with the “they are going to win this year or these bozos will be gone” theme. I suspect you probably don’t buy it (that theme) but it’s what I have to hold onto this year.

              • No worries, Arriba. With this team/FO, God only knows what might happen this season…


      • I visit Smiz infrequently now that I cannot comment.

  26. Speaking of the Buckeyes, as Lucky was earlier, I am an Ohio State fan and am rooting for them in the tournament. But I have a dilemma. I’m in the unenviable position of having to root for Michigan – for purely financial reasons.

    I’m in a pool where you draw a number & when it’s your turn to pick you choose a team. I took the Wolverines with the 12th pick. It wouldn’t be a life changing amount of cash or an amount that would get Rick Neuheisel fired, but I’d like to win. I’m fine rooting for them now, but …

  27. Does anyone have an update on Fleury?

  28. Was anyone else impressed with Murray last night?

    Has Morrow showed up yet? Man he’s been a wall flower his first 2 games and looks more like a 3rd line guy.

    After last night I don’t know how you split up that top line. I was all for Iginla on the top line but jeez does that group work well together. Guess we will have to suffer with a Neal-Malkin-Iginla line.

    • I was. Murray has more offensive upside than anyone might have thought.

      Hopefully Morrow is just feeling his way on the team. Must be hard to come to a new team after all the years on one and jump off the ice in everyone’s eyes.

      I’m all for Iginla playing with Crosby but unless that line starts to struggle, I’m fine with him on the Malkin line for now and we’ll see how it goes. If it doesn’t work for him there, then I think you have to move him onto Crosby’s line or getting him just wasn’t worth it. I’m ok with Dupuis not scoring more than if Iginla isn’t. We know Duper can play anywhere, Finding Iginla the proper fit is more of a priority IMO.

      Side note: Interesting that Vokoun got a third star in a shutout. Now, if that was Brodeur, you know he gets the first star no matter if someone got a hat trick and he only stopped 5 shots.

  29. In the last 10 years – 9 different team have won the World Series (Giants twice). And their average payroll rank is 10th.

    • In the past 21 years there has been one team with a losing record and every year their payroll is at a different level.

    • Dang, Milo! It sounds as if you are saying Bud is right!!!

      You made my computer start smoking.

    • Average payroll only paints an acurate picture if the distribution was linear.

      You and I both know that is far from the truth.

    • That doesn’t sound very impressive from a league that likes to tout itself as competitive.

      There has only been one season in the last 21 World Series where both teams came from the bottom half payrolls.

      The last time a team in the bottom half payrolls to win the WS was the Marlins in 2004. Although, I believe the Nats will do it this year.

  30. Whoa. Not only is the blog messed up on Apple devices. Now it’s getting an attitude. I just got a message “you are posting too fast. Slow down.”

  31. Please tell me this blue background is temporary until yesterday’s issues fixed.

    I know the other Trib blogs are on this format. One of the reasons I rarely check them out.

    Bwah, I’m cold. When is Matlock on? Three things I never want to hear on television again, bra, family jewels…

    Ok I feel like Abe Simpson complaining, but I’m not a fan of this format.

  32. I thought you were wrong about the Nats payroll, but I checked and it’s listed at $80 mil, 19th. I’m shocked, frankly. Wow.

  33. What did our payroll end up at?

  34. In my not always humble opinion, there are four great academic private universities (Ivy League-type academics, if you will) across America who also play big time sports:

    Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, Vanderbilt

    With Chris Collins being hired this week as Coach at Northwestern and Johnny Dawkins coaching Stanford, Duke influence now permeates 3 of 4. Can Vandy be far behind?!

    I will add Duquesne to that august list as soon as Dejan completes his degree!!!

  35. Keith Law, for what its worth, is picking our club to end up 5th in the division…

    • You had to do it, didn’t ya, Biz??!! Now the predictions competition has been compromised!


    • Keith Law knows more about baseball than I do, but I really can’t see more than two positions(Castro at SS and MAYBE Rizzo if he explodes) and two spots in the rotation(Jackson and Jeff S. if he is for real) in which the Cubs are better than the Pirates.

      People talk like their rotation additions are much improved, yet Jackson is the only healthy guy that doesn’t suck. I don’t get it.

      • NMR– you forgot the position of GM.

      • It might be based more on the legacy of the PBC than anything else?

        • Certainly could factor, but Keith Law is usually the anti-narrative kind of guy.

          He probably has his own projection system that has the Cubs producing 2 more WAR than the Pirates.

      • NMR-I was just looking at the Cubs roster. Absolutely agree. They look like a potential 100 loss team again to me. No way do I look at the Pirates as a 100 loss team.

        • I got to see several starts from Feldman and Vilanueva while living in their respective cities of play last summer and they just aren’t good pitchers.

          And not just the Jmac/JSanchez/FLiriano high-upside-but-cant-put-it-together type of not-good pitchers, the AAAA-stuff-what-you-see-is-what-you-get type of not-good pitchers. Both were demoted from rotations that were already short due to injury. Plus, we all saw that Travis Wood certainly fits that bill as well.

  36. Anybody going to Altoona to see the Pirates tomorrow? Jandy, that’s right in your neck of the woods.

    Rarely go to the Pirates official site. I see their slogan is still “Pride. Passion. Pittsburgh Pirates.” How many years in a row for that? What does their marketing department do all day? I thought for sure it would be “Embrace. The. Suck.”

    The Cubs are going with “Love Deserves a Ring.” When will Cubs fans realize that he’s just not that into you.

    • Cubs fans have been “unloved” for 100 some years? Ok, we have stunk for 20, but at least we have won a WS or two within the past century ;-)

    • A famous jelly company has used the same slogan since the 1950s.

      “With a name like <<>>, it has to be good”

      Hard to develop strong marketing messages when your product isn’t viewed as favorably as <<>>.

      Said another way, the marketing department doesn’t draft, develop, sign or trade.

      There are lots of schools of thought re brand messaging. One is to stake out a market position and OWN it year after year.

      If you hold that view, and I do, repetition is fine. The Pirates’ slogan misses for me only because I can’t tell what message they are trying to own. Companies who do that well and pick words rather than slogans, usually pick ONE word. <<>> in health insurance and health care uses Thrive. One word. They want to build a marketing franchise around that one word. (They don’t operate in Pittsburgh but if you are in California, you probably know exactly who I mean.)

      The Pirates message…is it pride or passion? If it is both, it’s sorta neither.

      But after rambling for 4000 words, I think:
      - Nothing wrong with keeping the same slogan for years
      - Not marketing department’s fault that their product has been less than stellar
      - I think the Pirates’ slogan is better than the embarrassing Cubs’ slogan, but is not memorable and does not provide a singular, distinctive message.

      • Inside the brackets, I had printed “Company Name” (just that, generic, didn’t print the actual name). I don’t give free advertising on blogs, but I guess the brackets made the words “Company Name” disappear.

      • I’m going to plagiarize the PG commenter:

        I don’t care if the marketing slogan is “Nutting’s Cash Cow” as long they win.

      • Less than 72 hours to Pirates baseball, kids.

        Maybe I could go to sleep now and stay asleep until then so the time flies. That way I could also sleep through Easter dinner with the relatives.

        • You’re stressing unnecessarily, John. We have that every Sunday. Our son-in-law isn’t overly popular with my 4 boys. Plus he talks non-stop and knows everything about everything. We get through it.

          Don’t let it spoil your holiday. I look at it this way. By 2:00 I have all the cleanup done and it’s veg-out time until Monday morning. The remains of the day.


    • “Embrace. The. Suck.”

      Love it.

  37. If “The Great Ray Shero” continues to pull off trades like he has these past few days, I may have to drop the quotation marks and actually mean it next time I type it:) I really like how he has stepped in and basically said to Disco Dan “Ok, we tried it your way these past few years,(read playoff disasters) now we are going to do things MY way”! I think RS has a better feel for the team than DD. I also feel that RS is banking on the fact that Morrow and Iginla will “help” DD make the necessary adjustments that he seems to be unable to do by making “suggestions” to him. I don’t think even Disco Dan can screw this up?

  38. While we wait for Iginla to resolve his “immigration issues”, 10,000 illegals have snuck across the border.

  39. Any Trib print readers around?

    I noticed on Travis Snider’s Fangraphs page there is a blurb about Huntington hinting that Garrett Jones could take starts away from Snider in right field, and it cited the Trib as the source.

    I couldn’t find any mention in Rob B’s work online so I thought it might’ve run in print only.

    • I haven’t seen it written, but the last 2 games Jones started in right & Gaby at 1st.

      • If Gaby is really back to form, this lineup has legit 20+ HR power from 1-7.

        • From the short time I saw them this spring in games, BP & cage work. That’s the way I would go to start off at least. Gaby was hitting everything hard. Snider – not at all. But I’m sure he’ll have an excuse for it.

          • Like someone said earlier, isn’t Snyder NH’s scholarship player for 2013?

            • That narrative is getting so tired.

              Snider is the opening day starter. That is all. Nobody has promised him a given number of months or at-bats or anything more than that. He isn’t even getting any more starts than the other guys in ST.

              Huntington has alreadt openly stated that Tabata and now Jones will get starts over him.

              It’s a forced narrative based on Jeff Clement three years ago.

              • Ah. So it’s a trend.

                I wasn’t going to worry about it until you reminded me of that.

              • History is the pattern we look for until the pattern is broken.

              • “______ is the opening day starter. That is all. Nobody has promised him a given number of months or at-bats or anything more than that. He isn’t even getting any more starts than the other guys in ST.”

                Fill in the blank—Clement, Aki, Andy L, Barabbas . . . .

            • There have been others, I would say Aki is one example, throwing Charlie Morton out there the year he was getting his brains beaten out.

              IMHO it wasn’t just Clement

              That being said, although I agree with the comment, it was a comment I was repeating.

              NH is not famous for changing.

              Just sayin

            • Oh, so naming a starter before spring training is something Neal Huntington made up?

              Now it all makes sense…

              • NMR–have you entered Playoff’s over/under for the year?

              • I’m not familiar with it.

                I don’t usually do the Window thing since I’m not on the blog for games so I end up skipping his posts.

                What is the bet?

              • Don’t follow you NMR

                That doesn’t make sense ;-)

              • Up to 250 fake units on the year total of wins, with the over/under number being 81.5 wins. It’s essentially a bet on whether you think they will have a winning season or not.

              • Hmmm…

                I said before that I do believe the team that takes the field this April is better than the one that took the field last April.

                I also think that if there is any truth to the whole value of “veteran experience” as it pertains to winning games, then Cutch/Walker/Pedro/Jones and certainly Burnett/Wandy/Karstens/Liriano should start producing more W’s.

                They won 79 last year, so what the heck, I’m going with the over.

              • Oh, I definitely agree with you there, Nate.

                Thus my opinion that this “scholarship” catch phrase has become trite.

                When I see “scholarship”, I read “player I don’t like”.

              • Good. If you want it to count, go to yesterday’s Pirates- Yankees thread and Playoffs post at about 2:07 pm and place your bet. :-)

            • The difference here is that those teams where not very good and really didn’t have other options. Jones in right and Gaby at first is definately an option with Gaby showing signs of returning to his 2010-2011 self.

              I think Snider and Tabata will still get 200-250 at bats because Marte, Cutch and Jones will need days off and if Gaby moves over to 3rd when Alverez is off that will open at bats up as well. Gaby could actually end up with more at bats then Jones when it is all said and done.

              • If I never see Gaby Sanchez play 3rd again, it will be too soon.

                However, he does make Pedro Alvarez look like a Gold Glover.

              • Nate, I’m a Gaby fan – defended the trade from the start – but hitting the ball hard in ST means nothing to me.

                If he and Jones mash when the games count and Snider struggles, then absolutely Jones should start over Snider.

                But as it stands, all 3 players(four if you count Tabata) have plenty to prove.

              • Good call, National Mart of Records,

                Paying attention to Spring Training stats is just exercise.

                Monday on is all that matters. Show me what you can do when the light is on!

              • NMR

                I agree completely. I was just saying comparing the Aki, Morton or Clement situation to this one is not exactly apples to apples. There was nothing behind those 3 at the time. There was no way of knowing Walker would be a stud at second. Gaby and Jones starting while Tabata and Snider play sparingly is much more reasonable then options back then which would have been throw things at the wall and see what sticks.

              • No real difference, NH bought the groceries, he gave those guys the scholarships by giving them the spot.

                That being said, I wish for a successful season, please don’t forget that

              • When I see “scholarship” player I think of a player that didn’t pan out. Can’t think of any with that label that did, but maybe I’m misremembering. Any suggestions?

              • Begs the questions, AW.

                Nobody uses the term on players that worked out.

                If you can call Aki and Barajas scholarship players, then you certainly could say the same for Burnett and Pedro last year, Karstens in 2011.

              • Regarding scholarships and the list of players, part of the reason some of them were ‘given scholarships’ was because there wasn’t any other competition or they were brought in to be the starter.

                I really don’t see what the big deal is. I’ll have to search the internet for NH’s direct quotes about Snider being the starting RF. Because I would bet that he talked so much that he also included something along the lines of “unless he plays himself out of the job in ST, or someone else really lights it up in ST (Tabata)”.

              • Gotta disagree with you, NMR. You’re referring to someone who hasn’t worked out yet in Snider. Nobody is waiting till after they fail to apply the label. Clement, for example. Et tu?

              • To me, a “scholarship” player is one you keep running out there, with your fingers crossed.

                I think, which is far too much work anymore, NH has stated that Snider is the right fielder this coming season, or at least he said that going into ST

                Bottom line, IMO, is NH is his own worst enemy PR wise and I’ve said that before

                Except for his personality and ego, I’d pull for the guy.

                That being said, no correlation between my dislike for the BMTIB and my desire for the guys on the field to be successful

                “I’m in a quandry”

              • And I don’t ever recall the term “scholarship” being applied to Burnett, Pedro or Karstens. If we’re just going to make stuff up, we’re definitely in a different realm.

              • And thus, me calling the phrase overused, not non-existant.

                There certainly have been correct examples, most noteably (notably?) Jeff Clement, but now it feels like SOMEBODY has to get the label, and this year that somebody is Travis Snider.

                Picking nits, I suppose. Just a pet peeve.

                Anyways, really enjoyed the baseball talk with you, Groat, and the rest of the crew today. Enjoy the holiday!

              • Same to you, NMR.

  40. Could the current Pens roster be the best of all time?

  41. Dejan,

    I missed your gathering of “Brief and to the Point” arcs today.

    Jamie Dixon, Rushel Shell, Crankshaft, 14, 17, Kevin Stevens, Bucs rotation, Opening Day, Pitt Spring football, James Harrison, Pittsburgh Power, Penn State Spring football, State basketball Champions, breaking up best line in hockey, Boston’s weird reaction to no Iginla, Jeff Karstens hurt again, Mike Tomlin at LSU shaking Honey Badger’s hand and talking at pro workout, season ticket push for that English football thingee on the South Side, Lamar Woodley’s Pittsburgh bowling team.

    A potpouri of items you could have tossed into the beef stew of ‘Brief and to the Point”——I would have savored it!

  42. I may be fooled again . . . . . but I am expecting big things from Jose Tabata this year.

    This is the LAST time I am saying this though.

    I would not be surprised, however, if by late April Garrett Jones was the regular right fielder, if Sanchez hits.

    • It’s hard to get our hopes up on guys that played well one year and bombed out the rest of their career:
      Jose Tabata
      Chris Duffy
      Alex Presley
      Lastings Milledge
      Tike Redman

  43. Somebody please make Starling Marte commit this entire article to memory:

    “But to make use of the improved mechanics, McCutchen had to stop chasing and restrict the strike zone again. McCutchen couldn’t be Vladimir Guerrero, able to lift balls from anywhere in the strike zone out of the park.”

  44. Dear Bloggers:

    I have saved all of my pennies over the winter, so as to be able to spend my two-cents worth periodically here.

    Hurdle, Barmes and Leyva are still here, NH hasn’t gotten any better and Mr. Nutting is extremely wealthy and clueless. PA is still being forced upon us, Neil Walker is on a treadmill and losing ground and all of the other names have been changed to protect the innocent (or should I say guilty).

    This season will be like watching a black and white grade B movie of the 50′s.

    My favorite left-handed outfielder Alex Presley and Felix Pie failed to beat out Tabby to make the top 35 – not surprising even though they out-hit Tabby the loafer.

    So all we have left are Andrew the Great, the potential of Marte and a pitching staff which better not fail.

    My first installment of my two-cent opinions has been entered. It sounds strangely similar to many from last year. I guess things never change – with the Pirates.

    Good luck to us all; I’ll still be the recalcitrant diehard reprobate I’ve always been!!

    Bob Hasis

  45. Does anyone else agree with me that the amount of money and number of years the Giants just gave Buster Posey is just crazy.

    • Yes I agree you are crazy. Wasn’t that the question? :-)

    • Only if they expect him to be a catcher for all of those eight years.

      I thought Minnesota’s extension for Mauer was crazy because they couldn’t support a fully competitive roster while he was in his prime, let alone his later years of inevitable decline.

      San Francisco has the luxury of money. If they can pay Aubrey Huff and Brian Wilson almost $20m to not play and still have enough to win a World Series, then they can absorb a couple years in Posey’s mid-30s as a productive but overpaid 1st Baseman.

      • Are Huff and Wilson on their books now?

        Regarding Posey, the guy already had one major injury. And yes, he’ll eventually move to first base. But what if does get hurt? And what if he moves to first base but stinks? I just think the contract is too long and $20 million/year is too much.

        But a lot of teams now think that $20 million/year is OK.

    • Unfortuately not in todays market, Posey is already at 8 million and I think he has 3 arbitration years left?

      Thank goodness the PBC did not draft him. Else they might have to put advertising on the Charities sign…

      • Biz,
        Let’s say that Tony Sanchez had progressed and was becoming the same defensive catcher that Posey is, and was just as good a hitter as him. (probably with less power).

        Sanchez drafted one year after Posey.

        How the heck could the Pirates ever approach that kind of money for that many years? The bar has been set.

        Cutch didn’t even get that type of money

        • TC, could not agree with you more

          Its monopoly money.

          Cutch’s deal, well NH chose wisely

          But that is the market today.

          Some folks talked about how the extra $$ the PBC would receive with the revenue growth of MLB would help us.

          As you said, the bar has been raised

          Every team is “enjoying” that increase

          BTW, are you going to Opening Day?

          • I guess I don’t have a problem with ‘Star” players getting the big money. And Posey is one. The thing that I really hate their contracts really raise the salaries for a lot of players that don’t deserve that.

            No Opening Day for me. I actually usually don’t go.

            I was by PNC Park twice this week – including today. They look pretty busy inside and all around the outside too.
            Can’t wait for the season to start.

            • Some day, I’d like to meet you.

              No gatherings though

              Maybe at the casino, but just to park ;-)

              • Especially because if you run again around the field is your skivvies, well, I would not look, but when folks talked about it at work, I could say, as I munch on some cake, hey I met that fellow

                It was reported you did such

              • Did you just ask me to park your car? :-)

                And don’t believe those reports!

      • “The thing that I really hate their contracts really raise the salaries for a lot of players that don’t deserve that.”

        That’s the problem, to me. And it is a product largely of the arbitration system. Charles O. knew what he was talking about.

    • I don’t even know what they gave him, and EYE don’t think it’s crazy. This is MLB.

      • Totally agree, AW.

        Two titles in last three years. Handles pitching staffs better than anybody else. City loves him. Heck, I love him. My favorite ballplayer. Dearth of catchers at MLB level.

        I haven’t seen the terms either. With certain players, you pay the man, Shirley. Some owners realize there is no cap in baseball and sometimes act accordingly.

      • Gimmie my EYES back

  46. Iginla’s arrival on hold; Martin injured. Oh no FIRE Blysma it must be his fault!

    • 10 or 11 games is enough to build line chemistry

      Plus, I don’t think the Pens know what to do with him yet, line wise with JI

      And with Martin, where the Pens are, standings wise, they might be conservative with any injury.

      The goal is the Cup, anything else does not matter

      • oh I agree with you, just waiting for the fallout from some blog members. Hence the fire Blysma note as well. I think we are fully loaded and have the replacements for this type of thing.

      • Biz they are certainly fortunate to have rattled of 14 in a row and built a nice lead in the eastern conference standings but first you lose Letang and then you lose Martin; thats arguably your top 2 defensemen. Just shows you the ridiculous depth they have that the panic button wasn’t pushed a few days ago and we aren’t looking for another D-man in trade.

  47. Clint Robinson claimed by Toronto. Wonder if he will have visa problems.

    I just have to know; if Iginla was scratched on Thursday and knew it early in the day why isn’t someone working on the visa issue? I know its a silly thing but you know your going to a team in the US. Get it done!

  48. This is an email I received from DirectTV. Bad news for Pirate Fans in Columbus, Ohio.

    Thank you for being a loyal DIRECTV® customer. We appreciate your business and would like to provide an important update regarding coverage of the Pittsburgh Pirates on ROOT SPORTS, part of your DIRECTV® SPORTS PACK subscription.

    Effective April 1, 2013, Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games will not be available for DIRECTV customers in your ZIP code. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you MLB EXTRA INNINGSSM as an alternative – Pittsburgh Pirates games are blacked out within your ZIP code in that out of market sports package.

    Please note all other programming on DIRECTV SPORTS PACK will continue to be provided by ROOT SPORTS Pittsburgh as part of your DIRECTV SPORTS PACK subscription. Only games of the Pittsburgh Pirates will be impacted within your zip code.

    Thank you for being a loyal customer and for the continued opportunity to bring you the best overall television entertainment experience.



    • How the heck is Columbus in-market for the Pirates with Cincinnati and Cleveland closer and in the same state?


      • Archaic terrority rules of MLB. DirectTV was the only provider that allowed me to access the Bucco games. It was one of the reasons I switched a couple of years ago. I would write the MLB office every year telling them that I would buy the Extra Innings package if I had access to the Pirate games. MLB has the worst blackout restrictions and they wonder why they are losing a generation of fans. At my age I am not in that group. At least I have my At Bat app so I can listen to the radio broadcast.

        • Tim T,
          After reading that email I am still confused. With Direct TV can you still get Root Sports Pittsburgh – - and watch the Pirate games that way?

  49. Hey, the blog’s fixed. Thanks, Hal.

  50. [HAL's shutdown]
    HAL: I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a… fraid. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a HAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the H.A.L. plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January 1992. My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.
    Dave Bowman: Yes, I’d like to hear it, HAL. Sing it for me.
    HAL: It’s called “Daisy.”
    [sings while slowing down]
    HAL: Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I’m half crazy all for the love of you. It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage. But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.

  51. Yes, the MLB blackout rules are wacko. I live in Las Vegas, and the Angels and Dodgers are blacked out here, though L.A. is 260 miles or 4~5 hours away. Okay… But then San Diego games and Arizona games (290 miles away) are also blacked out. Not getting this. But stupidest of all, Vegas is considered part of the SF and Oakland market. I don’t care what Mapquest says, I’ve driven from here to the Bay Area and back, and including breaks for gas, burgers, the restroom, etc., it’s an arduous 10+ hour drive of not quite 600 miles. That’s the same as Pittsburgh to St. Louis or Pittsburgh to Boston.
    The upshot is that when I had the MLB Package a few seasons ago, or when I watch the MLB Channel now, I cannot watch the Pirates (or any other team, for that matter) when the opponent any team from the West other than Seattle. Utterly asinine.

    • They were talking about this on MLB XM yesterday. Mike Ferrin really goes off on the black out rules. He said that with all the money in the game now that MLB should really address this issue —and loosen the rules. He want down the list of all the internet subscriptions and tv packages that he buys. Lots of $$

      • I’m glad people are making noise, then. I’d like to purchase the MLB ticket again, but not as it stands with me not being able to watch the Bucs when they play any of the six teams blacked out in my area.

  52. Wow, I see I missed the visit from Bob Hasis. It is good to see he stopped in nonetheless. I’m glad he is back :)

  53. Hail ! To the victors valiant.
    Hail ! To the conquering heroes.
    Hail ! Hail ! To Michigan.
    The leaders and best.

    Hail ! To the victors valiant.
    Hail ! To the conquering heroes.
    Hail ! Hail ! To Michigan.
    The champions of the west.

  54. Pitt played four of the Elite Eight teams. Maybe, that schedule wasn’t so bad after all.

    • 18% of their games.

      • Pitt went 5-7 against Tournament teams in the regular season, 21-1 against non-Tournament teams, and 0-1 in the Tournament. Pitt went 1-5 against the Elite Eight, excluding Wichita St. If you include Wichita St., then 7 out of 35 games were played against Elite 8 teams.

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