2021 Fly-By-Night Team Article Archive


 

 

 

LAKE WOBEGON NOTES - 3-7

I am a member of a couple of Throwback draft leagues in addition to the FBN, and I've observed how men's first names in baseball mirror what we see -- somewhat -- in our everyday lives. Here are just the first names from my standard vs RHP lineups, plus the top 5 starting pitchers, for teams I've had using 1962, 1972, 2000, and 2020 Strat cards.

1962     1972     2000     2020
Curt     Steve    Jose     Francisco
Bob      Willie     Alex    George
Ken      Rick     Brian    Alex
Jerry    Norm    Bubba   Colin
Wes     Willie    Jason    Donovan
Jose     Denis    Ellis     Derek
Bob      Leo      Ken      Jonathan
Jerry    Carl     Alberto   Wilson
(SP)      (SP)    Homer   Christian

Larry    Bob     Jose      Kyle
Bob      Jim     Chuck    Dallas
Ray      Dick    Andy     Tyler
Bennie  Balor   Kevin    Dane
Steve    Bob    Hideo    Austin

My first comment here, is that in the 50s, 60s, and 70s it was nearly impossible to put together a baseball team without having Bob on the team. I am stunned that Mike doesn't appear in any of my lineups or rotations (yes, I've had some Mikes on the teams). There are a few unique names you may recognize, Hideo and Bubba (not a nickname) from the 2000 set might be easiest. However, on the '72 team there are Denis (only 3 players MLB all time) and Balor (unique in MLB history) who you might be able to name.

Where are all the other (formerly) popular men's first names? On my Whippets 1994 FBN championship team! Gregg, Jay, Mike, Tim, Mike, Dave, Jeff, Chris, Tom SP: Kevin, Andy, Chuck, Danny, Tim

Just for fun...
-Jim F.

 

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CHIEFS CHAT - 3-17

Joey Gallo is hoping to climb the Chiefs all-time list of most career home runs by a left-handed batter. Currently, that list is 153 Jim Thome (2007-20012), 135 Steve Finley (1996-2000), 131 Carlos Gonzalez (2012-2016), 119 Joey Gallo (2018-present).

Most career home runs by a right-handed batter: 532 Miguel Cabrera (2004-present), 340 Joe Carter (1990-1999), 271 Cecil Fielder (1992-1999), 258 David Wright (2005-2014, 2016-2017), 230 Dean Palmer (1992-1997, 1999-2000).

Former Chief Derek Bell turns 53 this year. He may be the most underappreciated player in FBN history, slashing .310/.360/.481 in a nine-year career. In 1996 while playing for the Blue Devils, Bell won the batting title with an average of .3542 to edge out Jeff Bagwell (.3540). He fell a little over 500 at bats shy of qualifying for FBN career batting average leaders, and his .310 would have put him just behind Todd Helton for 8th all-time.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 4-1

The Blue Devils opened play in their 35th season in the FBN going 5-3 on the road taking 3 games from the Jarheads and splitting with the Barons. But coming home for the opening series in the Devil Dome against the Allyn Street 89ers was a disaster getting swept all 4 games. CT batted a mind boggling, woeful .138 managing just 7 runs and 17 hits against the tough 89ers pitching. We've certainly had many bad series in 35 years but can't really recall ever playing as poorly as we did in those 4 games. .138 BA!!!?? Now sitting at 5-7 things don't get any easier facing the powerful Chiefs and solid Maine club coming up.

Freddie Freeman has gotten off to the best start of any Blue Devil batting .333 with 13 runs, 10 RBI, 6 doubles, and 5 HR's. Nelson Cruz was hot early batting .310 with 5 HR's and 9 RBI in the first two series. But Cruz was manhandled in the 89er series batting .133 with 2 singles and 9 strikeouts. Brett Gardner is off to a brutal start batting .111 (5 for 45) with just 1 RBI and 1 run scored. Rookie Leody Taveras batting .364 may be in for more playing time.

 

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EXTREME EXTREMES - 4-8

The Blue Grass Blues started our new season with a bang going 11-5. Good pitching but not much hitting but, what hitting there was, being very timely. The Blues are now 11-9 after Atlanta came to Blue Grass for the sweep. Our hitting has dropped to a new low. Atlanta pitchers allowed a total of 4 runs on 14 hits, 1 home run. Our team batting average for the series was .119. Our team batting average for the season now stands at .197. A few of our "stars" - Berti - .111, Bichette - .130 (1 for 24 at home), Goodwin - .180, Pillar - .145. That being said, pitching has been just as extreme but in a good way. Sanchez - 1.80 ERA, Urquidy - 1.35, Dayton - 1.08, Givens - 0.40, Curtiss - 1.35. All things will even out but Holy Cow!!!

 

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NAVIGATORS LOG - 4-30

Well, April was brutal! A 13-31 record, low-lighted by a sweep at the hands of the Klubbers, are the end times near? OY, the luck with HAL has come and gone, the team is pretty below-average, with a horrific pen. Yuk!

Oh well, let's look early to 2022! So far-
C- Murphy = fine
1B- Olson = Good
2B- Frazier/Flores = fine
SS- nobody = Black Hole
3b- Riley =fine
LF- Victor Reyes = BAD
CF-Buxton = Great
RF- Hicks/Eaton = fine
DH- Framnil Reyes = Good
SP's Cease, Brubaker, Fried, Kikuchi, Luzardo = fine
RP's Bummer, Duffey, other guys = BAD
Futures- B. Rodgers, K. Wright, J. Hicks = not good

So ya, we should be a mediocre club next year, which ought to be a significant improvement from these clowns, lol! Then again, it is April, and the regression monster is lurking for several of the guys above, with Hicks and Fried the only guys I'm confident in who will improve on their pace so far this season.

We may be able to get a shortstop in the draft, and I've used up my bullets of tradable older guys, except for Hicks and Eaton with the bats, and Fried may be up on the block if a contender wants him.

Otherwise, enjoy the wins, men, and we'll try to keep a cheery disposition during these trying times ...

Best,
Don D.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 5-1

The Blue Devils completed play for Block 2 going 14-10 splitting 5 series and sweeping 4 games from the Klub to move back to .500 at 22-22 after stumbling out of Block1 at 8-12. The offense, expected to be the strength of the team, has started showing signs of rebounding from its poor start. In Block 1, after a strong opening series vs. the Jarheads, the offense went 4 straight series batting under .200 and averaged 3 runs/game. But during Block 2, the offense averaged 5.5 runs/game and batted almost .260. Not spectacular but a big improvement . . . . Meanwhile, the pitching staff held their own producing a 4.22 ERA during Block 2.

Freddie Freeman continued his great start and is now batting .335/.429 on base with 41 runs, 29 RBI, 19 doubles and 11 HR's. Trevor Story has also been solid batting .294, 28 runs, 35 RBI with 13 HR's. Unfortunately, several regulars are batting under .200 including Brett Gardner .188, Jake Cave .173, Leody Tavares .171 and Freddie Galvis .145.

On the pitching staff, 2 veteran pitchers have headed in opposite directions than expected. Jake Arrieta has been a pleasant surprise going 3-3 in 9 starts with a 4.06 ERA keeping the team in each game he pitched. Mike Minor on the other hand has been pummeled going 1-4 in 9 starts with an 8.01 ERA allowing 13 HR's in 42 innings.

 

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT - 5-9

Edwin "The Big E" Encarnacion is closing in on Jeff Kent's all time US Jarhead homerun record. Kent belted 384 Career homeruns and Edwin started the 2021 season just 6 behind him. In part time duty, Edwin is hitting just .143 on 5 - 35. But 4 of those hits are homers, so he trails Kent 384 to 382. If and when Edwin surpasses the record, it may be short lived.

Mike Trout is closing in quickly. With 13 dingers in 2021, Trout checks in with 341 HRs. And youngster Ronald Acuna is already on the HR record radar, hitting 35 and then 42 HRs in his first 2 seasons. With 9 big flies already in 2021 Acuna could quickly climb the HR list.

The Big E also holds the single season USJ HR record. In 2017 he blasted 55 HRs and drove in 140 runs, topping Jeremy Burnitz's 2000 season of 53 HRs.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 5-29

The Blue Devils completed the first block of inter-league play on a positive note sweeping 3 games on the road against Alpharetta. Before that, CT continued treading water at .500 going 6-6 but the sweep moved the Blue Devils to 31-28 - the first time the team was over .500 all season. The offense finally woke up vs. the Aces scoring 29 runs in the 3 games and batting .325 - only the second series all year the offense batted over .300.

Rookie Lamont Wade Jr was brought up for the inter-league block and added some production batting .300, scoring 7 runs with 5 walks and 3 stolen bases in 12 games. He may have earned a spot on the roster for Block 4. Another rookie Leody Tavares got hot moving his average from .171 to .220 during inter-league play. Tavares has shown some surprising pop hitting 7 HR's in his 52 games. Freddie Galvis, a former Blue Devil reacquired this offseason has played solid defense at 2b committing just 1 error so far and is 4th on the team in HR's with 8 and has 16 RBI but his .164 BA is lowest on the team.

For the pitching staff, offseason pickup - lefty starter Ryan Yarbrough has provided some solid innings with a 3.36 ERA over 11 starts and leads the team in wins at 5-2. He has allowed just 4 HR's in 61 IP compared to Mike Minor who has given up an eye popping 24 HR's in 60 IP. He is currently on a pace to allow 66 HR's this season which would easily eclipse the franchise record of 52 HR's allowed by Matt Morris back in 2005. No surprise that Minor is 2-6 with a 7.84 ERA. How much longer can management stomach that? . . . .

 

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BLUE GRASS REBUILD - 7-4

The Bullets (at that time) won 105 games in 2017 for a 2nd place finish in the AL. In 2018 we finished with another respectable total of 96 wins. In 2019 we won only 56 games. The win collapse was precipitated by a near complete collapse of our starting staff - only Tanner Roark had more than 80 innings and he went 6-19 with a 6.05 ERA. The rebuild was off and running. We improved to 63 wins in 2020 and expect to get about 70 wins this year.

2022 is in doubt now - again due to a collapse of our starting staff. Here is their current status: Canning - just demoted to AAA, Logan Webb - out due to shoulder issues, Urquidy - out due to shoulder issues, Patino - just demoted to AAA, Lucchesi - out due to Tommy John surgery, Sanchez - out due to shoulder issues, Bubic - moved to pen due to .850 OPS against lefties AND righties, Tanner Roark - out of baseball. Most of these guys not named Roark will get more innings later this year, but expect to see a lot of 5 inning starts for the Blues next year. I still believe most of these guys will turn out to be good starters but it always seems to take several years before pitchers develop to a high level of performance. Maybe in 2023.

Our 2022 team will also be missing Jimenez (out for season), Calhoun (out for the rest of the season), and Haseley. Losing Jimenez really hurts our 2022 offense. We have an extra first round pick next year and all our normal picks. That will be the end of the rebuild drafts. Then we'll see if I know how to pick baseball players.

 

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MIKE HOLBROOK - SOPHOMORES - 7-21

The 2021 season is half over - more than half over. How have the great hopes drafted in the 2021 FBN rookie draft fared? Certainly 80+ games played this season doesn't fully reflect their future or their potential. I looked at the top 48 picks from last spring to see how they performed to date. Of the 48, 19 are fielders, 19 are starters, and 10 are relievers. The starter/reliever designation is somewhat fluid but those were the positions played in their rookie years pre our draft.

Of the 19 fielders, only 9 have more than 100 at bats so far this MLB season. Injuries and/or poor performance KO'ed the other 10. Maybe next year. Of the 9 who are actually playing, only 4 can be said as having decent years - Hayes (#3 overall), Madrigal (#9), Cronenworth (#21), and Stephenson (#47). These players all have over 100 at bats, higher than .250 average, .330 on base, .400 slugging, and .750 OPS. Cronenworth has probably the best season to date with 353 AB, .283 avg, .355 on base, .476 slugging, and .831 OPS. Nice pick Wall Street! Mountcastle and Carlson are pretty good as well but don't meet the standards of these 4.

Of the 19 starters, only 5 have not contributed to their teams. All the others have at least 48 IP. Of the 14 actually pitching, only 3 can be said to be very helpful to their FBN teams next year - Ian Anderson (#6), Cristian Javier (#12), and Trevor Rogers (#43). The standards here were 4.50 ERA, 10 or less home runs allowed, 9+ K's per 9 innings, and a WHIP of 1.4 or less. Trevor Rogers is having a great year regardless of age and will really help his team (Burlington) next year - 101 innings, 2.31 ERA, only 5 home runs allowed, 10.9 K's per game, and a 1.07 WHIP. Other starters that will be somewhat helpful are Casey Mize, Dane Dunning, Justin Dunn, and Kwang-hyun Kim.

The easy choice for the best performing reliever is James Karinchak (#44) - way better than any other rookie reliever - 41 innings, 2.61 ERA, only 5 home runs allowed, almost 15 K's/9, and a 1.04 WHIP. A distant 2nd and 3rd are Devin Williams (#20) and Victor Gonzalez (#31). Only 3 of the 10 reliever picks have not played significant innings so far this year.

I've attached a spreadsheet of this analysis for those engineering-types that like to see numbers.

....click here to see the spreadsheet
 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 7-31

Hoping to make a move towards a playoff spot during the inter-league block, the Blue Devils have floundered going 5-7 so far with a tough 3 game series left to play vs. Atlanta. CT lost 5 games in a row to California and Hotlanta putting a damaging blow to their playoff hopes and added pressure to make an unlikely run in the last 2 blocks.

The offense continues to be inconsistent scoring runs although Freddie Freeman is having an MVP type season batting .323 with 90 runs, 42 doubles, 23 HR's and 66 RBI. Nelson Cruz has been productive as usual leading the team with 33 HR's and 77 RBI. But on the down side, semi-regular players - Brett Gardner, Jake Cave and Freddie Galvis are all batting under .200. The pitching has been surprisingly solid most of the year especially in the bullpen. Greg Holland and Paul Fry are a combined 15-2 out of the pen with a 2.84 ERA. Veteran Jake Arrieta has been much better than expected going 7-5 3.86 out of the #5 spot in the rotation. Opposite results... Mike Minor is 3-9 6.99 ERA in 23 starts.

A couple potential dubious team records that can be broken:

- Mike Minor who has given up 39 HR's already is on a pace to allow 55 HR's which would eclipse the previous high mark of 52 by Matt Morris in 2005

- Nelson Cruz is on a pace for 200 strikeouts which would break Trevor Story's record of 187 K's in 2019.

 

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ADMIRAL ORDERS - 8-27

In a block 7 series against California, catcher Tomas Nido was 6-9, 2-0-3, 5 runs, 5 ribbies . . . . since coming over from the Dreamers, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu is 12-2 with a 2.38 ERA . . . . Yorktown is 17-3 in block 7, with 1 series to go, but can't gain any ground on first place Milford . . . . Jose Iglesias has 55 doubles on the season with California and Yorktown . . . .

 

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT - 8-28

USJ Milestones:

Mike Trout is having an MVP season .299 117R, 35D, 6T, 50HR, 131 RBI, 82BB and is setting and approaching new personal records in Homeruns and RBIs.

With 20 games remaining Trout has set a new record, reaching 50 HRs for the first time. He hit 48 last year and 49 in 2016. With 6 more HRs Trout can set a new USJ single season HR record, surpassing Edwin Encarnacion's 55 HR set in 2017. If he does that he will also move into 2nd place on the USJ all time HR list, passing Jeff Kent's 384 HR.

Trout needs 5 RBI to pass his personal best of 135 in 2016, and needs 24 RBI in the final 20 games to pass Garret Anderson's single season record of 154 RBI set in 2004.

Edwin Encarnacion, "The Big E" he is currently #1 on the all time USJ HR list with 397 HRs. . So far in his final season Encarnacion has hit 19 HRs and has 20 games to try to reach #400.

In Ronald Acuna's 3rd season he has 35HR and 93 RBI. With 7 RBI in the last 20 games to reach 100, his first 3 years will look like:
2019 35 HR 111RBI
2020 42 HR 114RBI
2021 35 HR 93RBI so far.

A USJ rarity, a positive pitching record established by Brandon Woodruff. With 5 Starts and 33 IP remaining, Woodruff has 264 Strikeouts. He has already blown by the previous record of 216 Ks set by Brandon Webb in 2008. Woodruff is 14-4, 3.33 and needs 36Ks to reach the 300 mark.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 9-15

The Blue Devils began the stretch run in the last block by splitting two series vs. the Jarheads and Chiefs to maintain 20 games over .500 at 85-65. A solid record but treading water won't be enough to make the playoffs in the highly competitive NL race for the 2 Wild Cards. With series remaining against the top 2 NL teams - Wall Street and Allyn Street and a tough road trip to Maine, will be a huge challenge for CT to try and gain ground in the Wild Card race. At worst, the Blue Devils would like to get to 90 wins for the 19th time in franchise history.

Freddie Freeman and Nelson Cruz continue to put up MVP type numbers. Freeman leads the team with a .329 BA and 115 runs scored to go along with 59 doubles, 31 HR and 86 RBI. Cruz is batting .285 with 102 runs scored and leads the team with 48 HR's and 111 RBI. Freeman's 59 doubles puts him on track to break the franchise record of 62 doubles set in 1995 by Craig Biggio. Another not so good record that may be broken . . .with 181 strikeouts, Nelson Cruz could set the franchise record for strikeouts set by Trevor Story in 2019 with 187 K's.

The Blue Devil relievers continue to pitch a lot and effectively. The 5 main relievers - Stefan Crichton, Greg Holland, Dylan Floro, Tommy Hunter and Paul Fry are a combined 38-11 with 36 saves and a 3.15 ERA. But the starting pitching has been inconsistent and a struggling Mike Minor has really hurt. Minor is 4-11 with a 6.65 ERA giving up 47 HR's in 140 IP.

 

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DEVIL DOODLES - 10-5

The Blue Devils completed the 2021 campaign with a solid 89-73 record but fell short of a playoff spot in a very competitive NL season. CT made the playoffs last year with just an 86-76 record. Looking back at the past 5 NL seasons, 89 wins would have made the playoffs each year but not this year. But still, the Blue Devils had a winning record for the 30th time in 35 seasons . . . pretty consistent performance for the fans of the franchise. The biggest downfall for the 2021 season was their 1-11 record vs. the 89ers - that's a tough hole to dig out of.

Couple team statistical notes . . .
-The Blue Devils hit 261 HR's which is 3rd most in franchise history and the most since the 2001 season when they hit 282 HR's
-CT batters struck out a mind numbing 1,546 times - easily surpassing the previous high of 1,453 K's last season. 7 batters had over 100 K's with Nelson Cruz leading the way with 195 K's.

Individual statistical notes . . .
-Freddie Freeman set a new club record for Doubles with 65 surpassing Craig Biggio's 62 doubles which had held up since 1995.
-As noted above, Nelson Cruz set a new club record for K's with 195 surpassing Trevor Story's 187 K's in 2019
-Mike Minor allowed 52 HR's which ties the unfortunate club record set by Matt Morris in 2005. But in fairness to Morris, Matt pitched 218 innings while Mike Minor needed only 154 innings to achieve this feat!

Team MVP - Freddie Freeman
Freeman had an excellent all around season hitting .327 with a .427 on base% and .601 slugging% with 202 hits, 123 runs scored, 95 RBI, 65 doubles, 34 HR's and made just 1 error in the field playing all 162 games.
Nelson Cruz gets honorable mention batting .281 with 104 runs, 116 RBI and 48 HR's

There were no outstanding performances on the pitching staff but a lot of guys performed solidly as the team ended the season with a 4.28 team ERA. The bullpen was heavily used as 5 Blue Devil relievers made at least 64 appearances. Stefan Crichton was the main closer amassing 34 saves with a 2.47 ERA. Greg Holland and Paul Fry were both "in the right place at the right time." Holland led the team with a 13-2 record 3.50 ERA and Fry went 8-0 with a 3.03 ERA.

Blue Devil management looks forward to another competitive season next year. Although CT does not draft till the 4th round, the return of a healthy Robbie Ray and Alex Wood should strengthen the pitching staff and CT hopes to get productive seasons again from their "Core 4" of Freeman, Cruz, Story and Candelario.

Good Luck to all the playoff teams - Have fun!

 

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ADMIRAL ORDERS - 10-7

Yorktown finished the 2021 FBN season tying the franchise record for victories with 109. The 2006 Admirals also notched 109 victories. Several other team records were surpassed by the 2021 crew. New team records are ERA (3.24, besting 3.49 from the 1992 season), least amount of errors in a season (67; previous record was 70 in 2007), and team shutouts (17; previous record of 11 was set in 2014). Many individual players had excellent years for the Admirals, but since so many came over via the trade route, no new individual records were set. Jose Iglesias won the AL batting title with an eye-popping .383 average (179-467), which also set the FBN AL record which had been held for 21 years by Larry Walker of the Florida Sun, who clubbed .382 in 2000. But it's not a team record since about half of his season was spent with the California Dreamers. Iglesias claimed the AL record in his last eligible at bat of the regular season with a 3-run, pinch hit HR in game 3 of the Ads' final series of the year against Arsenal, a hit which also brought the team all the way back from a 7-0 deficit. Iglesias also ended the season with 59 doubles, which would also have been a new team record, but 30 of those came while playing for California.

Also occurring in the last series against Arsenal was another memorable moment in Yorktown's 2021 campaign. Johnny Cueto, in just his second start since being acquired from Atlanta late in the season to ensure Yorktown had enough starts to finish the season, pitched what has to be one of the more unexpected no-hitters in FBN history, knocking off the Arsenal Gunners 2-0. Cueto had 5 walks and 11 strikeouts in the game. The no-no was only the 2nd in WJ-Yorktown's 45 years in the FBN; the other came from Scott Erickson in 1992.

This was a very fun summer for the Admiral staff and faithful. The future looks a lot more like most Yorktown seasons of the past, but that's OK. As everyone knows, the FBN is about a whole lot more than wins and losses. Good luck to the playoff teams, and to the non-playoff teams as they all start to focus on team rosters and draft picks with which to make lots of trade offers.

Merk

 

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US JARHEAD SCUTTLEBUTT - 10-12

Thanks to an MVP type season by Mike Trout, the US Jarheads led the National league in runs scored with 897, edging out the playoff bound Chiefs who plated 892 runs. Unfortunately the Jarhead pitching staff couldn't match the Chiefs or 10 of the other NL teams in pitching. Only the Navigators with 978, allowed more runs than the 950 allowed by the Jarheads.

Mike Trout hit .304 with 128 runs, 39D, 7T, and a league co-leading and new USJ record of 57 HRs and led the entire FBN with 147 RBI.

Other notable achievements in 2021 include:
Cedric Mullins with a team record and NL leading 15 triples.
Ronald Acuna with a new record of 140 BB. Acuna missed 2 games injured in the final series which probably cost him his 3rd 100 rbi season. Acuna's first 3 years:
35hr 111 rbi
42hr 114 rbi
37hr 99 rbi
Brandon Woodruff 16-6 3.43 set a new franchise record with 306 Ks.

 

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