Tag: Jose Canseco

MLB Rankings: The 25 Most Significant Steroid Driven Seasons of All Time

With Alex Rodriguez’s recent 600th career home run causing many fans to roll their eyes or talk smack about the 13 time All-Star, I rank the top 25 most significant steroid driven seasons of all time. All of these players are believed to have used steroids during the seasons mentioned. The only catch is that no player appears on this list more than once. Every player ranked below has either admitted to using illegal steroids, has been suspended for use, has appeared on the Mitchell Report, or at the very least, has been heavily rumored to have cheated.

25. Eric Gagne, 2003, (1.20 era, 55 saves, 0 blown saves, 137 k’s in 82.1 innings) This was the second of Gagne’s three consecutive dominant closing seasons for the Dodgers, as Gagne became the first relief pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in 11 years. Gagne broke the record for consecutive saves, eventually reaching 84 during the 2004 season. Ironically, while Gagne did not blow any saves during the regular season, Gagne blew a save during the 2003 All-Star Game, which helped the A.L. earn home field advantage in the World Series.

24. Brady Anderson, 1996, (.297, 50, 110). Before 1996, Anderson had been a solid leadoff man for many years in Baltimore, whose previous career high was 21 home runs. But in 1996, Anderson shocked the world by hitting 50 home runs while helping Baltimore reach the postseason for the first time in 13 years. Anderson was voted in to his first All-Star game in 1996 after hitting 30 homers by the All-Star break, and was also voted into the 1997 All-Star Game, likely due to the popularity he gained from hitting 50 home runs the season before. Anderson never went on to hit more than 24 home runs in a season, which raises the question: Are we supposed to believe this guy didn’t do steroids?

23. Rafael Palmeiro, 1999 (.324, 47, 148). When the Cubs traded Palmeiro to Texas after the 1988 season, the Cubs organization hinted that it was due to Palmeiro’s lack of power. Palmeiro was a frequent .300 hitter and made multiple All-Star appearances throughout his 20s, but did not put up serious power numbers until the Steroid Era. From 1995-2003, Palmeiro hit at least 38 home runs in a record 9 consecutive seasons. Also worth mentioning, Palmeiro is one of four players in history with 3000 hits and 500 home runs over a career. Palmeiro’s most significant season was probably 1999, when he set career highs in Batting Average, Home Runs, RBI, On Base percentage, and Slugging Percentage, while leading the Rangers to a franchise high 95 wins.

 22. Greg Vaughn, 1998, (.272, 50, 119) From 1996-1999, Greg Vaughn rejuvenated his career by hitting over 40 home runs three times in his 30s, including 50 in 1998. At the time it was easy to overlook Greg Vaughn’s impressive home run total in 1998 because his 50 home runs ranked just 3rd in the National League, behind McGwire and Sosa.

21. Richard Hidalgo, 2000 (.314, 44, 122) Richard Hidalgo hit 44 home runs out of nowhere for the Houston Astros in the first year of Enron Field, which immediately earned him a 30 million dollar contract at the age of 25. Hidalgo proved to be somewhat of a bust, never reaching 30 home runs ever again, while hitting under .260 throughout the rest of his career.

20. Bret Boone, 2001 (.331, 37, 141) This was Boone’s 10th major league season, but he miraculously shattered his previous single season career highs by 13 home runs, 46 RBI, 93 total bases, and 64 points in his batting average, all for the 2001 Mariners who won 116 regular season games. Boone went on to have just one other All-Star season before being released by the Mariners and Twins in 2006.

19. Javy Lopez, 2003 (.328, 43, 109, .678 SLG ) Javy Lopez is one of the better hitting catchers of all time, but unfortunately steroids were likely a factor. Javy Lopez hit 43 home runs in 2003, including 42 as a catcher, which remains the all time record for a single season.

18. Jose Canseco, 1988 (.307, 42, 124) Canseco admitted having used steroids as early as 1988. Now famous for being one of the most outspoken players regarding the steroid era, Canseco won the A.L. MVP in 1988, became the first 40-40 player, and led the A’s to 104 wins and a World Series appearance.

17. Kevin Brown, 1998, (18-7, 2.38 era), Brown won a career high 21 games back in 1992 with Texas, but did not become a consistent dominant force until the steroid era. In 1998, Brown struck out a career high 257 batters, while leading the Padres to their only World Series appearance in the last 25 years. Brown’s 3 year run of dominance from 1996-1998 earned him a 105 million dollar deal for 7 years, the biggest contract ever at the time.

16. Mo Vaughn, 1995, (.300, 39, 126) Vaughn had several great seasons from 1995-2000, including an MVP season in 1995. The Red Sox, led by Vaughn, won the AL East in 1995; their only division title from 1991-2006.

15. Albert Belle, 1995, (.317, 50, 126) Belle had his best season in 1995, hitting a career high 50 home runs, and could have hit even more had the season not started 18 games late due to the strike. 1995 was an unbelievable season for Belle, who led the A.L. in home runs, as well as doubles.

14. Juan Gonzalez, 1998 (.318, 45, 157) Juan Gonzalez was one of the best hitters in baseball from 1992 until 2001, hitting 35 home runs 7 times in those 10 years and winning 2 MVPs. His 157 RBI in 1998 were the most in the American League in 49 years.

13. Jeff Bagwell, 1994, (.368. 39, 116) Bagwell was rumored to have started taking steroids in 1993, the first .300 BA and 20 home run season of his career. 1994 was Bagwell’s best season, though strike shortened, as he won the NL MVP and posted an extremely high 1.201 OPS.

12. Andy Pettite, 2005 (17-9, 2.38 era) Pettite will be remembered most as a Yankee. However, arguably Pettite’s best season was 2005 when he had a career best 2.39 era and helped the Houston Astros win their franchises only 2 post season series, before losing to the White Sox in the World Series.

11. Ken Caminitti 1996 (.326, 40, 130) 1996 was Caminitti’s only 30 home run season, as he helped lead the Padres to a division title. Caminitti won the MVP that season and became a very popular San Diego player, until he later admitted that he took steroids during the 1996 season.

10. Jason Giambi, 2000 (.333, 43, 137) The Oakland A’s, from 1999-2006, were best known for their big 3 starting pitchers; Hudson, Mulder, and Zito. However, from 1999-2001, Jason Giambi tore up the league for the Oakland A’s. Giambi enjoyed an MVP season in 2000, while the Oakland A’s scored 947 runs with a lineup built around Giambi, who had a .476 on base percentage for the playoff bound A’s.

9. Mike Piazza, 1997, (.362, 40, 124) Piazza put up probably the best hitting season for a catcher of all time in 1997. His .362 BA tied an MLB record for catchers and his 40 home runs were one short of Todd Hundley’s record for catchers, but this was likely the product of a 62ndround pick exceeding expectations in big part due to steroids.

8. David Ortiz, 2003 (.288, 31, 101) David Ortiz was released in 2002 by the Twins, but miraculously turned his career around the following season, in 2003 with Boston, and ended up averaging 41 home runs from 2003-2007, while helping the Red Sox win 2 World Series.

7. Manny Ramirez, 1999, (.333, 44, 165) No player in the last 60 years has had more RBI in a single season than Manny Ramirez had in 1999, driving in 165. That season, the Cleveland Indians had one of the best offenses of all time, scoring a rare 1009 runs, with Ramirez in the middle of the lineup, driving in Lofton, Vizuel, and Alomar on a nightly basis. 

6. Alex Rodriguez, 2002, (.300, 57, 142) A-Rod recently admitted to steroid use during his 3 years in Texas, from 2001-2003. Rodriguez had great statistics in all 3 of his seasons with Texas, but his 2002 season featured a career high 57 home runs, 1 more than Ken Griffey Jr. ever hit in a single season.

5. Roger Clemens, 1997, (21-7, 2.05 era) Clemens was arguably the best major league pitcher from 1986 until 1992, a span in which he won 3 Cy Young awards, winning at least 17 games all 7 years. However, Clemens failed to win more than 11 games in any of his last 4 years in Boston, before somehow turning things around in Toronto. Clemens won the Cy Young award and the pitcher’s triple crown in each of his 2 season with Toronto, and his 2.05 era in 1997 was the lowest of any of Clemens’ record 7 Cy Young seasons. Clemens later went on to win 2 more Cy Young awards, with the Yankees and Astros, at the ages of 39 and 42.

4. Luis Gonzalez, 2001, (.328, 57, 145) Luis Gonzalez was one of the better hitters in the league from 1999- 2003, but nobody expected the kind of protection Gonzalez enjoyed in 2001, as Gonzalez demolished his previous season high of 31 homers by cranking out 57. This season also included Gonzalez enjoying the game winning hit in the bottom of the 9th in game 7 of the World Series, as well as a Home Run Derby title. 2001 defined Luis Gonzalez’s career and was one of the best seasons of all time, but was likely influenced by steroids.

 3. Sammy Sosa, 1998 (.308, 66, 158) It was difficult to decide between 1998 or 2001 as Sosa’s most significant season, but while Sosa hit 64 home runs and drove in a career high 160 runs in 2001, Sosa won his only MVP award in 1998 and hit a career high 66 home runs, becoming just the 2nd player ever to crack 61 at the time. Sosa averaged 57 home runs from 1998-2001, hitting the most homers ever by a player in a 5 year period. Somehow Sosa managed to have 3 seasons in which he hit 63 or more home runs, but did not lead the NL in homers.

2. Mark McGwire, 1998, (.299 70 147) 1998 was the year of the epic home run race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa, and the year that most defines the steroid era. McGwire’s 62nd home run excited America, breaking the 37 year old, record. However, these days it seems like people forget how great of a moment it was at the time, after all of the steroid allegations. McGwire posted unbelievable statistics in 1998, with not only 70 home runs, but a .470 On Base Percentage and .752 Slugging Percentage; numbers that were exceeded by Bonds in the first half of the 2000s.

1. Barry Bonds, 2001, (.328 73, 137) Bonds was one of the best all around players before the steroid era really began and may have been clean throughout that period. Towards the end of 1999, after an elbow injury, Bonds’ career seemed to be on the decline . However, Bonds suddenly tore up the league like nothing we have ever seen in the the first half of the 2000s, highlighted by 2001, when Bonds broke the all time single season home run record, set 3 years before by McGwire. Bonds set several OPS records from 2001-2004 and Bonds remains the all time leader for both single season home runs and all time home runs. Notably, Bonds never hit more than 49 homer runs in any season other than 2001.

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Jose Canseco and The Impact of The 2005 Congressional Hearing

Recently I wrote an article asking a very interesting question: “Did Jose Canseco save baseball?” 

I had numerous comments and appreciate everyone who took part in the discussion. I found there were more than two sides to this complex issue. From my point of view, the chain of events that led up to that fateful day in Congress deserves to be looked at more closely. 

Canseco obviously played a big role in the steroid fiasco. He penned a tell-all book claiming that steroid use was rampant in baseball dating back to his glory years with the Oakland Athletics during the mid-to-late 1980s.  And when Canseco was subpoenaed to testify, he was one of the first to comply. 

Bash Brother No. 2 Mark McGwire was once the golden-boy of baseball along with Sammy Sosa and several other superstars that helped return baseball to the “America’s Pastime” status that it had desired for so long.  Unfortunately for baseball (and McGwire), a bottle of Andro was seen in his locker during one of his interviews.  The rest is history. 

As I stated in my previous piece, 2005 was a monumental year for Bash Brother No. 1 and a devastating year for the game in general. 

By the time the book came out, everyone was aware that something was indeed wrong with the game.  Statistics between 1998 and 2004 resembled something out of a video game and their biggest stars were under unrelenting scrutiny—Barry Bonds and BALCO and Jason Giambi’s damnation after his 2003 admission of steroid use to a federal grand jury. 

Why was Congress investigating baseball in the first place?   

According to a 2005 article from the Washington Post, “Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, said the main motivation for the investigation is the rising use of steroids among the country’s children.”

Thomas M. Davis III was also quoted, claiming the game’s integrity was on the line, and here was its opportunity to clear its name:

“There’s a cloud over baseball, and perhaps a public discussion of the issues, with witnesses testifying under oath, can provide a glimpse of sunlight.” 

It was time for the game’s biggest names to set the record straight, end the rumours, and prove that Canseco, who was facing unrelenting heat for the “outrageous” claims in his book, was lying. 

The congressional hearings turned out to do the exact opposite. 

Mark McGwire did not want to speak about the past. With his historic 1998 campaign several years removed, perhaps he misremembered?  I’m not quite sure. 

The Rafael Palmeiro denial, “I have never used steroids. Period.” was obviously not the case, and Sammy Sosa, who proclaimed that he did not break any rules of the United States or the Dominican Republic, was out of the game less than two years later, becoming a shell of his former self. 

If the hearings were meant to clean up the game, they failed miserably, inflicting irrefutable damage that has yet to wear off. 

Turns out that Canseco told the truth.  The question remains: Did he save baseball? 

I think a little bit from column A and a little bit from column B would suffice.  What Canseco did while playing was inexcusable however, his book and willingness to testify did provide some resemblance of sanity during a whirlwind of confusion. 

The game had been tarnished and the congressional hearings solidified that the 1998 MLB season was “magical”, unfortunately for the game to move forward, talking about the past is something that couldn’t be pushed aside.

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

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MLB: Did Jose Canseco Save Baseball?

The year 2005 was indeed an interesting year in the baseball world.

The Chicago White Sox won their first World Series since 1917, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols were again having monster years and Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey Jr., again, rose to prominence.

The 2005 season was also a breakout year for the former MVP and six-time All-Star, Jose Canseco.

In 2005, Canseco rocked the baseball world by admitting to steroids, pointing the finger at many former and current players and releasing a tell-all book: Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big.

Whether it was to again enter the spotlight, regain the glory that was once his or simply get the guilt off his chest, he sure did drop a bombshell, not only on the game of baseball, but the sports fraternity as a whole.

There are certain unwritten rules in sports, and revealing locker-room insights or the off-field antics of your teammates are two of the most highly regarded.

Many dubbed Canseco a rat and a selfish egotistical former All-Star looking to get back at the game that no longer needed him. In fact, Canseco did break the code, in spite of this, he lit the fuse that ignited a clean-up that many deemed necessary.

Canseco’s admission started a chain reaction, a string of events that led to Congress and MLB working together to try and fix the game led off its rightful path.

Many remember that fateful day when Mark McGwire stood before Congress and almost certainly sealed his fate confirming what many believed; he was a user and abuser of steroids.  And how could you forget the finger-pointing protest of Rafael Palmeiro claiming that, “I have never used steroids. Period.”  We all know how that ended.

The Congress fiasco turned out to be a dark day for the game.  Childhood heroes were revealed as frauds and the innocence that encompasses every baseball fan was again shattered.

When looking back, in light of the circumstances, Canseco’s admission was the best thing that has happened to the game in a long time.

As witnessed in the year of the pitcher, the game is again on an even keel. Six no-hitters, including the two perfect games, pitchers enjoyed their best season since before the “Steroid Era.”   

The average runs per game for each team in 2010 was nearly a run lower than in 2000 (5.39 compared to 4.44), and an enhanced drug policy enforcing a more regulated testing system has shown the fans that game can be played clean.

Dubbed the “Godfather” of steroids, and while that may be true, enhancers have been part of the game for years, yet never been fully discussed.  That is, until Bash Brother No. 1 decided it was time to open the lines of communications for one reason or another.

Steroids have made a huge impact on the game, one that will never be forgotten, one that will be remember in infamy long after we are gone.  Future players, managers, executives and GMs will hopefully learn from the mistakes that were made.

Canseco changed the game by what he did, and again by what he did. 

With any bit of luck, this new “Pitchers Era” will bring back the excitement of the chess match that many have been longing for.

Who knew the cleansing of the game would be started by the man you least expected?

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective.

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Sparky Anderson and 5 Men Who Changed MLB Baseball Forever

Former Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers manager George “Sparky” Anderson died Thursday at the age of 76. Anderson was a three-time World Series champion and the first manager ever to lead a team from each league to a title.

Anderson went by many nicknames—Sparky became as much his name as any—but was most famous for being “Captain Hook,” a moniker given to him by the starting pitchers he made a habit of removing sooner and more readily than any other manager in baseball history. Anderson started a trend in that regard: The rise of relief pitching and beginning of the end for the complete game essentially coincide with the start of his Cincinnati tenure.

Anderson became one of the giants of the game from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s and changed the way the game is played forever. Who else has fundamentally altered the sport during its history? Which men have meant enough to the game to really change the course of its history? Here are five men who made the baseball world spin on new axes.

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Future Headline: Roger Clemens Not Guilty!

Most of the media, Major League Baseball, teammates, and most of the public feel that Roger Clemens is guilty of steroid use and therefore guilty of perjury before Congress.

But wait. Reginald J. Brown, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and associate White House general counsel has found a legal argument that he believes could win.

“Congress didn’t do this investigation to determine whether they needed new drug laws,” Brown said. “They didn’t do it to determine whether federal agencies were exercising their proper oversight. They did this to figure out whether Clemens or his trainer were telling the truth, and that is arguably not a legislative function. It’s not Congress’s job to hold perjury trials.” Brown said the argument had been used successfully before to have perjury charges dismissed.

We are not prepared to say Brown is right or wrong. What we are prepared to do is to say Clemens will not be convicted of a thing. And that this trial and any other trial will vindicate him. As long as the facts are largely known and the speculation required for announcing any result in advance remains correct.

The reasons for this belief are both facts and speculation.

First, the facts.

Clemens will have a number of options before trial. Included among those options will be to challenge the indictment on several legal grounds, including the one posed by Brown above. All such challenges will neither vindicate Clemens or make the public believe he was telling the truth. Suffice it to say that if he wants vindication, he will have to have his day in court. Clemens is unlikely to pursue many such challenges, as he clearly wants his day in court.

Second, Clemens’ greatest problem is one of timing. His claim that he was talking with Andy Pettitte about his wife’s use of HGH (human growth hormone) rather than his own use apparently suffers from the fact that his discussion occurred before his wife began her use. This is what is called an admission against interest, and likely admissible at trial. Assuming it is admitted at trial, Clemens and his trial team will have to overcome this issue.

Third, McNamee, the principal antagonist to Clemens, has his own problems.

Roger Clemens’ legal team has given the congressional committee probing Clemens’ alleged steroid used hard evidence that Brian McNamee lied to federal investigators and former Senator George Mitchell at least once, according Clemens’ lawyer. McNamee told probers that, at a party in 1998, Jose Canseco and Clemens had a conversation McNamee believed was about steroids, and that the first time the pitcher asked McNamee about steroids was later in that same trip. Now, Clemens’ legal team has acquired tapes of the June 9 and 10, 1998, games between the Blue Jays and Marlins. According to Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, broadcasters speak about the party hosted by Canseco and the fact Clemens did not attend.

In addition, McNamee was suspended as a NY policeman, and was involved in a police investigation involving the date rape drug. According to the police report, as stated by another website:

According to the police report, a hotel employee saw McNamee apparently having sex with the woman in the shallow end of the pool while the other man stood watching, naked, six feet away. When the three were asked to leave, the employee claimed, McNamee continued having sex, asking, “You mean now?” That was when the employee noticed that the woman was unable to get out of the pool on her own, stand up, or speak coherently, and instructed a co-worker to call the police. A medical report later determined she’d taken a massive dose of GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, a sports drug used for recovery from strenuous workouts, but also known as the “date rape” drug because in larger doses it can incapacitate.

There are other problems that will be attacked, including the very basis for him giving up Clemens-so he could get off federal charges and leniency.

Fifth, celebrities often if not always get away with what many believe are crimes. Witness OJ Simpson and many others. In each instance, with superior lawyers and greater resources, the defense wins.

The speculation is based on several issues of significant note. They are speculative because the world next year, when the trial is likely to take place, could be vastly different from now.

First, and perhaps the most important fact, is that Congress will be the entity against whom Clemens is fighting. The current approval rating for Congress is at 16%, according to Rasmussen, with 56% saying Congress is doing a bad job. This is actually up from a recent 71% “bad job” rating. As Congress is the complaining party here, it should have more difficulty than most in proving its case.

Second, Congress’ poor performance in the public’s view should last until this case will be tried, perhaps well after the 2010 elections. Brown’s argument is one that could be very effective if used at trial. Thus, Clemens will argue that this effort at finding out whether Clemens took steroids should have nothing to do with Congress. And this is likely to be persuasive to many jurors, especially when Congress is so disliked.

Third, the prosecution could have more than we currently know about, and more at the time of trial. We assume that most if not all of what is available is in the public record.

Fourth, many baseball fans want to see this entire steroids controversy go away. And so does MLB. The jury will therefore be more than likely leading in favor of Clemens if they have any sensitivity toward MLB and getting this controversy behind us.

Unless the situation changes in the near-term, Clemens wins. And that is The Real Truth.

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Jose Canseco Living In a Garage; Get Hired As Coach & Designated Hitter

Jose Canseco may want to think of writing a new book or do something extraordinary in order to get out of the current streak of bad luck that he has hit. When Canseco was in his prime, he would date models and drive some of the world’s most expensive cars. Nowadays, it seems like he can’t even afford a nice home.

The former Major League slugger has reportedly been evicted from his home and is currently living in a friend’s garage. This is all coming from the popular tabloid website, TMZ, that still seems to treat Jose Canseco like a celebrity. The website is stating that the former Yankee missed two months of rent at a rented home. 

On his Twitter page, Jose Canseco confirmed the rumors and admits that ever since his controversial book “Juiced” hit shelves, it has been downhill. He goes as far as to call himself “the modern day Frankenstein.” 

The steroid abuser decided to play the blame game and points to Major League Baseball as the source of all his problems. He believes that they have aimed at destroying his life and, apparently, they succeeded. 

Canseco is not shy to express what is currently going on. He expresses his desire to cry, but at the same time, he believes that living in a garage is not too bad. 

He says that he doesn’t mind being poor again since that is how he was raised. But the may not last long as he is back in baseball.

Do not fear. He is not back in the Major Leagues. Jose Canseco was just recently signed to a contract to become a designated hitter and a bench coach for the Laredo Broncos.

It is a short-term contact that will only last the next two Laredo Broncos’ homestand, according to the Associated Press.

Jose Melendez is currently serving as the Broncos’ general manager and he issued a statement on the team’s website on Jose Canseco’s hiring. Melendez said, “He felt baseball was over with. We’re the ones who encouraged him to come back and return to the game of baseball and back to where his beloved fans can see him again.”

Canseco was the mentor to many on steroid issues during his baseball career in the Majors, but now he will serve as a mentor to younger baseball players hoping to keep their dream alive of making it big. 

The Broncos are really excited about signing Jose Canseco that they even decided to state that his signing is the “biggest” in all of Independent League Baseball History. 

Could this be a publicity stunt by Canseco to be on top of the world again? He was on a VH1 show a few years back and he could be looking for a comeback or a television show to make money again. Any type of spare change will be greatly appreciated by Canseco at this point.

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MLB Waiver Wire: 10 Best Waiver Transactions Since 1990

While the July 31st trade deadline gets all the hype, the wheeling and dealing is far from over, as each season there are a number of moves made through waivers after the deadline.

Just last season, big names like Jason Giambi, Jim Thome, and Alex Rios all found new homes well into August, and with the buzz surrounding Adam Dunn among others, this season could again see difference making players moved after the deadline.

Looking back over the last 20 years, I have assembled what I feel are the ten best waiver deals. Some teams acquired a big player to push them over the top in the pennant race, while others stole a prospect from a contender who turned into a star. Either way, these are the ten best of the last 20 years.

Looking ahead, the Blue Jays claimed Jose Bautista off waivers in a deal with the Pirates back in 2008, and that move could very well find its way onto this list if he continues to lauch home runs.

Anyway, here are my top ten waiver moves. Feel free to chime in with any I may have missed.

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