Tag: San Diego

After Lackluster 2015, San Diego Padres Press on and Must Stay Active

It appears San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller is back to his old tricks.

After making a series of blockbuster trades last offseason, Preller just made two trades in two days, acquiring middle infielder Jose Pirela from the New York Yankees and shipping Joaquin Benoit to the Seattle Mariners.

While these November deals don’t grab the headlines the way that some of the aggressive GM’s trades have in the past, they still point to the fact that Preller is quickly getting to work.

But how do you fix a team that has multiple holes and is coming off one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history? Where do you even begin?

As MLB Network analyst Tom Verducci said on MLB Now, the Padres’ plan is anyone’s guess.

On paper, the Benoit trade seems like a bit of a head-scratcher. Why trade away one of your most dependable relief options when your team ranked 23rd in the majors in bullpen ERA last season?

Clearly, as Ron Darling alluded to in the video above, Preller is looking to get younger and more balanced. After trading away so many prospects last offseason, it is a very smart move to attempt to retool the farm system. 

Obtaining 19-year-old right-handed pitcher Enyel De Los Santos and 23-year-old middle infielder Nelson Ward in exchange for Benoit certainly helps in restocking the system.

But given Preller’s track record with trades, some people, including San Diego Union-Tribune Padres beat writer Dennis Lin, remain weary of the trigger-happy Preller:

What makes the Benoit deal all the more confounding is that, as MLB.com executive correspondent Richard Justice points out in the MLB video below, most people think the Padres are still in win-now mode. Isn’t that what the Matt Kemp acquisition was all about?

In an interview on MLB Network’s Hot Stove on Thursday, Preller said that the front office is going to remain aggressive in the international market while seeking infield support. 

“It’s no secret we are out there looking for help, specifically at shortstop,” Preller told Matt Vasgersian. “You’re always looking for guys who can make you strong up the middle.”

While shortstop Andrelton Simmons is no longer available after being acquired by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim via trade on Thursday, there are some veteran-type players available on the free-agent market such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Alexei Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins.

Either middle infielder would be an improvement over current option Alexi Amarista, who hit only .204 last season with an OBP of .257. In five years, he is a .227 career hitter.

As the Simmons trade shows, obtaining an elite shortstop in a deal means sacrificing a ton in exchange. Given the current state of the Padres farm system, it may be more advisable to seek upgrades via free agency instead.

Another issue that needs to get addressed this offseason is the Padres’ lack of depth in the rotation. There’s also the fact that their lineup is too right-handed heavy, as Preller points out during the Hot Stove interview.

A one-two combo of James Shields and Tyson Ross at the top of the rotation is formidable, but who is going to fill the No. 4 and No. 5 spots after Andrew Cashner’s turn? 

Right-handed starter Ian Kennedy rejected the Padres’ qualifying offer on Friday and will become a free agent, as expected. Meanwhile, internal options seem meek and inexperienced.

Look for Preller to explore outside talent, either by trade or free agency, for one or two additional starters, especially a lefty.

As for left-handed bats, the Padres got a bit of bad news on Friday when outfielder Colby Rasmus accepted the Houston Astros‘ $15.8 million qualifying offer to return to the club in 2016.

The lefty power hitter would have been a good fit for the Padres post-Justin Upton lineup. On the final day of the 2015 season, the Padres scorecard featured only two left-handed hitters, Amarista and Travis Jankowski

After the Padres ended up winning three fewer games (77) than they did in 2014, there is a lot of work to be done for Preller and Co.

Beyond Craig Kimbrel, the bullpen is one serious weak spot.

Beyond Shields, Ross and Cashner, the rotation has holes as well.

On the offensive side, San Diego is hoping to get a boost from a healthy Wil Myers, but they still lack an impact left-handed bat to balance the lineup and make it more difficult for opposing pitchers to match up against.

As Verducci alluded to in the video above, it’s tough to decipher where Preller is going with this thing. It is still extremely early in the offseason, and we don’t have much to go off of, but if last year was any indication, he may be very active again.

As for whether that means dealing more major league talent (such as Benoit) away, or adding a couple big names via trade, we will just have to wait and see. 

Similar to the Oakland Athletics’ Billy Beane, Preller has emerged as one of the most unpredictable GMs in the game.

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Biggest Winners and Losers from Dodgers Offseason

There’s less than three months remaining until Opening Day, and the Los Angeles Dodgers look decidedly different than they did at the beginning of the offseason.

For starters, the front office was stripped down and replaced with a new regime headed by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi.

The metrics-minded duo wasted little time revamping the roster, trading away several popular players in an effort to improve the team in less noticeable ways while saving money and replenishing the farm system.

Los Angeles also saw other players walk away, either for a lucrative deal elsewhere in free agency or simply because they were no longer wanted.

It has been one of the busiest winters for the Dodgers in recent years, and there’s still time for more moves to be made before the regular season begins. For now, though, here are the winners and losers from the first three months of the team’s offseason.

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MLB: Tony Gwynn’s Death and Chewing Tobacco in Baseball

Major League Baseball mourned an all-time great player and person on June 16 when San Diego Padres icon Tony Gwynn died. More than a week has gone by and Gwynn’s death is still impacting others around baseball, particularly those who use smokeless or chewing tobacco.

Gwynn was just 54 when he died following a tumultuous battle with parotid (mouth) cancer. While multiple factors could have contributed to his cancer, Gwynn was always adamant that a chewing tobacco habit that he kept up long after his playing days was the the culprit.

Back in 2010, Gwynn told Bill Center of U-T San Diego that chew was to blame following his original diagnosis. “I haven’t discussed that with the doctors yet, but I’m thinking it’s related to dipping,” Gwynn said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Gwynn’s suspicions made sense.

Chewing tobacco and snuff contain 28 carcinogens (cancer–causing agents). Smokeless tobacco increases the risk for cancer of the oral cavity, which can include cancer of the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, and the floor and roof of the mouth. Other effects include oral leukoplakia (white mouth lesions that can become cancerous), gum disease, and gum recession (when the gum pulls away from the teeth). Possible increased risks for heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive problems are being studied.

The American Cancer Society lists smokeless tobacco as a cause of mouth, tongue, cheek, gum and throat cancer as well.

For decades, Gwynn put pinches, even handfuls of tobacco in his mouth day after day. He started every game of his career by putting a wad in his mouth. This year, a habit picked up while playing rookie ball in 1981 finally caught up with him.

While it may be too late for Mr. Padre, the Hall of Famer’s death has had a positive impact on at least two present day big leaguers.

In the days since Gwynn’s death, Washington’s Stephen Strasburg and Arizona’s Addison Reed, who both played under Gwynn at San Diego State University, announced they would cease their own dipping habits. 

According to ESPN, Reed threw out several chewing tobacco tins in the locker room following the death of his former college coach. He explained how his use came about: 

It’s one of those things where I’ve done it for so long it’s just become a habit, a really bad habit. It was something I always told myself I would quit, like next month, and the next thing you know it’s been six or seven years.

It started to get bad my first year in pro ball and it’s one of those things where I’ve always done it. I’d come to the field and throw one in and have multiple ones. I’d have one on the ride home, one on the way to the field and it was one of those things where I always had one with me.

Strasburg cited his family as an additional reason to give up using, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it. I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction. Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life. [Chewing tobacco is] so prevalent in this game. It’s something we all kind of grew up doing.

Hopefully this is a trend that continues in the majors. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that an MLB survey found that smokeless tobacco use among players is down to 33 percent. It was at 50 percent 20 years ago.

However, Heyman also reported that MLB’s efforts to ban tobacco products in the game all together failed at the last collective bargaining agreement talks:

MLB pushed for a ban at the bargaining table at the last CBA talks, and while only one-third of MLB players still use the stuff, it was said to be one of the last things to resolve on the table. A ban realistically never had much hope.

MLB is said by people involved in the talks to actually have ‘pushed very hard’ for the banning of smokeless tobacco in those discussions, with the players’ union pushing back just as hard to keep it legal in the game. The union, driven on this issue by its players, ultimately won the point, though some rule refinements were intended to lessen usage and the harm caused by it.

With a nod to the concept of MLB players as role models, the players did agree to a program to promote quitting, to keep usage discreet and to mandate spring mouth screenings. But smokeless tobacco, while banned at the minor-league level, remains legal in the majors, provided the can or tin isn’t visible. If it is visible, warnings and finings were laid out.

While it may not be the result the league was hoping for, this program is a good one. With the players union dead set against a ban, keeping the tins out of the spotlight is the next best thing. These players are indeed role models, so when kids see them dipping and spitting, they want to get in on it, too. Far too many young ballplayers have picked up the habit without realizing the potential damage they were doing.

It was in eighth grade when I first noticed my teammates dipping. Think about that. That is a 13-year-old kid on an addictive substance. Naturally, the number of players around me packing continued to grow as the years went by and we got older. Throughout years of high school and travel ball, I was one of only a few not to touch the stuff. At the very least, almost everyone tried it.

I asked a lot of my teammates why they dipped over the years. Some liked the buzz while others just did it because it was used so frequently around them. However, one answer always stood out to me.

“Its a baseball thing” was something I heard over and over again. I always wanted to argue against that idea, but it was true.

No baseball organization has showcased this “thing” more than Major League Baseball. It has become part of the game’s culture, and that is not good. Kids see pros chewing and spitting and they want to try it.

The problem is they do not realize the harm they are doing, the fact that these substances are addictive. Forget that it is a disgusting habit as Strasburg said, it takes years off your life! There is no other reason for a professional athlete to be dead at 54.

In the wake of Gwynn’s death, it is good to see that a few guys have realized the dangers of their tobacco use. The league has already tried to rid baseball of tobacco products. Hopefully players, at all levels, begin to do their part.


What are your thoughts on chewing tobacco in baseball? Feel free to comment below or follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk anything baseball.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Top 5 Issues the San Diego Padres Need to Address to Turn Things Around

Since getting swept by Joe Torre and the New York Yankees in the 1998 World Series, the San Diego Padres have only played playoff ball twice.

Even on those two occasions that they managed to take an underpaid club and over-perform enough to swing the bats in October, they’ve only been victorious once.

Not since Khalil Greene was making acrobatic plays at shortstop before making the throw to Adrian Gonzalez at first base has this team hung an NL West banner. Eight years later, Greene is five years into his retirement, while Gonzalez finds himself playing baseball up the I-5 with Magic Johnson. Meanwhile, the Friars are still trying to figure this whole baseball thing out and turn things around.

It may take some collective prayers.

It may take a complete overhaul of the League’s hatred for parity by implementing a salary cap 

Either way, read on to find out what this club can do to improve.

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San Diego Padres: Five Keys to Success in the NL West

The San Diego Padres and GM Josh Byrnes have left much to be desired this offseason.

They have spent most of their assets on keeping their roster from last season and maintaining their farm system. This may be the best strategy for the Padres considering that they finished with a respectable 42-33 record after the All-Star break.

There is tons of potential in the farm system with guys like Jedd Gyorko, Rymer Liriano, and Austin Hedges.

The Padres will have stiff competition in the NL West now that the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks have proven that they are ready to compete for a pennant.

Here are the Padres’ five keys to having a successful 2013 in the NL West.

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San Diego Padres: 6 Reasons Why the Padres Will Contend in the NL West

As recently as 2008, the National League West was considered a sub-par division and filled with mediocre teams barely breaking the .500 mark.  

In 2005, for instance, the Giants, Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks all finished the season with losing records, while the San Diego Padres won the division with a mere 82-80 mark.

Mediocrity aside, 2013 looks to be an exciting year for the National League West and its fans.  

The Dodgers, with new ownership in place, have already proven that they are not afraid to spend and—on paper—are beginning to look like Yankee teams of the recent past.  The San Francisco Giants are the reigning World Series Champions and have won the title two of the last three years.  And though it may look to be a tough year for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, both teams have decent leadership and could make some noise next season.

The San Diego Padres, moreover, finally look ready to compete.  With new ownership in place, a solid group of players largely unchanged from last season and one of the strongest farm systems in all of Major League Baseball, the Padres are looking to turn some heads in the National League in 2013.

Let’s look at six reasons why the San Diego Padres should be a contender in 2013 and beyond:

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Rick Porcello: Why the San Diego Padres Should Trade for the Tigers’ Righty

As the San Diego Padres continue their search for an additional starting pitcher, one name that has stuck out as a potential trade candidate is Detroit Tigers’ starting pitcher Rick Porcello.

Porcello is in an odd situation with the Tigers, as the team has six qualified starting pitchers but only one available spot left in their rotation. Led by veteran hurlers Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and newly signed right-hander Anibal Sanchez, the final spot in the rotation will either go to Porcello or lefty Drew Smyly

Smyly put together a respectable rookie season in 2012, so it looks like Porcello could be the odd man out.

The Padres could benefit from a pitcher like Porcello in their lineup.  

With only two starters last season (Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez) that pitched over 180 innings, the Padres are in desperate need of a workhorse pitcher that can stay healthy and take them late into games.

Porcello has averaged 174 innings over the last four seasons and is just the kind of innings eater that the Padres need. He is also a ground ball-inducing pitcher who should fare well in spacious Petco Park. With an above-average fastball and a decent arsenal of pitches at his disposal, Porcello would be a wonderful addition to the Padres rotation.

He is only 23 and could benefit from the tutelage of Padres’ pitching coach Darren Balsley as well as manager Bud Black, who was also a former pitcher.  

In my eyes, Porcello is the ideal trade candidate for GM Josh Bynes and could make a fine addition to the Padres staff for many years to come.

Who else do you think the Padres should trade for, should signing a free-agent acquisition prove to be too costly?

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San Diego Padres: O’Malley Purchases Team Pending Approval of MLB

The Padres ownership saga is unofficially complete.

John Moores has agreed to a deal to sell the San Diego Padres to the O’Malley group, according to The Union-Tribune San Diego. The price? A figure close to $800 million.

This move is just another step in the right direction for the Padres. After a decade of highs and lows and ownership uncertainty, the franchise can now focus on future success. The distractions of ownership uncertainty are behind the club. With veteran stars locked up with multi-year deals, along with young stars, the front office looks like it will spend money to re-sign players and attract free agents.

Besides the franchise itself, the big Fox Sports broadcasting deal is included as well. Currently, Fox has the rights to the Padres for three decades, and will pay over a billion dollars to retain those rights.  

The ownership deal is pending approval of MLB owners, which could come in the next few weeks.

However, the last time a Padres sale was pending approval, the deal was deferred. Jeff Moorad was attempting to become the majority owner in San Diego. His attempt to buy the Padres was a failure earlier this year.

As for Moores, the quicker he is removed, the better. History shows that when Moores was dedicated to the team, the Padres had success. But in the later years of his stint as owner, Moores became the opposite. He was less interested in the team, and his desire to unload the franchise was burning.

During his final years, Moores was also involved in a divorce, which was a distraction. His attitude towards the club did nothing but damage in his final years.  

Payroll was also an enemy of Moores. Many times during his time as owner the Padres budget was slashed. If it was not for these cuts in the budget, guys like Jake Peavy and Adrian Gonzalez could be playing in a Padres uniform today.

With a new owner comes a brand new attitude from the top towards the organization. This deal will only help this club improve year after year. With the top farm system in all of baseball, the Padres’ future success is imminent.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Hot Stove: Cubs Win Deal with Padres by Acquiring Anthony Rizzo

For the first few months of the Cubs new administration, it has been relatively quiet on the forefront despite being in the running for several free agents throughout the offseason. However, yesterday Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates, a 23-year-old pitcher from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Nin Ma according to MLB.com writer, Carrie Muskrat.

Although this trade is not in the same league as signing Prince Fielder, nor does this mean that Rizzo will be the projected starting first baseman for the Cubs this season, but Rizzo is undoubtedly a promising prospect that will be a serious component in the Cubs future. It seemed evident Rizzo would be on his way out of Chicago after the Padres traded for Yondo Alonso. With this move, Epstein and Co. were able to jump and grab a premier prospect. 

Rizzo was called up to play for the MLB squad in San Diego last season, but flopped by only hitting .143 in only 35 games. In response to this, Jed Hoyer claimed on an interview with MLB.com that, “It was too early and a mistake on my part, and I don’t think I did Anthony any favors there.”Hoyer of course, was the one who decided to call Rizzo up last season, as he serves as the general manager for the Padres. Despite his lousy start, Hoyer believes that Rizzo is the future of the Cubs.

When asked about thoughts on Rizzo and his future with his new organization, Hoyer said that, “The way we see it is Bryan had a terrific year last year in Triple-A and has been terrific this year in Venezuela. We see him as our first baseman. It’s likely Anthony will start the year in Triple-A.” The Cubs have seemingly found their first baseman for the upcoming years, which is a very spectacular start to the re-building of the Cubs farm system, which has been beyond depleted for quite a while.

Alongside Rizzo, the Cubs also acquired a 23-year-old, Zach Cates, who went 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA in his first ever professional season within an organization. While he may not be the premier pitcher for the system, he seems to have some potential with a lot of time to develop before reaching the MLB level.

In return for these two prospects, the Cubs gave up Andrew Cashner, who was plagued by injuries and thought of by Theo Epstein as a reliever at best for the remainder of his career as well as Kyung-Nin Ma, a solid bat, but only a 20-year-old, who is far from reaching the big leagues. To say Rizzo was well worth it would be a massive understatement.

Disregarding his stint in San Diego, which is not going to do any hitter favors, Rizzo had a phenomenal tenure in Triple-A, hitting .331 with 26 home runs and 101 RBIs. While he will not be the starter this season, Rizzo definitely has a future on the Cubs. Without giving up too much, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer re-acquired a bat they have loved, but gave up for Adrian Gonzalez while serving in Boston last offseason.

Rizzo is a quality bat and with the right training in Triple-A to start the season, Rizzo could prove to be the most underrated acquisition in the Epstein/Hoyer era. While San Diego technically didn’t lose anything, seeing as they have more faith in the abilities of Alonso, the Cubs did gain a very quality bat who could be a solid asset in the middle of Chicago’s lineup for years to come.

Follow DJ Rallo @Str8edgeRallo

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Seattle Mariners: Your Bonafied Postgame Traffic-Planning Commission at Work!

At a Seattle Mariners professional baseball game last night, we were parked in the garage between the football and baseball stadiums in Seattle.  This was a perk for the front-row tickets given my wife by supervisors for all her good work of the past few months.  No nose-bleeders for this group on this warm late-spring night! 

And no hiking tens of miles to the car following the game.  This time we would be the snooty royalty that annoys the masses of peons, and like snooty royalty, we would be parking across the street from the baseball stadium free of charge with the BMWs, Mercedes and exotic sports cars of the world.

Walking only a few yards to the car was really cool. 

But after the game, not getting out of the same parking garage for over an hour, gridlocked in non-moving vehicles just outside the stadium, sort of ruined the thrill of parking in the garage where they charge mere mortals up to $50.  

More disturbing, it became apparent that the traffic planners in our city were either crazy, or deliberately making traffic as bad as they could following typical sporting events.  It was almost as if they were making traffic worse—far worse than had there been no helpful, friendly Seattle police officers supervising traffic flow after games.

How do I know this? 

Because after waiting an hour in toxic fumes that could melt steel, I finally managed to escape the confines of the concrete garage, but was immediately ushered to the east side of Safeco Field where all vehicles did not move.  Nor could they move, because helpful, friendly Seattle police traffic officers were routing all 45,000 vehicles into the same one-lane alley south of the stadium. 

Ironic, because I sort of wanted to go north, and catch the freeway on-ramp that would take me north, that I could see…ever so close.

But the friendly, helpful police traffic officers were having none of that!  Nope, they insisted all traffic go south, right into a big gridlocked mess where nobody could move out of because other helpful police traffic officers were routing everyone where they should not be.   

So there we sat.  For a very long time.  Nobody moving and everybody getting extremely agitated.

Finally, the two-hour mark after the game hit, and like magic all the police officers hopped on their little parked motorcycles and sped away into the night, suddenly leaving all the gridlocked intersections unregulated. 

And once they did, within five minutes the traffic had completely cleared out. 

No more helpful traffic cops equaled no more gridlock.  Who would have thought?

At that point many of us, as we drove home, asked the important and profound question most citizens in Washington State have asked after sporting events: 

“Hey, if traffic is better without the friendly, helpful police regulation following games, perhaps the city is wasting its money by having each and every intersection littered with these fine, uniformed folks?”

Maybe a prudent plan would be to not spend the money for all these lovely traffic heroes, and instead let things be like they are during the rest of the week? 

Why not let traffic do what traffic does, without the “help”?

Once, several years ago, following another game in which this exact same thing happened, I emailed the beloved traffic commission chairperson and suggested this wonderful and intellectual idea. 

And just like the friendly, helpful police traffic officers at every corner last night, he eventually emailed me back with suggestions of various physical activities that I could do to myself. 

He also mentioned that people as stupid as me don’t realize that this was actually a huge traffic improvement.  “You idiot!”

See this is because the Seattle Police Department, in co-operation with the City of Seattle and various inept mayors, has carefully crafted a set of hiring guidelines for every single traffic planner.  Here’s how it goes:


Clause No. 1

If the applicant shows college education or traffic planning experience, that person will immediately be disqualified for employment consideration by the PGSTPC (Postgame Seattle Traffic Planning Commission).


Clause No. 2

If said applicant shows any natural talent for common-sense thinking, that person too, will immediately be disqualified for employment consideration by the PGSTPC.


Clause No. 3

Preferred applicants will normally be found in chimpanzee cages at the Woodland Park Zoo, or found sleeping under bridges in frigid temperatures.


Clause No. 4

Habitual inebriation for each traffic planner is a plus.  In fact, if said applicant arrives at job interview immediately after consuming a fifth of Jack Daniels straight up, that applicant will vault to the top of the stack and may be immediately hired and assigned to supervise all traffic planning for the day, before sobering up.


Contrary to what you might think, the goal of the PGSTPC is not to clear traffic out.  Nope.  The goal is to keep traffic confined in unmoving gridlock for as long as possible. 

Speculation persists that the local business community is behind this reasoning, insisting that the longer you stay in their neighborhood, the more crap you may buy.  Oh sure, most of those businesses are closed by the time the Mariners games are over, but…well, please see Clauses No. 1 through No. 4 if you are confused about this policy.

Also, within the traffic code is the north/south directional concept.  If said vehicle prefers to travel north (because your house is north of the stadium), each and every regulated traffic corridor will insist you go south.  For many miles too.  Conversely, if your house is situated to the south, then the very same traffic corridors will route you north in the opposite direction you wish to go, usually into gridlock and parked contraptions that cannot move.

Years and millions of dollars were spent on little, unknown GPS chips that police officers read from your vehicle as you approach, like they do for the toll bridges.  Particular effort is put into stringent requirements insisting the direction of your vehicle goes in the opposite direction that it should.   


Because it’s fun for intoxicated traffic planners to see all the cars not moving for hours after a sporting event.

And don’t bother screaming at localized traffic cops on corners about all of this, because that will merely make them cranky.  They didn’t do the traffic plan, they merely enforce it.  In fact, when frustrated motorists yell at cops, frustrated motorists may soon find themselves charged with heinous crimes and strip-searched in public. 

What frustrated motorists can do, however, is write sarcastic articles like this one when they get home several weeks later, and then send them to every public official they can find. 

That’ll teach those jerks.

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