Archive | July, 2010

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Cubs “Welcome” Carlos Zambrano Back, Take Rockies @ Coors Field in Colorado – 7/30/10

Posted on 30 July 2010 by Lou

Carlos Zambrano re-joins the Cubs major league tonight as the Cubs take on the Rockies at Coors Field in Colorado.  Zambrano will pitch out of the bullpen in the near-term, but could move into the starting rotation if Ted Lilly or Carlos Silva are moved before tomorrow’s trading deadline.

Zambrano made a public apology to the Cubs organization in an interview with Pedro Gomez on the MLB network.  Big Z made many comments including the following:

“I know I made a mistake.  I’m a person and a human, and I know when I make a mistake.  I have to come to the team and apologize.  I’m going to do it from my heart.  I want to be clear and at peace with my teammates.”  Ha ha – the idea of Big Z being at peace cracks me up.

“The last person I would be mad at is D-Lee.  He’s a Gold Glover.  I was just mad at myself… A lot of people have told me I needed to change if I want to be successful.  Thank God the Cubs have sent me to the doctor for anger management.  I’ve had three sessions already… doing exercises.  I have to write down every time I get mad.”  This is just too funny.  I can just see Big Z carrying around a little memo pad and pencil.  Someone gets his order wrong at the local McDonald’s and he goes into a rage.  But then he remembers what the doctor told him to do and he calms down, pulls out his little memo pad, and all is better.  Gotta love it…

He is set to apologize to his teammates in person before the game tonight.

Derrek Lee for one is excited to hear what Zambrano has to say — “We’re looking forward to the apology.  That’s what needs to happen.  We also need him on the field.  We know what he’s capable of.  It will be good to see ‘Z’ back.”

This should be interesting.  Let’s see how long Big Z keeps his emotions in check.  They always seem to get the best of him no matter how many times he says he is a changed man…

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Another Series Loss to Lowly Astros – It Keeps Getting Clearer That Wholesale Changes are Needed on North Side – Cubs 1, Astros 8 – 7/28/10

Posted on 29 July 2010 by Lou

Another week, another series loss to the 42-59 Houston Astros – ha, ha, ha!  How does a team take 3 of 4 from the Philadelphia Phillies and then 2 of 3 from the St. Louis Cardinals, but then lose 4 of 6 games to the Houstonj Astros in a span of 9 days.  It just doesn’t make sense.  But then again, nothing about this 2010 Cubs team or this Cubs organization makes any sense these days.  It is becoming more and more clear that wholesale changes are needed on the North Side of Chicago is we expect to see the Cubs win the World Series “any time soon” – whatever that means.  Let’s look more closely at the 2 Astros series.

Last week at Wrigley Field, the Cubs lost 5-11, won 14-7 and then lost 3-4.  This week in Houston, the Cubs won 5-2, but then lost 1-6 and 1-8.  In the 6 games, the Astros outscored the Cubs 38-29.  How is that possible, especially when the Cubs didn’t have to face the Astros best pitcher – Roy Oswalt in any of the 6 games?  It is simply embarrassing and unacceptable.  Today’s loss can be summed up in 1 inning – the 1st – when the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out.  Ryan Theriot led off with a single, Starlin Castro reached base on an error and Tyler Colvin walked.  But as has happened so many times this season, instead of the Cubs breaking the game open with a 4 or 5 run inning, the Cubs settled for 1 lousy run on a sacrifice fly by Aramis Ramirez.  When you have chances like that and you only push across 1 run, you are not going to win a lot of games.  After the Ramirez out, Xavier Nady struck out, Kosuke Fukudome walked to load the bases again, but then Jeff Baker struck out.  What a joke…

Theriot had 3 hits in the loss; Castro had 2 hits and Colvin had 1 hit and 2 walks.  The rest of the team??? 2 walks by Fukudome and 1 hit by Koyie Hill – that’s it.  No more hits, no more walks and because of that, no more runs. The 2-7 Bud Norris with the dazzling 1.61 WHIP and 6.08 ERA manages to hold down the Cubs to just 1 unearned run on 4 hits and 3 walks in 6 strong innings.  It is just too funny.

Randy Wells was cruising along until things started to unravel in the 6th inning.  A Hunter Pence RBI double tied the game at 1 and then a 2-run homer to Carlos Lee gave the Astros the lead for good in the 6th inning.  A 3-1 lead should not really be a big deal at all, but to this Cubs squad, it is almost insurmountable.  Then when you have 2 relievers toss batting practice in the 7th and 8th innings, you are all but assured another loss.  Brian Schlitter gave up 2 ER on 4 hits in the 7th inning and now has a 12.00 ERA and a 2.33 WHIP.  Bob Howry then gave up 3 ER on 4 hits before being replaced by Justin Berg who easily got the last out of the inning.  Why are Schlitter and Howry even on the 25-man roster?  Isn’t there anybody else down in Triple-A or Double-A who can do a better job?

I am getting increasingly frustrated with the product on the field for the Cubs.  It’s a start, with the “indifferent” Pinella leaving after the season, but we have to take a deeper look at what Jim Hendry has done.  All the Cubs “trade-worthy” players all come with a catch.  Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Silva (because of the bad Milton Bradley contract), Alfonso Soriano – we’d all love to move these over-paid, under-producing bit players, but no team in their right mind will take them because of the crazy dollars still owed to each guy over the next year to 4 years.  And who’s fault is that?  Jim Hendry.  The last 3-4 years have been miserable to Jim Hendry in terms of his off-season moves, and it’s time for the Ricketts Family to take a close look at the guy who runs the team’s baseball operations.  Jim must go – and as soon as he does – this Cubs team will get better in a hurry…

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Lilly Agrees to Forego Remaining 2010 Salary in order to Facilitate Trade from Lowly Cubs — Cubs 1, Astros 6 – 7/27/10

Posted on 28 July 2010 by Lou

Begging clearly didn’t do the trick, so now Ted Lilly has had to take drastic measures.  He has agreed to forego the remaining amounts owed to him for his salary for the 2010 MLB schedule in order to convince a team to take him on for the final 2 months of the season.  Groveling on his knees to Cubs GM Jim Hendry didn’t do the trick last week, so Lilly hopes that pitching for free for the rest of the season will help a team decide to pull the trigger on the stellar lefty.  Lilly has grown increasingly frustrated with the lack of run support that he has received from his teammates in 2010. Last night was a perfect example.  Lilly pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 8 Astros hitters.  But when he left the game, the score was still 0-0.  You see, during that time, the Cubs had just 2 base runners against Bret Myers – a double by Tyler Colvin in the 4th inning and a Marlon Byrd walk in the 5th inning.  Yippee!!!

With another wasted outing from Lilly, the lefty is fed up with pitching well and having nothing to show for it.  With a 1.14 WHIP and a 3.69 ERA, it is shocking to see that Lilly has a 3-8 record.  Lilly has now allowed zero earned runs in 4 of his 18 starts and he has won only 2 of those games?!  In 5 of his starts where he has allowed 1 or 2 earned runs, he has a a 1-1 record with 2 no decisions.  Unbelievable.  I know you just have to chalk things up to bad luck sometimes, but this is a little ridiculous.  No wonder the guy is willing to do anything to get traded off of this sham of a team.

Talk about a futile offense at times.  Colvin ended up with 2 of the Cubs 4 hits, while fellow rookie Starling Castro had 1 and Byrd had the other. Colvin accounted for the Cubs lone run with a homer off Myers in the 9th inning.

Andrew Cashner’s streak of good luck finally ran out. After helping Lilly get out of a 2 on, 2 out jam in the 6th inning by striking out Chris Johnson, Cashner imploded in the 7th inning.  2’s were wild as he hit 2 batters, walked 2 batters and gave up 2 hits – with the big blow coming courtesy of a Lance Berkman Grand Slam to deep center.  The 6 runs allowed sealed the Cubs fate, but I like Manager Lou Pinella’s move to keep Cashner in the game after the Berkman bomb.  He showed some toughness once again by getting Chris Johnson to line out for the 3rd out of the inning.

It was another frustrating loss in a long, frustrating season for the Cubs in 2010.  Let’s hope Randy Wells can salvage the series finale on Wednesday.  It’s not looking good, however, as the Cubs trail the Astros 7-1 in the 8th inning.  Ouch…

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Carlos Silva Proves he is Still “Trade-Worthy” in Cubs 5-2 Win Over Astros in Houston – 7/26/10

Posted on 27 July 2010 by Lou

After 2 dismal starts right before and right after the All-Star Break, Carlos Silva pitched 5 “good” innings against the Astros on Monday night to prove he is still “trade-worthy” before Saturday’s looming trade deadline.  Kind of reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Elaine deemed her then boyfriend Billy to be “sponge-worthy” for 1 (or more I guess) of the limited number of contraceptive sponges that she had left when the manufacturer decided to halt further production of the same.  In my opinion, Silva is clearly “trade-worthy” and I really hope that GM Jim Hendry can find a way to move the big (“beefy” big, not just good “big”) righty before Saturday’s trading deadline.

Despite giving up a 1st inning on 2 hits, Silva settle down and didn’t allow a run the rest of the way in his 5-inning start.  He pipcked up his 10th win of the season allowing just a total of 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 4.  His season WHIP of 1.22 and ERA of 3.76 are much better than anyone could have imagined when the team acquired him in exchange for the troubled Milton Bradley.  Now as it turns out, not only did the Cubs get rid of a cancer in the locker room, they also acquired a pitcher who figured out how to re-invent himself in the National League.  His hefty salary for 2011 ($13 million) might limit the likeliness that he will be traded before Saturday, but if the Cubs are willing to eat some of his salary, who knows.  And who knows, even if they can’t move him this season, since the Mariners are paying $3 million of his salary in 2011, the Cubs could decide to keep him another year since he does eat up innings or a team could approach the Cubs this off-season to make a deal for Silva in the winter.

The Cubs offense got a LOT of hits – 13 – but scored only 5 runs. Once again, they blew a lot of good opportunities to break the game open, but at least they got enough good pitching to win the game.  Geovany Soto had a 2-run double to give the Cubs the 2-1 lead in the 2nd inning.  The Cubs added 2 more runs in the 3rd inning on a Marlon Byrd groundout and an Alfonso Soriano double.  Ryan Theriot also hti his 1st home run – a solo shot in the 6th inning – breaking a 700 at-bat homerless streak.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – you gotta love the young relievers in the bullpen.  Andrew Cashner came in in the 7th inning with 2 on and 2 out to end the Astros scoring threat.  And then Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol pitched scoreless innings in the 8th and 9th.  Cashner now has 5 holds, Marshall has 14 holds and Marmol has 19 saves.  Sure, depending on what happens, Cashner and Marshall could both end up in the Cubs starting rotation in 2010, but that lethal trio at the back end of a game looks pretty damn good if you are a Cubs fan.

Ted Lilly makes the Cubs start tonight in Houston in Game 2 of the series.  Will it be the final start in a Cubs uniform for the feisty lefty – guess we’ll have to see how things play out the rest of the week…

OH YEAH — Carlos Zambrano “apologized” to the Cubs organization in an interview with Pedro Gomez on ESPN – we’ll have more on that in the coming days as Big Z gets ready to re-join the major league squad at the end of this week in Colorado!

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Cubs Hang Tough Against Cards in Weekend Series @ Wrigley Field – Cubs 5, Cards 6 Saturday 7/24/10 & Cubs 3, Cards 4 – 11 INN – Sunday 7/25/10

Posted on 26 July 2010 by Lou

The Cubs showed some grit against the Cardinals over the weekend in a “must-sweep series” at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  And while they could finish off the sweep on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, I was impressed with the fact that the Cubs actually won the series.

In Saturday’s 6-5 win, give credit to Tom Gorzelanny for pitching well enough for the Cubs to win.  He tossed 6 innings of 3-run ball (despite 7 hits and 3 walks) to pick up his 4th straight win and 6th overall.

Youth proved useful again as well.  Andrew Cashner tossed 2 innings of relief in the 7th and 8th innings to get the ball to Cubs closer Carlos Marmol with a 1-run lead.  Despite putting the tying run on with a walk in the 9th inning, Marmol got the job done with 2 K’s to pick up his 18th save of the season.  Tyler Colvin led off the game with a home run again and Starling Castro had 3 hits, 2 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.

In Sunday’s tough 4-3 loss, the longball came back to haunt Ryan Dempster again.  Dempster did not have his best stuff, but he gutted out 103 pitches over 7 innings to put the Cubs in position to win the game.  He gave up 9 hits and 4 walks and his 6th inning home run to Albert Pujols ended up tying the game at 3.

Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol each worked scoreless innings of relief, but Brian Schlitter served up Felipe Lopez’s game-winning home run in the 11th inning as the Cubs lost 4-3.  The Cubs had their chances against Chris Carpenter and 4 Cardinals relievers, but they could never push across that extra run in any given inning.  Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot each had 2 hits in the loss.

Carlos Silva goes for win number 10 on the season in Houston tonight.  Silva has not made it out of the 2nd inning in either of his last 2 starts, so let’s hope he puts together a good game tonight…

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Tom Gorzelanny Looks to Make it 4 Wins in a Row — 7/24/10

Posted on 24 July 2010 by Lou

After not getting a ton of run support early, Tom Gorzelanny looks to make it 4 in a row today at Wrigley Field.  Gorzelanny has won 3 starts in a row as he has not allowed more than 3 runs in any of his last 4 starts.

Gorzelanny has gotten off to a bit of a rough start – 2 ER on 3 hits and 2 walks through 3 innings.

But thanks to the Cubs youngsters, the Cubs lead 3-2.  Tyler Colvin led of the Cubs 1st inning with a home run for the 2nd day in a row.  Then in the 3rd inning, Colvin coaxed a walk and came around to score on Starlin Castro’s 2-run bomb to deep center field.  Cubs 3, Cards 2.

Should be a GREAT match-up in the finale on Sunday Night ESPN baseball – Ryan Dempster against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. Can’t wait!

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Future Looking Bright for Chicago Cubs – Cubs 5, Cards 0 – 7/23/10

Posted on 23 July 2010 by Lou

Gimme a break, alright?! I’m just trying to stay positive as Tyler Colvin, Starlin Castro, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner keep churning out impressive performances.  Now I haven’t forgotten that the Cubs are still 10.5 games behind the Cards for 1st place in the NL Central – even after today’s “easy” win.  It isn’t pretty, but at least some of the “kids” that we are betting on haven’t let the frustrating season get them down.

Tyler Colvin is clearly showing that he can play any outfield position every day of the season.  He led off the game with a home run to start the Cubs attack and he has a hit in 6 of his last 7 games.  He’s hitting .263 with a .320 on-base percentage.  In just 227 at-bats, he has racked up 14 HR’s, 37 RBI’s and 38 runs scored.  Not bad for a guy who didn’t become a starter until the middle of June.

Starlin Castro followed up Colvin’s HR with a single, although he was then erased on Derrek Lee’s double play.  He had 2 hits in the win which raised his average back up to an even 300.  July has been kind to Castro – he has a hit in 10 of his last 11 games in the month.  That includes 3 3-hit games and 4 2-hit games.  Simply put – the kid can play and it seems like he has adjusted to other teams’ adjustments to him over the last month or so.  After starting off the season red-hot, Castro’s batting average fell all the way down to .255 on June 24th.  But he has really turned it around since then and hopes to finish the rest of 2010 strong.

Randy Wells has also turned it around of late. Today, Wells worked 7 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and 3 walks.  That makes 4 out of 5 starts in which he has allowed 1 run or less in each start.  The other start – he allowed just 3 ER on 6 hits and 1 walk in a solid 7-inning quality start against the Dodgers in L.A.  Can’t complain about that at all.  After a very slow start, Wells seems to have re-gained his focus.  He lowered his WHIP to 1.37 and his ERA to 4.07 and hopes to finish the 2nd half strong to get back to at least 10 wins (he has 5 wins now).

While Andrew Cashner did not pitch today, his numbers have been phenomenal for a rookie pitcher pitching in tense game situations.  In 23 2/3 innings in 21 appearances, Cashner has a 2.28 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.  He has given up just 6 ER on 19 hits, striking out 17 against 12 walks.  More importantly, Cashner has rebounded from an “unlucky” stretch back in June when he suffered losses in 3 consecutive appearances.  Now that is pretty tough to do as a reliever, but it never seemed to derail the 23-year old rookie.  In fact, since that 3rd loss on June 30th, Cashner has a win and 2 holds in the month of July.  He has given up just 5 hits and 3 ER in 10 appearances in July and has become a trusted option for Manager Lou Pinella in late-game situations.  You gotta love his toughness.

And we cannot forget about Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol being “relatively young” as well.  Marshall threw 2 scoreless innings today, lowering his WHIP to 0.99 and his ERA to 1.78.  The guy has been so efficient and reliable this season – he is the team’s best pitcher by far right now.  Marmol has had his share of shaky outings – but what closer hasn’t?  Marmol has a 2.78 ERA with an acceptable 1.26 WHIP.  He has racked up 17 saves, while blowing 4.  Most importantly, he has had better control this year than he has had in each of the last 2 seasons.  In 45 1/3 innings, Marmol has walked just 33 batters while striking out 85.

Sure, the Cubs are 44-53 and they trails the Cards by 10 games, but there are some nice pieces in the mix.  Once we unload a few contracts this season (Silva, Lilly, Lee) maybe we can bring in some fresh blood via free agency during the off-season that will mesh well the young talented core on the North Side.  Come on, we can be optimistic, right?!

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Breaking News — Ted Lilly Begs GM Jim Hendry to Trade Him – Cubs 3, Astros 4, 12 INN – 7/21/10

Posted on 22 July 2010 by Lou

It’s been confirmed – Ted Lilly got down on his knees and begged GM Jim Hendry to trade him, even if it was a trade to pitch in the minor leagues or Japan.  Well, I’m not sure if that is even allowed – and now that I think about it a little more, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be allowed given the power of Baseball’s Players Union – but Lilly must be kicking himself for being stuck on this atrocious Cubs team.  The Cubs wasted another great Lilly start — 7 1/3 innings pitched,7 hits 1 walk and 6 K’s.  His only mistake was a solo home run to Pedro Feliz to lead off the 8th inning that knotted the game at 1 and potentially cost him a win.  Lilly has a 1.12 WHIP and a 3.88 ERA, yet he has a 3-8 record and he hasn’t won since June 29th.

Meanwhile, the Cubs offense was simply a wreck.  The had plenty of chances – racking up 12 hits and 7 walks – but scoring only 1 run through the game’s 1st 11 innings.  Lilly even scored that lone run way back in the 5th inning after he singled and scored on Starlin Castro’s RBI double.  But after that, it was one frustrating moment after another.  Let’s take a quick look:

The Cubs had a runner on base in each of the 1st 2 innings, but never scored.

In the 4th inning, the Cubs wasted a 2 on, 2 out chance when Koyie Hill struck out to end the threat.

After scoring the lone run in the 5th inning, the Cubs failed to get a runner on base in the 6th and 7th innings.  Then came the heartbreak.

In the 8th inning, after the Astros had tied the game at 1, Marlon Byrd stranded Aramis Ramirez on 2nd base with 2 outs.

In the 9th inning, the Cubs wasted a 1st and 3rd 1-out opportunity.  Alfonso Soriano pinch-hit and popped out to shallow center field (not deep enough to score Kosuke Fukudome from 3rd base).  Tyler Colvin then struck out to end the threat.

In the 10th inning, Starlin Castro led off with a double and after Derrek Lee lined out, the Cubs loaded the bases with walks to Aramis Ramirez and Marlon Byrd.  But Fukudome struck out and Geovany Soto pinch-hit for Hill but flew out to left field to end the threat.

In the 11th inning, Ryan Theriot led off with a bunt single and moved to 2nd on Mike Fontenot’s sacrifice.  Colvin walked, but Starlin Castro and Derrek Lee each flew out to end the threat.

After the Astros pushed across 3 2-out runs in the top of the 12th inning, the Cubs almost rallied back to tie the game with 2 outs.  Soto’s 2-run home run cut the lead to 4-3, and then Theriot singled and Jeff Baker walked to set up another scoring chance.  But Colvin lined out to right field to end the game.

WOW – talk about a team NEVER getting the clutch hit.

Gotta mention Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Andrew Cashner again – these guys combined for 2 2/3 scoreless innings to keep giving the Cubs chances to win.  Too bad the offense couldn’t come through.

The Cubs welcome the red-hot Cardinals this weekend at Wrigley Field – this could be really ugly.  The only good thing going for the Cubs is that they won’t have to face Adam Wainright or Jaime Garcia – 2 of their best starting pitchers…

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Thanks for the Memories Lou – Cubs Rally for Win over Astros in Support of Skipper – Cubs 14, Astros 7 – 7/20/10

Posted on 21 July 2010 by Lou

Thanks for the memories Lou – we are going to miss you – even though we know you already checked out midway through the “Milton Bradley saga” in 2009.  You led us to 2 consecutive NL Central titles and back-to-back playoff appearances for the 1st time in a long time, so we have a lot to be thankful for.  Even though the playoff sweeps and the awful last 2 seasons have been tough to bear, you are a good coach and a good man.

That being said, your team’s performance in 2010 has been so difficult to watch.  After losing to the lowly Astros on Monday night, the club fell behind 7-1 after 4 and a half innings before the team rallied for the win at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.

Ryan Dempster was downright bad – 7 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits and 4 walks in just 5 innings.  He struggled with his control and made a whopping 113 pitches in one of his shortest outings in 2010.

The top of the lineup was raking again:

Tyler Colvin – 1 for 4 with 2 runs scored.

Starlin Castro – 3 for 5 with 3 runs scored and 1 RBI.

Derrek Lee – 2 for 4 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI’s.

But the real hero was Aramis Ramirez who hit 3 home runs and drove in 7 runs.  Finally!

Geovany Soto kept up his hot hitting as well – 2 hits including a solo home run.

Congratulations go to the Cubs bullpen as well.  Andrew Cashner has emerged as a legitimate major league pitcher – 2 scoreless innings in the 6th and 7th. Sean Marshall pitched a perfect 8th inning as did Closer Carlos Marmol.

The Cubs go for the series win on Wednesday afternoon with Ted Lilly on the bump…

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Manager Lou Pinella Anounces Retirement from Cubs after 2010 MLB Schedule – 7/20/10

Posted on 20 July 2010 by Lou

Manager Lou Pinella made it official today – he will retire from being a MLB manager after the 2010 MLB schedule.  This is Pinella’s 4th and final year as the Cubs manager.  Pinella led the Cubs to 2 straight NL Central division wins in 2007 and 2008, but each year the squad was swept out of the playoffs without winning a single game.  The team finished with a winning record in 2009 too – the 1st time that the Cubs had 3 consecutive winning seasons in over 50 years.  The 97 wins in 2008 were also the most franchise wins in a single season since 1945.

Pinella is 66 years old.  He has appeared in 5 World Series battles as a player and a coach and he has 3 rings to show for it (2 as a player and 1 as a coach).

Look for some prominent names to top the list of prospective candidates for the new Cubs Manager’s position.  Ryne Sandberg, Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Joe Girardi, Tony LaRussa and current bench coach Alan Trammell will all be mentioned at one point or another.

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