New York, New York….It’s a Helluva Town!

The Cubs (5-7) roll into the big apple today, looking to kick off a four game series against the Mets (4-8).  Both clubs have struggled to provide run support to their starting pitchers, however, the Mets have had it slightly tougher in that their starters aren’t exactly providing quality starts either.  Tonight’s matchup at Citi Field:

Cubs at Mets

 

 

R. Wells
Wells ERA 2.92 REC 1-0
Last appearances:
4/14 vs MIL 6.1 IP, 4 ER ND, 7-6
4/08 at ATL 6.0 IP, 0 ER W, 2-0

 

 

J. Niese
Niese ERA 6.55 REC 0-1
Last appearances:
4/14 at COL 5.0 IP, 5 ER ND, 6-5
4/08 vs FLA 6.0 IP, 3 ER L, 3-1

Wells takes the mound tonight for the Cubs.  Last year, the rookie sensation caught fire and didn’t slow down, becoming the Cubs second most reliable pitcher behind Ted Lilly.  This year, with Lilly starting the season on the DL, Wells is expected to continue his success and not suffer a sophomore slump.  Once Lilly returns to the rotation (Saturday) there will be key decisions to be made regarding the 25-man roster and the starting rotation.  Until then, there are a week’s worth a games to be played and the current five man must keep the ship together until Ted is back to help right it.

Both the Mets and the Cubs are looking up at division leaders with 8-4 records.  As expected, those teams are the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Phillies are always a thorn in the Mets side and New York is going to have to figure things out quickly to stay in the race, even though the baseball season hasn’t even flipped the calendar page to May yet.  They will look to start figuring things out against the Cubs tonight.

The Cubs will hopefully face a tired and frustrated Mets team after their brutal series with the Cardinals this weekend which included a 20 inning marathon (the only game the Mets won over the weekend against St.L).  The Cardinals are still the team to beat in the Central so it would do us well to win the series against the same teams the Cards win series against.  I wouldn’t sweat Pittsburgh sitting above us in the standings just yet.  Like I like to say here at Prose and Ivy, “We’ll Always Have Pittsburgh”.  I believe that will again ring true in 2010.  A great start is bound to fall apart for the Pirates.

So tonight the Cubs must win a game they are expected to win once again.  They let us down over the weekend dropping a series to the lowly Houston Astros.  We can’t scoreboard watch this week and be disappointed time and again.  These are games we need to win so the offense needs to be there against a Mets rotation that is struggling to figure things out thus far.  And in order to do so, Lou has devised a brand new line up for three of the games this week where the Cubs face lefties.  A test drive if you will of a line up against opposing left handed pitchers that Lou thinks may result in greater production.  If that holds true, then tonight I could potentially be watching, firsthand, this Cubs line up take on New York at Citi Field:

Byrd CF

Baker 2B

Lee 1B

Nady RF

Ramirez 3B

Soriano LF

Soto C

Theriot SS

Wells P

So far this season, Theriot is 1-for-11 against lefties which forces Lou to move Theriot to the eighth spot in the lineup.  Although is production is down against lefties at the top of the lineup, considering he’s a guy who can get on base and is counted on to set the table for the bigs, for a number 8 hitter, even one who is struggling, we could do a lot worse.  Nady hitting clean up isn’t something I’m thrilled with.  I much prefer Ramirez in the clean up spot considering he’s a stronger power numbers guy and is healthier than Nady right now.  Nady can’t do this every time they play lefties since he is still recovering from elbow surgery.  However, considering they face a lefty pitcher three times this week against the Mets, you can figure I’ll see Nady in the line up in the 4 hold at least once.

I don’t know much about Byrd’s record in the leadoff spot.  He’s a level headed guy with a lot of potential and a quick start to the season so you don’t lose much productivity by replacing Theriot with Byrd there.  If you have Nady hitting clean up, you don’t have Fukudome playing so he’s not an option there.  Soriano is out and no one else makes sense.  That might be more the reason why Byrd hits lead off in this line up.  More of a process of elimination than anything really.  When Sori’s not playing and Colvin is in the line up I’m not sure that he fits in the no. 6 hole quite as easily.  He has shown great patience at the plate though and an ability to go deep so perhaps all Lou would have to do is write in Colvin’s name that day as opposed to Soriano and his line up is still good to go.  I have a feeling I may see the answer to that scenario at some point this week too with the Cubs playing the Mets here in New York for what should shape up to be an evenly matched, intense, equally important to both teams, four game series.

Likely pitching matchups for the next few games are as follows: Wells v. Niese tonight, Zambrano v. Pelfrey tomorrow and then Silva v. Perez on Wednesday evening.  On paper, I like our odds and I can’t wait to see Silva in person.  I’m surprised by his quick start to 2010.

citi-field-hot-water-new-york[1].jpgLooking forward to seeing the Cubs this week at Citi Field…I feel like the circus has come to town.  Go Cubs Go!

That’s the Ticket x3!

Game On!  Let’s make these games count already!

I got my tickets for when the Cubs come to NY and I can’t wait!  Have a ticket to three out of four games as I have to see as much as I can in person this year with the Cubs’ only trip to NY coming first thing in April, only a month away!

Not expecting a lot of long ball seeing that Citi Field’s dimensions are horrendous when it comes to home runs.  So hopefully Lou’s line up table setters in Theriot and Fukudome find their way on base a bunch and Lee and Rami are able to find holes in the outfield to knock them in.  It’s not too hard to find holes in the Mets outfield.  For one, especially without Beltran, they aren’t very good.  Francoeur is a joke.  Bay hasn’t played at Citi Field so getting used to the park and its dimensions will take some time.  As for Pagan, I liked him as a Cub and was sad to see young potential get away.  All in the same, he’s no Carlos Beltran.  All that, plus the fact that the outfield is ginormous (another flaw in the designing of Citi Field) if Theriot and Fukudome can find their way on, we should be starting off those ballgames up a run or two and ready to roll.

Little concerned about Rami’s soreness and the time he is missing this Spring.  I’m watching the replay of today’s Cubs/Indians Spring game right now.  Interesting to see Baker at third.  I figure if he’s making the ballclub, it’s more so for his ability to play second base.  Having a guy who can play third and second wouldn’t hurt as it looks like Lou has wanted to see if Fontenot and Baker both are capable of playing either the left or right side of the infield.  That makes me wonder if perhaps Lou is concerned about Rami as well.

Byrd’s looked pretty solid so far this Spring which is good to see.  We need a guy that can patrol centerfield with authority but also get the job done at the plate.  Rangers fans I communicated with on Twitter were especially disappointed to see Marlon come to the Cubs. I’m starting to see why in watching him perform this Spring and hopefully it continues on into the regular season.

Got my 2010 Cubs club card, my Cubs jacket for early April games, my Cubs jersey and my Fukudome t-shirt ready to hit Citi Field with abandon no matter how warm or cold it may end up being.  Opening Day across the country is always a crapshoot when it comes to the weather and more often than not you end up freezing for at least 2/3’s of the game.  I remember catching one opening day in New York and 50% of the fans in the upper level was standing in the aisles at the corners of the stadium trying to get into the sunny spots and avoid the shade.  Hopefully my dates with the Cubs coming to town in April avoid the usual early season chill factor.

I don’t foresee Samardzija making the club as a starter this year.  We’ll need him to perform well out of the bullpen though with a huge blow to the squad with Guzman’s injury.  Guzman was a guy that made me feel real comfortable with our bullpen and now without him, not sure how this is going to play out.  And Silva?  How do you guys feel about Silva?  I’m not so sure he’s the guy we need to get us through the early part of the season either until Lilly is closer to 100% and ready to step into his usual spot in the starting rotation.

Whatever Lou decides to do, I can’t wait to find out and I can’t wait to see it perform in games that count!

I received a copy of the Maple Street Press’ 2010 Cubs Annual and it’s amazing.  Great coverage of last year with an insightful look into the 2010 season.  All of the photos are in beautiful color and the stat breakdown of each player on the roster is detailed down to the finest percentage of performance.  It’s great to read a high quality observation and analysis of what the Cubs have been lately, what they could truly potentially be in 2010 and what the future holds with a breakdown of the hottest prospects in the Cubs organization.  Two things that really jump out at me right away is that it is as up to date as you can possibly get (the rosters are up to date and accurate…nothing bothers me more than a company that tries to get an annual out to early and for instance, still has Bradley as a Cub and no mention of Marlon Byrd)….the other thing that stands out is that it is 100% Cubs.  That may sound like an obvious observation, but take a trip to Borders or Barnes and Noble or browse on line for a while.  Try to find a preview to the upcoming season that doesn’t simply feed about five pages of Cubs info (that might not be up to date) in a program that runs about 150 pages long.  Hardly worth your money as a Cubs fan.  If you are looking for a truly efficient breakdown of what to expect going into this regular season, pick up a copy of the Maple Street Press’ Cubs Annual for 2010.  You certainly won’t be disappointed.

Hopefully we can say the same thing about our Cubs’ season come Fall and the games hit a point where they could REALLY mean something!  Go Cubs Go!  

Good to See

Bradley’s game saving catch followed by the stare down of the Rockies crowd and a thump of his chest on the way back to the dugout.  That sequence was fun to watch tonight.  Not only because it preserved the Cubs’ lead, but it showed some fire this team has been lacking this year.  The Cubbie Swagger.  I realize winning brings swagger but sometimes the fake it til you make it swagger can bring wins as well, I believe.  And Bradley’s attitude after that play is exactly the kind of swagger this team needs to keep momentum in the NL Central.

I enjoyed watching the replay of Lee heading back to the dugout after a strike out and telling teammate Fukudome about a breaking pitch he had just gone down on.  Fukudome, you could tell, regardless of language barrier understood what Lee was telling him about the pitch and what he was warning him to look out for.  Why?  Because it must not be an English/Japanese thing with these guys at this point.  After playing together so long, I’m sure they’ve figured out a way to simply communicate by speaking baseball.  Whatever it was Lee said sure did do the trick.  Fukudome stepped into the box and sent the first pitch he saw (fastball) straight out to the seats in right field.  Cub fan got a souvenir, Fukudome got his ninth of the year and the Cubs got the win.

Marmol was dominant once again in the eighth.  I watched the game on the MLB Network so it was the Rockies broadcast.  Interesting to hear even their broadcast team talk about how the Cubs have the guy with the nastiest stuff pitching the eighth instead of the ninth.  That’s always been my argument for having Marmol pitch the ninth, but I guess the ninth doesn’t matter with a lead….so….I don’t know.  But Marmol was dominant in striking out the side.  The broadcaster’s point about Marmol falling hard to the first base side when he pitches was interesting too.  I’m sure it doesn’t help in painting the corner against a lefty or coming inside accurately to a righty.  In fact, I could see it making so much sense that I bet if we had a total of hit batsmen by Marmol, it would favor righties for a number of reasons, but mainly that one.

Then Gregg came in in the ninth and did his thing.  Couple balls hit really well but the Cubs had the field covered perfectly and Gregg added a save and the Cubs put one more up in the W column.  Interesting to see the Cubs are 55-15 when they score 3 or more runs.  70 games with at least 3 runs.  For as much as this team has struggled and missed having their whole lineup this year, I don’t think I would’ve guessed that they would’ve hit 70 at this point. 

Anyone else thoroughly enjoy Theriot’s stop and toss to second?  One of the guys I truly enjoy watching day in and day out.  Why did we see Fuld and Baker late in the game again?  Are they that great of an upgrade defensively over the guys they replaced?  I don’t think so but the ninth worked out, so perhaps?  Anyone else impressed with how many Cubs fans were at the game?  Felt like every other person in the stadium had Cubbie blue on.  Along with the other details of tonight’s game….good to see!

Getting married in two weeks from today.  In two weeks from today I will have been married for nearly seven hours.  Wow.  Funny when I can feel it set in a little deeper.  Talking about it of course quite a bit lately but every now and then, you can just feel it set in a little deeper.  Tell you all about it in a few weeks…honeymoon in Vegas the week after.  Vegas baby. : )

In the meantime, let’s keep it up boys!  Go Cubs Go!  And Happy 21st Anniversary to night games at Wrigley!
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Bang for Your Buck

I want to know if your team gives you enough bang for your buck.  And by ‘buck’ I mean it in a number of different ways.  The financial investments: tickets, merchandise and maybe some of you like myself with the Cubs, a way to watch the games like MLB.tv.  The emotional investment: the time spent watching games, the energy put into rooting for your team, the mental effort put into analyzing the decisions your manager or general manager make with your club and the amount of heart put into celebrating your team’s victories/agonizing over defeats/arguing with fans of other teams, especially rivals over whose team is better.

Take the Cubs for instance.  You arguably can’t get more bang for your buck.  The moment a new title pennant flies at Wrigley, the Cubs would be the team that give its fans more bang for their buck than any other team in baseball.  The history: huge.  The drama: unmatched.  The stadium: historic.  The reputation their fans have with other fans: lovable losers…basically bottom of the barrel, respected yet bashed with glee (especially by their rivals’ fans).  The players…just to name a few: Soriano.  Ignites Cubs games on a regular basis with leadoff home runs.  Regular representative of the team come the All-Star game.  Raises the heat on debates on where in the order he should hit.  Carries himself like a professional and makes Cubs fans proud to root for him.  Bang for your buck?  Absolutely.  

Theriot.  Awesome nickname: The Riot.  Awesome first name: Ryan.  It is my name and sounds like Sandberg’s first name.  Hard to go wrong there.  Hustles on every hit ball and is among team leaders in all hitting categories.  Helping carry this team during a very tough stretch where extremely important keys to the team’s success have been injured.  Bang for your buck?  You bet.  

Bradley.  Controversial off the bat (pun intended) which is always entertaining providing lots of bang for the buck.  A huge threat when hitting well and finally in a long term deal, first of his career.  Love hate relationship with the fans….love hate relationship with the media…love hate relationship with…I’m guessing you name it.  Bang for your buck?  Possibly only Zambrano tops Bradley for most interesting character on this team.  

Lee.  Batting champ on the resume.  Team leader.  Scapegoat.  Absolutely dangerous when he hits his stride.  Hoffpauir hot on his trail causing fan debate as to whether it’s time to let Micah take the role full-time away from Lee.  Talented, hot topic, leader in the clubhouse and proven winner.  Bang for your buck?  Please, absolutely.  

Soto.  Rookie of the Year.  Sophomore slump.  First rookie catcher to start an all-star game in forever.  Handles one of the most talented starting rotations in all of baseball and from what I’ve read on several female Cubs fan blogger sites…apparently the ladies are big fans as well.  Bang for your buck?  YUP.  

Fukudome.  Please.  From the off-season where all we could talk about as Cubs fans was will he-won’t he up through opening day against the Brewers at Wrigley to the cool headbands, through the hot first half of his rookie season to the crash of his second half and a decent start to ’09.  Plus you know the club must be thrilled with what he does for the organization in overseas merch and interest in the club.  Bang for your buck?  Tons…and bang for your yen as well for that matter.
The bench. This is where you really tell if you’ve got a team that gives you bang for your buck, or just a few over-priced stars and everyone else who happens to dress the same as them everyday.  The Cubs’ bench has managed to step up and keep our team in the thick of the NL Central race and provided fans with quality guys to root for.  This bench as a whole has become the 2009 version of DeRosa when it comes to heart, versatility and ability to step  up and fill in in a crunch when injuries happen.  Without our talented bench, the Cubs would be in a lot of trouble right now heading into the the thick of Summer.  Bang for your buck?  Over and over again (thankfully). 

Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, Dempster, Marshall.  You bring your guys and we’ll bring ours.  I like our chances, injuries, ups and downs and all.  Bang for your buck?  No matter what day it is, you got it.  Especially Zambrano.  Bananas.  Cramps.  Tantrums.  Strikeouts.  Opening day starts.  No hitter.  Team Ace.  Beating up catchers in the dugout.  And a ton of heart.  Bang for your buck?  Maybe the definition of said phrase.  
Like I said…this club could arguably be the one team in the league that provides the most bang for your buck.  And I’ll go ahead and say it flat out, I believe they do just that…and there is no argument to be had come the day they raise a new World Series title pennant.
Cubs fans…think of a reason this is true that I forgot to list?  Tell me in the comments.  And fans of other teams who disagree and believe that their team in fact gives them and their team’s fans more bang for your buck…tell me their too.  Interested to hear your thoughts.
Great run lately for the Cubs.  Love the fight we’re seeing and loving that with even with all the injuries, we are right in the thick of this thing.  Harden’s turn tomorrow in Detroit.  And since I mentioned Ryne earlier…as a side note, I completely agree Ryno.  Completely agree. Go Cubs Go!

10 in 10…How Appropriate

winningest MLB teams.pngTen innings of history in the making.  One of the most exciting games of the year lead to the Cubs taking a two game lead in the NL Central, a five game winning streak to the extended status of six games in a row and their record to 10,000 wins all-time!  Only the second team to reach the 10,000 win mark ever!  Wood goes down in the books as the winning pitcher, even though he blew the save (a weird consolation prize the way baseball scoring works, you’d have to admit) and Marmol got the save.  Loved seeing Marmol come in and get the save…it’s not even that Wood pitched poorly, just a couple of pitches got away from him and he paid for it.  With a ‘W’.  Again, weird.  More thoughts on this to come when its not so late…for now, let me announce the new Prose and Ivy Chat board here on the blog that you can find me in during most games.  Feel free to come by and say hey on game days.  Until I get a chance to post more, here were my in game thoughts I posted in the chat board (in case anyone happened to stumble across the chat board during this history making event:

  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: c’mon hill, let’s go!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: look at soto go…and cedeno getting some respect! (i know, its to set up the force outs, but still, Cedeno’s slam=RESPECT
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: lee and ramirez…good times for cubs fans…not so much for opposing pitchers!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: soto 3-for-3!  nice!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: theres the first blemish on hill’s night 3-1 Cubs
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: wuertz is horrible
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: this could get ugly quick
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: wow, that sixth inning was hard to watch
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: gotta love the fight in this team!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: fuku-dome!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: fuku-dome!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: they are SCARED of him!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: do it for michael johns derosa! : )
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: f*ck
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 10,000 just may have to wait another day…bot 8, 5-4 COL…
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: here we go bot9
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 1 away…
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 2 balls to Lee…
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Lee gets on base and the lead run comes to the plate in Ramirez!!!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: pie in to run for Lee!  strike one to Aramis
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Ramirez on a 1-2 pitch…deep to left field for the LEAD, 6-5!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Hey Hey!  I almost called it to right….I could feel it coming and then BOOM to left!  AWESOME!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 7 8 9 coming up for the Rockies…a combined 1 for 6 on the day (and one guy hasn’t even hit yet!)
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: wood comes in and immediately 0-2, a ball and then STRIKE THREE
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 1 away
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: let’s go Wood!  let’s go!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: and again STRIKE TWO!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 2-1 count on Podsednik
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: base hit
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: damn
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Let’s go Wood
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 6 game win streak…10,000 overall on the line..Wood v. Spilborghs!  (who saw that  coming for the history books?)
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: are you kidding me?  6-6 and it has to be a guy named Podsednik off a hit by some no-name Spilborghs???
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: and of course Barmes….strike three.
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: way to go Wood.  history class dismissed.
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: here come the cubs in extra innings again
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: ward intentionally walked
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: c’mon theriot..how about a 10th inning RIOT
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: theriot hitting .365 for the month of april…
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: And in comes Fontenot making it 7-6 Cubs….somebody get Marmol up and ready!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: after all these years leading up to win 10,000, what’s another inning?! :)
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: heading into the bottom of the ninth…did I say history class dismissed?  My bad, sit back down, that bell didn’t ring yet!!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: all kinds of wins this year…could number 10,000 all time and six in a row be of the one run, extra inning variety?  perhaps!  bot 9 up next!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Awesome…Marmol it is.
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: Go Cubs Go!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 3 fouled off pitches, helton making marmol work for this one
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: pitch 8 to helton is hit to cf and pie puts it away…one down!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 2 strikes to holliday…how about something to celebrate this holliday?
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: annnnddd……
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: ball 1…seven pitches in to a full count…grounded to first!!!  celebrate this holliday: 2 away!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: atkins takes strike 1
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: COME ON MARMOL!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: BALL 1
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: BALL 2
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: AND MARMOL GETS THE THIRD OUT BY CATCHING THE INFIELD FLY!  ATKINS IS OUT
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: CUBS GO 15-6 ON THE SEASON!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: 6 GAME WINNING STREAK IN TACT!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: AND THE ORGANIZATION GETS ITS 10,000TH WIN!  Way to Go Cubs!  Way to go Marmol!  Go Cubs Go!!!!  What a great game to represent this milestone in the baseball history books!  Cubs Win!  Cubs Win!
  • Prose and Ivy Ryan: What a great game.

10000 win flag.png10,000 and counting.  Great time to be a Cubs fan.  Go Cubs Go!  (Can you believe the Pirates are in at number 5 all-time??  Perhaps, but not with much help in recent years!)
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You Know What It Could Be?

Worse. 

It could be a lot worse.  So what, two games down, no wins to show for it.  Its two games.  Soriano will be leading off tomorrow and well see how that goes.  It wont be the first time Lou switches up the line up and thats to be expected.  Its not like we were going 1-8 like that for 162 games anyway.  Lets see if Soriano up first against the Brewers makes a difference.  Soriano loves the leadoff spot and Theriot says the spots where hes most hit most and is most comfortable.  It was all about Sorianos legs…protect Sorianos legs in the 2 hole…and now Piniella feels hes running just fine so he will hit him lead off.

It was great to see Lee go deep today.  He had a great day which is refreshing after his Spring…the sooner he can get going the better.  Especially with Soriano and Ramirez drawing nothing but zeroes today.  Somebody has to be counted on and hopefully with one game left against the Brewers in this opening series, we can get a W and leave only down a game kicking off the season.  Again, its one thing to lose games up front, but to lose them to a team in your division is a whole other story.

lilly pitching game 2.pngI would have liked to have seen Lilly have a good first outing.  He got batted around pretty bad.  Hopefully hes able to pull it together for his next time out.  Tomorrow, Dempster will find himself warming up in a whole different scenario.  Lets hope he has a different outcome and the bats show up to help him out.  Would love to see him get to a save situation so we can see if Woods horrible outing was just nerves or something else.  I still think Marmol should be the closer, but if were going with Wood, the sooner he can get it going (just like everyone else on this team), the better.  And Im sure he will.  Im sure everyone will and we will be just fine.  (Did I convince you?  Not even sure I convinced myself…)

Go Cubs Go…beat those Brewers tomorrow!
(And as for all those apostrophes that were left out of this post?  I left them out on purpose in honor of Mr. Cub and his new statue outside Wrigley.  I can’t believe they forgot the apostrophe!)  Here’s the story if you haven’t heard alreadyLETS PLAY TWO)
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