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Two unrelated Essays

October 18, 2017


Two Unrelated Essays

1)  What is that Catcher Doing?


              Somebody has pointed out to me (I think. . .it was twitter, and it is often difficult to understand what people are trying to say on twitter). . .somebody has pointed out to me that at some point in the past, I may have advocated limiting catcher’s visits to the mound.   I don’t doubt it.   But this is the way I see it now.  

              I promise you, guys; limiting catcher’s visits to the mound is going to do no good whatsoever.  None.  They’ll just start wasting time some other way.   The new one is bringing equipment to the players in the field. . .sliding gloves to the runners, etc.   Now they’ll start doing that.   People will start changing gloves when they go into a shift, and they’ll start holding up the game to bring out a new glove. 

              There are a million ways to waste time within a baseball game, including but not limited to:

              1)  Excessive visits to the mound,

              2)  Excessive and unnecessary pitching changes,

              3)  Pointless throws to first base,

              4)  Delaying the game for replays,

              5)  Delaying the game while you decide whether you need a replay,

              6)  Selling extra commercials between innings,

              7)  Going back to the dugout to get new equipment,

              8)  Fake injuries,

              9)  Arguments,

              10)  Stepping out of the box between pitches,

              11)  Pitcher taking excessive time between pitches,

              12)  Infield conferences,

              13)  Fans running on the field,

              14)  Umpires conversing to make sure they have calls right,

              15)  Stepping out to relay a signal from the bench to the coach to the hitter,

              16)  Going through the signals again,

              17)  Re-aligning the defense (shifts),

              18)  Waste pitches on 0-2 and 1-2 counts,

              19)  Deliberately fouling off pitches rather than trying to put them in play, and

              20)  Changing baseballs for no apparent reason. 

              I promise you that we are NOT going to solve the problem of slow games by regulating these things one at a time.   It can’t happen that way.  It’s a whack-a-mole strategy.  The average time of a game will go down two minutes next year, and then it will go up four minutes the year after that.  

              The way to solve the problem is, either set up a system to reward teams for playing games briskly, or set up a system to punish teams (economically) for playing slowly.  

              Set a goal.   I would suggest that games should ordinarily be played in two hours, but if you want to make it 2:30, 2:40, that’s OK.    There is absolutely no reason why baseball games could not be routinely played in an hour and a half.  

              Whatever it is, you need to vary the expectation by the number of plate appearances in the game, and the number of half-inning breaks in the game.   Let’s say that the standard should be one minute per plate appearance, plus two minutes per half-inning break, plus ten minutes a game.  In 2017 that works out to two hours a game.  

              If a game meets that standard, each team might get. . . they might get an allowance to spend extra money in the amateur draft, or they might get points toward a better draft position in the second round of the amateur draft, or they might get a better position in the Rule 5 draft, or they might get money from the TV contract, or they might get the right to keep 41 or 42 players on their 40-man roster, or they might get home-field advantage in the post-season, or they might get the right to keep a computer in the dugout.   They get some sort of meaningful competitive advantage, or some combination of meaningful competitive advantages.   They might get an extra series at home.   Two three-game series at the start of the next season are designated "flexible series"; whichever team has a better record of playing the game briskly gets to host those two series.   If your games drag, you’ll wind up playing 25 series at home and 29 on the road.   You’ll think twice about wasting time unnecessarily.   (You’d need a provision in that rule that as long as a team meets a certain standard of timely play, they can’t lose a series, whereas if one team allows its games to drag and the other does not, then they can lose a home series.)

              Or you could punish teams instead for playing slowly.   Generally speaking, rewards are much more effective incentives than punishments.   Many times you can accomplish more with a $20 reward than you can with a $200 punishment; that’s Parenting 101.   The NCAA problems are largely created by the failure to recognize this; they distribute awards based on how good your team is, and enforce rules by punishments.   Doesn’t really work.   Anyway, that’s another argument. 


2.  What is that Quarterback Doing?


A Pox on Both Your Houses


              I am sure you are all tired of this controversy, but I haven’t seen anyone else who has exactly my take on the subject, so I’ll share.   I believe absolutely all of the following.

1)  Colin Kaepernick has every right to protest, and no one should try to deny him the right to say what he has to say in this form or any other,

2)  Other people also have every right to be offended by it, and people who are offended by what he does have every right to discriminate against him because he has offended them.  

3) I’m not offended.  I’m fine with it.   If my team signed him, I’d have no problem with it.   Whether an athlete stands for the National Anthem is a trivial non-issue to me. 

4)  Kaepernick is a jackass.

5)  He threw away his career, and now he wants somebody to save it for him.  I’ve got no sympathy.   I mean, if somebody needs him and somebody signs him, then I wish him luck; I wouldn’t boo him and I won’t root against him.  

6)  Kaepernick has to accept that there are expectations for behavior for an NFL quarterback that go far beyond the written rules, and well beyond the rules that apply to the rest of the team.   You cannot start a fight that divides your team; you can’t do it.   It doesn’t matter whether you are right, wrong or otherwise; it doesn’t matter whether you are fighting for justice or fighting because you like to fight.   You can’t do it in either case.  

7)  I really don’t get why any sportswriter would not understand that.   It seems to me that they must be pretending not to understand it, because they want to Stand Up for what is Right.  They want to salute the flag of anti-racism.   I can’t believe that they are actually so dense as not to recognize that being an NFL quarterback is an extremely privileged position, and, as such, has very high expectations as to how one should behave.  

8)  The President has every right to weigh in on this controversy if he chooses to do so, and I have no problem with what he has said.  It’s his opinion; he can say what he has to say, just as Kaepernick can.  And he’s a jackass, too, and he doesn’t seem to recognize the expectations that go along with his position, either, but he still has a right to his opinion. 

              Kaepernick isn’t a jackass because he is protesting; he is a jackass because he wants to lecture the rest of us about why he is protesting, and he is a jackass because he wants to whine about other people being mean to him about his protesting.   That’s part of the deal, buddy.  

9)  We’re overlooking the root of the problem.   The root of the problem is enforced patriotism.   Forcing people to go through patriotic gestures has always been a poor idea.

10)  And we’re doing way too much of it.   My understanding, which could be wrong, is that singing the National Anthem before a game only dates back to World War II, which was just a few years before I was born.   Now we have four patriotic ceremonies a game.   There is a flag presentation ceremony (somebody in uniform comes out and displays the colors before the National Anthem is played), then there is the National Anthem, then there is the playing of God Bless America, then there is the soldier who has served his country that we are all supposed to stand and salute.   It is too much.   KNOCK IT OFF.  Stop ramming this stuff down our throats, and the whole problem will go away.  Keep force-feeding us patriotism, and we’ll be fighting about this for the next 30 years. 

11)  And stop telling veterans to salute the flag when everybody else is standing with their hands over their hearts. I didn’t like saluting when I was in the Army; I don’t like it now.   I don’t WANT to be singled out for my service. 

12)   Patriotism is taken by one group of people to mean respect for the services and sacrifices of our soldiers, and by another group to represent tolerance of our failures to do justice for all citizens.   And you’re both wrong.   Patriotism is not about the soldiers.   It is not about the veterans.   It is about the country.    And it is not supposed to imply, and it does not reasonably imply, that we are a perfect country that has no failings.  

13)  I don’t think that patriotism is either of the things that the partisans in this group are trying to make it, but that’s up to you.   If "patriotism" to you is tolerance for racism and you wish to protest that. . .well, OK, protest it.   If "patriotism" to you is only about the soldiers. . .well, OK, respect the soldiers.   Salute the flag all you want to; I’m not offended.   My view is:  you all have the right to say what you have to say.  

              But none of you are actually advancing the causes for which you believe you are fighting by acting like jackasses.   Colin Kaepernick and the other flag protestors are not actually advancing the cause of racial justice; they are actually pushing it backward, forcing us to fight about things that we could all perfectly well agree on and would be perfectly happy to agree on.   And Donald Trump and his associated flag wavers are not actually doing a damned thing to advance patriotism or patriotic feelings for our country by staging empty rituals at sporting events, or by criticizing those who choose to sit them out.   Are you sincerely trying to unify the country around the flag, or are you trying to divide the country by fighting about the flag?   Because it is pretty clear which one of those is happening.   


COMMENTS (69 Comments, most recent shown first)

Marc Schneider
Marisfan 61,

Gee, I never thought about putting in the oral sex part. Too bad.
8:44 AM Oct 25th
For the benefit of those who may not have been conversant with '70's/'80's Village Voice/NY Review of Books 'personal ad' style:

"Simple living SWM, likes long walks on the beach, sitting by the fireplace, x-word puzzles on Sunday mornings, into Toulouse-Lautrec, Proust, oral sex, and Mendelssohn, seeks like minded female for casual conversation, light beatings, possible marriage. Religion not important but please be large breasted."
8:45 PM Oct 24th
Marc Schneider
When I was involved in personal ads in my single years, I was a SJM often looking for or being contacted by SJFs. :) W was basically redundant as 337 suggests.

My understanding of the pejorative sense of SJW was that they were overly zealous as Jeff's example suggests. I have trouble with a lot of the identity politics crowd but, as others on here suggest, calling people a SJW or a socialist or a racist or a fascist is, in most cases, simply a way of dismissing their arguments and/or not being willing to engage in more nuanced arguments. (Although, obviously, there actually are socialists, racists, or fascists, that's not usually the context.) Within any category of political (or any other kind of) thought, there are extremists, ie, people who take their arguments to the (ill)logical extreme and who see the world entirely through a single ideological lens. Personally, I've been called on FB both an "arrogant liberal" who "went to Berkeley" (I wish) and "a white male" whose position therefore was not deserving or attention.

But one problem is that both liberals and conservatives conflate the most extreme positions of each other to represent the whole. In a lot of cases, the issue is not what one person says or thinks but what the other person assumes he thinks. If you can get past the labeling and exaggeration, in many cases it's possible to come to some meeting of the minds. But it's largely impossible to do on social media, which is an echo chamber.

2:20 PM Oct 24th
BTW, anyone who doesn't get the Bouton reference, look it up under Greg Goossen (I think). It's almost as good as Casey's quote about him. ("Got this kid, Goossen, very good, just 20, and in 10 years he has a chance to be 30.")
12:12 PM Oct 24th
I've always thought social justice and anti-fascism were good things. But there's a lot about the current political environment that I just don't get anymore.
11:51 AM Oct 24th
(, I wrongly vilified New York Magazine -- come to think of it, they didn't use abbreviations. It was the Village Voice and the New York Review of Books. Maybe I blocked on them because anyone who admits knowing about them is obviously a SJW.) :-)
11:02 AM Oct 24th
I still think it looks like something from one of those old personal ads in New York Magazine.
10:55 AM Oct 24th
Or in other words, 'SJW' is a pejorative term used to denigrate the motivations behind liberal views without addressing their content.

I'm the last to deny that a lot of nonsense gets written in the name of identity politics, of which I am no friend. But a label is not an argument. This applies no less when the label is 'SJW' than when it is 'racist'.
7:11 AM Oct 24th
Marisfan, you're wondering about "SJW"? Here's Urban Dictionary on it:

social justice warrior
A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation.

A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will "get SJ points" and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are "correct" in their social circle.

The SJW's favorite activity of all is to [b]dogpile[/]. Their favorite websites to frequent are Livejournal and Tumblr. They do not have relevant favorite real-world places, because SJWs are primarily civil rights activists only online.

A social justice warrior reads an essay about a form of internal misogyny where women and girls insult stereotypical feminine activities and characteristics in order to boost themselves over other women.

The SJW absorbs this and later complains in response to a Huffington Post article about a 10-year-old feminist's letter, because the 10-year-old called the color pink "prissy".

Commenter: "I don't like getting manicures. It's too prissy."

SJW: "how *** dare you use that word, you disgusting sexist piece of ***!"


In other words, to the extent that you and I participate on chat boards that are NOT echo chambers (i.e., ones on which dissenting thought is welcomed), and to the extent that we do not need 20 virtual friends to back up everything we say (as Mr James does not), and to the extent that we spend real money and time (not just texting and commenting) on our issues, we avoid being "Social Justice Warriors."

You might research the goings-on at Google. According to all accounts, they've got a large fraction of their workforce dedicated to "enforcing" correct speech -- not doing Google work, but doing social work. The phenomenon could spread like a virus if clear-thinking people don't point out the need for diversity of thought.

A pro-Trump chat board ought to be able to list 20 positive things about Hillary. And vice versa. If we can't draw a ledger and list things on both sides, we are not "analyzing." We're advocating - often thoughtlessly.

.. hey, you asked. That's SJW.


1:55 PM Oct 23rd
P.S. about "pre lights days," in case this isn't well known; in fact if what I'm going to say isn't right, it's not well known to me either: :-)

If it got too dark to continue playing, the game just ended -- it was considered over. Including, I think, that if it was a tie, it was just considered a tie. (All assuming that it was at least 5 innings, or 4½ if the home team was ahead.)

SO -- the only incentive for either team was to keep playing well, whatever they considered that to be.
No problem -- and no similarity to this thing here.
11:58 AM Oct 23rd
(i.e. except for the exception that he noted)
11:22 AM Oct 23rd
Jwilt: It's like Steve161 said.
There's no similarity at all (to say nothing of "analogy") between "pre-lights days" and this.
11:21 AM Oct 23rd
Marc Schneider
I don't know if you can ever really reduce game times significantly because the game is so much different. If you look at games from the 50s or 60s you saw hitters making outs on the first or second pitch. No one put much value in walks; the way to make money was to get hits, not walks. So there was much more contact. Plus, there were fewer guys who could hit home runs so pitchers (with no DH) could be more aggressive and, being expected to go all the way or at least late, had every incentive to get at bats over quickly. To me, it's the long at bats, the endless foul balls, the long counts, and the numerous pitching changes, and the fiddling around that pitchers and hitters do that kills the pace. But I don't now how you change that. Hitters aren't going to stop working deep counts; pitchers don't face many guys like Mark Belanger any more.
11:13 AM Oct 23rd
Why would they, jwilt? There was no incentive, financial or otherwise, to finish the game before it got dark. With this one exception:

Back in the day when more games were permitted to finish prematurely because of weather or light, I can remember rare occasions when players on the team with a comfortable lead would essentially punt at-bats in order to complete five innings and make the game official.

Didn't happen often, but it did happen. And those cases were about winning, not about accumulating gold stars for beating the clock.
7:39 AM Oct 23rd
MarisFan... did players rush around like chickens with their heads cut off in the pre-lights days? If it was 15 minutes to dark did they totally go nuts?
6:30 AM Oct 23rd
If a waiter at a restaurant pushed his/her political views while describing the specials the customer has every right to complain or walk away. The restaurant owner has every right to fire the waiter.

The New York Times ran an editorial supporting Kaepernick. Yet their policy is that their journalists can't express opinions on social media, even to like a Facebook post.

While wearing a uniform NFL players represent their ownership. Owners have every right to get rid of someone pushing a political agenda.

No one likes being part of a captive audience.
4:14 PM Oct 22nd

(That's not the only issue I have with what you've posted but let's settle for that.) :-)
10:29 AM Oct 22nd
... and lastly.

Me, I'd have loved for a "Make America Great Again" culture battle to have been won by Jeb Bush or John Kasich. IF YOU ARE AN INDEPENDENT here, could you indulge me with a name here? Which Republican would be winning these battles "Presidentially"?

Myself and many others, we'd like for the U.S. President to win the battle for sensible legal immigration and do it Presidentially. Who?

Mr. James Jan. 27th essay pivoted around the value of citizenship, and the need for Democrats to stop yelling "RACIST!!" at everyone who disagrees with them.

Trump is going up against CNN, the NYT, etc etc and his method is go up against them bare-knuckle.

Honestly, *could* he win battles such as these in a genteel way? Or perhaps the real point is that you don't want him fighting these battles (biased MSM, secure borders, respect for the Constitution) at all?


1:46 AM Oct 22nd
... and may I respectfully add to the below that it is *not white guys* (only) who are sick of hearing that white guys suck, who are sick of people yelling (or "kneeling") racism four times a day.

For those independents who frequent these comments stubs, you might get a chuckle out of YouTube's string of responses to MTV's "2017 Resolutions For White Guys." It will definitely give a feel for the way that conservative and independent blacks and women react to over-the-top SJW agendas.


1:29 AM Oct 22nd
++ Jimmybart is right when he says "You picked the wrong standard-bearer when it comes to values and respect." ++

This is exactly the problem. It no longer matters what is said; it only matters who says it.

Type a random provocative quote into Google. You'll find out quickly that the quote angers you if it comes from Joe Shlabotnik and that you agree with it if it comes from Suzy Shalbotnik.

Present company excepted, of course. I definitely did not mean for my own comments to direct at Mr. James' commentary on Kaepernick and Trump.


But I firmly insist on evaluating ideas through their own merits, and not because an Approved Expert (TM) or an Outcast Pariah (TM) uttered them.

America, as a culture, needs more respect or it does not. My own position is that it does.

Trump winning this particular idea battle, him against the USA's athletes 1-on-1,000, forwarded that. As with most things Trump, it was an ugly battle.

But that is EXACTLY where 40% of America is at right now. That captures the state of our politics precisely. If it takes ugly methods to win these battles, so be it.

I'm not saying that's where I stand generally, but we'd better believe it is where Trump supporters stand generally. They are sick of hearing that America Sucks, that white guys suck, and this is the one guy who will go to bat and say otherwise. So it's game on.


1:22 AM Oct 22nd
Raincheck: What about "Unintended consequences"? Isn't this ripe for such?

Like, for example, this thing that I just said on Reader Posts:

In blowouts, both teams would start rushing. Pitchers might start immediately throwing the next pitch after getting the ball back from the catcher, and the hitters sometimes or often wouldn't object and would play along, under orders. And, you might even have the batters purposely swinging and missing 3 straight times, real fast, especially from the team that's ahead. Ridiculous??? We might think, no way they'd do that, because it's against their interests to add K's to their record. But if they're under orders.....

BTW, reminds me of this thing, and I don't think it's irrelevant.
In the '90's I taped most of the Yankee post-season games on the VCR. One time, I was caught a little short on cassettes and so I paused the recording on the 'dead time' between pitches. I cannot tell you how un-baseball-like and comical the result looked. Actually you probably can imagine. Obviously the result of this proposed thing would never be as ridiculous and comical as that. But it could be close.

4:33 PM Oct 21st
(Sorry, the link seems not to work, no idea why the links I've given lately haven't worked.
I think it should work at least if you copy/paste that link onto the address bar.)
4:27 PM Oct 21st
MarisFan, there is a chance that we would be changing baseball back into what it used to be. It was once an urban game, played in the cities, fast paced, and full of action (and sometimes violent on the base paths, which won't be allowed today).

At some point people started to talk about it being pastoral, a return to slower, simpler times. And it has lived up to that hype, becoming a much slower game with less action (balls in play, base running) spread over twice the time.

Personally I would prefer a shorter game denser game, with more action in less time, but not everyone would I am sure.

4:26 PM Oct 21st
Watching college football, I'm realizing that "changing the nature of the game" isn't necessarily a deterrent to a rule change. The overtime method of college football to me is such a 'change of the nature of the game' that I can't get interested to keep watching unless I happen to have some extremely intense interest in the outcome. I'd say that the idea proposed here for time of baseball games would be a far bigger change in the nature of the game than the overtime thing in college football.
2:18 PM Oct 21st
Jimmybart is right when he says "You picked the wrong standard-bearer when it comes to values and respect." But we need better standard bearers on all sides. All discussions come down to personal attacks pretty quickly. You aren't patriotic. You are a racist. You hate science. You just want handouts.

These attacks are 99% untrue and 100% unhelpful. They don't help to solve problems, they don't help people to have confidence in their leaders, they don't bring us together and find common ground. Trump may do it the most visibly, and maybe the Mst crudely, but he is hardly alone, and the over-reaction to Trump is as damaging as all the stupid things he himself says.

As a side issue, well, we have a reality TV star as President. People will say he is a businessman President, but he doesn't act like a businessman (see: Tillerson, Rex). He acts like a reality star (and reality stars are villains, not nice guys).

So we have in our society right now a collision of entertainment and politics. And when that happens, we get very bad politics and very bad entertainment. Comedians not being funny. Football stories that aren't about football. A directionless and unproductive administration reacting to headlines and playing the media game instead of actually doing anything. We maybe need to learn that Arnold and Donald and Al Franken and Jessie "The Mind" Ventura belong in their original roles as entertainers and that late night comics should be telling jokes about real politicians rather ranting about fake ones.
8:58 AM Oct 21st
"More kids right now need to know how to tell a vet thanks for their service."

jemanji, please tell Mr. Trump to give such thanks to John McCain, instead of mocking him for having been a POW.

You picked the wrong standard-bearer when it comes to values and respect.
11:05 PM Oct 20th
++ It seems to me that consistent with your logic, the essential issue IS whether these people at the margins are jackasses. The problem with both Kaepernick and Trump is that they are saying things about the country which are manifestly untrue.

The essential issue--by your logic, I think--the essential issue is whether they represent valid points of view which should be embraced by more people, or whether they are jackasses who should be ignored.

If Kaepernick represented a valid and reasonable point of view--which he does not--but if he did, the consequence of that WOULD BE civil war. ++

Fully agree that --- > in such a delicate "negotiation," the more credibility, the better. Would much rather the spokesman for kneeling be Michael Bennett, and the spokesman for "respecting the flag" be Gen. Kelly.

Perhaps I'm *casting* their points of view into something rather different from what they intended. I certainly HOPE that I'm misunderstanding what some of the 'jackasses', such as the more extreme Black Lives Matter spokespeople, are saying.


As to whether Trump has a 'valid point of view,' I guess you'd have to be more specific which one we're talking about it.

Trump says lots of outrageous things that are not valid. But in *this* context, his war with the NFL, the 'killshot' power word he repeats is the word RESPECT.

To the extent that Trump is shoring up society's foundations here, to the extent he is reminding us that we can go too far in disrespecting authority and the community norms that make our society possible, I believe he is right, and that he is obviously right.

Every kid right now knows how to tell his mom to go forget herself. More kids right now need to know how to tell a vet thanks for their service.

If Donald Trump can swing the pendulum back a bit toward Respect, the ability to admire what is good and decent and self-sacrificial in our country, that'll be great. Even though he'll do it in an unappealing way. ...

Much respect,

4:32 PM Oct 20th
'I've put together a 60 second, concise answer to the game length "problem."

First off, I don't see a problem. Do the vendors sell more hot dogs in a 2:30 hour game or a 3:10 hour game? Or beer?

Back in 60 seconds: Budweiser, it's the king of beers, Budweiser, you tune in to watch baseball, but you're watching a beer commercial, even though you are in a 12 step program and your fat wife is trying to cut it down to a six a night. Budweiser, it's the king of beers, etc

Okay, back to why we are here, the length of games, well, I want to make a pitch here for something that seems incredibly obvious rather than making it one strike and one ball or or shortening the game to six innings, it seems to me....wait, I'm going to think about this pitch. Pitch change, back in 69 seconds:

La la insurance company, cute girl in car....running....huh, is that her real ass? Maybe....kinda chunky ankles though, face is a little jowly for a 22 inch waist. huh. Well the hell are these people selling, anyway?

We're back. So, as to the length of Where did the time go? All 60 seconds disappeared. Weird

3:34 PM Oct 20th
Responding to jemanji--

It's not about who is or isn't a self-righteous jackass. The point under debate is ---- > whether the Status Quo Sucks.

It seems to me that consistent with your logic, the essential issue IS whether these people at the margins are jackasses. The problem with both Kaepernick and Trump is that they are saying things about the country which are manifestly untrue. The essential issue--by your logic, I think--the essential issue is whether they represent valid points of view which should be embraced by more people, or whether they are jackasses who should be ignored. If Kaepernick represented a valid and reasonable point of view--which he does not--but if he did, the consequence of that WOULD BE civil war. The essence of the question is, should we follow the Kapernicks and the other whining, distorted, half-crazy losers into a civil war, or should we recognize that both he and Trump are jackasses and if they want to have a fight they can have a fight, but LEAVE ME OUT OF IT. And I am arguing that they are jackasses and that sensible people should stay out of it.

I think this position is 100% consistent with your analysis of the problem. Or urinalysis of the problem.
2:10 PM Oct 20th
Besides the specific critiques that have been given about the idea in Part I, I think fundamentally it focuses on a mistaken basic thing: just the length of games.

It was said on this site, within the last few months, I think on "Hey Bill" -- I think actually by Bill himself; whoever said it, it was very well said and I thought it was very well backed up -- that the 'game length' problem, to the extent there is one, isn't really about sheer length but about aspects within it. I wish I could reference it specifically; maybe one of you can. It was said (or implied) that the problem is the amount of dead time in games.

If it's believed that that's the possible problem, rather than bare length, is it not off-point to approach it just by incentivizing quickness? Sure, it would tend to eliminate dead time, but I can imagine ways that games could be quickened that would be boring as hell. Isn't it far better to decide what are the worst and most prominent kinds of 'dead times' and attack those? If it's that there isn't a high enough percentage of balls-in-play, come up with ways of attacking that. If there's too much time between pitches, attack that. If there are too many pitching changes, attack that.....
11:11 AM Oct 20th
What part of "enforce Rule 8.04" do people not understand?
8:33 PM Oct 19th
Actually, Bill, your list shows that we could legislate this:

1) Excessive visits to the mound,

We create a number of timeouts per game (5, 10?) and many of the things that waste time requires the use of one of these timeouts. A mound visit by a player or manager will require the use of a timeout.

2) Excessive and unnecessary pitching changes,

Replacing a pitcher mid-inning will require the use of a timeout. Pitchers coming from the bullpen mid-inning shall warm up up in the bullpen and get no warm-up tosses on the mound (just like any player in other sport, since pitching changes are now routine substitutions).

3) Pointless throws to first base,

Three tosses per at bat. Additional throws are allowed, but a ball is called for each additional throw

4) Delaying the game for replays,

Yeah. Well, let's at least make it a timeout used.

5) Delaying the game while you decide whether you need a replay,

A clock starts at the end of each of each play. You have 30 seconds or 1 minute or whatever to challenge.

6) Selling extra commercials between innings,

2 minute max between innings.

7) Going back to the dugout to get new equipment,

Not allowed

8) Fake injuries,

Timeouts called for injury,

9) Arguments,

No one allowed to leave dugout to argue.

10) Stepping out of the box between pitches,

A batter steps into the batters box and an at bat begins. He can step out, but he can still be pitched to unless he burns a valuable timeout.

11) Pitcher taking excessive time between pitches,

Pitch clock, strictly enforced

12) Infield conferences,

You guessed it, requires a timeout

13) Fans running on the field,

Should be shot. Will take more time, but with all the other biolence removed from the sport....

14) Umpires conversing to make sure they have calls right,


15) Stepping out to relay a signal from the bench to the coach to the

See # 10

16) Going through the signals again,

Pitch clock

17) Re-aligning the defense (shifts),

Must be done within pitch clock. If we want more action, limit shifting by requiring two players on each side of second base.

18) Waste pitches on 0-2 and 1-2 counts,

Part of the game

19) Deliberately fouling off pitches rather than trying to put them in play, and

Part of the game

20) Changing baseballs for no apparent reason.

Stop the practice.

Basically, taking all the forms of time wasting and saying, well you can do it, but you have to take a timeout, and those are limited, means that rather banning all this stuff, we make it less common and accept x minutes of time wasting and no more.

Baseball, with all the action compressed into less time, is a way better game.​
4:21 PM Oct 19th
Lastly, it's important to understand how Civil War or simple coup d'etat is accomplished.

If you want the system changed in a local church, or in a baseball clubhouse, or in a government, first you have to run around the clubhouse griping, and you have to convince everybody that THE STATUS QUO SUCKS.

Once you have most people doing what you're doing -- griping and grousing -- then you have set the stage for getting the manager fired, or the preacher fired, or the Constitution rewritten.

It's not about who is or isn't a self-righteous jackass. The point under debate is ---- > whether the Status Quo Sucks. It's an important point of debate. If the USA is to move toward Socialism, or towards Civil War, then acts like Kaepernick's are important steps in that process. Acts like Trump's, in which he argues for pride in the USA and its Constitution and its history, is also an important step in that process.

Kaepernick and Trump are important pawns on the board of this chess game.

That's my opinion I could be wrong,

4:18 PM Oct 19th
++ Are you sincerely trying to unify the country around the flag, or are you trying to divide the country by fighting about the flag? ++

Sincerely trying to push the understanding that we're blessed to live in America.

Short-term unity is, for me, less important than for the Millenial in a college quad (iPhone and latte in hand) to understand how important gratitude is to mental well-being.


Donald Trump is sticking up for his nation. It's clear that this is one of the most important roles of a national leader.

President Obama's election slogan pivoted around the word, HOPE. Is that part of a President's job, to try to raise national levels of hope, morale, and optimism?

Or should he watch passively as his nation drowns in a grievance industry of anger and despair?


Sabermetrically :- ) you and I had a 1:25 chance of being born here. Coulda been Bangladesh. President Trump wants to do what he can to lift national spirits, towards the understanding that we're blessed to be citizens here. Personally I give thanks for the USA, and for Trump's efforts in this area.


4:00 PM Oct 19th
++ As for Trump, though, I disagree. Yes, he has the RIGHT to say what he wants, but as POTUS, he has a responsibility not to inflame situations, which is what he did. ++

This is one way to look at it, the micro view. Whatever will lead to lowered voices, today, is what you should do, today.

There is another way to look at it, the macro view. Does America suck, or does it not? This is a hill that President Trump is willing to die on.


I know nobody asked me, but if anybody did, I find it courageous to watch one person taking on the NFL, and Steph, and LeBron, and all the rest of the USA's beloved athletes -- with not a single member of the GOP willing to back him up. The athletes get to lock elbows; Donald Trump doesn't get to lock elbows with anybody. And he says what he believes whether or not he is celebrated by his peers, as Steph Curry can reasonably expect to be celebrated by his peers.

There's an undertone to this argument, worth considering in a less facile manner. Kaepernick originally said he couldn't salute a flag in a nation that oppresses blacks -- that is, that its flag is unworthy of Colin Kapernick's salute. (Please let me know which country on Earth is more hospitable to minorities.) You can be sure he expected to be CELEBRATED by his peers for this "courageous" stance, as you can be sure that Kathy Griffin expected to be celebrated by her peers for her beheading photo sermon.


Minorities have felt extremely comfortable, since about 2008, saying or implying that America Sucks.

Donald Trump is pushing back. He is pushing back single-handedly. And if we hadn't noticed, he is gaining traction.

2:57 PM Oct 19th
I agree 100% that there's no reason to play the National Anthem before sporting events. We never did it before our high school, college, or American Legion games. No one in those games became a Commie or a terrorist because the anthem wasn't played.
2:44 PM Oct 19th
The delays in the game are cultural; the slow pace of play has been accepted by participants. The way to speed up the pace is to change the culture. This might be accomplished by incentives, but I think it's better to start with the umpires, managers, and the players. Make pace of play part of the umpires and managers' job descriptions. Get players to buy in somehow - show them the benefits; get them to agree to help. Maybe you could add pace of play bonuses to the CBA (yet another form of incentive).
2:42 PM Oct 19th
Marc Schneider
Steven Goldleaf, I did misunderstand what you were trying to say. Sorry.

Illozada: I don't think Trump should be getting involved in the NFL's business regardless of what it is. I agree with you that the reaction would be different if he came out against CTE. But, when the POTUS starts talking about patriotism, that is divisive regardless of whether most people agree. I agree that many, if not most, NFL fans agreed with Trump. But that's not the point. When LBJ and Nixon started calling out antiwar protesters during the Vietnam War as commies or other stuff, most people probably agreed. But it still fostered division, setting one group against another. The POTUS has no business getting into the business of talking about who is patriotic and who isn't. That's inherently divisive. It's really none of Trump's business who is and who isn't patriotic by his standards.​
2:24 PM Oct 19th
Steven Goldleaf
Sorry, Marc, if it seemed that I was disputing your point. I was trying to agree with your reading of Trump's "right" to spout idiotic things.
1:37 PM Oct 19th
Fireball Wenz

I guess it's no different than Michael Wilbon, and maybe I'm delusional for hoping the president of the US will aspire to a greater degree of consistency than Michael Wilbon.

I don't want Trump to call out the NFL on CTE, because after his previous comment, it would be crystal clear that he was merely doing so to score points against an opponent on any basis he can, rather than expressing a sincerely held view, and I can't stand that sort of thing. I can't see someone who trotted out Don King at campaign events suddenly deciding that athletes shouldn't be exploited by money-grubbing people who have no concern about their health and welfare.
12:37 PM Oct 19th
For a moment at least, back to Part I:

Bill, thanks for the answer. But, many of those things that you mention up top (recognizing that some were included apparently mainly for comic effect) aren't at the initiative or particularly for the interest of individual players, and some of them (pardon my saying) :-) are way off the subject, especially "deliberately fouling off pitches rather than trying to put them in play," which I can't imagine why you'd have thought of including it in something like this. You got kind of scatter-shot with that list, which may add to an impression that it's hopeless to attack the situation on specifics.

I think most of the main things fall into just a small number of categories which could be addressed broadly -- like, what the batter can or can't do when he's at bat, what the pitcher can or can't do between pitches, what kinds of restrictions there might be on pitching changes, and on throws to first. If some players then came up with new things, like tying and re-tying their shoes or "adjusting their equipment" interminably, I would think umpires would pretty quickly tell them to cut the crap.

And moreover: I think that any formal incentivization of overall duration of the game would come so dangerously close to 'putting a clock on the game' that it would be seen as undoing the distinction about baseball not having a clock, and so it would be a total non-starter. It would too much change the basic nature of the game.

11:25 AM Oct 19th
And how is that any different from say, Michael Wilbon saying on Tuesday that the NFL doesn't take care of its players and how evil is the the CTE cover-up and then he is complaining on Wednesday that the game is turning into flag-football? And you know what? We are all guilty of this, we feel sorry for the damage to the players but secretly say that football isn't the same anymore.

Also, haven't we learned by now how Trump uses hyperbole to get what he wants? And we should all wish he goes after the NFL on CTE as he has shown he is the only one capable of getting the NFL to listen, until he showed up we all thought that the NFL was invincible, and whether or not you agree with what he did, nobody can deny that the NFL doesn't look as invincible as they did before his "divisive" tweets.
11:24 AM Oct 19th
Fireball Wenz
llozada - You must have missed the speech in which Trump called out the NFL for calling too many penalties on "beautiful" hits. He effectively has chosen the pro-violence side of the debate on the CTE issue.
11:11 AM Oct 19th
Why exactly were Trump's tweets divisive? I mean, most NLF fans agree with what he stated, otherwise the NFL and the owners would not have followed suit, they immediately did exactly what Trump requested. Now, he didn't do it as a sense of patriotism, he did it because it would score him points with the majority, he is a populist after all. But a lot of people here are kidding themselves by making this about Trump when he's been involved just the last 2-3 weeks.

Now, is it only me the one enjoying how quiet and seemingly scared is Goodell? Can anybody imagine if we wake up to a Trump tweet along the lines of: "The NFL has blatantly denied CTE at the expense of players, something needs to be done!".

If this happens (and I sure as hell want it to happen) I predict that people that hates Goodell about his cover up of concussions will jump to his side just because cognitive dissonance will not let him be on the same side as Trump.

One final thought, it bugs me incredibly that the same fans upset at Kaepernick are OK with murderers, wife beaters, child beaters, etc. It is a bit disgusting that the line is whether the athlete can play or not. What if Colin was really good? I am sure a few owners would be more than happy to put up with the same baggage they seem to be running away from right now.
11:04 AM Oct 19th
Bill, I'm not mad at you, but I'm pissed off. I've been writing an article on patriotism, finished it just a couple days ago. Your take on the whole bit about enforced patriotism is largely the same as mine. Now the several people who will see it, if they have already read your essay, will be saying, "Aw, man, you're just copying Bill James."


'Grumbling in British Columbia'
10:31 AM Oct 19th
Marc Schneider
Steven Goldleaf,

I think you either misread or misinterpreted what I said or got me confused with someone else. I wasn't defending Trump in the slightest. I was responding to Bill's statement that Trump has a RIGHT to say what he said, which I agreed with, but I also said that as POTUS he has a responsibility not to make divisive comments and that there was no other reason for him to get involved other than to score cheap political points. I'm not sure how you interpreted that as a defense of Trump.
9:49 AM Oct 19th
A thing that hasn't exactly been noted -- and this is almost the entire basis and principle of the burgeoning of the protest in recent weeks, isn't it? -- is that the president was a jackass to approach the situation as he did, and to add boldly to the public message of his jackass-ness, including by people in suits.

That's important and valuable in itself, over and above what the protests have or haven't achieved on the original intent. And BTW I don't agree that they aren't effective toward that either, including because you can't necessarily judge a process in midstream -- and these protests have been part of a much larger process.
9:27 AM Oct 19th
I agree with everything in the second part except about Kaepernick being a jackass. I don't mean that each and every way he's gone about it is perfect or good, just that he hasn't been a jackass and isn't one. On balance, what he's done has been far more sensible and far more effective than the average human sensibleness and effectiveness, including by a pretty wide margin in comparison with, say, your average public official.
8:56 AM Oct 19th
I appreciate Bill’s calling attention to an excess of pseudo-patriotic ceremonies at ball games. The traditional tip-of-the-hat at the beginning of the game is one thing, but I resent that because I chose to see a ball game at their venue, the New York Yankees can repeatedly force me through the motions like they were my homeroom teacher or something. The only reason I stand for “God Bless America” in the middle of the game is to avoid getting into a hassle with the drunken self-appointed Flag Police. It has zero to do with my love of my country and everything to do with an authority I don’t recognize extracting conformity from me.

Chris DeRosa

7:38 AM Oct 19th
I get Bill’s point about addressing a general problem with piecemeal solutions, but I think some of these moles still deserve to be whacked on their own merits. Why not use carrots and mallets simultaneously? I’d like to see Bill’s incentive plan and a ban on time-outs, mid-inning personnel changes, on-field coaching, or some combination thereof. Baseball should try (try seriously at least once) to attack the time-wasting abuses before concluding that nothing of the sort would help.

Chris DeRosa

7:38 AM Oct 19th
Why not just say a standard baseball game is both nine innings and no more than 2:30? If the game is still going on at the 2:30 mark, and it's not extra innings, it is treated exactly like it was rained out or called due to darkness.
6:25 AM Oct 19th
Steven Goldleaf
Marc Schneider: As far as the "right" to express himself, of course Trump is free to say (or tweet) whatever moronic shit flitters through his brain. But when your best defense is that what you say is not actually a violation of the law, to me that means that you've run out of all other justifications for saying it.
5:33 AM Oct 19th
This should be a trivial non-issue, and it was a lot more trivial until the president decided he needed to weigh in. Outrage that he's not standing! Back in the day, if someone wanted to really disrespect the flag, he'd burn the mother.
11:08 PM Oct 18th
Kaepernick may be a jackass. Most of us are. But what he was doing wasn't dividing his team. Once it got noticed, teammates either supported him or thought it wasn't that big of a deal like most people probably. That what came out in player interviews and by local beat reporters. Things only got divisive later - and more divisive after Trump spoke out.

As background. Kaepernick didn't call attention to it. He was sitting on the bench during the national anthem for 3 games before it was noticed. He was asked why and basically said he felt hypocritical paying homage to flag which represents a country which he feels doesn't respect him and others due to the color of their skin. People may disagree with him - but many people of color feel the same way - including most in my family.

When it was noticed, a green beret reached out and contacted him. They met for hours and what came out of their meeting was the green beret said sitting was disrespectful, but if he knelt in the direction of the flag, that particular green beret thought it would be a respectful way of saying that Kaepernick was not trying to disrespect the military. Obvious others disagreed, but that was how it became a kneel, and started to get publicity as a protest.
10:50 PM Oct 18th
floor supervisor to cashier, "why are you extending your middle finger to every single customer that walks into the store?"

cashier, "I'm trying to start a conversation about equality"

floor supervisor, "but how is extending your middle finger to every single customer accomplishing that goal?"

cashier, "Hey, at least we talkin' now, ain't we?"

floor supervisor, "maybe so but we're losing customers left and right"
8:08 PM Oct 18th
Can't disagree with you more on the Flag stuff. But who cares. More importantly is the time of game issue. Your idea is a novel one, but doomed to failure in the current environment. The ONLY way is to copy the major European soccer leagues. They play a game in just under two hours with no stoppage in play and make a bajillion, zillion, killion, quadrillion dollars a year doing it. There is clearly a way to make money without non-stop commercials. Rugby also makes sweet cake with no stoppage in play. As Spock said, there always possibilities.
7:46 PM Oct 18th
Yes, OF COURSE there is a general pressure to extend the games. If there wasn't, why would the games continue to grow longer, again and again, despite rules changes that were intended to stop this from happening?

The incentive isn't on the part of TEAMS. It is on the part of individuals on the team. Each individual player wants to slow the game down so that he can focus on what HE needs to do. That's fine--from his standpoint. From the standpoint of the game as an enterprise, it sucks.
7:22 PM Oct 18th
About the baseball part:

Bill, what you're saying seems to assume that there's some general underlying/overriding force on the part of teams to lengthen and delay the action.

Because, if there isn't, then you can address it according to each individual thing. And, you don't need to address them all, or even most of them. Just address the ones that seem unnecessary enough from a baseball standpoint and/or greatest from a time-wasting standpoint and/or most annoying. We could even create sort of a metric on that, formal or informal -- the priority on each thing would be x% degree of unnecessariness + y% time-wastingness + z% annoyingness.
7:09 PM Oct 18th
Allen Schade
As for speeding up the game, I don't understand why a "clock" wouldn't work.

Give the pitcher 20 or 30 seconds to throw the ball from the time he gets in from the catcher. If he doesn't throw it FOR ANY REASON, a BALL is called and the clock starts again.

Give each team a certain number of timeouts per game. Just like football. Or basketball.

If a batter steps out of the box and calls TIME, well that's one time out used up. If he doesn't call time and steps out the pitcher can throw the ball over the plate and a strike can be called.

It works in football, they call a delay of game penalty and its 5 yards. Teams make a concerted effort to get the play off in time.

Basketball is the same way. They have a 24 second clock. No shot in 24 seconds? You lose possession of the ball.

I can't see why it wouldn't work in baseball.​
6:07 PM Oct 18th
Fireball Wenz
I also think that NFL players have been a model for the rest of the nation by saying no matter whether we agree or disagree with our teammate on this issue, we stand by him as a teammate and respect his right to express his views. I am surprised that this aspect of the controversy hasn't been recognized more.

5:09 PM Oct 18th
Fireball Wenz
I think that refusing to stand for the National Anthem is an ineffective form of protest, as it alienates people who would otherwise be receptive to your message. I think the controversy was dying down until the president poured gas on it because he saw it as a way to score points with his base. I don't have a problem with the president calling out those who protest (whether I agree with him or not is immaterial) but I do have a problem with him telling privately owned organizations that they should fire employees for the manner in which they are expressing their political opinions. I think that NFL teams should be able to consider whether employing an outspoken player on the basis of whether his behavior is alienating to its fans. I believed that during the John Rocker matter and I believe it now. I am not crazy about a league making that decision.
5:06 PM Oct 18th
Regarding the first part of this essay, three comments:

1) points 4 and 5 reduce the frequency of point 9;

2) I seem to be a minority, but I think this is a solution in search of a problem;

3) this solution has as much chance of being adopted as your proposal for a multi-tier Hall of Fame election system.
4:05 PM Oct 18th
Marc Schneider
I largely agree with Bill on Kaepernick. I don't have a particular problem with him not standing for the anthem, but, frankly, he lost me when he said he didn't vote for president because he didn't think it would end racism. Yes, and not all plays in football result in touchdowns. He lost credibility with me. Plus, if he really thought that not standing for the anthem would not create controversy in itself, he's either incredibly naïve or stupid. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences (except with respect to government action). And, whether you agree with Kaepernick or not, employers clearly have a right to set standards of employment. It's not really much different from the CBS attorney who made offensive comments about the victims in Las Vegas and got fired. Or John Rocker for that matter. If you create problems for your employer's business, you have to expect consequences.

As for Trump, though, I disagree. Yes, he has the RIGHT to say what he wants, but as POTUS, he has a responsibility not to inflame situations, which is what he did. There was no reason for him to get involved other than to score cheap political points. He could simply have said I disagree with what Kaepernick did but that's America, everyone has the right to their opinion. Of course, if he did that, he wouldn't be Trump.

I totally agree about the enforced patriotism. I actually like the national anthem but now you have everything that goes with it. (And I like it played with a simple band, not with some jazzy version or some other silly permutation. The Nats had someone playing it on a harmonica for Christ's sake. ) Every Nats game in the 4th inning, they present people in the military and people stand up and cheer perfunctorily because what else can you do? Enough already. There seems no end to sports leagues wrapping themselves in the flag. And I agree with Bill about the nonsense of saying that not standing for the anthem connotes disrespect for the troops. It doesn't, but even if it does, so what? The troops will survive. The least of their problems is who is or is not standing for the national anthem. Despite what many on the right seem to think, American citizens have a right to live here with being patriotic.
3:54 PM Oct 18th
If we played the Battle Hymn of the Republic instead of the National Anthem, I think African Americans and other minorities would feel more comfortable standing at attention. I know I would.

I suppose this makes me unpatriotic by contemporary standards, but I've never claimed to be very patriotic anyway. I'm not against America per se. I'm just uncomfortable with nationalism, generally. We're all brothers and sisters no matter where we were born, and I'm not just saying that metaphorically. If the human genome project has shown us anything, it's that our humanity transcends national lines.
2:12 PM Oct 18th
Bad decision(s) and/or agent(s). If you want a job, giving up injury guarantees for the ability to opt out and then exercising that opt out clause is a bad plan. For $20mil per year it's probably also a good idea to avoid taking controversial stances while on the job. If an issue is more important to you than continued employment, that is your decision and the current situation is the consequence of a series of decisions by Kaepernick.

[June 2014] Kaepernick and San Francisco have agreed to terms on a six-year, $126 million deal that will include $61 million in guaranteed money

The $61 million in guaranteed money is the most ever given to an NFL player in one contract. The money isn't technically fully guaranteed because Kaepernick has to be on the roster at a certain date each season.

The new deal will keep Kaepernick in San Francisco through the 2020 season.

In 2016, Kaepernick restructured the deal the 49ers gave him when they were convinced he was the franchise quarterback. He gave up $14.5 million in injury guarantees for the ability to opt out of his deal at the end of the year.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has opted out of his contract, the San Francisco 49ers announced Friday [Mar 3, 2017] afternoon. The quarterback is now a free agent.
2:07 PM Oct 18th
Perhaps I haven't heard it (sincerely, there's plenty of stuff I miss), but I haven't heard any whining from Kaepernick. From what I've seen, he quietly did his thing (non-standing), answered the questions about it when asked, and now is out of the league when he is, in my opinion, better than many out there. I really admire that he stuck to his guns despite knowing it was his ticket out of the league.
Now if he was a Pro Bowler, this is made to be a non-issue. Some team would clearly accept his baggage. He's a weird spot, plusses and minuses-wise.

This sort of reminds me of what I heard from a woman from middle-eastern country. She said the majority there is very willing to accept minorities. Provided the minority subjugates themselves to the majority.

The assholes are never happy until everyone else bows to them. Kaepernick may be a pain in the ass and ill-informed on a host of issues, but at least, as far as I've seen, he doesn't seem to care too much if anyone agrees with him.
2:01 PM Oct 18th
Quick story. I used to run in small, local events, 5Ks and stuff like that. One of the first ones I did took place in Staten Island around 2010, 7 a.m. on a Sunday. I was living in a commune at this time, and 4-5 of us took part in that event, and one of our number was an Italian woman who had spent a decade or more in Germany and had come to the U.S. maybe a year earlier. Before the race someone hauled out a PA and played the national anthem and we all faced the flag or whatever. My Italian friend was utterly flabbergasted that anyone would think of playing the national anthem at 7 a.m. before a 5K through the woods. We've lost perspective on this, she's right, it IS weird and betrays some kind of lack of confidence in ourselves as a country with a respectable history.
1:34 PM Oct 18th
I think this is astute. I've found a lot to disagree on in your political pronouncements, but not here.

You pretty much hit it when you say that Kaepernick with an assist from Trump have now created/perpetuated an awful faux-"controversy" that divides people. What I've felt for a while is that there's a big difference between a relatively spontaneous and, if you will, innocent gesture of solidarity and one that takes place after its "meaning" has been bandied about for weeks, with some portion of the nation breathlessly waiting until Sunday afternoon at 1:05 Eastern to see if they have to write a press release or not. Even if you agree with Kaepernick on the protest, it seems sensible to me to say that it's turned into something else, and the original pain and heartache that sparked it all is not to be found. If you continue it, you're continuing it on the principle that I Have Courage or They Won't Silence Us. Which is very different from The Police Is Using Unlawful Force.​
1:29 PM Oct 18th
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