4/27/17

Tom Brennan - OLD MAN HITTING TRACKER VOL. 6

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Tom Brennan - OLD MAN HITTING TRACKER VOL. 6

I was hoping this would be a very short series.  The old guys would start hitting and I'd shut up.
 
But even the Braves make mince meat out of the hapless Mets, so the Old man series goes on.

There is undoubtedly a strong correlation between losing 9 of 10 and the presence of two inept old guys in the line up.
 
President Trump tweeted, "Playing 7 against 9 every night is tough.  Believe me, believe me.  I wish North Korea had Duds like these two."

Jose Reyes & Curtis Granderson had huge years in 2011.  But we are in 2017.  How in fact are the oldsters doing in 2017, while the Mets as a team are hitting around .210.

Jose Can You See (your way back to the dugout) and Grandy Man, which refers these days only to the $100 grand he "earns" each game - how are they doing? 

Only the same old, same old:

Only 18 for 141 (a revolting .127), only 6 extra base hits, only 10 runs, only 6 RBIs (all of those few by Grandy, meaning Reyes still has no RBIs, the same number as Mack and me).

It's too early to panic, folks, so let's wait until at least the season's officially over on Sunday to start panicking.  Ask Terry, who no doubt would say,  "I'm sticking with my guys."
 
I know I know, I'm hitting a nerve here, but I'm hitting at least.

Sandy, make the phone call to Vegas.
 
Ask for a few young guys.
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Jack Flynn - I Miss Shea Stadium

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It’s easy for Mets fans of a certain age to say, “I miss Shea Stadium.” I know this, because I am one of those fans.

My first visit to Shea was in 1986. (It did not go well for the home team, but at least Darryl Strawberry hit a home run that night.) By conservative estimate, I ended up making at least another 250 trips to Shea before the final pitch was thrown in 2008. Looking back, the only place I visited more often than Shea in my teenage years was Star Billiards on Austin Street – and that’s only because I didn’t have to buy a ticket to get into a pool hall!

On Sunday night, I said those words again, this time to a high school friend who has made many of the aforementioned 250 trips with me. We both still live in Queens, less than five miles away from each other, but we’ve gone to Citi Field together no more than five times since the building opened nearly a decade ago. But the Mets were playing Washington on national TV, and tickets were 65% off thanks to a clever promotion, and so it seemed like a good idea to get two decent seats and try to recapture a piece of our youth.

It was cold that night, as Sunday nights in April tend to be in Queens. (It didn’t help that we chose to spend an hour in the parking lot beforehand downing Pabst Blue Ribbon cans in order to minimize the number of $10 beers we would otherwise purchase in the stadium.) No matter how many times I’ve visited the Flushing Bay area over the years, I always seem to under-dress for the occasion. By the time we were ready to enter the stadium, I was wondering how I was going to make it through nine innings while hypothermia was setting in.

As soon as we walked in the door, I had to buy a Mets ball cap in an attempt to keep my newly-shaved head warm. By the time we got to our seats in Section 106, Daniel Murphy had already hit a grand slam and Max Scherzer was tasked with protecting a four-run lead.

In the old days, I would’ve been staring down the barrel of a miserable 2 ½ hours, sitting in my seat and trying in vain to keep warm as the Mets marched far too slowly toward what ended up being a disappointing 6-3 loss. Shea offered very few alternatives to the action on the field – and none of them involved increasing body temperature while doing so.

Citi Field, however, has options. We chose the Foxwoods Club, which had access to food, drink, TVs and – most importantly – heat. It was not the ideal way of doing things; in retrospect, it was like spending a $25 cover charge to watch the ballgame on TV. But in the old days, given the choice between persistent shivering and giving up entirely on the experience, Sunday night was one of those times I would’ve chose the latter.

So yeah, I still miss Shea Stadium. But on a cold Sunday night in April, I can wrap Citi Field in a much warmer embrace.
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Mack’s Morning Report – 4-27 – Revised Prospect List, Options, A Peek at Ponies, Christian Arroyo

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Good morning.


Mack’s Revised Top Prospect List –

1.     SS              Amed Rosario
2.     1B             Dominic Smith
3.     SP             Justin Dunn
4.     SP             Thomas Szapucki
5.     OF             Wuillmer Becerra
6.     SP             Merandy Gonzalez
7.     SS              Andres Gimenez
8.     1B-C         Patrick Mazeilka
9.     SP             Jordan Humphreys
10.OF             Desmond Lindsay
11.SP             Anthony Kay
12.SS              Gregory Guerrero
13. OF            Ricardo Cespedes
14. OF            Kevin Kaczmarski
15. SP            P.J. Conlon
16. SP            Harol Gonzalez
17.IF               Gavin Cecchini
18.C                Tomas Nido
19. SS             Luis Guillorme
20. SS             Milton Ramos
21. 3B            David Thompson
22. 2B            Luis Carpio
23.1B             Peter Alonso
24. SP            Chris Flexen
25. SP            Rickey Knapp


Options - 

    The following active major league Mets no longer have options - 

        Josh Edgin, Wilmer Flores, Jerry Blevins, Rene Rivera


A Peek At Ponies –

            Prospect wise, there are five of them on this team.

SP P.J. Conlon, C Tomas Nido, SS Luis Guillorme, 3B David Thompson, and OF Kevin Kaczmarski have, in my opinion, a future in the majors. My guess is Guillorme could be the first to move on to Las Vegas, but only if Amed Rosario is called up by the Mets. I expect the rest of these guys to stay where they are for now.

Some players currently playing above expectations are starter Mickey Jannis, a bunch of relievers (Tim Peterson, Kyle Regnault, Scarlyn Reyes, Alberto Baldonado, Kelly Secret), 1B-DH Matt Oberste, and OF Kevin Taylor. Look for both Jannis and Taylor to move to Vegas soon. 

The guy that needs to get going here is third baseman Thompson. He's blocked in Vegas by emergency third baseman Phillip Evans and he is beginning to be pushed by Jhoan Urena in St. Lucie. The Mets love Thompson but they always expected more from Urena, who is finally starting to show why the Mets signed him for $425K in the 2011-12 draft signing period.



A great read about the ‘Founding of the National League’  



The Kingsport Mets new coaching staff



Let’s Go To The Telephone –

            The team has been struggling. It’s been a playoff favorite and some have predicted them to win their division this year, but they have gotten off to a bad start due to poor hitting, shoddy defense, and timely injuries to key starters.

            In addition, there has been pressure to call up their top prospect from their AAA team and hopefully shake things up.

            Sound like someone we root for?

            Well, it’s not and we’re not talking about Amed Rosario. It’s the San Francisco Giants and the rookie prospect that is now in the San Fran clubhouse is 21-year old infielder Christian Arroyo.

            Why does it once again seem that the only team that wants their top prospects to age a little more are the Mets?

            You know Michael Conforto is only here because others got injured and all he’s doing is posting a top 10 NL batting average.


            I just don’t know sometimes.




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St. Lucie 8 - Lakeland 7

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 The St. Lucie Mets snapped a six-game losing streak with a nail-biting 8-7 win over the Lakeland Flying Tigers on Wednesday at First Data Field.

The Mets held an 8-4 lead after seven innings but had to strand the tying run in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings. Alex Palsha got Zac Shepherd to fly out to the middle of the warning track in center field with the bases loaded to end the game.

In the eighth inning Ben Verlander lined out sharply to left against Darwin Ramos to leave the tying run at second base.

The Mets scored all eight runs in the first four innings. Brandon Nimmo, making a MLB rehab appearance, batted leadoff and went 1 for 3 with a double, walk, two RBIs and three runs scored. Wuilmer Becerra went 3 for 5 with four RBIs. He drove in Nimmo three times.

Patrick Mazeika hit a solo home run to start the fourth inning that made it 8-4. That turned out to be the Mets last hit and run of the game.

Mets starter Justin Dunn pitched six innings. He gave up four runs, all in the first two innings. He retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced and earned his first Florida State League win.
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Columbia 4 - Asheville 0

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Starter Merandy Gonzalez is now 4-0 in four starts after he led Columbia to a 5-0 shut-out victory over Asheville on Wednesday afternoon. The right-hander has hurled 28.1 consecutive scoreless innings to begin the 2017 season. Gonzalez is the only starter in all of professional baseball (MLB & MiLB) with a 4-0 record and 0.00 ERA.

Gonzalez is now approaching a South Atlantic League record. The longest consecutive scoreless inning streak belongs to Ted Carson (39.2). The right-hander accomplished that feat as a member of the Savannah Cardinals in 1984. On Wednesday, Gonzalez logged 7.2 innings – matching his career-high – scattered five hits and struck out five. In those 28.1 IP this season, the righty has allowed just 15 hits and three walks.

Three times on Wednesday Gonzalez worked out of jams with runners in scoring position. Reliver Matt Blackhampitched the final 1.1 innings, striking out two and allowing just one batter to reach. Columbia (12-9) posted its sixth shut-out win of the year – the most in all of professional baseball – and took two out of three games from Asheville (10-11).

Not to be forgotten, Tim Tebow recorded his third multi-hit game in just six days. The outfielder is 9-for-20 (.450) at the plate during that span with three runs scored, three doubles and a triple.

Tebow and the offense ignited in the second frame. Jay Jabs walked to begin the inning and then Tebow singled off of starter Brandon Gold (L, 1-2). Jose Medina’s base hit loaded the bags. Ali Sanchez then flew out to centerfield, which allowed Jabs to tag and score. Gene Cone’s double to the left-center field alley plated two more and the home team jumped up, 3-0.

Michael Paez – who had doubled in the first inning – smashed his second home run of the year in the third, extending the Fireflies’ lead to 4-0.

Tebow’s first triple came in the sixth. The lefty pulled a fastball down the right-field line and wound up at third. Medina whacked a base hit and Tebow scored.

The Fireflies and Hickory Crawdads begin a four-game series at L.P. Frans Stadium on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.Columbia throws right-handed starter Colin Holderman (1-1, 3.46) to counter Hickory righty Michael Matuella (0-0, 0.00)
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4/26/17

Mets Roster Update

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Sean Gilmartin, we hardly knew ye...he's back to Vegas and in his place the Mets will have Matt Reynolds.  Yes, he's not the infielder most want to see here, but at least they now have more than T.J. Rivera as a bench option.

Also, the NY Times reports that Wilmer Flores has been discharged from the hospital after receiving IV antibiotic treatments for his knee infection.  He will need time to regain his strength and no one has yet announced when he's expected to return.  
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ROSTER MOVED - St. Lucie

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OF Brandon Nimmo added as rehab participant

RHP Thomas McIIraith to DL

RHP Tyler Bashlor reinstated from DL




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RUMBLE PONIES GAME NOTES: Game #17 - Rumble Ponies (8-8) at RubberDucks (8-10) - 6:35 PM

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BINGHAMTON RUMBLE PONIES
(8-8), 4th Eastern, 1.5 GB
(New York Mets)
AKRON RUBBERDUCKS
(8-10), 5th Western, 2.0 GB
(Cleveland Indians)


Wednesday, April 26, 2017  6:35 PM
Canal Park  Akron, OH
RHP Corey Oswalt (1-2, 4.24) vs. RHP Nick Pasquale (1-1, 3.06)
WNBF 1290 AM


JIO’S GIANT DOUBLE PROPELS PONIES TO WIN: An eighth-inning RBI double by Jio Mier proved to be the winning hit as Binghamton beat Akron, 4-3, Tuesday night. The Rumble Ponies snapped a six-game losing streak to the RubberDucks, while RHP Donovan Hand tossed 6.1 innings in his first Eastern League start of his career. Corey Taylor and Alberto Baldonado finished off Akron in the final innings, earning the win and save, respectively.  

BINGHAMTON  STARTER: RHP Corey Oswalt gears up for his fourth start of the season. After tough first innings in his first two starts, the Double-A rookie put together a complete outing on April 21 at Erie. The 6th-year pro went seven innings and allowed just three hits and one earned run. Oswalt earned his first Eastern League win in an 8-3 Binghamton victory. Oswalt has received 4.3 runs/game from the Rumble Ponies offense, tied for most of any Binghamton starter (P.J. Conlon - 4.3 runs/game in 4 starts).

AKRON STARTER: RubberDucks RHP Nick Pasquale   is fresh off of his first and only win of the 2017 season. He tossed six innings of two-run baseball on April 21 against Altoona in a 3-2 RubberDucks win. A 20th round pick of the Indians in 2012, Pasquale is in his 6th professional season, and second full season with Akron. In 2016, Pasquale made 13 starts for the RubberDucks, posting a 4-7 record with a 4.22 ERA. He has never faced Binghamton in his Minor League Career.

TAYLOR TO 11 GAMES: Rumble Ponies OF Kevin Taylor extended his team-high hitting streak to 11 games with a 2-for-5 effort on Tuesday night. Taylor’s streak is tied for the third-longest active streak in the Eastern League, behind Bowie’s Austin Wynns (12 games) & Akron’s Francisco Mejia(14 games). Taylor’s batting average has increased after each game of the streak, now up to .364, 9th in the Eastern League.

UNCLE ALBERT: LHP Alberto Baldonado extended his scoreless streak to 9.2 innings (6 appearances) to begin the season. Both of his saves in 2017 required at least five outs. The 24-year-old has struck out 13 while walking four.

SEESAW SEASON: Over the last seven games, Binghamton has traded wins and losses, never winning or losing back-to-back games. The Rumble Ponies have not sunk more than a game below .500.

GIVE HIM A HAND: 31-year-old RHP Donovan Hand put Binghamton in position to win on Tuesday night, tossing 6.1 innings of three-run baseball. Hand wouldn’t earn a decision in his Rumble Ponies debut, his first Double-A start since 2011.

RUMBLIN’ DOWN THE STRETCH: Tuesday’s win marked the first time this season that Binghamton won a game when tied after seven innings. The Rumble Ponies have not squandered a late-game advantage, sitting at 8-0 when leading after seven.

UP NEXT: The Rumble Ponies begin a three-game set against New Hampshire at NYSEG Stadium on Friday at 7:05 PM.
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Richard Herr - Same Old Same Old

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Same Old Same Old

So let’s say Jacob deGrom is pitching. It’s the first inning. He didn’t have his stuff while warming up. He still doesn’t have his stuff through the first two batters who got on base. What does he do? He considers what he’s got and uses those tools to the best of his ability. He changes his techniques. He uses another approach. He makes do with what he’s got. He doesn’t keep doing the same old same old.

Let’s say the Mets’ batting order is going through a game. They’ve been shut out through the first three innings against a top-flight pitcher. They haven’t even managed a hit. What should they do? The same old same old? Comparing this to the first example would say they should run out some new techniques to score some runs and win the game. But what do the Mets’ hitters do? The same old same old. They look for the right pitch to hit, to pull into the stands. They reach for the pitch on the outside corner and pull it toward the side of the field that has a majority of the fielders.

Do they try some new techniques? Do they see if they can turn things around by changing their game plan? No, they don’t. They just go with the same old same old.

Whenever Richard Herr isn’t solving all the Mets’ problems, he spends his time writing humorous science fiction novels.



You can see his books at https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Herr/e/B00J5XBKX4.
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Reese Kaplan -- The Mets and the Seven Year Itch

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From “We’ll spend when we win” to “I have money available to improve” to “We’re all in”, we’ve grown accustomed to the forked tongue of the general manager.  Remember, he was “all in” without adding a single player to the roster that was one and one last year.  He was “all in” with several players returning from major injuries.  He was “all in” with no contingency plans when injuries once again reared their ugly head.

So what is the result of his passivity?  Well, the Mets are in the midst of a period during which they’ve lost 8 of their last 9.  The bullpen is already burned to a crisp due to the manager’s quick hook and subsequent overuse, often engaging 5 or more pitchers to get through the final 3 innings. 

Then there’s the well documented trust and faith put into veteran players matched only by the disdain and paranoia about trying anyone new.  The end result is having older players accruing injuries and forced to play hurt when perfectly healthy options wither away on the bench.  Furthermore, the extra strain put onto these veterans has resulted in a myriad of injuries. 

Who’s hurt?  Well, it’s almost as if the list of who isn’t hurt would be a shorter one.  Let’s start with the pitching casualties from spring training and the first week of the season – Steven Matz and Seth Lugo.  Not having a backup plan for Matz given his frailty and inability to stay on the mound is one of those shortsighted gaffes for which Sandy Alderson has become infamous.  Lugo’s injury was somewhat of his own doing, choosing to play full bore in the WBC without having sufficient time to warm up properly before his arm was ready.

What of the Captain Fantastic who has played in 75 games each of the past two years combined?  What was the plan going into 2017 for him?  Oh right – more replacement level play from Jose Reyes.  How’s that working out for you?  Replacement level would be a quantum leap forward in productivity.  Then again, he’s a veteran so he gets to play until he says he’d leaving the game to pursue another endeavor.

Of course, no one has seen Brandon Nimmo who, like his WBC brother-in-Obamacare, Seth Lugo, got himself injured by running all-out in a meaningless game too early in the spring.  Then, apparently, while rehabbing the hamstring he managed to get a hand injury as well.  He and Juan Lagares are fighting it out for the title of most fragile outfielder.

Then we have Lucas Duda who had injuries last year, this spring and now is on the DL with a hyperextended elbow.  The move to the DL was surprising since the team routinely terms things day-to-day when it’s clear that longer periods of rest and rehab are required.

Similarly, Wilmer Flores was placed on the DL with a mysterious knee infection that kept him hospitalized for IV fluids over the weekend. 

Asdrubal Cabrera was visibly wincing as he played on Sunday, yet with the state of the roster he was forced to play.  Now you’d assume a thinking manager might say, “Hey, Asdrubal, better you take a day off now than be shut down for weeks as you were last year” but no…instead after sending the .095 hitting Jose Reyes to the bench for a whopping one game, he brought him right back in to play 3B on Sunday instead of shortstop.  Hmmn…couldn’t you have tried to “get him going” by having him man shortstop and having T.J. Rivera play 3B?  Nah, that would have made too much sense.

Travis d’Arnaud is also banged up, having a bruise on his wrist which made hitting possible but not throwing.  Given his less-than-stellar reputation on that side of the game, it makes sense to sit him for awhile until fully healed. 

Yoenis Cespedes probably strained his hamstring trying to run through obvious sliding situations.  It’s not the first time that’s happened (the hamstrings and the bizarre base running), and it won’t be the last. 

In both of these last two cases the club made the mysterious decision to let the players heal rather than be without them for 15 days.  But wait…now there’s a 10-day DL.  Still, they opted to go extremely short handed on the bench with pretty much T.J. Rivera and whichever of Rene Rivera and Kevin Plawecki are not playing.  Given that they won’t burn the backup catcher, that means it’s a one-man bench of T.J. Rivera. 

To wit, the Skipper has resorted to using his most valuable commodity – starting pitchers – as offensive weapons to pinch hit and to run.  What kind of second guessing will take place when Jacob de Grom or Zack Wheeler gets spiked or pulls a hammy because the club won’t supply a sufficient bench and the manager felt it was better to use his core pitchers rather than say a Sean Gilmartin who’s apparently in the witness protection program anyway.  But wait, you can’t do that when you change pitchers for every batter in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.  What a concept – allowing relief pitchers to face more than one batter even if they hit from the opposite side of the plate!

So let’s assume we wait until about Cinco de Mayo when Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores should be back.  By then the silly 1-man bench should be somewhat fortified by the returns of Travis d’Arnaud and Yoenis Cespedes.  Let’s flash forward and see what the manager will have at his disposal:

He will have all of his outfielders back not named Nimmo.  His bullpen will be the same.  His bench should include Rene Rivera, T.J. Rivera, Wilmer Flores, Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson (though it will more likely be Michael Conforto riding the pines).  He will have his current starting rotation. What will his excuse for not winning be then?

Here’s a hint.  The man has never won anything.  He’s been in the game longer than any two of his starting pitchers’ combined ages and has yet to win a World Series.  This is not a case of small sample sizes.  This career legacy of mediocrity spans nearly 1900 games.  Right now his record stands at 933-936, and his Mets record is worse at 489-502. 

Do you want to show the world you’re truly all-in AND preserve your smartest-guy-in-the-room strategy of standing pat with the roster?  Then fire Terry Collins and bring in a fresh approach since what you’ve gotten from him has not worked.  Nearly every offensive player brought in under Collins has sputtered unless they were a role player.  Why is that?  Could it be their roles need to expand or that younger players need to be given more opportunities?  How is it that collectively the club falls in the lower echelon of all offensive categories (other than HRs)? 

While it will never happen given the circumstances under which they parted ways, what the club needs now is a Wally Backman type who can actually motivate players to give more than they’re currently doing.  They need someone who understands how to play the hot hand.  They need someone who can reinforce fundamentals and not just wait for the three-run homer.  They need someone who knows if you burn your bullpen out in April you won’t win in September. 

But, but, but…he brought us to a World Series in 2015.  No, Yoenis Cespedes put the club on his back and delivered them to the World Series.  Then you watched Terry Collins get humiliated by a non-rocket scientist manager on the other side whose club made the Mets look silly.  Who can forget Collins’ insistence on batting Yoenis Cespedes when the man could barely stand, to say nothing of running?  Or his insistence on leaving in a clearly “lost it” Matt Harvey?  These decisions rested squarely on the manager’s shoulders.  No one else gets the blame for them.

But, but, but…he got us to our second straight post-season in 2016.  Once again, I give a lot of credit not only to Yoenis Cespedes, but also to Robert Gsellman and the pre-WBC Seth Lugo for getting us there.  And what happened when we did get there?  He used luminaries like Eric Campbell to pinch hit and “we’ve seen this movie before” left in a clearly “lost it” Jeurys Familia to blow the game.  There's some merit to ride the horse who brung ya, but a thinking man adjusts.  Once again these decisions were made by the guy with the career losing record. 

While I personally disagreed with bringing him back for yet another year, I could understand the rationale.  However, even though it’s a marathon and not a sprint, the dismal start to the season during which you’re allegedly “all in” suggests it’s time for a change to be made even if only as a symbolic gesture of doing something rather than the standard modus operandi of doing nothing. 

Hopefully a new manager will look at who his best player options are and giving them starting assignments.  If that means benching, demoting or cutting Jose Reyes, so be it.  If that means making Curtis Granderson a $15 million pinch hitter, hey, them’s the breaks, Curtis.  If that means keeping Lucas Duda on a short leash when he returns, perhaps the “you hit or your sit” mantra will actually morph into reality.  If that means bringing up a .400 hitting shortstop with 5 SBs to do what Jose Reyes is not doing, hey, aren’t you allegedly “all in” to win?

As a manager myself I know when something doesn’t work you try something else.  When something hasn’t worked for seven years then we have a tendency to get mighty itchy.  At the very least can we at least push Kevin Long to the curb to let his boss know what's coming if he doesn't turn things around in a hurry?  Some will call it Steinbrenner-esque.  Say what you will, but the Yankees sure did win a lot of pennants by not settling for mediocrity.  
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