Archive for February, 2010

I Take Issue With the ESPN Depth Chart

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I was perusing ESPN today in preps for spring games starting this week and wanted to see where they felt players fit on the depth chart. What I found there horrified me.

Aaron Heilman!?!?!?! What the heck? I thought we dumped him. Then I thought to myself “Self, maybe they just haven’t updated this all off-season”. Sigh of relief is breathed until I notice Xavier Nady in the mix. Seeing that Nady was just signed, it’s obvious that they’ve taken the time to update the chart this off-season. Apparently Heilman has a real good chance to make this club out of spring training despite the fact that he will be in camp with the Diamondbacks. What makes me laugh is that, oddly enough, he’s also projected to make the D-Backs out of spring training as well according to their depth chart.

Looking further, we see David Patton’s name on the list. Patton’s really ahead of Esmailin Caridad, John Gaub, Jeff Samardzija, and Justin Berg? Sometimes I think they just throw things out there and bank on people not questioning their choices. That’s the only logical explanation for this garbage.

Any thoughts on the chart? Do you agree with everything else?

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Back To The Cradle

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

The complete title of this book is: “Crazy ‘08 – How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History”. That’s kind of a long title. The author is Cait Murphy. It was published in 2007.

I would first like to share with you how this book moved to the head of the line, bypassing all others on my bookshelf. It was all because of the back cover.

The testimonial at the top of the back cover is from George Will:

  • “A rollicking tour of that season that will entertain readers interested in social history, will fascinate students of baseball and will cause today’s Cub fans to experience an unaccustomed feeling – pride.”

The next testimonial, from the Washington Times, states:

  • “If you’re any kind of fan, you ought to relish and revel in this wonderful book.”

And, at the bottom of the back cover, accompanying a photo of the author, her mini-bio includes the following:

  • “Cait Murphy….A former Little League infielder, Murphy played softball at Amherst College, where she received her degree in American Studies. She does not throw like a girl.”

Based upon those three indicators, I decided to read this one next.

Ms. Murphy dedicates the book:

  • “To my two biggest fans: my father and mother.”

Among the acknowledgments, the author states:

  • “My father, John Cullen Murphy, did not live to see publication, but it is to him I owe the idea behind ‘Crazy ‘08’.”

In the Foreword, Robert W. Creamer observes about the author’s work:

  • “She gives you the boisterous City of Chicago…as it was almost a hundred years ago, before the proliferation of radio, television, airplanes, automobiles, computers, cell phones, ATMs, BlackBerrys, and the like.”

Mr. Creamer adds:

  • “Her spring training, for example, isn’t the antiseptic, analytical baseball laboratory of today….It’s a rowdy, ramshackle, often badly organized, sometimes dangerous, sometimes hilarious adventure.”

I should point out that, although Ms. Murphy’s dad grew up near Wrigley Field, he moved with his family to New York in 1930 and switched his allegiance to the Giants. Cait herself was born and raised in New York City as a Mets fan. Her bias in this story of the 1908 season (if she has one) might be somewhat New York centric. I mean that in a good way.

I must say that Cait Murphy is fluent in the idioms of baseball and is able to coin an insider’s turn of phrase, for example: “Score it a run-off home run.”

In addition to describing the action on the field, the author includes in the discussion: racism in MLB, suicides associated with MLB, “The Irishness” of MLB, anarchists, coal mining, gambling, hoo-doo, and other related story lines.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • “Baseball never sleeps; instead, it huddles around the metaphorical hot stove to rehash the past and dicker about the future.”
  • “The rule of thumb seemed to be that when bosses joined together, that was red-blooded capitalism; when workers tried to do so, that was anti-American socialism.”
  • “A young ballplayer looks on his first spring training as a theaterstruck young woman regards the stage,” wrote Christy Mathewson. Veterans see it for what it is: “the hardest five weeks’ grind in the world.”
  • “The fans of 1908 would have boggled at that description. Their Cubs are not lovable and they are not losers; the players would have kicked in the teeth of anyone who dared call them the ‘Cubbies’.”
  • “They were grizzlies, these Cubs,” a Washington sportswriter would write. “Ursine Colossi who towered high and frowningly and refused to reckon on anything but victory.”
  • “Baseball is a sport whose moral boundaries are, to put it diplomatically, ill defined.”
  • “The area has one great advantage, being at an intersection for numerous trolley lines, which is how the Brooklyn “Trolley Dodgers” got their name.”
  • “I have never been much of an AL fan – the designated hitter and the Yankees being the two main reasons.”
  • “There ain’t much to being a ballplayer,” Wagner says, “if you’re a ballplayer.”

Ms. Murphy includes a comprehensive twenty one page bibliography or list of sources which will be referred to in the future.

The edition which I have also includes a ten page Q & A with the author at the back.

So, what can I tell you about “Crazy ‘08”? Well, both of my grandfathers were 13 years old in 1908. One of them was living on the north side of Chicago at that time, and was probably a Cubs fan.

The language of 1908, which Ms. Murphy recalls so well in “Crazy ‘08”, is the language which those grandparents spoke in my lifetime.

I enjoyed reading “Crazy ‘08” for the baseball stories, and for the collateral related topics as well.

I would like to thank the publisher, HarperCollins/Smithsonian Books for providing me with a copy of the book to read and review.

I recommend Cait Murphy’s “Crazy ‘08” very highly, particularly to those with an interest in putting on their history goggles and going for an adventure.

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GirlieView (02/26/2010)

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Yes indeedy, this is the very last GirlieView before the first Spring Training game! Let’s toast! It is Friday after all!

In the spirit of getting ourselves ready for a season of glorious debate (and to help get the remaining kinks worked out of the site so Joe can be sure all commentary, email alerts, and RSS feeds are working), let’s have ourselves a little weekend chat about the team. Two questions for all of you:

1. What are your three favorite things about the Cubs this year?

2. What three things make you cringe about the Cubs this year?

My three favorite things are:

1. MB/KG/AH/AM gone (I’ve written this before. And before that. And before that yet again).
2. The new owners.
3. Geovany Soto (having precious little to do with baseball, I must bashfully admit).

My three cringe-worthy things are:

1. No Ramirez backup (or, weak at best).
2. Soriano.
3. I just don’t think this is the team to get it done. But maybe that’s a good thing. Who was it a few weeks back who said maybe it’s best that we have low expectations, because we had high expectations last year and look where that got us? (jswanson? daver?)

In any event, I’d love to hear your thoughts. And, whether you post or not, have a great weekend!

Lizzies

  • Soriano knees fans in the “worry groin”
  • How sweet would it be to steal an arm from St. Louis and turn him into something productive?
  • I can’t think of anything Lizzie-worthy to say, so I’ll just say thanks for the effort.
  • I quickly told her that I already knew what it felt like.

Special category of Lizzies this week, we’ll call them BQYNS (rhymes with sequins) … Best Quotes You Never Saw … for two comments that made me laugh out loud when I saw them in the feed but never did show up on the actual article page:

  • The worry groin is connected to the jaded femur and the pelvis of disgust.
  • Well, one thing will be better about Sori’s leg only being 80-85% … his signature hop-catches in left will be 15-20% less ridiculous looking.

Lizard

  • Not wanting to take no for an answer, the guy then has the light-bulb come on upstairs (and probably downstairs as well if you know what I mean), and proceeds to offer my brother $20 to simply let him smell his feet.
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Great Moments in Work Idiocy

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Before we get into some stories from the workplace, we need to take care of some housekeeping elements about the actual subject this blog tries to follow. Here are some notes:

Brett Jackson is a weird dude. Why do I say that? Well, the guy actually likes having the needle stick him to give blood.

”I like it,” said Brett Jackson, the affable center fielder from the University of California. ”I was telling Josh Vitters when they were sucking my blood out [for annual physicals], I kind of liked it. Isn’t that weird? That’s weird. I enjoyed it. I like blood.”

Gotta love him. As long as he can get the job done in center when Marlon Byrd is done there, I could care less about what he does in his free time. (Gordon Wittenmeyer)

Angel Guzman reported soreness in his right shoulder and will be shut down for a few days, the Cubs said Thursday. (Paul Sullivan)

The Cubs are still pursuing other veteran pitchers such as the Toronto Blue Jays’ Jason Frasor and San Diego Padres’ Luke Gregerson to help out their paper-thin bullpen. The Padres will trade closer Heath Bell at some point during the season, but the combination of Bell’s upper echelon salary and the Cubs’ lack of money available make trading for him remote. (Bruce Levine)

Now, on to the feature.


I had put a call out for stories and almost rolled bupkis. Thankfully, one reader answered the call. I’m not sure where he works, but it appears to be a pizza place. Here were a few of his short, but sweet, selections:

  • Customer calls and says oh I had a coupon for free pizza but I don’t have it anymore. Can I still get it? NO!! Do you walk into a 7-11, buy a slurpee and say oh I had a $5 bill, but I don’t have it anymore? NO YOU DON’T!
  • Customer ordered delivery on the internet. Driver went there. No answer. So I called him, no answer. An hour later, customer is like where’s my pizza.
    Me: We went to (your address) and there was no response, and we called and got no response
    Customer: That’s not my address. I put the wrong address in when I ordered
    Me: So why didn’t you call the store when you put in the wrong address?
    Customer: I didn’t know what to do
    Me: You had the intelligence to call the store when you didn’t get your pizza, but you didn’t think it would be a good idea to call when you put the wrong address in?

My story actually happened to my brother, but I worked in the same job at one point. Thankfully, this never happened to me. A guy at our church owned a street sweeping business. Each night a team of 2 people would go to roughly a dozen smaller parking lots, mainly Walgreens and stores of that nature, to clean up the lots. Because you’re cleaning a parking lot, it makes sense that you have to work late at night when no cars are going to be parked there. When you arrive at the lot in the truck, one person would drive around the lot sweeping, while another guy (who made less money no less) would get out and walk around picking up big garbage and putting it in a garbage bag. Always seemed a little unfair that the guy in the car, nice and warm and CLEAN would get more money than the guy covered in filth by night’s end, but I digress.

This particular night in a rather sketchy part of Chicago, sometime after midnight, my brother is out freezing his tail off picking up half empty beer bottles, pizza boxes, etc and simply trying to keep an eye out for rats. It’s late and you really don’t expect to have a conversation with anyone at that time, so when someone calls out it kind scares the daylights out of you. My brother is working and a guy comes up, not drunk from what he says, and says hello. My brother acknowledges him and the guy proceeds to ask him if he knows where the fetish club is. Apparently he was told there was one in the area and this guy is in the mood to get freaky wit it. Rather creeped out, my brother explains that he doesn’t know where the club is and continues to go about his business. Not wanting to take no for an answer, the guy then has the light-bulb come on upstairs (and probably downstairs as well if you know what I mean), and proceeds to offer my brother $20 to simply let him smell his feet. Obviously he’s turned down cold, but he continues to clarify that he doesn’t want to touch my brother or anything like that, just simply wants to take a big whiff of the feet. Definitely one of the weirder stories I’ve ever heard from someone at their workplace.

Now it’s your turn. Share a story or two with us about work. Maybe it’s that tool of a boss you’ve got or those customers that drive you insane. Let’s hear it.

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In the News: Could Fontenot be dealt?

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Thursday is upon us as I write this, Cubs fans. And it’s a dark day indeed. A surprise snowstorm has left the Chicago area paralyzed as residents cower in fear at the strange white material coating our streets and driveways. Meanwhile, the sun remains hidden behind a dense bank of ominous gray clouds. In the distance, the mournful wail of an ambulance siren…

Ha, I’m just kiddin’. I rolled over the morning snow like Edgar Renteria taking out Mike Fontenot (more on him in a second) at second base. And I can actually see the sun and some blue sky out my office window. Now on the with the news*:

Cubs trumpeting Mike Fontenot’s versatility…and you know what that means.  Lou revealed yesterday that he plans on giving Lil’ Babe Ruth a look at shortstop during spring training. Some Cubs fans are screaming bloody murder over this move, but I’m just responding with a “Hmmm…” It’s hard for me to believe the team would actually consider using Fontenot as a backup shortstop – he had minimal experience there in the minors and didn’t look great at the position last spring. What I’m wondering is if the Cubs are doing this to give opposing team’s scouts a look at Fontenot at short to boost his trade value as the team (by Lou’s admission on WGN’s Dave Kaplan’s radio show last night) continues its search for a right-handed set-up guy.

With Andres Blanco’s stellar glove already in the fold and minor leaguer Darwin Barney close behind him, I don’t see why the Cubs would push Fontenot that far out of his second base comfort zone (where he’s quite good defensively) — especially after how he struggled at the plate when playing third base last season. (That time at third base is another notch in his “versatility belt,” however, which could also boost his trade value.) I’m not making any predictions here; just saying this is something to keep an eye on.

Happy Birthday, Ron Santo!  Yep, Ol’ No. 10 turns 70 today, so let’s show him some love. I know that he drives many Cubs fans crazy in the radio booth, but I’ll gladly live with his grunts and groans and generally mild inaccuracies to keep his heart and soul with the organization. Now if we could only will him into the Hall of Fame. (Click on that link for a great profile by Bruce Miles.)

Kevin Millar? Really?  Check out this fun interview with everyone’s favorite idiot. I can’t quite figure out what the Cubs are doing with Kevin Millar besides loosening up spring training camp and maybe bringing some championship wisdom to the club. And if that’s all they’re doing, fine. I just hope they’re not angling to wedge him onto the 25-man somehow in the hopes of counteracting the bad mojo Milton Bradley brought last season. The team is apparently looking at Millar as an OF/1B backup, but Xavier Nady or Jeff Baker could give DLee a day off, if necessary – or even Chad Tracy, if he makes the team. And I have a hard time believing Millar is anything but a liability defensively in the outfield. Just put Sam Fuld out there if need be (speaking of which, check out this cool profile of Sam).

And now it’s time for…MTV Cribs: Cubs style.  Ever wanted to stop by Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg’s place and have a look around. Well, now you can – figuratively speaking – with this ABC7.com article (and video!) I’m just glad Ryno didn’t usher us into the bedroom and tell us, “This is where the magic happens.”

*Click on those reddish-brown phrases for hyperlinks to articles. And, for the love of Ron, check back for updates!

####

Update: According to Carrie Muskat, Lou says Big Z will most likely be the Opening Day starter. Carrie also tells us that Angel Guzman is experiencing shoulder pain and is being “held back” but is still expected to be ready by that aforementioned Opening Day. (Wow, did I really just use “is” three times in one sentence?)

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USA on Track (and on Snow)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

With six days left, Canada has fallen too far behind. Before the Olympics started it looked like they had a good shot at winning the medal race. But the United States has risen to the occasion and is in the lead, with Germany coming on strong the last couple of days. Vancouver’s proximity to the United States gives the US an element of the home field advantage as well. Here is the medal situation as of this morning:

2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count
Country Golds Total Medals
United States 7 25
Germany 7 21
Norway 6 14
Russia 2 11
Canada 5 10

Nevertheless, based on the remaining events, we still predict that Canada will come on strong. In fact, we predict them to win the most medals in the remaining six days (15, compared to 9 for USA and 7 for Germany). Our projected final totals at this point are:

2010 Winter Olympics Medal Projected Totals
Country Golds Total Medals
United States 10 34
Germany 9 28
Canada 10 25
Norway 8 20
Austria 5 16
Russia 4 16

While we fell short on our original projection for Canada, our original United States projection (10 golds and 33 total medals) is still right on the button.

“Used with permission from John Dewan’s Stat of the Week™, www.statoftheweek.com.”

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In the News: Soriano knees fans in “worry groin”

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Good day, Cubs fans. With spring training revving up to full speed, there’s plenty of goings on in the baseball world. Sure, some of it amounts to little more than, “Kosuke Fukudome just walked into the locker room!” But there’s other news afoot as well.

For starters, I’m going to assume most of you know by now that Ryan Theriot lost his arbitration hearing over the weekend. That means he’ll make $2.6 million dollars in 2010, not $3.4 million – still a decent raise. Naturally, Ryan said there are no hard feelings after the “Showdown in St. Petersburg  Tampa,” and he’s issued an open challenge to rock star prospect Starlin Castro to, “…come get it” (referring to his job as starting shortstop, of course). So life goes on. Here are the rest of today’s top stories*:

Oh, my aching worry groin!  What’s a “worry groin,” you ask? Why it’s that very vulnerable part of every Cubs fan that aches involuntarily whenever we hear about an injury or potential injury to a star player. Case in point: Alfonso Soriano reported to spring training camp yesterday and said that his surgically repaired left knee feels “80, 85%.” Immediately after making this statement, Cubs fans nationwide fell to the ground and assumed the fetal position, crying out, “Ice! Get me some ice!” Fortunately, there’s plenty of ice here in the Chicago area. Well, actually it’s more like slush. Alfonso did add, “Maybe when I test it, it’s 100%.” So, please, stand up and try not to look funny when you walk.

UPDATE: Aramis Ramirez keeps his hands off of Cubs fans’ collective worry groin by telling Carrie Muskat that he feels “100%.” I like that number!

CHoP cuts Cubs out of his plans.  One of the hot stories I was following after Theriot got picked off first in arbitration was the possibility that the Cubs might use the money saved to sign former Phillies starter/reliever Chan Ho Park. And it appears our guys were very high on Park’s list of preferred destinations but, alas, he chose a team with a “history [of] championship contention.” That would be the New York Yankees. Ouch. Ah well - it’s money that stays in the bank and CHoP is hardly a lock to be an ace reliever, though he did have excellent numbers in that role last season. Bruce Levine is still mentioning a couple of Toronto Blue Jays relievers as potential trade targets.

Ricketts add to front office staff.  The new Cubs ownership group isn’t kidding around when it comes to marketing the team and, thereby, presumably bolstering every possible revenue stream. Yesterday, the organization announced that it’s added two marketing-related staffers: Jahaan Blake is the Cubs’ newly created Director of Fan Experiences, and Kevin Saghy is the team’s new Public Relations and Marketing Specialist. Think of these as “human capital upgrades” to Wrigley Field, I guess.

Update: The Ricketts addressed the team this morning in a closed-door meeting.

Another update: According to Bruce Miles, the Ricketts’ freelance PR guy really aggravated the press corp – including Gordon Wittenmyer, who sent out this angry tweet. And this one, too.

Angel Guzman tells heartbreaking tale of his brother’s death.  In one of my first “In the News” segments, I reported on the tragic story of the murder of Cubs’ reliever Angel Guzman’s brother. Angel himself commented on these very difficult events to Carrie Muskat recently. Tough stuff.

Who is Michael Parisi?  This nice profile answers that question, giving us some background on the dark horse candidate for the Cubs’ bullpen (or even starting rotation). I know many fans frowned on the David Patton Experiment last season but, c’mon, Parisi is a Cards prospect. How sweet would it be to steal an arm from St. Louis and turn him into something productive? He’s got a cutter, too!

Who is Jeff Stevens?  Yet another bullpen arm, of course. (Seriously, we’ve got a ton of ‘em.) If you watched carefully toward the end of last season, you may have caught Stevens throwing a few innings. The Cubs picked him up in the DeRosa deal, and he’s another guy who could “come out of nowhere” to solidify a decidedly unsettled bullpen. Plus, he’s working with Greg Maddux for God’s sake!

Who is Jose Ceda?  Damnit, Daver, stop! OK, OK – Ceda is not another Cubs’ bullpen arm. But he was until the team traded him  to the Florida Marlins for Kevin Gregg during the ’08-’09 off-season. Many of us (well, me, anyway) wondered whatever happened to Ceda. He was, after all, a pretty high-ceiling arm with closer stuff. Well, as this rather nightmarish story explains, Jose Ceda accidentally shot one of his friends in 2008. He’s now attempting a comeback.

Did you buy Cubs tickets last Friday?  If so, or if you’re still thinking about buying them, check out this Web site. It allows you to zero in on exactly where your purchased or prospective seats are situated. Pretty cool.

*Bolded phrases leading off each paragraph are hyperlinks. Check back for updates!

####

Update: All Cubs players are now in camp, per Carrie Muskat.

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GirlieView (02/19/2010)

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Couple of exciting things in GirlieView land this week!

First, I’m now on Twitter (http://twitter.com/GirlieView). Actually I’ve been on Twitter for a long time, but all I’ve done is listen in on what everyone else has had to say. I thought in honor of Spring Training starting I’d actually get in the game! So if you’re inclined to follow along please do so, especially since you folks already know what GirlieView is. I’ve already disappointed a handful of followers who thought GirlieView = View of Girlies.

Second, I’ve compiled the Lizzie and Lizard stats for YTD 2010. I’ll post them today then maybe every month or two thereafter, particularly when conversations pick up. Here are the current stats! (This includes today’s.) They’re in alphabetical order by screen name.

  • cap’n obvious – 1 Lizzie
  • CubbieDude – 1 Lizzie,  1 Lizard
  • dat_cubfan_daver – 17 Lizzies, 2 Lizards
  • Doc Raker – 7 Lizzies
  • Joe Aiello – 4 Lizzies, 1 Lizard
  • jswanson – 6 Lizzies
  • kris – 1 Lizzie
  • MJ – 1 Lizzie
  • MoondogKP – 1 Lizzie
  • Mr. David M. Beyer – 1 Lizzie, 2 Lizards
  • Seymour Butts – 9 Lizzies
  • wpbc – 2 Lizzies

Now, without further ado …

Lizzies

  • Does anyone realize the dichotomy of wanting your team to sign high priced free agents at every chance and then complaining of higher ticket prices.
  • I’d hope visitors would be so intrigued by the witticisms being exchanged here that they’d make an effort to explore the blog further and come back for more.
  • a certain prospect, who’s name we will not speak of for fear of a Corey Pattersonesque jinx
  • If a rhyme ‘s what i takes,
    then a rhyme I will make.
    For a shot at a Lizzie
    makes my blood run all fizzy.
    So I’ll send this retort
    to the above fine report,
    PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT
    thus begins a new chapter in our favorite sport.
  • Not too shabby
    And it’s good you’re not crabby
    For with your butt showing willy-nilly
    I’d think you’d be chilly
  • cigars, Courvoisier and corn chips
  • Chan Ho Park: good fastball, great beard
  • They can be prayed about, hexes, curses and pincushion dolls can be formulated, but we all just have to wait and see.

Lizard

  • I’ve got Cubs tickets – I’m feelin’ good.
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Funtastic Friday: Spring Training Questions

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Originally we had planned on Great Moments in work idiocy, but I’ve decided to issue a challenge to you, the reader, on that topic. E-mail me some good stories you’ve encountered via work. Perhaps they’re related to customers, or that annoying / weird co-worker or boss. Whatever the story, make it good and keep it PG-13. We’ll run some of the better ones next week.

In the meantime, here is a list of questions I received from one of my favorite readers, Tom C, courtesy of his dad. Tom’s an owner of Pepicelli’s Pizza in Ashland, VA. They make a mean pie, I have to admit. I’ve had a chance to get to know Tom and can vouch for his ability. If you’re in the Ashland, VA area, take some time to order from Pepicelli’s.

1.  Geovany Soto lost 40 pounds.  Is he back?

2.  How good is Starlin Castro?

3.  Will Aramis play a full year?

4.  Will Lou play Koske through May, then send him back to Japan?

5.  Can Derrek equal last year?

6.  Is there any reason to give Silva more than mop-up innings?  He was terrible even when he was good.  Why did we get him?

7.  Will somebody point out to Carlos Marmol where the plate is?

8.  Can Mike Fontenot regain some of his 2008?

9.  Jeff Baker’s babip was .374 with the Cubs last year.  Will he fall into Mendoza territory?

10.  Can Jeff Samardzija pitch?

11.  Will we miss Rich Harden?

12.  How much further will Alfonso sink?

Let’s get some discussion going on today.

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