• Right Man for the Job

    Just for fun, letís imagine that you have worked for a company for more than 25 years. Imagine you have been in a very important position within that company for a dozen years. Youíve given your heart and soul, worked hard and dedicated your energies to that company. You may not be the perfect employee. Frankly, for your job, there is no such thing as perfect. However, itís not an easy job, dealing with personalities and performances of others.

    Imagine now that the last three or four projects that you were in charge of had not gone as planned. Though the expectations of some were that the projects would be simple, each had unforeseen challenges. You did your job in the right ways, continued to work hard, continued to work with your teams. You performed your job and did all the necessary work, but the projects were not seen as successes.

    How would you want your boss and his or her superiors to respond?

    Well, there are two options, arenít there?

    Option 1 Ė They could decide to terminate your employment or push you to a different area of the company. Thatís probably the easier choice.

    Option 2 Ė Despite the loud voices to the contrary, your boss can stand up for you and talk about how the whole team, the whole organization is responsible and accountable. The boss can ask you to work on certain things, and maybe look in the mirror at areas you can improve, in an attempt to improve the overall performance. The boss can stand behind you to his or her superiors because there have been many successes along the way, big and small.

    With Mondayís decision to retain the services of Manager Ron Gardenhire for the next two seasons, GM Terry Ryan chose for Option #2, and my personal opinion is that it is the right decision.

    Ron Gardenhire is not without faults. There are times I may question some in-game decisions, or why he chooses to call out a young player through the media, but overall, Gardenhire has proven himself on the field. He and his coaching staff also put in their work and their time, all in the effort of making players better every day. There have been several successes, and like all walks of life, there are plenty of mistakes.

    The Twins lost 96 games in 2013, the third straight season they have lost at least that many games. The number of managers who have kept their job after three straight 90-loss seasons is very low. However, one such example of this is the Twins, and it was Tom Kelly. It should surprise no one that the organization wants to remain loyal and wants to build from within. In early September, the Twins found themselves with a 61-77 record. They proceeded to lose 14 of their final 19 games to end the year at 66-96. Of course, Justin Morneau had been traded and Joe Mauer missed the final six weeks with his concussion.

    ďThe players want Gardy to come back.Ē To nobody's surprise, players were quoted over the weekend that they wanted Ron Gardenhire to return and spoke glowingly about his managerial style and how hard he worked. Listening to the quotes of players who are loyal to their manager is definitely not something the GM should base his decision on.

    However, the only thing worse than making a move to appease the players is to make a move to appease the fans. Fans want wins, and thatís what everybody wants. Thereís nothing wrong with that. The GM's job is to find ways to win as quickly as possible while also looking out for the long-term future of the product on the field.

    The idea of making a change just to make a change is obviously not smart. Consider this. A year ago, fans were screaming for Joe Vavra to lose the hitting coach duties so Tom Brunansky could take over. How well did that turn out for the Twins in 2013, a Twins team that struck out the third most times by a team in baseball history?

    Many will choose to look at the last three seasons. Itís also hard to ignore his first nine seasons. In that time, he had six division titles, and a second place finish (after losing a Game 163). Just once in his first nine seasons did the Twins have a sub-.500 record.

    Some choose to look at the Twins playoff record, and I understand that. However, what happens over a 162 game sample size is a more reliable indicator than a five game sample any day.

    Manager of the Year voting is always an interesting endeavor. However, he won the award in 2010 after finishing second in voting five times previously. The respect that Gardenhire has in the baseball industry is great.

    So, how much credit and how much blame should a manager get? The Cleveland Indians won more than 20 games more in 2013 than in 2012. Terry Francona took over for Manny Acta. The difference, however, was that Francona inherited a rotation in which four starters were able to strike out over eight batters per nine innings. They had a lineup of veterans that was supplemented with free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. Ron Gardenhire worked with a starting staff that seemed allergic to missing bats.

    Remember: Ron Gardenhire could have been a free agent manager on Monday. He could have had his choice of open jobs in the coming weeks. I appreciate that he wants to stay here. As he said, he wants to be part of the answer for turning this around. He is going to need help from the front office to make that happen.

    Despite being 102 games below over the last three years, Gardenhire is still 51 games over .500 for his 12-year career. He has not forgotten how to manage, and he has the respect of his players.

    Brian Dozier and several bullpen arms took strides forward, and Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins played at their All-Star levels. Kyle Gibson, Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, Josmil Pinto, Caleb Thielbar, Ryan Pressly and Michael Tonkin came up, took some lumps, gained some experience, and should be better for it. In 2014, Twins fans should see the debuts of Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Alex Meyer, Trevor May, likely Byron Buxton, and maybe Danny Santana. Those guys will also likely take some lumps, so 2014 should again be a rebuilding year.

    The front office and the scouting staff have put together some great minor league talent that will be another year closer in 2014, but for the team to take a major step forward, starting in 2014, the front office will have to acquire some veterans that can be counted on. Also, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit, if around, will have to be better.

    It's going to be 2015 before we see just how good this team can be. The youth and hopefully some complementary veterans will help. And Ron Gardenhire is the right guy to get this team back to contention.

    I can see Gardenhire doing just like his predecessor, Tom Kelly. After Kelly led the Twins to four straight 90+ loss seasons, he went with a youthful group that, in 2001, competed into the second half of the season. Thatís what I can see happening in 2015. Should that happen, I can see Gardenhire saying, "OK, this team is back to where it should be" and turning it over to the next manager who will lead the way for the next decade or more.
    This article was originally published in blog: Right Man for the Job started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 85 Comments
    1. Chance's Avatar
      Chance -
      Firstly, Seth, great article. I truely appreciate your opinion and your writing.<br><br>With that said, I disagree. I respect Gardy and I don't mind seeing him manage again, but what players have consistently continued to develop under him? Players don't seem to be reaching their potential. Dozier has shown more this season but how many people feel comfortable with him continuing to improve? <br><br>The pitchers have been terrible for the most part besides the bullpen. Is this on Anderson? Who has gotten better under him? Who has left and improved? This is not just the last 3 years this has been for many years. <br><br>Maybe all this is on the front office. What seems to be holding this team back is philosophy for acquiring and developing talent. Yes our minors are showing alot of promise but will that continue to be the case when they reach the majors?
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      If he doesn't, why keep Gardy, why not pay Seth 1/5th the money? Clearly the manager matters.
      I'd take that, for sure!! Ha!
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I understand the desire to use a real world analogy but it just doesn't work. Why does Gardenhire get a pass on his consistantly failed "projects" but the players don't? Morneau got traded, not extended. Was he less of a loyal employee than Gardenhire? It wasn't Morneau's fault this club stunk, he had the second highest OPS on the team.

      I don't blame Gardy, Ryan put him the the no-win situation and should be facing the music, but I'm really getting sick of those defending the move saying it's silly to "make a change just to make a change." That's condescending and blatently inaccurate. Just because the reasons are intangible doesn't make it voodoo. Numbers of blameless managers get canned each year and in many cases, it works and the teams win. Rarely does the ship get righted after retaining a manger after three terrible seasons.

      Also, the implication that option #1 is the easy option is clearly false. Option one means looking an old friend in the eye and telling him he won't be coming back. Re-signing him is the easy option. I'm not upset that Gardenhire will be back, I'm just upset that Ryan continually stays within his comfort zone.
    1. gil4's Avatar
      gil4 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I just so often hear, "Well, you can't fire the players." So teams fire the manager.
      Of course, you know that cliche is a lie. They fire players all the time, although they have other names for it to make it sound better. Just last week on another thread I made a list of a dozen players I'd like to see "fired" off the 40-man roster.

      I've seen the comments about how the Twins stuck with TK and he got things turned around to hand over to Gardy. The thing is I don't remember TK's teams making as many boneheaded plays. His bad teams were well-coached bad players. They could get the bunt down. They could throw to the right base. They just were overmatched talent-wise.

      That's not what I have seen the past three years. The "Twins Way" was always the TK way, and that has gradually faded.

      I would also add that two championships buys you some time that making the playoffs and getting knocked out in the first round doesn't.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by IdahoPilgrim View Post
      This is speculation as to his motivation for staying,
      Fair point.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      It's not just Ron Gardenhire that needs to go, it's The Twins Way. Gardenhire is not a bad manager, in that he does implement the philosophy that this organization has chiseled in stone. The problem has become the philosophy.

      Many years ago, The Twins Way meant something different than what we are seeing now. The bullet points are the same: pitch to contact, great fielding, hit to the opposite field, etc. However, somewhere along the line something changed. Pitch to contact started to mean "nibble around the corners." Great fielding started to allow slow fielders with iron gloves and crappy accuracy, so long as they hit a home run now and then. Hit to the opposite field started to mean stand there and wait for ball four, only to watch strike three. Oh, and how many bases did you see this poor fielding, strikeout prone, nibble around the corners team steal this year? Sorry, our big, clumsy guys are too slow to steal bases, and the fast guys don't know how.

      The sad fact is that The Twins Way under Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson has become a cartoon mockery of itself, the low-T version, the slow, passive, old man's interpretation of "the piranhas." Piranhas with dentures.

      I do not question that the players on this team love Ron Gardenhire. Clearly the man is a warehouse of baseball knowledge, and he loves his players, too. The reason he should step aside is that the team needs to regain an aggressive edge that has been lost over the past few years. When the odds are 50-50 to swing or check, you should swing, hard. Get rid of slow outfielders. Pitch inside. When you're on base, you're a base stealer, not just a runner.

      Baseball is a game best played hard, embracing risk. The Twins Way has become a conservative, plodding style that is dull to watch, looks boring to play, and loses over 90 games per year. Today's Twins are at or near the bottom in all the categories that make baseball fun to watch: attempted steals, home runs, strikeouts, outfield putouts, bunts, pick-offs, trick plays, etc.

      You can't play pro baseball like you're trying to avoid a heart attack. The Twins need a manager that likes to roll the dice, and when he loses, can't wait to roll 'em again. Gardenhire himself talks about "getting after it," but his team plays like they're afraid of being too aggressive. It's like a fish that's scared of water, a bird that's embarrassed to flap his wings, a clown afraid to put on that big, red nose.

      Embrace the risk, celebrate your own embarrassment, or hand the microphone to the next bad singer. Life is karaoke, most of us suck, but that shouldn't stop anybody from giving it a go. We love you too, Ron, but it's time for a change. Please, hand the microphone to the next bad singer. You've been kind of hogging it.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      One has to wonder, do the loyalists around here want anything whatsoever to change in this organization? If such woeful leadership isn't enough to make a change, what on earth is? If this goes another year of 96+ losses?

      There is a lot of "the manager doesn't do much" comments around here, so one also has to wonder why those people make so much money if they don't really alter win/loss totals in any way.

      I just don't understand this mentality that we have to stick with the same guys out of "loyalty" and because, well, the roster stinks anyway. We have no way of knowing, of course, what any other manager would have produced in 2013, but I am now completely flabbergasted by the justifications for hanging onto proven failing coaches and the manager.
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      I would be careful throwing around this statement:

      "Some choose to look at the Twins playoff record, and I understand that. However, what happens over a 162 game sample size is a more reliable indicator than a five game sample any day."

      That only makes statistical sense if you are comparing two like items. I don't think playoff baseball games and a random regular season game of a 96 loss team can be compared this way. Playoff baseball is a different game. Just because its a small sample doesn't mean if the results a statistically significant they can be ignored. Statistically Gardy is one of the worst playoff managers of all time. That's just a fact. That doesn't mean hes a bad regular season manager but it also means his results aren't because of chance or a small sample size.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Gardy is the right man for the job, the fact that he would have had other offers within a day of getting "canned" proves this.

      People have said time and time again that Gardy should be let go, but I have yet to hear ONE person say who they should bring in instead that is a clear upgrade.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      the fact that he would have had other offers within a day of getting "canned" proves this.
      Well, I'm not sure it proves anything nor can anyone say it's a FACT he would have had other offers within a day of getting canned. I'm sorry, I mean of course they can say it...one can say anything...they just have absolutely no way to prove the supposed fact.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by savvyspy View Post
      I would be careful throwing around this statement:

      "Some choose to look at the Twins playoff record, and I understand that. However, what happens over a 162 game sample size is a more reliable indicator than a five game sample any day."

      That only makes statistical sense if you are comparing two like items. I don't think playoff baseball games and a random regular season game of a 96 loss team can be compared this way. Playoff baseball is a different game. Just because its a small sample doesn't mean if the results a statistically significant they can be ignored. Statistically Gardy is one of the worst playoff managers of all time. That's just a fact. That doesn't mean hes a bad regular season manager but it also means his results aren't because of chance or a small sample size.
      Absolutely correct. Other organizations clearly don't way playoff games on a par with regular season games. Granted it isn't as clear-cut as in the NBA (in terms of "building for the playoffs"), but there is a difference. And the winning percentage difference between Gardenhire's regular season games and his postseason games is nothing to just brush off as meaningless. Good god and a half!

      In his defense, though (so people don't accuse me of "childish vitriol"), a team with 5 number 3 pitchers can do pretty well in the regular season. But that isn't going to work well in the playoffs. There looked like there was going to be that one chance with Santana, Liriano, and Radke and then . . . nope. That sort of thing falls on the GM mostly. That said, it isn't clear that Gardenhire and Anderson even *want* the type of pitcher that serves as the 1 or 2 on other teams! Not when you can just push for Nick Blackburn to be signed to some dumb contract and then declare him to be a starter in spring training the next year with no justification.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      In his defense, though (so people don't accuse me of "childish vitriol"), a team with 5 number 3 pitchers can do pretty well in the regular season.
      Especially in our division from '02-'12. Might give a team an inflated record...
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      It's not just Ron Gardenhire that needs to go, it's The Twins Way. Gardenhire is not a bad manager, in that he does implement the philosophy that this organization has chiseled in stone. The problem has become the philosophy.

      Many years ago, The Twins Way meant something different than what we are seeing now. The bullet points are the same: pitch to contact, great fielding, hit to the opposite field, etc. However, somewhere along the line something changed. Pitch to contact started to mean "nibble around the corners." Great fielding started to allow slow fielders with iron gloves and crappy accuracy, so long as they hit a home run now and then. Hit to the opposite field started to mean stand there and wait for ball four, only to watch strike three. Oh, and how many bases did you see this poor fielding, strikeout prone, nibble around the corners team steal this year? Sorry, our big, clumsy guys are too slow to steal bases, and the fast guys don't know how.

      The sad fact is that The Twins Way under Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson has become a cartoon mockery of itself, the low-T version, the slow, passive, old man's interpretation of "the piranhas." Piranhas with dentures.

      I do not question that the players on this team love Ron Gardenhire. Clearly the man is a warehouse of baseball knowledge, and he loves his players, too. The reason he should step aside is that the team needs to regain an aggressive edge that has been lost over the past few years. When the odds are 50-50 to swing or check, you should swing, hard. Get rid of slow outfielders. Pitch inside. When you're on base, you're a base stealer, not just a runner.

      Baseball is a game best played hard, embracing risk. The Twins Way has become a conservative, plodding style that is dull to watch, looks boring to play, and loses over 90 games per year. Today's Twins are at or near the bottom in all the categories that make baseball fun to watch: attempted steals, home runs, strikeouts, outfield putouts, bunts, pick-offs, trick plays, etc.

      You can't play pro baseball like you're trying to avoid a heart attack. The Twins need a manager that likes to roll the dice, and when he loses, can't wait to roll 'em again. Gardenhire himself talks about "getting after it," but his team plays like they're afraid of being too aggressive. It's like a fish that's scared of water, a bird that's embarrassed to flap his wings, a clown afraid to put on that big, red nose.

      Embrace the risk, celebrate your own embarrassment, or hand the microphone to the next bad singer. Life is karaoke, most of us suck, but that shouldn't stop anybody from giving it a go. We love you too, Ron, but it's time for a change. Please, hand the microphone to the next bad singer. You've been kind of hogging it.
      I disagree. The piranha style of baseball might have been appropriate for a small budget team playing on astroturf, but the Twins aren't that team anymore. Moreover, piranha-ball was tested against the big AL-style DH brand of baseball over and over again, and it failed every time.

      The turf has changed, revenues have changed, the game has changed too. Runs are down across the board, and coincidentally, strikeouts are up.

      But the coaches and front office are the same people we had in the metrodome. Have they updated their thinking to keep pace? I don't see it. For starters, they're still last in strikeouts. They don't shift on anyone not named David Ortiz. They have two of the worst pitch framers in baseball. They won't pull a starter whose put up zeroes until his luck runs out, they won't use their best reliever in non-save situations, and they still won't make a splash in any form of domestic or international free agency.

      If they won't update their thinking, then they are the wrong men for the job.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Especially in our division from '02-'12. Might give a team an inflated record...
      The Twins were the Blue Jays, basically. The loyalists might be signing a different tune if we could merely trade places with those dirty Canucks. The "division title" defense would go away and then . . . what's left again? The player like him?
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Good article but my first take is that Gardy doesn't really "work at a job" and he's paid an obscene amount of money with the understanding what the trade off is (being fired at the pleasure of the owner). In most places that's how pro sports works. Other commenters above said it better.

      Speaking business, I've got to think if the Twins take another deep dive below 500 early next season, and with all the suits in baseball descending on Mpls for the All Star Game in July, that Pohlad, the gracious host, would just be too embarrassed to stand pat and would maybe clean house at that point, and send his good friend Gardenhire packing on a year and a half paid vacation. But that could just be me trying to kick Lucy's football again.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      No player brought up through the Twins organization other than Mauer was a can't miss prospect. Elements of their game were added to. Morneau became an MVP. With recent players, clear progress was made with Revere, Span, Florimon, and Dozier. Is the recent lack of talent being developed due to the lack of talent to be developed or those doing the developing? The number of minor league players with potentially bright futures would lead me to say the former although the lack of development by Plouffe and Parmelee gives a little pause.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      It's a strange situation in Twinsville.

      It is crying out for change, but it has to happen within the whole organization. I think ownership is afraid of that, and working with the long-range plan that Mr. Ryan and his staff does have in place.

      Think about it, bring in a new GM, who would pepper the front office with numerous other staff changes, bring in a new manager and coaches that MAY be 360 degrees different than whatever approach the whole system from major leagues to A-ball has established. Prospects MAY be moved for proven yet soon to be expensive players, choices would be made to draft this type of bat or that type of thrower that totally goes against what is in the system right now.

      One wants to think the Twins do have a plan. We know what that is...not to spend money (i.e. "we have a new stadium and revenue streams so we can keep our players when they reach free agency), move players thru the system slowly or in spurts so they don't all demand huge paydays at the same time (how many players play for the same team a full three seasons, my friends, or five seasons), stay away from free agency (or signing your own players) not thinking that they MAY be flippable.

      But, the Twins do have a plan. Will all the pieces come together. I look at a lineup (one of Gardy's faults) of Presley, Dozier, Mauer, Willingham, Doumit, Plouffe, Arcia, Pinto, Florimon and it doesn't look too bad. That is assuming Mauer MAY play more at first. Switch out right now Pinto for Colabello or Parmelee and it doesn't look as good. The Twins still need a bat (think Morneau in his prime) as well as great seasons from Willingham and Doumit. We know what to expect from the other guys. We will see BIG changes afoot in the infield as we work in 1-2-3 prospects. There are two outfielders in the system that may get a chance to shine in 2014.

      The bullpen is strong. There are tradable pieces (Swarzak, Burton, Duensing, even Fein -- a couple, but not all).

      It is the rotation in which the Twins need to spend. Three starters at least. One can be a placeholder, as they already have a stream of placeholders in the wings (Worley, Diamond, Hendriks). Gibson is a longterm given for now. Meyer, May, Dean, Darnell...if we get two, we can jump up and down. Deduno is questioable and should be traded as soon as he gets well and pus together a few starts. Correia is around for just one more year and is replaceable.

      So, the Twins need a bat and three starters. They have four potential free agents that are tradable in the nest year (Burton, Willingham, Doumit, Correia). All could be easily replaced by people in the system in 2015. Maybe some seasoning, but replaced.

      Brings us back to keeping Gardy. And the staff. They had a raw deal this year. You had challenged rookies who are free swingers (Arcia, Hicks). And you had a load of guys that fit nowhere in longterm plans (Berneir, Thomas, Mastro, Ramirez, even Carroll and Escobar). You had wonderkid Colabello who was clearly overmatched, but I can applaud and cheer for the guy. You saw that Parmelee and Hendriks may be lost causes. Gardy had to work with these guys, encourage them, give them a chance. He suffered for it.

      I'm happy for Gardy and his staff. I believe there is a long-range Twins plan in place to put butts in the seat. I would love to see a bit more excitement overall (the Twins seem to be the most unexciting team in baseball hands down -- boring front office, a nice pretty stadium with a cool breeze and friendly vendors...it is at least the most relaxed club in baseball at times).
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      After 25 years of service would I want my boss to choose option 2? Yes. After 3 years of being measurably worse than my peers and being in the very bottom of my industry in performance, would my boss choose option 2? No. It would never get to a whole year, let alone three no matter my track record previously. But then, my industry has many more qualified applicants to take my job than Gardy's. The main difference between me and Gardy (besides the obvious) is that I have the ability to hire and fire my employees, and because of that more of the credit of failure or success rests on my shoulders.

      Is Gardy the right guy? I don't know. Does a change need to be made? I think so, change for the sake of change can be a good thing. Does it need to be Gardy? Possibly, but I blame TR/BS more than Gardy for the current situation because those two GMs have/had the ability and resources to pull in the right people for the job (including coaching), and obviously have not.... Yet....

      I'm disappointed in Gardenhire's rehire for the same reason I am about resigning Pelfrey. It's not because they are bad people, bad player/manager. It's not even because I think they are wrong for the job. I'm disappointed because I know that for as long as status quo remains in the Minnesota Twins front office, I will be a fan of an atrocious baseball team.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Gardy is the right man for the job, the fact that he would have had other offers within a day of getting "canned" proves this.

      People have said time and time again that Gardy should be let go, but I have yet to hear ONE person say who they should bring in instead that is a clear upgrade.
      you realize the reason that isn't happening is because the matter is subjective, not clear. Not only tht, but many aren't asking for him to be fired out of incompetence but more for the need of organizational change and accountability. Frankly, your demands are a poor starting point for any reasonable discussion.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Gardy is the right man for the job, the fact that he would have had other offers within a day of getting "canned" proves this.

      People have said time and time again that Gardy should be let go, but I have yet to hear ONE person say who they should bring in instead that is a clear upgrade.
      It is not a "fact" and even if Gardy did get a new gig ASAP, that doesn't "prove" he could turn the Twins around.

      The only reports of landing spots I heard regarding Gardy were the Cubs and Mets. But the Mets don't need a manager and the Cubs? What a laugh. Bill James desciples Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are going to hire an old school manager who derisively calls Sabrmetrics "Cybermetrics?" I think not.

      I'm not upset about Gardy staying but I feel compelled to defend those who want him gone as there are so many reasons to demand a change from this stuffy, conservative organization.
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