Tag Archive | "Midsummer Classic"

Meet Your (Future) Royals All Stars

Can we get an All Star Game do-over?

Photo courtesy of Minda Haas

The 2012 Midsummer Classic, hosted by the Royals in Kansas City, was by nearly every measure a smashing success. But there was only one problem.

It came a year or two too early.

Forget the fact that 2013 would have been the 40-year anniversary of the last All Star. No, as much as that would have made sense, the real problem is that the Royals young stars were just a little too young in 2012.

Alex Gordon scuffled. Eric Hosmer flopped. Salvador Perez got hurt. Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas weren’t on the nation’s radar.

Those guys could, and should, all be All Stars sooner than later. But it wasn’t in the cards in 2012.

Based on entirely unscientific research, it’s my guess that Salvador Perez will be the first Royal selected by the fans to an All Star roster in years.

His competition will be stiff. There are currently five excellent catchers in the AL under the age of 30 who will vie for the spot for years – Detroit’s Alex Avila (25), Baltimore’s Matt Wieters (26), Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia, Boston’s Jarrod Saltalamacchia (27), and Minnesota’s Joe Mauer (29). And MLB.com’s top two catching prospects – Travis d’Arnaud, and Gary Sanchez – belong to the Blue Jays and Yankees, respectively.

But Perez’ infectious smile, boundless energy and natural leadership should make him a fan favorite beyond Kansas City. And his offense has thus far matched his widely respected defensive abilities. He has as good a chance as any Royal to be elected by the fans.

Mauer will always be a fan favorite, but he’s been on a steady decline, and might not stay behind the plate much longer. Perez’ bat has, thus far, been Mauer-like. If he can continue to hit, he’ll be the best of the bunch.

Moustakas may turn out to be as popular as Perez. The cheers of “Moose!” are already starting to spring up in parks around the league. His defense has been light years better than what was expected – he’s making highlight-reel plays on a regular basis. And chicks will dig the long balls he belts as much as guys will dig his blue collar-zeal for the game.

But third base won’t be an easy spot to get voted in. Even if Detroit’s 29-year-old Miguel Cabrera isn’t long for third base, two very popular players will be in the way – Tampa’s Evan Longoria (26) and Toronto’s Brett Lawrie (22). Another problem could be Texas prospect Mike Olt.

Hosmer will be plenty popular if he gets his approach at the plate straightened out. He might still turn out to be the best of the Royals’ youth movement.

But first base is always a tough place to get elected to the game. The Yankees and Red Sox will always go out and buy the best hitter available at this spot.

At this point, just one man under the age of 30 stands in his way. But Detroit’s Prince Fielder (28) just happens to be as immensely popular as he is talented.

I think Escobar might have been the league’s best shortstop in the first half of 2012. But Cleveland’s 26-year-old Asdrubal Cabrera is fantastic, and Texas’ Elvis Andrus (23) isn’t far behind. Looming on the horizon are prospects Manny Machado (Baltimore) and Jurickson Profar (Texas).

All four of these Royals should make multiple appearances in the All Star Game. Getting a start in one may be another matter, however. For the next several years, we’ll still be watching the old guard – Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz. Then the small-market Royals stars will have to contend with those mentioned above.

My money is on Perez to make the first start, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Can we get the All Star Game to come back in, say, 2016?

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Kansas City and the All Star “DNP” Tradition

The big boys are coming to our house this year, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be allowed to play with them.

The Royals host the All Star Game this year, and it is a huge event for Kansas City. But the hopes of KC fans that their team would be well represented at home were disappointed.

Ever since the announcement was made that KC would be home to the 2012 All Star Game, the question has been would the Royals have more than one player named to the team?

But a 12-game losing streak, a sluggish start by a few young stars, and injuries conspired to limit the Royals to just one representative.

Billy Butler rightfully was named the Royals’ rep. And he’ll hobnob with baseball royalty at our very own Kauffman Stadium in what is a great exposure of Kansas City. It will be a great economic and cultural event for the city.

But it won’t do much for healing the wounds Royals have taken from the mid-summer classic over the past decade. Three letters describe the slight baseball has dealt the Royals: DNP.

Six of the last ten KC representatives in the midsummer classic never left the bench.

In case you were like most fans who paid almost no notice to whether Royals played or not over the past decade:

2011: Aaron Crow – DNP.
2010: Joakim Soria – DNP.
2007: Gil Meche – DNP.
2006: Mark Redman – DNP.
2003: Mike Sweeney and Mike MacDougal – DNP.

Having lacked a legitimate “star” for years, it’s been a long time since Royals fans had much reason to care about the All-Star Game. So all the DNPs seem to have gone by without much notice. Lesser players are often forced to wait until late in the games to pinch-hit, or are held out for extra innings. So most casual fans have gone to bed by the time the benches start clearing.

I made the case a year ago that this was no coincidence.

During a 13-year stretch – 1990 to 2002 – when the team was pretty bad, the Royals had just one DNP – Jeff Montgomery in 1996. So based on that fact, it would appear Royals representatives are not getting into the games as frequently as they once did.

And it wasn’t that all the Royals representatives during that period were legitimate stars (see Jose Rosado in 1997 and 1999 and Dean Palmer in 1998).

It all started with what looks like the biggest slap in the face back in 2003. In the one season when the Royals were actually good – leading the Central Division with a 51-41 mark – the Royals sent legit slugger Sweeney and lights-out closer (at the time) McDougal to the game.

And neither played.

Since then, the American League seems to be making no effort to get Royals into the game.

Butler will not record a DNP this year. Most of the DNPs have been logged by pitchers, which isn’t that uncommon. And being as the game is in KC, they will finally make it a priority to get the Royals’ rep in the game.

Butler will play, no doubt. Sadly it will probably be in a pinch-hitting role. He’ll come up for one short at bat, go to the bench, and the Royals’ presence will be barely noticed.

But strangely the slight doesn’t end there.

For once the Royals had a rep who could conceivably participate in the second-biggest event of the All Star Break, the Home Run Derby. The door was open for Butler, and Robinson Cano even said he would invite a Royal.

But this year the Royals will sadly record a different DNP – Did Not Participate in the derby.

Good luck in your All Star appearance, Billy. You deserve it. The Royals deserve it. The city deserves it.

I’m afraid next year we’ll go back to the usual DNP.

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Brett to serve as Ambassador for All Star Game

Brett to Participate in All-Star FanFest, Taco Bell All-Star Sunday Events and
MLB All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run Presented by Nike

Hall of Famer and 13-time All-Star George Brett will serve as the Ambassador for MLB All-Star Summer. Brett will participate in All-Star events leading up to and during All-Star Week in Kansas City, including MLB All-Star FanFest (July 6-10). Brett has been selected as the manager for the U.S. Team in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game (July 8), which features some of the game’s best young prospects from the U.S. and around the world. Brett previously served as the manager for the U.S. Team in 2005.  Also on Sunday, July 8, he will play in the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game and will be the Official Race Starter for the MLB All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run presented by Nike.

“I’m excited to share the city and stadium I love with today’s All-Stars and baseball fans around the world,” said Brett. “It’s an honor to once again be a part of the Midsummer Classic and baseball’s special celebration.”


Brett spent his entire 21-year career with the Royals from 1973 to 1993, throughout which he accumulated 3,154 hits, 665 doubles, 317 home runs and 1,596 RBI. Brett stands alongside baseball legends Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Stan Musial, as one of the four players in Major League Baseball history to collect at least 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 batting average over his career. He is the only player in MLB history to win the batting title in three different decades (1976, 1980 and 1990). Brett, who was voted the 1980 American League Most Valuable Player, represented Kansas City in the All-Star Game in consecutive years from 1976 through 1988. He was also awarded the American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award during the Royals World Championship season in 1985.

Even after retirement, Brett has continued his long-time association with the organization and is an active resident of Kansas City. The Royals retired Brett’s No. 5 in 1994 and inducted him into the club’s Hall of Fame. Five years later, he was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame after receiving 98 percent of the votes, the fifth‑highest mark in history. Brett is currently in his 19th year as the organization’s Vice President of Baseball Operations and serves as a special instructor during Spring Training. He is also an active Minor League instructor helping prospects develop.


MLB All-Star FanFest will transform the Kansas City Convention Center/Bartle Hall into the largest interactive baseball theme park in the world. MLB All-Star FanFest opens on Friday, July 6, runs through Tuesday, July 10, and provides an unrivaled experience for fans of all ages. Visitors will experience more than 400,000 square feet of baseball fun, with attractions including exhibits from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, batting cages, clinics, free autograph sessions with former Royals, MLB legends and Hall of Famers, memorabilia and much more.


Taco Bell All-Star Sunday includes the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game, 4 p.m. CT, and the Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, approximately 7:30 p.m. CT, followed by a spectacular fireworks show to cap off the evening. Now in its 14th year, the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game showcases many of the top Minor League prospects and has featured Kansas City’s Billy Butler (2006), Alex Gordon (2006), Eric Hosmer (2010) and Mike Moustakas (2010). Players who have competed in both the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the MLB All-Star Game include Prince Fielder, Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Felix Hernandez, Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Verlander.

The Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game will feature stars from film, music, television and entertainment teaming up with Hall of Famers and former Kansas City stars immediately following the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Past celebrity participants have included Jon Hamm, Jimmy Kimmel, George Lopez, Chris Rock, Jordin Sparks and Kate Upton. The game has also featured a collection of Hall of Famers including Ernie Banks, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor, Ozzie Smith and Dave Winfield.


Hall of Famer George Brett will serve as the Official Race Starter at the 2012 MLB All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run presented by Nike. The charitable event, open to all ages, will take place on Sunday, July 8, on an All-Star-themed course in downtown Kansas City and will feature appearances by MLB Legends, mascots and celebrity guests. Major League Baseball will donate 100% of all net proceeds from the event to three charities supporting cancer research and awareness – Prostate Cancer Foundation, Stand Up To Cancer and the Greater Kansas City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The 5K, an officially timed event, will begin at 7:30 a.m. CT. Immediately following, at 8:00 a.m. CT, the family-friendly 1-mile Fun Run will begin; the wheel chair division will begin 5 minutes prior to each. All registered finishers will receive an official commemorative All-Star medal and t-shirt. All fans who sign up now via AllStarGame.com/5k can take advantage of the special early bird price of $25 (adult) and $20 (children 12 and under) for the 5K and $20 (adult) and $15 (children 12 and under) for the Fun Run. For more information, and to register as an individual or team, please visit AllStarGame.com/5k.

Tickets for MLB All-Star FanFest and to Taco Bell All-Star Sunday are currently on sale. To purchase, visit the official All-Star Game website of Major League Baseball (AllStarGame.com), the Royals official website (royals.com/2012), the Royals Box Office at Kauffman Stadium or call 1-888-FanFest (326-3378).

     For more MLB All-Star Week information, please visit AllStarGame.com and the All-Star Game Twitter account (@AllStarGame).

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All-Star DNP

At least a dozen people will be glued to their TV sets on Tuesday night to see if Aaron Crow gets into the All-Star Game as a pitcher for the American League team.

Don’t hold your breath.

The first ever Royal in an All-Star Game – catcher Ellie Rodriguez – recorded just one statistic in the 1969 exhibition. DNP. Disappointing for the fledgling franchise. But the team would soon be well represented by stars like Amos Otis, Cookie Rojas and John Mayberry, who made significant contributions in the game in the early 1970s.

Then came George Brett, Frank White and Hal McRae, and the Royals were all over the All-Star field.

But it seems fitting looking back that the first Royal All-Star recorded a DNP, because that appears to be a new trend.

Five of the last nine KC “representatives” in the midsummer classic never left the bench.

2010: Joakim Soria – DNP. 2007: Gil Meche – DNP. 2006: Mark Redman – DNP. 2003: Mike Sweeney and Mike MacDougal – DNP.

Having lacked a legitimate “star” for years, it’s been a long time since Royals fans had much reason to care about the All-Star Game. So all the DNPs seem to have gone by without much notice. Lesser players are often forced to wait until late in the games to pinch-hit, or are held out for extra innings. So most casual fans have gone to bed by the time the benches start clearing.

But it would seem that American League managers haven’t felt compelled to get the KC representatives into the games in recent years.

Is there a conspiracy here, is this just a coincidence, or is it a consequence of how the All-Star Game is played?

One could argue that while every team is allotted a representative to the roster, there is no guarantee that players from every team should play. Some players may just not be deemed worthy of participation.

One could make that argument particularly in the case of Redman, who was probably saved from embarrassment. Imagine the PA announcer introducing the Royals rep in 2006:

“Now entering the game, your Kansas City Royals All-Star, with a 5-4 record and a 5.27 ERA…”

It’s possible that because the Royals tend to be represented by pitchers, there is more of a likelihood that their rep won’t get in the game. Every year an average of 8.5 pitchers don’t play. (This is based on the past decade. For more statistics on pitcher DNPs, see below.)

But it could also be that no one feels compelled to insert into the game the representatives of a lack-luster franchise in fly-over territory. After all, five DNPs in eight years seems high if it is just a coincidence.

During a 13-year stretch – 1990 to 2002 – when the team was pretty bad, the Royals had just one DNP – Jeff Montgomery in 1996. So based on that fact, it would appear Royals representatives are not getting into the games as frequently as they once did.

And it wasn’t that all the Royals representatives were legitimate stars (see Jose Rosado in 1997 and 1999 and Dean Palmer in 1998).

It all started with what looks like the biggest slap in the face back in 2003. In the one season when the Royals were actually good – leading the Central Division with a 51-41 mark – the Royals sent legit slugger Sweeney and lights-out closer (at the time) McDougal to the game.

Neither played.

In defense of Mike Scioscia, the AL manager that year, seven other AL guys didn’t play either. But to keep two guys from the same team out seemed a bit much.

Could it be that, now that the home field in the World Series is determined by the midsummer classic, more emphasis is placed on winning than on getting all the players into the game?

That may provide some motivation to the games’ managers, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be affecting the leagues teams or its star players. Justin Verlander and C.C. Sabathia felt it was more important to pitch in their teams’ last game before the break than to play in the exhibition. And Derek Jeter, healthy enough to go 5 for 5 last Saturday, isn’t feeling up to putting in a couple of innings.

No, winning doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal.

While no one outside of Topeka probably cares if Aaron Crow plays or not, it will most likely seem more important next year when the All-Star Game comes to Kauffman Stadium. Most likely the league will feel compelled to try to get a position player from KC into the game for a couple of innings.

For the record, when the game was last played in KC in 1973, Otis and Mayberry were in the starting lineup, with Rojas coming off the bench. As a group, they came to bat a total of 6 times in the game.

But you have to go all the way back to 2000, when Jermaine Dye started the game to find a Royal position player that recorded significant time in the field in an All-Star Game. So we’ll see if Alex Gordon, Eric Hosmer or some other position player can finally see some time at a position in next years’ game.

Congrats, Aaron Crow. No matter what everyone says, you are an All-Star. I hope you get a chance to show it on the field.

But if you don’t get in the game, I doubt anyone will speak out in your defense. After all, you’re a Royal. Based on the last eight years, it appears no one cares whether you play or not.

Pitcher DNPs:

In the past decade, 264 pitchers were named to All-Star squads, with a high of 34 last season and a low of 22 in 2001.

178 pitched in the games, with a high of 23 in 2008 and a low of 15 in 2003 and 2006.

The lowest number of DNPs among pitchers came in 2008 with 2. The highest number came in 2010 with 15.

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2010 All-Star Game: An Ironic Tribute to The Boss

As if it were written in the stars, George Steinbrenner entered this world on the only American holiday as large as the life he would go on live…the Fourth of July. And as if “The Boss” himself authored his own final chapter, he would leave it on the day of baseball’s most celebrated holiday…the Midsummer Classic.

Steinbrenner personified the industrial era that allowed him to accumulate great wealth, parlaying that success into 7 championship titles and perhaps the most recognizable sports brand in the world. He insisted that his players represent the organization with blue-collar vigor, while exuding white-collar grace.

His gruff demeanor was somehow endearing, as he demanded perfection from everyone around him. Often his antics were debatable. Sometimes they were merely controversial. Others times, they were flat-out impermissible. However, his commitment to winning was as omnipresent as the unconvincing scowl etched upon this deceptively warm-natured man’s face.

For many reasons, the All-Star game has come to represent something much more ambiguous. No longer purebred exhibition, recent contests have lacked the passion of bloodthirsty competition. Whether “it counts” or not, gone are the days when a Pete Rose would barrel over a Ray Fosse in the 12th. In their place, tie-games are called in the 11th.

From the ceremonial first pitch, a seed on the black of the plate thrown by Angels’ legend Rod Carew, the energy of the 2010 All-Star game was different. What was at first curious, Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez pouring on the gas high and tight to Derek Jeter, became abundantly clear when leftfielder Ryan Braun laid himself out to take extra bases away from Josh Hamilton in the bottom of the fourth.

A rejuvenated Scott Rolen left no doubt as to his desire, running like a man possessed to snatch an extra base in the seventh. This small but profound act, enabled by a Matt Holliday single and followed by a 2-out, full-count walk by Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd, led to the play of the game, as Atlanta backstop Brian McCann would stroke a double into right that would plate all three base runners.

In classic Chicago Cubs style, Marlon Byrd would challenge the group’s resolve by striking out smiling at the plate. But shortly after, he would atone with a heads-up play to force out Boston’s David Ortiz at second on a fly ball off the bat of Blue Jay John Buck in the ninth.

Adam Wainwright would state after the first NL victory in 13 years, “Enough was enough”. If you didn’t feel the Cardinal starter’s heart and soul as he pumped his fist after striking out Vladimir Guerrero, then it is possible you were watching the game with George.

The American League failed. New York’s skipper, the ever classy Joe Girardi was outdueled by Philadelphia’s Charlie Manuel. Young Yankees’ hurler Phil Hughes even took the loss. Still, it is hard to imagine the ghost of the mercurial owner not smiling down at this historic National League victory.

OK, that may be a stretch, but he would have respected it. And to earn respect is a victory in and of itself.

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All-Star Expectations

The Midsummer Classic is upon us. Regular baseball gets a reprieve and all eyes are focused westward to Anaheim and Angel Stadium, host of the All-Star festivities. Over the past weeks there has been an onslaught of news focusing on the rosters and Home Run Derby candidates. With baseball’s scribes, commentators, and armchair experts all salivating over the intricacies of this year’s list of participants, there is no shortage of debate on the worthiness of the players selected or the value of the game itself.

I leave that nit-picking to the professionals and the “expert” baseball fans. From my perspective as a new student of the game, the atmosphere of the All-Star experience is less about honors and statistics and more like a picnic in the park – a relaxing break that celebrates the spirit of baseball with the best of the best coming together for one glorious ballgame in the summer sunshine.

Learning to Appreciate the All-Star Break

Three years ago the All-Star game frustrated me. It interrupted the Cardinals’ baseball season and had rosters full of names I did not recognize from teams I knew little about. The Home Run Derby had confusing rules, and its repetitive pitch and swing, pitch and swing failed to capture my long-term attention. Sure, I enjoyed the actual game, hanging out with family and friends, but was not truly invested in the outcome – other than the somewhat manufactured National League home-team loyalty.

While I do appreciate a great game of baseball, the familiarity with players sweetens the experience for me. So it is only logical that as my baseball experience has deepened, my appreciation for the All-Star drama has grown as well.

I am not yet overly invested or concerned with the makeup of the rosters – as long as my Cardinals are well-represented of course. The American League is still mostly a blank page in my book. And honestly, my kids know a wider variety of MLB players than I do thanks to the time they spend slugging it out on their Bigs 2 video game.

This year, however, I have cleared my calendar for both the Derby and the All-Star game. With the Cardinals’ current team frustrations (key players on the disabled list and recent crushing losses) plus the resulting tensions in Cardinal Nation, I have been looking forward to a holiday from what has been a tense first half of the season. Hopefully this All-Star break renews my spirit – as well as the spirit inside the Cardinal clubhouse- and gives everyone the opportunity to relax and enjoy baseball again for the pure fun of it all.

All-Star Players on my Short List

The cast of All-Star characters is more familiar this year, but injuries have robbed me of some non-Cardinals faces I was looking forward to watching. Biggest disappointment: no Mariano Rivera. His classic grace and measured presence on the mound completes my image of what true baseball royalty should look like. If Mariano were a closer for the Cardinals, my life would be complete. (But he is a Yankee, so I try to keep my longing in check.)

Then there is Jason Heyward. With all the hype and publicity already projecting him the winner of this year’s Rookie of the Year, I expected to see something spectacular. Nobody scoops that award away from my Cardinal rookies David Freese and Jaime Garcia so easily without having the skills to back it up. I had hoped Mr. Heyward would prove himself to me in Anaheim, but due to that pesky disabled list, he is likely to miss the event.

Cardinals Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Adam Wainwright, and Chris Carpenter will all be at Angel Stadium, making me proud. I have been smiling ever since hearing Holliday joined the pack of Home Run Derby sluggers. The familiar faces are my primary reason for tuning in, bringing excitement and nervous anticipation. Like a proud family member, I will be hoping they play well and are pleased with their performances. After all, there is nothing like a successful All-Star boost to jump start the 2nd half of the season.

Phenomenal defensive players spark my love of baseball, and the All-Star game gives me a place to cheer some non-Cardinal favorites tending third base for the National League. While David Wright (of the New York Mets) manages the hot corner quite admirably, my fingers will be crossed that former Redbird Scott Rolen (now with the Cincinnati Reds and an All-Star reserve) gets the chance to show off his magic glove as well. I am even relishing the idea of having Derek Jeter at shortstop, making it harder for the “good guys.”

With my baseball exposure mostly limited to National League teams and a steadfast loyalty to the Cardinals, I do find it disconcerting to actually be cheering for one of the Phillies or Mets or Dodgers. But I have begun to appreciate the feeling of unity that this All-Star experience brings to the table as baseball will be transcending boundaries on the All-Star field. For one week in the season, we are in the same dugout. Opponents become teammates and good-natured camaraderie replaces the focused battle faces.

All-Star Game Expectations

I am still learning about the history of the All-Star game, how players are selected, changes that have been made in the rules and the logic behind it all. In my opinion all the fuss about fan voting, roster selection, and awarding home field advantage in the World Series may be taking attention from what this game should represent.

While many baseball realists argue that All-Star nominations should reward leaders in key statistical categories, I contend using only that criteria may not reflect the desire of the fans. Do these highly compensated Major League ballplayers really need yet another honor to make them feel appreciated? I think MLB should instead view the All-Star Game as a way to repay the loyal fans that fill the seats.

Give us the marquee players, heroes, and fan favorites – the names we know from the headlines and the players we love. I want to see the beloved (and infamous) stars of the ESPN highlight reels. I want an All-Star game full of flashy plays and superior pitching to famed sluggers lurking at the plate, waiting to launch an errant pitch right out of the park.

Give me a good-natured battle full of heart and enthusiasm, the thrill of a fantasy baseball game come to life. Throw in some great background stories to introduce me to unfamiliar players, and I guarantee that my love of the game will continue to grow. Those are my expectations for this All-Star game. And I cannot wait to see how it measures up!

Play Ball!

Erika Lynn covers the Cardinals for i70baseball.com, BaseballDigest.com and writes at Cardinal Diamond Diaries. You may follow her on Twitter @Erika4stlcards or follow Cardinal Diamond Diaries here.

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