Tag Archive | "World Baseball"

Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Series 2

2013 Topps Series 2

Per box items:
36 packs per box
10 cards per pack
1 autograph or relic per box

The standard sized base set cards feature a full color action shot of the player. Bordered in white, the card fronts have the player name and team logo at the bottom. The card fronts are trimmed with the team’s primary color. The card backs are photo-less and are horizontal in design. The backs include moderate biographical information, a ‘career chase’ statistic, complete career statistics, and brief career highlights or a player quote. The backs are also trimmed with the team’s primary color.

What I Pulled:
349 unique cards, no duplicates. Packs with thicker cards had fewer total cards in them.
291 base set cards, 291/330, 88% of the base set
50 inserts and parallels including 3 die cut cards and 5 gold cards #/2013
1 relic card

Base card front and back:


Inserts and parallels: (not all scanned)
The Elite: Bench and Kofax
9 Chasing History
6 Making Their Mark
5 Chasing it Down
6 green parallels
5 gold parallels #/2013
1 black parallel #/62 Swisher
4 World Baseball classic cards
9 1972 minis
3 Cut to the Chase: Fielder, Sale, A-Rod


The Hit:
Stan Musial MVP Coin



I really like the design of this year’s Topps cards. Series 2 cards are identical to Series 1 in design. The very simple clean design is very appealing. I think that the photography from Topps has really improved over the past couple of years. Topps again uses occasional horizontal card fronts when the shot dictates. Topps has issued several short prints cards of players. These alternate variations show the player making a great catch, with sunglasses or signing autographs. The Topps base set is again loaded with inserts and parallel sets. I would have liked to see a few less inserts to get that many more base set cards. That being said though it will not be difficult to complete the base set and some of the inserts look pretty cool! Buy a box and trade your Tigers, Rickey Henderson and WBC China cards to me!

The Bottom Line:
I give 2013 Topps Series 2 a buy rating. It will be very easy to complete a base set with a box, a few extra packs or some light trading. There are lots of inserts and parallels to chase.

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 10):
Base set collect-ability: 8/10
Big-hit Hunter: 8/10
Prospector Hunter: 10/10
Value: 8/10
Overall Quality: 10/10

Overall: 44/50 (88% = B)

Thanks to Topps for making this review possible!

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2013 Topps Tribute – World Baseball Classic

2013 Topps Tribute – World Baseball Classic
Per Box Items:
6 packs per box
5 cards per pack
4 autographs per box
1 patch per box
1 relic per box


The base cards feature either an action or posed color shot of the named player. The cards have a chrome refractor finish to them. the border-less cards are trimmed with gold foil for the set, player and country name, position and set logo. A hologram-like image of a world map is along the top of the card fronts. The card backs are photo-less. The white background card backs list very brief biographical information and moderate career highlights. The card backs also show a color country logo have a very glossy sheen.

What I pulled:
28 cards – 1 base dupe
21 base set cards = 21/100 = 21% of the base set
4 autographs
2 relics

Base card front and back:


The Hits:
Miguel Cabrera autograph #/25
Anthony Rizzo patch #/10
Asdrubal Cabrera autograph
Adam Jones Autograph
Yovani Gallardo autograph #/50
Fernando Rodney patch #/131


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I love the look of these cards! 2013 Topps Tribute – WBC is the best looking card set I have seen this year and probably the last couple of years! Thick sturdy cards, refractor finish, awesome card design. In my opinion these cards look amazing! The stated odds were good. Even though the Rodney patch has just a sliver of white, it is still a patch. The box says the relic cards are numbered to 99 or less and the Rodney patch is numbered out of 131 though. The autographs are sticker autos but fit the horizontal cards very well. One big negative I have is the collation. For this high end of a product you expect there to be no duplicate cards. I pulled two the of the same card, from the same pack, back to back! They both do look great though. If you do buy a box trade your Chinese National Team card to me!

The Bottom Line:
I give 2013 Topps Tribute – World Baseball classic a shop around rating. The cards look incredible! For as much as I love the look of the cards, I really can not justify to myself the cost of trying to complete the base set. Buy singles you want.

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 10):
Base set collect-ability: 2/10
Big-hit Hunter: 10/10
Prospector Hunter: 5/10
Value: 8/10
Overall Quality: 10+/10

Overall: 35/50 (70.0% = B)
The biggest drawback being the cost and need for multiple boxes to complete the base set.

Thanks to Topps for making this review possible!


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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 4th of July Edition

With the 4th of July upon us, we can find ourselves thinking what the holiday means and all of the activities available for us to participate in.  Most of the country will take part in parades, fireworks, cookout and of course America’s favorite past time, baseball. Either watching or playing, there is no denying that baseball is a part of American History.

While it is certainly possible to research what games have been played on the 4th of July, it is much harder to verify what photos for baseball cards were taken at those games. I decided to take a different approach and look for cards that were patriotic in theme. There has to be a reason why we have the phrase “as American as Baseball and mom’s apple pie,” right?

I was a little surprised to find how few patriotic cards I had, or least knew about. There are a lot of cards that have stars or banners on them. These are mostly All-Star cards or insert cards. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, however, I hope you enjoy Bike Spokes And Shoe Boxes visual salute to the 4th of July!

1997 Bowman Chrome International Refractor – Sean Casey


2002 Fleer base – Sean Casey
This is the back of card, the front has red and blue stripes, but the flag is more noticeable on the back. Plus I think it interesting that Sean Casey was born on July 2nd.


2002 Studio base – Rickey Henderson
Both Fleer and Studio whet with the flag theme for their 2002 releases as a tribute of sorts after the World trade center attack in 2001.


2013 Topps Series II – David Ortiz

This picture was taken during Ortiz’s speech to the crowd at Fenway Park before the first home game after the Boston Marathon tragedy.

Ortiz USA

Other patriotic cards that I can think of include any Team USA cards and USA National Team from the 2009 and 2009 World Baseball Classic. The World baseball Classic cards have a graphic of the United States flag on them. If you have any cards that are patriotic please post them here to share and show your pride in the good ‘ole U.S of A.

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

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WBC Coverage: Keeping Arizona Rolling

To consider how Major League Baseball operates a miniature, month-long practice season of up to 10 games a day, spread across nine different luxurious ballparks all in the Metro Phoenix area, you would have to think about the hundreds of parking lot and concession volunteers, stadium operations people, and MLB Team front office execs it must take.

Cobb, in the red jacket, is pictured here with the 1985 Reds, managed by Pete Rose.

Cobb, in the red jacket, is pictured here with the 1985 Reds, managed by Pete Rose.

Then, add in the fact that you’d like to also play the first round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic in that same city, and use one of the ballparks (Salt River Fields, home of the D-Backs and Rockies), as a secondary site for some of the games. In addition, you want to outfit four additional teams, create some locker room space for them, find them practice fields that aren’t being used, and schedule their transportation and hotel accommodations.

Now, you’ve got a pretty tough logistical scenario.

For all of that, Major League Baseball relies on a baseball-savvy, veteran named Steve Cobb. I’ve known Steve since he hired me as a media relations assistant for the 1994 Arizona Fall League. That was Cobb’s second year in charge of the MLB’s proving ground league, for young prospects looking to make the jump to the big leagues the next spring. Cobb just passed his 20th year in charge of the operation.

A former Traveling Secretary for the Cincinnati Reds during the late 70’s and early 80’s, Cobb took an opportunity with the AFL as an assistant in operations, after spending 7 years working in Xavier University’s Athletic Department.

“I figured I’d come out here to Arizona, maybe spend a year getting myself back into baseball, then try and grab a job in the big leagues again with a club,” said Cobb. “But, I just haven’t left. Been here ever since, and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”

He has grown the AFL into what it is today, a very well-respected entity throughout the game, and something that every club has come to rely on. Cobb knows all the stadium operations people around town, which just makes it that much easier for him to coordinate this special event called the WBC.

Besides the games that are being played, Cobb also has to figure out where to house and train the two teams from Pool A and B that advance to the finals in San Francisco. Those two squads will make a pit stop in Phoenix next week, to stay in game playing shape for a few days, while Pools C & D catch up and finish the first two rounds.

“We may be looking at Cuba coming in here, and that always creates an extra set of challenges,” said Cobb. “But, we’ll roll with the punches and make it happen.”

Cobb also gets many of the extra “logistical” assignments from MLB, such as coordinating a professional level team of American players, when they might go play overseas. It was in that role, when he worked with the 2000 USA Baseball Olympic Team, as they traveled to Australia to play in the Olympic Games under Manager Tommy Lasorda. Cobb’s exploits running the Team USA operation are featured in Miracle on Grass, as he describes several of the crazy tales he recalls of trying to move a Hall of Fame manager, a baseball team, and a group of 50 Americans, to the other side of the world.

So, whenever you’re in Phoenix and at a spring training game, Arizona Fall League game, or WBC game, now you know who helps keep the baseball rolling in the operation.

David Fanucchi is the author of “Miracle on Grass” – How Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda led Team USA to a shocking upset over Cuba, capturing the only Olympic gold medal in USA Baseball history. He was the official Team USA Press Officer for both the 2000 USA Baseball Olympic Team and the 2006 USA World Baseball Classic Team. More information about Fanucchi and Miracle on Grass can be found on his website at www.davidfanucchi.com.  You can follow him on Twitter at @miracleongrass.

Posted in Classic, World Baseball ClassicComments (0)

Eric Hosmer to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic

Due to a strained right wrist and forearm from Team USA and Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, Eric Hosmer gets the opportunity to join Team USA for the World Baseball Classic.

World Baseball Classic

After getting permission from general manager Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost, Hosmer joined team USA Wednesday night to play an exhibition game against the Colorado Rockies. Team USA begins WBC play against Mexico this Friday night at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ.

Hosmer joins fellow Royal Tim Collins on the USA team and is the ninth Royals player to take part in the World Baseball Classic. Other Royals players are reliever Kelvin Herrera, infielder Miguel Tejada and reliever Atahualpa Severino playing for the Dominican Republic, catcher Salvador Perez with Venezuela, pitcher Luis Mendoza with Mexico, infielder Irving Falu with Puerto Rico and Minor League outfielder Paulo Orlando with Brazil.

Now there might be some concerns about Hosmer being away from the Royals to play in the WBC, but to put into perspective, the WBC is like Spring Training: the games really don’t matter. Of course it’s an honor to represent your country in the WBC, but the games are the same as Spring Training games. And Hosmer will be the Royals first baseman this season, so it’s not like he’s competing for a job. He’ll get to play with different players and be managed by Team USA manager Joe Torre, which is a good thing. There’s the risk of injury, but that can happen in Spring Training games too. Overall, it’s a good experience for Hosmer and the other Royals players participating in the WBC. Oh yeah, Go Team USA!

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Salvador Perez May Be Making Crucial Error

The Kansas City Royals made a strong case last year that Salvador Perez was worthy of a long term contract extension.  After sustaining an injury in the spring, Perez returned to action during the season and seemingly proved that the organization was right.  A rebuilt pitching staff puts a larger focus on Perez’s ability behind the plate in 2013.  As the season looms in the horizon, Perez is preparing to leave the team to play for the Venezuela World Baseball Classic team.


Perez will be counted on to provide the Royals with two key components to the 2013 season.  He will provide an offensive threat in the lower part of the lineup, a consistent bat that can provide some pop and some run production beyond the middle of the order.  Secondly, and probably most importantly, Perez will be a field general and a leader on the defensive side of the field.

Perez has proven his presence on the field commands respect.  He has shown a strong work ethic and an ability to handle a major league pitching staff at a high level.  He did this last year while working with, primarily, players that he had a strong relationship with prior to the season.  The pitching staff and the young catcher seemed to be on the same page and working very well together.

This season, however, the team has taken drastic moves to improve the starting staff.  Early projections figure that the opening day rotation for the Royals will feature at least four players that were not on the opening day roster last season.  One of those pitchers, Jeremy Guthrie, pitched for the Royals in the last half of the season.  James Shields, Wade Davis and Ervin Santana have joined the team during the offseason and will be looking to Spring Training to get better acquainted with their new surroundings.

To paraphrase Stan Lee, with new pitchers comes great responsibility.  In essence, that is what Spring Training is about for most catchers.  Getting to know the pitching staff, their habits and tendencies as well as learning to watch the player to ensure that you know when he is struggling or cruising along is a key component to a successful battery.  Perez is highly regarded for his work in this area but for the first time in his career, he is faced with a challenge of working with players that he does not know and have vastly more experience then he does.

In the midst of this important Spring Training exercise, Salvador will head out to play for the honor of his country in the World Baseball Classic.  One can hardly fault the young man for taking this opportunity to play for national pride on such a large stage.  Many of the other players that will participate, however, have publicly stated that they felt it was a good time to do so based on their current role with their team and the familiarity with the current makeup surrounding them.

Perez will serve his country well.  The question is, does it serve his role with the Royals well to choose to participate in this exhibition?

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Bruce Chen Withdraws From Rotation

The Kansas City Royals rebuilt their rotation this offseason, leaving Bruce Chen to compete for a spot in order to continue being a starter for the team.  On Tuesday, Chen removed himself from the rotation.  Not for the Royals, but for the team being fielded by China for the World Baseball Classic.


Many players have expressed interest in playing for their respective national teams during this year’s exhibition of top players from around the world.  Bruce Chen was excited to announce that he would join team China for the March tournament.

Chen has pitched in past WBC tournaments for his native country, Panama, who failed to qualify for this year’s competition.  Chen, who was born in Panama, is the grandchild of two Chinese immigrants who moved to Panama to work on the Panama Canal, eventually settling into permanent residence in the country that became the birthplace of the Royals’ pitcher.

During a January interview, Chen expressed what an honor he considered it to be represent China:

“It would be a great way for me to represent my ancestry. Everyone knows I’m of Asian descent and it would be a tribute to my grandparents and a tribute to my ancestry.”

There was some question on whether or not Chen could pitch for China since he had previously expressed interest to pitch for the Panama team until they were eliminated in pool play.  The process proved to be a long and drawn out affair that threatened Chen’s own preparation for the upcoming season.

On Tuesday, Chen shared with Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that he had waited long enough and would withdraw his request.  Dutton shared the news via his Twitter account:

#Royals LHP Bruce Chen days he still hasn't been certified to pitch for China in WBC. Says he's waited long enough. Won't participate.
Bob Dutton

It would seem that Chen either grew tired of the process or identified his need to be in camp with the Royals throughout Spring Training to ensure his spot in the rotation.  With the overhauled look of the rotation this year, which will feature new comers Wade Davis, James Shields, and Ervin Santana as well as returning Jeremy Guthrie, Chen will be left to compete for the final spot in the rotation.

It appears he is taking that competition seriously and will give the Royals a long look at him going into 2013.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Go away winter, St. Louis Cardinals warm-up is here

St. Louis has slogged through the first half of yet another gray, cold winter in the country’s heartland, especially without the aid of St. Louis Blues hockey until Saturday. But that all changed this weekend as the St. Louis Cardinals opened up their annual Winter Warm-Up celebration.

Friend of the site Cadence with Chris Carpenter in 2012

Friend of the site Cadence with Chris Carpenter in 2012

Each year, just as fans start to feel the pangs of being baseball-deprived for three months, the Cardinals host the Winter Warm-Up event in downtown St. Louis. The event serves as a pep rally for the club before it heads to Jupiter, Fla., in about a month, and gives fans a chance to meet with past, current and future members of the organization.

This year’s event ran Saturday through Monday at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch hotel.

For many fans, the Winter Warm-Up is their chance to get re-acquainted with their team and enjoy a baseball-filled weekend even though temperatures hovered in the 30’s Sunday and dropped to 24 degrees Monday.

In several ways, the Winter Warm-Up is similar to the Fanfest events that Major League Baseball has in the All-Star Game’s host city in the days leading up to the game. There are interactive displays and activities, as well as opportunities for autographs, although that’s an additional expense.

The Winter Warm-Up is also a chance for fans to ask questions about the team heading into spring training and the upcoming season. This year, people will surely have plenty of questions for the Cardinals about players such as Jaime Garcia, Rafael Furcal, Matt Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.

Those four players, in particular, will be vital to the Cardinals success in 2013, but they each come with legitimate concerns for either the coming year or future years.

Garcia turned down an opportunity last week to pitch for Mexico, his native country, in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. That’s certainly his right to choose, but concerns about that decision arise because Garcia dealt with left shoulder problems last season and has spent the offseason trying to rehab so he can be ready for the start of the season. That rehab is especially important since he decided against surgically repairing the shoulder.

Furcal also has injury concerns. He tore a ligament in his right elbow Aug. 31 against the Washington Nationals and never returned to the field. His return as the starting shortstop is important to the team because the Cardinals and their fans aren’t sold on his backup Pete Kozma, even though Kozma hit .333 in 26 games down the stretch and played a key role in the Cardinals’ first-round series win over the Nationals.

Carpenter doesn’t have any injury concerns, but the Cardinals have asked him to pull a Skip Schumaker move during the offseason and transform into a second baseman. Carpenter has been a great utility player for the Cardinals in the past two seasons, but asking a player to change positions at the big-league level is always a dicey proposition.

The only questions for Wainwright about the 2013 season will be if he can fully return to his dominant form before suffering a season-ending elbow injury at the start of spring training in 2011. All of the other questions will likely be about the years following 2013.

Wainwright’s contract is up at the end of the season, and with another solid season he will be a highly sought-after free agent in the offseason. With pitchers signing increasingly large free-agent contracts in the last few years, Wainwright’s price tag could be incredibly high. With those factors in place, Cardinals fans could be on a Pujols-like watch at next year’s Winter Meetings.

All of those issues will be sorted out at the proper times, of course. Most importantly, the third weekend is always a chance for St. Louis sports fans to start dreaming about the warm summer days and nights they’ll experience in the heart of downtown St. Louis surrounded by a sea of red clothes in one of the best places on Earth: Busch Stadium.

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I-70 Teams Combine For 13 WBC Roster Spots

The i70baseball teams, the Kansas City Royals and the St. Louis Cardinals, will combine to send 13 players to the World Baseball Classic in 2013.  Among those 13, nine of them will come from the Kansas City organization.


In addition to the large amount of players being sent to the WBC, the Royals will also achieve a historic moment for one team.  Bruce Chen will pitch for the team from China, becoming the first major league ball player to do so in the history of the event.

The Royals press release states:

The selections are as follows:  Left-handed pitchers Bruce Chen (China) and Tim Collins (United States), right-handed pitchers Kelvin Herrera (Dominican Republic), Luis Mendoza (Mexico) and J.C. Sulbaran (The Netherlands), catcher Salvador Perez (Venezuela), infielders Irving Falu (Puerto Rico) and Miguel Tejada (Dominican Republic), and outfielder Paulo Orlando (Brazil).

You will notice three of those players have yet to play in Kansas City as a member of the Royals: Tejada is a non-roster invitee to spring training and Orlando and Sulbaran spent last season in Double-A.

According to the Cardinals press release:

Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina were among four Cardinals named to participate in the 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC). Both will be on Team Puerto Rico and this marks the third WBC appearance for each.

Relievers Mitchell Boggs and Fernando Salas were also selected for this year’s WBC. Boggs will play for Team USA while Salas will be on the roster for Mexico.

The major concern for the Cardinals was an earlier rumor about Jaime Garcia being invited to pitch for the team from Mexico.  The bullet may have been dodged as it appears he was left off the roster while teammate Salas gets the nod. Editor’s note: more on this subject tomorrow as i70 writer Jacob Mayer takes an in depth look at Garcia not pitching in the WBC.

The WBC will commence in March as these 13 players take the field for their respective countries in an exciting and competitive environment.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Why I Love Baseball – Jacob Mayer

Few moments in our lives have the power to transcend reality and make us feel as though we are actually living in a dramatic movie.


For baseball fans, that first moment might be when we walk up to a Major League Baseball stadium to take in our first game.

The ballpark is a powerful place. Whether full of people during a game or empty beforehand, it has a majestic feel that can overwhelm the senses. There might as well be dramatic music playing during that first trip through the tunnel from the concourse to the playing field.

To a young baseball fan, that moment is one of the most awe-inspiring experiences he or she can have.

I was seven years old when I entered Busch Stadium II for my first St. Louis Cardinals game. I had no idea what to expect. To that point in my life, the most impressive things I had seen were the Christmas lights hanging from the street lights in my small hometown or the excitement that filled the town when the carnival arrived for the Fourth of July celebration.

Busch Stadium blew all that away. The lights, the sounds, the perfect grass, it felt like I was in a completely different world. Baseball heaven, maybe?

Baseball has a magic that other sports don’t. It is a sport that might have been able to turn the Grinch into a hopelessly emotional sap if he had seen it before entering Whoville. What is that magic? It’s hard to explain, and that’s a good thing.

Baseball is different from other sports. Yes, it is exciting when the home team jumps out of the dugout to take the field for the first time, but the lose-your-voice excitement often doesn’t start with the first pitch.
In basketball the first three-pointer or first dunk will send the crowd into a frenzy. In football the first tackle charges the stadium with electricity. Baseball is not a sport where you can “tune in to the fourth quarter” to catch the excitement.

A baseball game is more like a novel. It is a game that takes us on a nine-inning trip that will shake its finger at you if you ask, “Are we there yet?”

No, we’re not. Sit still and enjoy the journey.

In many ways, baseball mirrors life. The big leaguers play baseball every day, not just every couple of days or once a week, just like we go to work or go to school every day. There are also good times and not-so-good times where every minute of every day isn’t filled with excitement.

Today’s Sportscenter-driven world likes to chop our experiences into highlights where we only see the “good” parts of the game. That’s not what baseball is about. One of the great parts of baseball is that it makes you wait for the exciting moment.

Take the Tampa Bay Rays final game of the season against the New York Yankees, for example. The Rays fell behind 7-0 in the first five innings and it looked like their season was finished. Then they charge back with six runs in the eighth and back-up catcher Dan Johnson hits a game-tying and season-saving homerun in the ninth. That homerun and Evan Longoria’s walk-off homer in the 12th are the moments of screaming excitement, but the journey to get to those points is what made them so rewarding.

No matter which players are found to have done steroids, which players leave their team to chase more money or how the playoffs are set up, the game itself will always be great.

Baseball can build drama unlike any other sport. The strings cannot be pulled any tighter than when Brad Lidge has the Houston Astros one out away from their first World Series appearance in 2005 and Albert Pujols hits a home run to win the game for the Cardinals, or when Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz has his team one strike away from winning the World Series and David Freese hits a triple to keep the Cardinals’ season and hope for a championship alive.

The emotions that baseball injects in people are fantastic. From brokenhearted, lifelong Chicago Cubs fans who were one game away from a World Series in 2003 to the joy entire cities feel when their team wins the championship, baseball teaches us lessons about how hard we have to work to succeed, as well as how to handle the times in our life when we don’t.

Baseball is great in the fact that there is always tomorrow’s game, so each regular-season loss isn’t such a crushing defeat, but it also makes the season’s final victory that much greater and the final defeat that much more harder to swallow.

That is why I love baseball.

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