10 Days Away From Opening Day…Do You Know Who Your Mets Are?

Dennis Ribant has nothing to to do with this post. I just felt like posting his baseball card. For some reason I was thinking about Ribant and why his Mets career was so short. Yes, I need to go out and get some fresh air.   

So we are a mere 10 days away from opening day and the questions at the start of spring training are still questions as we hit the training camp home stretch.  Who’s on first? What’s on second and at shortstop? I DON’T KNOW!!!!!!!!

Let’s peruse the Mets roster that could debut at Citi Field a week from Monday in front a lot of empty seats:

The much anticipated battle of the stiffs never materialized as both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda went down with leg injuries.  That gave us a chance to see Eric Campbell and Josh Satin play the bulk of the spring games. Both players looked to be much better choices than either Ike or Duda but only one of them will make the 25 man roster and looks to be Satin. The shame of it is Campbell will not make it north because he hits from the right side, and Ike, Satin and most likely Duda will make the club. That’s a damn shame.

Daniel Murphy will be the everyday 2nd baseman until Ike Davis and Lucas Duda flop then he would shift over to 1st base and Terry Collins favorite Eric Young Jr would become the regular 2nd baseman that is unless Wilmer Flores takes that spot and EYJ keeps a spot as a super sub. Whew! Where for art thou Edgardo Alfonzo?

None of the in house candidates to play shortstop, Ruben Tejada, Omar Quintanilla or Wilmer Flores are much with the glove so why not take the best bat out of the three which would be Flores and start him at short? Let Ruben be what he was born to be a utility infielder and let Quintanilla be what he was destined to be, a former big league player.

David Wright 3rd base. Nuff’ said

It seems as if long time minor league journeyman and Jersey boy Anthony Seratelli will make this club as a super-sub. His ability to switch hit and get on base makes him an asset.

Chris Young has picked up his offense lately this spring so let’s hope that translates into the season. $7.25 mil for a player whose offensive game has declined the last three seasons seems like a huge gamble for a team that has to scrape and scrimp to come up with that kind of scratch. Got to hope this is not the offensive version of Frank Frank  .

There is no way in hell Terry Collins cannot write Juan Lagares name in the everyday lineup.   Not just Collins but no one in the organization can make a rational argument as to why Lagares will not be in centerfield just about every day.  Here’s a newsflash, the Washing ton Nationals are going to win the division by about 20 games so let’s play Lagares every day and let him grow as a big leaguer .

Can Curtis Granderson give the Mets an average Granderson season? Would you sign on for .261/.340/.488 with 30 HR 80 RBI? Oh hell yeah!

The training wheels are off Travis d’Arnaud, it’s not only his pitching staff but he has to contribute offensively as well. TDA’s bat could be the X factor in this season’ run to respectability.  Yes that is Kevin Pawlicki in the rear view mirror

Jon Niese starts the season on the DL but could be activated by the first weekend series against the Cincinnati Red Legs. With Niese out, Dillion Gee has been given the honor of starting the first game of the season. Good for Gee who was solid the last half of last season and has paid his dues in the organization. Gee will be followed by Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon and Dice-K. That’s a solid starting staff and with Raphael Montero and the Mighty Thor waiting in the wings, the club is flush with stellar pitching arms.

The front office has had a tough time putting together a solid bullpen. It doesn’t help that Terry Collins and Dan Warthen are not the best late inning pitching strategists  either but in order to be the 90 win team Alderson thinks he has here, he’s going to need a bullpen that ranks in the top ten , something that has eluded the Mets for a few years now.

There has to be trepidation over the lack of velocity coming from the right arm of Bobby Parnell and the lack of command shown by Vic Black.  Jose Valverde looks like he’s made the team and could step in to close when needed as well as Jeurys Familia who has had a spectacular spring. Scott Rice comes back as the LOOGY with Carlos Torres and John Lannan as long men/spot starters. This could be the year the Mets have a pen to believe in.

Jeremy Gibson of the Blue Jays blog 500 Level Fan asked me for my take on the NL East race this season by the way seems the Jays fans are still hurting from the trade last year.

 

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Suddenly It Feels Like 1968

What’s going on around here? When did the Mets become a resilient team? Is this a flash in the pan or have we reached a point in the season where we thought all was lost but now winning has been found with all are angst to the early part of the season,  were we too blind to see this (Amazin’ Mets how sweet the sound that saved a wretched fan like meeeeeeeeeeeeee……………..)

I’m starting to feel a little bit of a 1968 mojo rising here with the Mets.  6-4 in the last 10 games and winning the last two series against division foes AND bouncing back from late inning loses to win the next game. Usually the walk off loses suffered in Atlanta and Philly would put the Mets in a downward spiral but  the opposite happened.  Don’t tell anyone but that’s what good teams do.

The ’68 vibe comes from the strong personality and even stronger right arm of Matt Harvey. It’s not only the on field presences he has but the legend of Matt Harvey off the field is growing as well. First was the declaration that he was not a fan of the 6 man starting rotation and the tactful way he said it. It’s kind of like when I’m elected to feed our two cats I hate opening up cat food and I make sure everyone in the house knows it but hey, I still feed the little fur balls because they have to eat just like the rest of us. Then there was the Jon Rauch story which was epic and now we have the, I hate the extra day rest and I love the Friday Night Lights of Citi Field   that Harvey let it be known he much rather take on the Nationals this Friday night than Saturday afternoon.  

The Harvey feistiness is starting to rub off on some of the other Mets as well. We have Captain and leading vote getter at 3rd base for the All Star Game David Wright throwing out F-bombs to umpires. We have Jon Niese staring down Terry Collins when he wants the ball to take him out of a game, Juan Lagares in the past week stepping up his game and of course Zack Wheeler turning on the light at the end of the tunnel.    

I really, really don’t like to compare Harvey with Seaver because it’s just not fair to Harvey so soon in his career but he has the same air of confidence that Seaver possessed from the first day he hit NY. First pitch curve for a strike? No problem. Crank a fast ball to triple digits? Watch it wiz by you? Date a super model? Come to #33 baby.  

The best gift Harvey has given Mets fans has been giving us our swagger back on days he pitches. Think about it, the Mets, the lowly, broke ass, can’t get out their way New York Mets, on the day Matt Harvey pitches can compete as equals with or are better in every game that he starts. You want match your Ace with ours, no problem bring it on. You want to match your starter in the back of your rotation with Harvey and the Mets, as Mike Francesa would say “YA BRINGIN’ UH PEESHOOTAH TOA GUN FIGHT”     

 

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Eddie Yost 1926-2012

 

…….and coaching 3rd base for the Mets Eddie Yost………………

From 1968 to 1976 before the Mets would come up for their first at bat of the game, Lindsay Nelson or Bob Murphy would inform Mets fans that Eddie Yost was manning the 3rd base coaching box. Yost to most of us young Mets fans just knew Yost as a coach on the Mets (when I was a kid I never thought of Yogi Berra as a Highlander but as a Met when I got a little older and studied his career boy was I shocked!) and a guy from Queens, but Yost was as a player who lived by the baseball commandment that a walk was as good as a hit.

Yost passed away yesterday at the age of 86. Andrew Schiff and Mathew Silverman have this through biography of Yost on the SABR website that is a definite must read.

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Baseball Is Fundamental

If you’re going to lose three straight in the South Bronx, at least get blown out in all three so it doesn’t hurt Mets fans so much. Friday night was easier to take than the last two losses as we can expect Johan Santana to bounce back and pitch well but in the Saturday and Sunday losses to the Highlanders the two big deficiencies of this Mets team were highlighted for all to see, the inability to execute the fundamentals of baseball and a bullpen that doesn’t know how to pitch.

The lack of “fundi’s” were on full display yesterday. I know Andy Pettite has been gone for a year but everyone knows he has one of the greatest move to first base in the history of baseball. The Mets who are now a station to station base running team decide yesterday was the day to get aggressive on the base paths and it bit them in the ass as David Wright and Scott Hariston were picked off, with Hairston looking like deer on back road upset in the dead of winter look as Petitte ran right at him to get him out.

Then there were the errors. Wright was charged with a throwing error which was followed by the first Russell Martin homer to cut the Mets lead to 3-2 and before that Omar Quintanilla’s error allowed Jeter to go to second and that opened the flood gates for Bobby Parnell because no one in that Mets bullpen ever picks up a teammate.  So from a 3-0 lead the Mets are now down 4-3 heading to the 9th inning. Lucas Duda and Ike (That’s Right) Davis hits a game tying double and the Met tie the game at 4. Now’s the time to get that go ahead run over to 3rd base with Quintanilla with a sac bunt but of course he doesn’t execute the bunt because just like last year no one on the Mets can lay down a bunt, Q then hits a bullshit roller to short and Jayson Nix throws to 3rd to get Ike who runs like he’s pulling a frost free refrigerator, again poor execution.  Murph hits for Valdespin and gets a base hit with would have scored Ike had he stayed a 2nd base, so now it’s Q on 3rd 1 out and contact hitter Josh Thole up. A base hit would be great but fly ball to one of those noodle armed Highlander outfielders would suffice.  Thole works the count to 3-2 and leaves the bat on his shoulder to take a called third strike, then has the balls to argue the call with home plate Mike Muchlinski, are you kidding? SWING THE BAT!!!!!

So the Mets fight back to tie the score at 4 and in comes Jon Rau………………………game over 5-4 Highlanders on a Russell Martin home run.

Off to Tampa. Ya Gotta Believe!!!

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The Mets Won Last Night, So Why Am I So Angry ?

 

 Jason Bay hit a home run last night. No, seriously Bay hit a home run last night. Yes, Jason Bay of the NY Mets


Oh well, my positive spinning of the Mets was good while it lasted. As great as last night’s win was over the Phuck Phaces and as enjoyable as it was watching The Dickster , Bobby Parnell and Frankie Firsco dominate. I have some issues with Terry Collins and more importantly a couple of players who I am very fond of.

First the manager, TC can spin it as much as he wants that he felt batting Justin Turner third was a the correct move as to not disrupt the rest of the lineup but let’s be real here, Turner is no 3 hole hitter. I understand the premise of not bunching lefty bats against Cliff Lee but Turner replacing Wright in the 3 spot? That’s a Jerry Manuel move. If TC had put Jason Bay in the third spot of the lineup I’d have defended that move. But Justin Turner? Please!

Look I am now and forever a proud member of the #IMWITH28 Club (I have the t-shirt to prove it) but for Christ sake Murph you have to make the routine play and 2nd base. That was the second time this week that a routine ground ball went under Danny Boys glove and it has to be the last.

Speaking of Murphy, TC and Sandy Alderson cannot put Murphy at 3rd base if (when?) David Wright goes on the DL with his fractured pinky (speaking of DW’s pinkie, there were some on Twitter questioning Wright and his threshold of pain for not playing last night and looking at the DL until he recovers. If you are questioning Wright’s toughness or his fight to get back on the field, then you’re an idiot) I agree 100 % with Toby Hyde that Zach Lutz should be promoted from Buffalo and planted at 3rd base until Wright gets back. For better or worse, Murphy is the 2012 2nd baseman and if the TC/Alderson go back on that, it shows real indecisiveness on their part and doesn’t help Murphy with his comfort level at 2nd. DW, if he hits the DL, will most likely be out just the minimum 15 days, so moving Murph makes no sense.

Its plays like Josh Thole made on the bases last night that infuriates the living shit out of me. Since the Mets won last night everyone can chuckle at that bone head base running blunder by Thole, put its plays like that, that this team cannot afford to make. Between Murphy’ ground ball through the legs and Thole getting duped by Jimmy Rollins, (and by the way Jon Niese better put a fast ball under J-Rolls fucking chin in his first at bat just to send him a message) that can sink this team as the Mets are not good enough to fuck up like that.

Just think the Mets won the game last night and are 5-2 after the first seven games and I’m still agitated. Just look at it as some tough love.

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Don’t Rush Wright

 

So it looks like David Wright is still not….well….right.  Wright has yet to make an appearance in a exhibition game and although he has begun participating in team workouts he is nowhere near ready to start the season.

Why is it so important for Wright to be at 3rd base on opening day? Isn’t it more important that he gets himself healthy and in baseball shape? I believe it’s more of psychological to fans that they see Wright lined up on the 1st base line of Citi Field doffing his cap to the patrons than it is savvy baseball thinking. What could be so bad that Wright stays in extended spring training for a week to ten days and comes up ready to perform?

Fans get too amped up for opening day, sure we all love the festivities and the atmosphere that the first day of baseball brings but I’d rather have a dull opening day than a dismal Labor Day ?

I really feel bad for Jason Bay. He has worked his ass off all spring to get his game in gear but it’s just not happening. His head is so far gone Dr. Sydney Freidman couldn’t help him. Maybe Bay should take the good docs advice and “pull down his pants and slide on the ice”. I will bet anyone a whole one dollar bill that the Mets front office discusses everyday how to rid themselves of Bay.

I have no problem with Mike Baxter starting in centerfield on opening day or Matt Den Dekker for that matter as well. I do think Den Dekker needs more time in the bushes to get his offense on par with his defense but Sandy Alderson is so worried about this team’s awful defense that he would be willing to sacrifice offense in a key spot in centerfield for Den Dekker’s potential golden glove. This is all moot of course if Andres Torres sees a faith healer for his aching calf and is fit to fight for opening day, but I still like to see Baxter make the 25 man roster.

Mets are on SNY today at 1PM with Big Pelf pitching for his big league life. Get ya popcorn ready!

 

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I Pray To Tebow that Johan Santana Starts On Opening Day

I guess the rumblings from the fan base inquiring about the Mets ability to release Mike Pelfrey and using that money to hire someone who can actually throw strikes, forced the team to come clean and let us know that Pelf has been suffering from a high ankle sprain that is finally feeling better. Okay so that means no excuse next time out right?

Andres Torres calf injury doesn’t seem too serious but it does put the spotlight again on the lack of depth on this team. Maybe Sandy Alderson is waiting until the end of spring to see what’s available on the scrap heap but decent or serviceable centerfielders don’t usually end up in the dumpster so why not improvise and put Jordany Valdespin in CF. The last guy we need to see in CF is Jason bay, sure it’s noble of him to step up in a time of need but Terry Collins should say thanks but no thanks. Valdespin has a lot of issues with a reputation of a piss poor attitude and not very good approach at the plate but you know what he’s 24 years old, he’s athletic so why not? I’d love to see the organization challenge him to shit or get off the pot.

Even though Mets fans still hold their breath on every pitch, it looks like Johan Santana’s get better and better both health wise and stuff wise so maybe opening day is not a pipedream but a reality for Santana.

Larry Jones has announced he will retire at the end of the season. As much as he has killed the Mets over the years, I have tons of respect for him and will give him a standing ovation at his last at bat in Citi Field. If anyone has ever been down the 3rd base side at Shea or Citi during a home stand the Braves were here know why I have such respect for Jones. He knew how to play to the fans as he never said no to an autograph to fans dressed head to toe in Mets paraphernalia and he always got a kick out the Mets faithful. The way Stan Musial was respected by Brooklyn Dodger fans and Willie Stargell was held in high esteem by the Shea crowd you can add Chipper in that group as well.

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ACCORDING TO THE 2012 BILL JAMES HANDBOOK, THE METS HAVE NO DEFENSE

for a copy of the 2012 Bill James Handbook check out ACTA Sports  

My must have book of the baseball off season is the Bill James Handbook (ACTA publishing) and this off season is no exception. I just got my hands on the 2012 edition of the Handbook and as usual it is filled with stats and essay’s that help any baseball fan make informed thoughts when looking at your teams needs for the coming season.

One of my favorite features in the Handbook is The Fielding Bible Awards.  John Dewan puts this section together and enlists some of the great baseball minds to vote on the awards. This year the voters are:

Bill James

Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) Video Scouts

Hal Richman creator of Strat-O-Matic  Baseball

Joe Posnanski

John Dewan

Peter Gammons

Doug Glanville

Rob Neyer

Todd Radcliffe Lead Video Scout for BIS

Tom Tango Fan Poll

These ten voters rank players at all nine positions using a 1-10 voting system, the votes are tallied and the top 10 players are listed. For our purposes let’s look at how the Mets defenders faired

At first base Daniel Murphy (yes Daniel Murphy) graded out at #10 with 18 total points.  Bill James voted Murph 5th, BIS Video Scouts voted him 10th, Joe Posnanski voted him 5th and John Dewan listed him 6th on his ballot. This is why I won’t be shocked when Murphy is dealt this winter  to play 1st or even 3rd base where he grades out positive as well in exchange for one of the many needs the Mets have this off season. It’s at 2nd base where Murphy is a -2 in the Runs Saved (RS) category and why the Mets need to think of defense first at second. By the way Justin Turner grades out at a woeful -11 RS at 2nd base.

So you can see neither Murph nor Ginger Turner rated in the top 10 (Ruben Tejeda by the way was a +1 in RS at 2nd base) my favorite non-Mets player Dustin Pedroia finished #1 with 97 pts

A big surprise was at shortstop where Mets icon, Jose Reyes didn’t come close to a top ten finish with a lowly 6 pts to his name.

I don’t know if this is a surprise or not (I’ll leave it up to you) but at 3rd base David Wright did not garner a single vote. The Wreck of Miguel Tejada received votes from Glanville, Posnanski and Dewan . MIGUEL TEJADA!!!!!! If that doesn’t motivate D-Wright to get his leather groove on, I don’t know what would?

Jason Bay finished out of the money in 15th but at least he was ahead of the 500 lb left fielder a/k/a Carlos Lee

In the section dealing with centerfielder’s I’ve stared at the page for hours, held it up to the light then to a mirror and still not a sign of Angel Pagan, in fact if the Handbook was released on vinyl and you played it backwards you would hear Pagan is dead. Could Sandy Alderson give us a shiny new centerfielder for Christmas?  Can he find a way to get Peter Bourjos or Adam Jones ? Hell, I’d settle for Coco Crsip.

In the right field category there isn’t a Mets representative and I have a strong feeling there won’t be one in the 2013 Handbook either.

24 catchers received Fielding Bible Award votes, none were named Josh Thole. Kelly Shoppach received 12 votes and would a perfect tag team partner for Thole who in all fairness is still learning the tools of ignorance trade on the Major League Level.

The highest rated Mets defender is none other than Robert Allen Dickey, R.A. to you and me.  I wonder if Dickster can play 2nd base or centerfield on his four days off?

That’s just some of the great features in the 2012 Bill James Handbook and it’s also a very useful reference as we play amateur GM of the Mets this off season.

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COACH ‘EM UP, COACHES OUT

Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

One of the worst kept secrets surrounding the Mets was the fact that Chip Hale was ready to head back home to Northern California to join his buddy Bob Melvin as bench coach for the A’s. What was surprising was the domino effect Hale’s departure had on the rest of the coaching staff.

Mookie Wilson was let go with the old “we’ll reassign you in the organization” which is like when a cop sucks at fighting crime, the NYPD sticks them in the property clerk’s office. But where does Mookie get reassigned to?  Word is he didn’t work well with Lucas Duada in getting him acclimated to right field and he wasn’t very good at positioning the outfielders or working with base runners  during games. Wilson also hasn’t fared too well as a minor league manager and since he had trouble coaching the outfield with the big club, roving minor league instructor seems out as well. What’s left?

Jon DeBus got the boot from the bullpen it seems because he was a catcher and the club would rather have Buffalo pitching coach Rickey Bones, a former pitcher, in the pen to work with the relievers. DeBus was also in charge of working with Josh Thole and Ronnie Paulino and supposedly wasn’t helping Thole with his defense and was negligent in getting Paulino to show a better work ethic.

It’s a shame that Ken Oberkfell got the ax as Obie did what he was assigned to do, be the yin to Terry Collins’ yang. Obie was brought in the be Collins bench coach because he was calm, cool and collected a contrast to Collins “makes coffee nervous” persona. Obie is one of those good solid baseball men who did everything he was asked by the organization and now is shown the door. I hope he lands with a team that makes the post season and gets to cash one of the nice winner’s checks.

Tim Teufel gets the prize job as 3rd base coach/obligatory 1986 World Champ for 2012. Gotta meet that quota of 86ers ya know.

The job for Collins’ consigliore it seems is between Larry Bowa and Jim Ringgleman. Both are close confidants of Collins but I will be really pissed off if Riggleman gets the job as the Mets should be looking to stay away from quitters.

Once upon a time, Murray Chass was one of the best baseball writers around. His coverage of baseball labor disputes was unparalleled due to his close relationship with former MLBPA President Don Fehr and his mouthpiece Gene Orza but after Chass was let go by the NY Times he became a bitter nasty old man and started a website (he’s refused to call himself what he really is, a blogger) where he could spout his bitter nasty old man bullshit. Today he posted about Jeffey Skill Sets and how he is known around baseball as the most disliked executive in baseball. Of course, Old Man Murray rails for most of the post about the Mets blocking the Highlanders Triple A team from playing in Newark next year (oh yeah I forgot, Chass is an unabashed Highlander ball licker an older version of Ian O’Connor) but at the end of his piece he stated something that I have heard as well so that’s why I’ve included it in my post:

Sandy Alderson, Minaya’s successor, is completing his first season in the job, and I have already heard that he is growing tired of Wilpon’s suffocating presence.

Now if this was just Murray being Murray I’d laugh it off but I have heard the same thing from folks whose take on things around the club I respect and stories they have told me have turned out very reliable. I’ve always said I’m a Mets fan for life but I’ll tell you this, If Sandy Alderson leaves the Mets because of dealing with Jeffey is getting in the way of his work then I’d have to seriously think of stopping my support of the team until a new owner takes over.    

 

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WHAT A GAME THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN

I couldn’t find a picture of THE home run but who could forget the home run off the clock in St. Louis by Straw on October 1, 1995. I thought about that home run after watching last night’s come from behind win. Ahhh what we once had……  

 

Most of the Mets news this morning is of the off the field variety, with some mention of yesterday’s big 9th inning rally. After last night’s game all I could think of if the Mets were in a chase for a post season berth this game would have been labeled one of the all-time great game in Mets history, instead all it gets is an “atta boy”. Sad.

All the Madoff-Skill Sets-Piccard bullshit baffles me as Freddy and Uncle Saul keep going with the “Hey, we were duped too” defense. I find it very hard to believe the story that Freddy and Saul were these two neophyte investors who were blindside by Bernie Madoff. The point that Freddy and Saul say the never even asked what Madoff what he was investing their money in is the “are you fucking kidding me”? moment for me. Am I to believe that at no point in this whole scheme and big returns on their investment, Freddy and Uncle Saul didn’t ask, “Uhmmm Bernie, just where are you investing our money”? Pharmaceuticals? Precious metals? Trafficking of children for sex slaves? I know I hold the Skill Sets in low esteem but even I don’t think they were that stupid not know where their money was going.

The Daily Snooze says today the Mets will look at exercising Terry Collins 2013 contract option at the end of the season, as I believe they should. There will also be a discussion on the status of coaching staff and it seems that even with Collins coming out saying he would love to have the whole staff back, Chip Hale may migrate to Oakland to join Bob Melvin and Old School Dan Warthen could be done as pitching coach. It would be a loss to lose Hale, as he’s a very good 3rd base coach and a hard worker but losing Warthen seems like no great shakes, in fact it’s time for Warthen to go and get a new voice for the pitching staff that ranks last in just about every statistical pitching category.

How about the last minute desperation from the Red Sox as they tried to get Chris Capuano in a deal? Seems the Sox didn’t make enough of a tribute to Sandy Alderson to make this deal or it could be Alderson has plans to bring Cap back as either a spot starter/long man role in the Darren Oliver mold for the Mets next season. It could also be that the deal breaker was Alderson’ insistence that Theo Epstein had to take Ryota Igarashi on the deal

Last home stand of the season starts today, I’m going to Wednesday’s game, the season finale because it’s the last game of the year and as bad as the season is ending, comes November and December when it’s cold, snowy and downright miserable, you’ll be wishing you were at the ball park instead of the business end of a snow shovel.

 

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