NY Sports Dog: September 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thanks All

It was a dissappointing end to a very exciting Mets season.

On Sunday the bats never got going, and other than a dramatic game tying homerun from Carlos Beltran, the Mets couldn't get very much going, losing a 4-2 heartbreaker on a day they had to win to force a one game playoff with the Brewers.

So take a break, catch your breath, and start looking to next year.

The Mets "superstar core", which consists of Johan Santana, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran will all be here for 2009.

Toss in Carlos Delgado, Ryan Church, John Maine, and Mike Pelfrey, and it's easy to see that the Mets will again contend in '09.

There are issues to be addressed, primarily in the bullpen and in the starting pitching staff, but we're confident that next year's team will be even better than this years.

Thanks to all the readers here for your continued support. There is much more to come!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good Morning Mets Fans!

Shea was his studio.

The glove of Ramon Castro--his canvas.

The fastball, slider and changeup--the colors on his palette.

His arm, hands and fingers--his brushes.

These were the artist's tools, and he painted a masterpiece.

His name is Johan Santana.

For the millions of Mets fans who watched him craft his uber-work, there was a satisfaction, a joy, a knowledge that you were witnessing something very special, perhaps even historic.

A game for the ages that you will discuss with your kids, and their kids, and your buddies at the bar and the office, and Mets fans everywhere. You know, without question, that this was really what the season and our love for the Mets is all about.

You know and you are happy. It was game 161, and the season was on the line. You saw him pitch a complete game shutout on 3 days rest against a hot hitting team hell bent on sending the Mets to their ultimate demise. But today Johan stood against them like the gladiator, the warrior, the master of the ship at the head of the battle--"bring it on, bring them on, show me what you are made of, and I will show you what I've got--may the best man win."

You saw him lower his ERA to a major league best 2.53, and up his record to 16-7. You know there are a half dozen victories missing from that total, but it doesn't matter, not today.

You know he came here for this moment in time--this game--this time of the season where the immortals shine brightest and perform acts that seperate them from mere baseball Gods.

You know, and so do his GM, manager and teammates.

"Obviously, for the hype and stuff that he came with, and the price and all that type of stuff, to come in and demand and say, 'This is why you got me,'" Manuel said. "He went out and did it. He went out and backed it up."

"You definitely envisioned a day like today when you make a deal, when you sign for a player like that," Minaya said. "But I'll be honest with you, I never envisioned this day with three days' rest. I never envisioned this day with the pressure that the whole event has. I envisioned him pitching big games with four days' rest, but I never envisioned him pitching big games with three days' rest -- the way he pitched."

"It's the best pitching performance I've ever seen in person, under the circumstances," said Mets third baseman David Wright.

"Using the word 'best' is hard, but I have to put it at the top," said Minaya.

Mets manager Jerry Manuel simply said, "Wow, wow, wow." He added, "If I have to describe that, I'd say it was gangsta."

"Did I think he'd throw a complete game shutout?" asked Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado with a smile. "No, but I hoped he would."

"That's the greatest performance I've ever seen on a baseball field," left fielder Daniel Murphy said. "This was a game that we had to have, and he dominated from start to finish. That's something that I'll remember forever."

"It's the best thing I've ever seen, given the situation," Mets pitcher Pedro Martinez praised.

"I think we should all buy him dinner tonight," Ryan Church said.

"We knew we had the best pitcher on the mound," Jose Reyes agreed. "Santana, he was unbelievable today."

"I told him good job," Ramon Castro said. "We needed that. He was outstanding. Unbelievable. I don't have any other words to say about it."

Johan himself knew what he had to do--he was a man on a mission.

"There's no tomorrow," Santana said. "I've got to do it today. That's the way you take care of business. I knew the situation we were in was a tough situation and there might be no tomorrow. That's why I was up to the challenge and ready to roll."

This win capped an incredible run for the Mets ace. Santana's record since July 4th is a stunning 9-0 with a 2.09 ERA in 17 starts. He's even better at home. At Shea, Santana is 6-0 with a 1.47 ERA in his last nine starts, including Saturday's masterpiece.

So yes Mets fans, there is a tomorrow. Ollie Perez, also going on 3 days rest, has the task--win, win and win. He's been very good against the Marlins this year, but not great in his last few outings.

It's time for the other fighters to get up out of the bunker and charge the hill--hit hard, run fast, and score. Punch them in the gut early and do not let up the attack until the very end. Will yourself and your teammates to new heights of excellence and win at all costs--give everything you have--leave it all on the field.

The Brewers counter with CC Sabathia going on 3 days rest for the 3rd consecutive start.

It just doesn't get much better than this...the final day at Shea...or is it?

Enjoy your coffee!

Florida (83-77)000000000030
N.Y. Mets (89-72) «10010000x260
Player of the Game
New York

J. Santana
IP 9.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 3
K 9

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Mets and Brewers Tied!

Thanks to a superhuman effort by Johan Santana, a Mets win, and a Cubs win, the Mets and Brewers are tied for the NL Wild Card lead.

It all comes down to tomorrow!

Stay tuned for more highlights about this incredible day for Mets fans!

Ya Gotta Believe!!!!!!!!!

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Good Morning Mets Fans!

You're wet, you're cold, and you stood up through the latter part of the game, which featured two Mets comebacks and some timely hitting from some unlikely heroes.

The Mets bounced back from a demoralizing loss to win a game that the Cubs had all but gift wrapped for them before the opening pitch.

For the Cubs it was a lineup of "who's who?" and, on paper it least, it seemed as if the Mets would win handily. But games aren't won and lost on paper--they are won and lost from the pitcher's mound, the batter's box, the dugout and the field.

Pedro Martinez, in what could be his last game as a Met, pitched poorly. He allowed yet another first inning homerun and the pressure on the team began.

If this was a rehab game people would have praised Pedro for finding the strike zone with regularity after his rough start and throwing a lot of pitches that bended beautifully. He had 9 Ks total, but also walked 4--he started poorly and finished poorly with a good "middle".

"I appreciate their support, in case this is my last game, my last start," Martinez said. "I wish I could continue and come back with the Mets. But this isn't the time to think about those things. ... I couldn't go by without saying thanks."

Pedro was partially undone by the bullpen. Because of their inability to consistently get the job done, Pedro came out for the 7th, with the game tied at 3-3, and promplty allowed a walk and a single. He was replaced by--here's your holy sh*t moment--Ricardo Rincon--who promptly gave up a 3-run homerun to the Cubs Micah Hoffpauir. The shock left the wet crowd stunned in disbelief--here we go again.

The bullpen settled down after that and it was left to the Mets offense to slug their way to victory--this time they accomplished their mission.

Ryan Church had a big night and had the slide of his life to get a run home.

Robinson Cancel capped a two-out rally with a clutch hit--easily the biggest of his big league career. And Ramon Martinez, now the second baseman of the moment, had another clutch hit.

Yes Mets fans--the key players on this night were Ricardo Rincon, Robinson Cancel and Ramon Martinez. Welcome to hell.

In the bottom of the 9th the regular guys did their thing--Jose Reyes led off with a single, Daniel Murphy decided to put on the worst bunting display in history for the first out, David Wright struck out, and Carlos Beltran hit a rope into rightfield to drive home Reyes with the winning run. Jubiliation, euphoria, a freakin win.

It was a great win, and one of the ugliest, yet most exciting, wins of the year.

So now the Mets get the Feisty Fish for the finale. It will be wet, fish like water, they will play hard...a test of wills.

Mike Pelfrey is on the hill tonight--weather permitting--and one thing is for sure--the Mets will play hard--whether that's enough remains to be seen.

The Mets are still tied with the Brewers for the Wild Card lead and are now just 1 game back of the Phillies...anything, and I do mean anything, can happen over these next 3 days.

One thing is certain--whoever sweeps is in--the rest of it is a crapshoot.

Enjoy your coffee!

Chi. Cubs (96-62)2010003006111
N.Y. Mets (88-71) «1002001217101
Player of the Game
New York

C. Beltran
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 0

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Johan Santana is the MAN

He's the Man, not a man, not some guy, not a great pitcher...he is the MAN!

Tonight, with his team's season hanging in the balance, he pitched a gem...a 125 pitch gem.

He also had a hit and scored 2 runs to boot.

At 15-7 on the year with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP, he's proven to be worth every single penny invested in him.

With just a little help from the bullpen he would be 22-6 and the front runner for NL Cy Young.

The Mets Magic Number for the Wildcard is down to 5, and the Brewers are currently losing to the Pirates.

He has not lost a game since...June 28th...an incredible string of starts.

Thank you Johan...you are the MAN!

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mets Magic Number

With 8 games left in the season the Mets have two magic numbers.

The first is the big one, and it's 9.

A combination of Mets wins/Phillies losses that equals 9 gets them the NL East title and a showdown, most likely, with the Dodgers, who are pulling away from the Diamondbacks. It would also give them homefield advantage based on record.

The second one is 6, and it gets the Mets into the playoffs as the wildcard.

A combination of Mets wins/Brewers losses that equals 6 would give the Mets a chance to go to Chicago to face the powerful Cubs.

In the "beggers can't be choosers" world of Mets pennant races, both scenarios would be just fine. The Mets match up well with the Cubs, and the Dodgers seem to have found a nice groove.

The mission for the Mets: just win the games....let the magic take care of itself.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Mets Lost, But......

Their playoff chances actually increased thanks to the Brewers and their continuing misfortunes.

According to my good friends at Coolstandings, the Mets now have an 86.8% chance of making the playoffs.

A win tomorrow will put that number over 90%.

Keep the faith and beat the effing Braves tomorrow!

2008 NL Standings
Philadelphia 87 68 .561 - 762 653 91.2 70.8 65.2 32.3 97.5
New York 86 68 .558 0.5 764 672 90.0 72.0 34.7 52.1 86.8
Florida 81 73 .526 5.5 740 737 85.3 76.7 0.1 1.6 1.7
Atlanta 68 87 .439 19 715 747 71.1 90.9 0.0 0.0 0.0
Washington 58 97 .374 29 616 786 60.6 101.4 0.0 0.0 0.0

Mets Remaining Games
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
ChiCubs .608 4 0 4
Florida .526 3 0 3
Atlanta .439 0 1 1
TOTAL .556 7 1 8

Phillies Remaining Games
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
Florida .526 0 1 1
Atlanta .439 3 0 3
Washington .374 3 0 3
TOTAL .424 6 1 7

Brewers Remaining Games
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
ChiCubs .608 3 0 3
Cincinnati .468 0 1 1
Pittsburgh .419 3 0 3
TOTAL .507 6 1 7

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Good Morning Mets Fans! Back in 1st Place!

Daniel Murphy is a hitter--he hits, and hits, then he hits some more.

Leadoff hits, clutch hits, RBI hits, rally extending hits...he hits.

The Mets young ball striker is hitting .374 on the season with a 1.012 OPS and 20 RBIs in 99 at-bats. In September he's hitting .467 (14-for-30) and is .500 on the current trip (5-for-10).

With the Mets and Braves tied 5-5 he hit a 1-out rocket to the wall that plated two. All told it was part of a 4-run inning that led to victory--a victory that put the Mets back in 1st place over a Phillies team that finally lost a game.

Murphy--a solid citizen who is thoroughly enjoying the ride, had this to say: "It's the biggest thing that's ever happened to me," said Murphy, who has been a force from the left side since being called up in early August. "I'm just happy to be able to help this team win, because they've welcomed me with open arms and made me feel comfortable."

Mets manager Jerry Manuel plans to ride Murphy's hot hand for the next week. "He is going to play," said Manuel, "Our next six games are against right-handed pitchers, so he's the left fielder. There's no question he's a guy we could play every day. It's just tough to not use other people when your lineup is so out of whack with lefties like it is right now."

In a wonderful season for Mets fans, Daniel Murphy has been a breath of fresh air, an invigorating presence, and a hope for the future.

Yesterday youth was served. In addition to 23-year old Murphy, 22-year old Nick Evans hit a HR, 25-year old Jose Reyes had 3 hits and 2 RBIs, and 25-year old David Wright had 2 hits and 2 RBIs.

Reyes started the game with a leadoff HR--he now has 69 extra-base hits on the year and is 4 hits away from 200 on the season. This is the Jose Reyes that is a force--the game changer, the leader, the turbocharger of the Mets offense. He is all smiles right now as the gritty Mets make their playoff push.

The Mets bullpen pitched fairly well. Yes Nelson Figueroa came on and was victimized by some poor defense, but all told the bullpen pitched 3 innings and did not allow an earned run.

Brian Stokes was especially impressive, throwing 2 innings and earning the win. Aaron Heilman got a big out, and it was hugs and handshakes after the game.

"For Aaron Heilman to get that out was not only big for us, but for him, too," Manuel said. "You could recognize the change in the flow of the game."

So the Mets have a Magic Number again (9) for the NL East, and another Magic Number (7) for the NL Wild Card.

2008 NL Standings
New York 86 67 .562 - 762 668 90.6 71.4 54.6 32.7 87.4
Philadelphia 86 68 .558 0.5 759 651 90.8 71.2 44.8 45.5 90.2
Florida 81 72 .529 5 738 734 85.7 76.3 0.6 1.7 2.3
Atlanta 67 87 .435 19.5 711 745 70.5 91.5 0.0 0.0 0.0
Washington 58 96 .377 28.5 615 780 61.1 100.9 0.0 0.0 0.0

This is the Mets division to win--just keep winning--just keep riding the youth--just keep allowing Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado to drive in runs--just piece together enough solid bullpen to close out the games.

Sound easy, right?

Enjoy your coffee!

N.Y. Mets (86-67) «1031000409123
Atlanta (67-87)021010100581
Player of the Game
New York

J. Reyes
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 1

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Mets Back in First Place!

The gritty and determined Mets are now back in first place thanks to Jose Reyes, David Wright, Daniel Murphy and yes, the bullpen.

Jerry Manuel once again masterminded a beauty, and he has his team on top.

With a Phillies loss, and another Brewers loss, the Mets are now positioning themselves nicely for a playoff spot.

See you tomorrow for a very "Good Morning Mets Fans" writeup!

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Remaining Games: Mets, Phillies, Brewers

10 games left for the Mets:

Mets 2008 Remaining Schedule
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
ChiCubs .609 4 0 4
Florida .526 3 0 3
Atlanta .438 0 3 3
TOTAL .533 7 3 10

9 Games left for the Phillies:

Phillies Remaining Schedule
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
Florida .526 0 3 3
Atlanta .438 3 0 3
Washington .379 3 0 3
TOTAL .448 6 3 9

9 Games Left for the Brewers:

Brewers Remaining Schedule
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
ChiCubs .609 3 0 3
Cincinnati .461 0 3 3
Pittsburgh .418 3 0 3
TOTAL .496 6 3 9

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Good Morning Mets Fans!

Encore! Encore!

Thanks to a sterling effort by Mets ace Johan Santana, the Mets kept pace with the Phillies and added a game to their wild card lead.

With only 10 games left in the season, every day is like an epic play being acted out before our very eyes. Yesterday, Johan Santana gave us a Tony award winning performance in the lead role.

Johan pitched seven strong innings and only allowed 1 earned run against a team that can hit. He pitched quickly, efficiently, and most certainly could have pitched deeper in the game had the situation called for it.

"We know every time he takes the ball he’s going to put us in good position to win a game," Jose Reyes said. "He’s one of the best pitchers in the game. It’s a real good feeling when he goes to the mound."

"I’m just like anybody," Manuel said. "When you have a pitcher like that you feel good the night before, obviously after the last game and you know you’ve got him. Once the game starts, it’s still baseball. Anything can happen. He seems to be a guy that rises to that occasion every time. It makes it exciting to say that he’s the guy that night, especially because the games are so big."

With a sparkling 2.65 ERA on the year, 2nd in the NL, Santana has had an impressive debut with the Mets. He is also second in the league in Innings Pitched, 6th in Ks, and 12th in Wins. With a better bullpen behind him he would most likely be the NL Cy Young front runner.

He has pitched his best ball in the latter part of the season, going 7-0 with a 2.26 ERA over his last 14 starts. He's an ace....a big-game ace.

His teammates helped him, and themselves out, with some excellent at-bats.

Brian Schneider hit a pair of homeruns, Daniel Murphy had two hits in the 2 hole, and Jose Reyes, Ryan Church, and Carlos Beltran all had RBIs.

Jose Reyes is really heating up--he has that look about him--the caged panther at the plate. Jose is batting an even .300 over his last 7 games with a .533 slugging percentage.

Jose knows the pressure is on him to succeed, to drive the train, to lead the charge and produce runs. "You hear people say, when Jose Reyes goes, the Mets go," Reyes said.

The hottest Met of all is Carlos Beltran. All he's done in September is hit .386 with an incredible 1.207 OPS. Beltran is hitting to all fields, driving the ball, legging out exra base hits, and playing some of the best center field of his life.

So while Reyes and Beltran are hot, other players look like they are coming around. Ryan Church is hitting a bit; the aforementioned Brian Schneider looks relaxed up there; Delgado continues to have excellent at bats and produce.

The one guy who desperately needs a change of scenery is David Wright. He has been Mr Hot and Cold the last few weeks, and right now he is cold as ice. I thought that Jerry Manuel might sit him one of these last two games, but they are just too important right now.

Now the Mets head to Atlanta for their final road games of the year....a 3 game set against the always pesky Braves. Then it's back home for 3 with the Marlins and 4 with the Cubs.

10 games. That's it. Win 9 of them and they are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Anything less, and it's going to take help from the Phillies and Brewers opponents.

Enjoy your coffee--Act II is tonight!

N.Y. Mets (85-67) «1221100007110
Washington (58-95)0000001102131
Players of the Game
New York

B. Schneider
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 2

New York

J. Santana
IP 7.0
H 8
ER 1
BB 2
K 8

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

NL East and Wildcard Playoff Race

Today, September 17th, marks the first day in a long time that the Mets are out of the NL East lead, while also being ahead in the NL Wildcard race.

How it shapes up from here on out is anyone's guess.

Here's where the Mets, Phillies and Brewers stand, along with the the remaining games.

2008 NL East Standings
Philadelphia 84 67 .556 - 741 633 90.6 71.4 63.4 22.6 86.0
New York 83 67 .553 0.5 737 654 89.5 72.5 36.2 27.9 64.1
Florida 78 72 .520 5.5 702 723 84.0 78.0 0.4 0.6 0.9
Atlanta 67 84 .444 17 702 726 71.8 90.2 0.0 0.0 0.0
Washington 58 93 .384 26 600 753 62.4 99.6 0.0 0.0 0.0

Mets Remaining Schedule
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
ChiCubs .611 4 0 4
Florida .520 3 0 3
Atlanta .444 0 3 3
Washington .384 0 2 2
TOTAL .509 7 5 12

Phils Remaining Schedule
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
Florida .520 0 3 3
Atlanta .444 3 2 5
Washington .384 3 0 3
TOTAL .448 6 5 11

Brewers Remaining Schedule
vs. Team PCT H A Tot
ChiCubs .611 3 2 5
Cincinnati .460 0 3 3
Pittsburgh .417 3 0 3
TOTAL .517 6 5 11

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Now What?

We arrived about 2 hours prior to game time to watch BP, and it just never felt right.

The players weren't yukking it up, everyone in the batter's box looked ultra-serious, and Joe Smith got snippy with me while he was doing his warmup runs.

When did Odalis Perez turn into CC Sabathia?

Of course the Phils won, so the Mets now stand .5 games back, and the real test has arrived.

They will either turn it back on and go on a streak, or play .500 ball from here on out and hope the Brewers do the same.

I have high hopes for the Mets the rest of the way out, but it has to start now.

I'm going to bed....later my people...don't give up hope yet!

Just win the effing games!

Enjoy this picture...at least there's one thing Mets related for you to smile at tonight.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Good Morning Mets Fans!

What a day! A good friend of mine gace us four field box seats. so the old Dog headed up to Shea for a day's worth of NY Mets baseball.

I'll have more on our adventure tomorrow, but for now, suffice it to say that "Niese, Niese, Niese!"

Enjoy your coffee my friends!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Golden Age....of the Strikeout?

Today is September 12, 2008--there are about 17 games left in the regular season.

It's been a very good season for a variety of reasons. Statistically, nothing really stands out--let me re-phrase that--there is one thing, and we'll get to it in a second.

There's been good slugging, but no one chasing 50+ home runs and 150 RBIs. Ryan Howard leads MLB with 43 HRs, and about a half dozen guys are in the mid-30s.

Good hitting? Sure, but no one is making a run at .400 or even .380. The top hitters for average are Chipper Jones and Albert Pujols, both at about .360, and the next highest guy is Matt Holliday at .329.

Pitching-wise it's been business as usual...there is one 20-game winner, Cliff Lee, and 2 or 3 other guys that might win 20.

So what is different about this year?

It's the strikeout.

Two players have a very good chance at striking out 200+ times on the year: Ryan Howard and Mark Reynolds. A third, Jack Cust, will get up to 190.

To put that in perspective, no one, in the entire history of major league baseball, has ever struck out 200 or more times in a season.

Ryan Howard is at 189 and will easily eclipse his record of 199 Ks, which was set just last year.

Mark Reynolds is at 183 and has already Kd 13 times this month.

Jack Cust is "only" at 174, but he's a sure bet to add at least 10-12 more Ks to his total.

In 2005 only 60 players had 100 or more Ks. In 2006, 74 players reached that figure. In 2007, that number rose to 89. If 2008 continues to form, we could see that number topped to over 90 players with 100 or more Ks.

Mets fans should actually take heart--the team has the fewest Ks in the National league and is 3rd in walks. When looking at the K leaders, you have to go all the way down to 41st to find a Met.

So to what do we attribute this continuing rise in Ks over the last few years? Better pitching? A wider strike zone? Technology? I will say: no, no and no. There seems to be another reason, though only a freakenomist would make the connection.

You have to ask--are steroids, or more specifically, a lack of steroids, part of this trend?

I think so. Bats and reflexes are slower, and those "big swings" are still there. The trend in increased Ks began in earnest when the testing and punishment for steroids came into play.

Homerun totals are down, strikeout numbers are up--the variables are the same, the game is the same, the strike zone is the same--in fact, nothing else has really changed at all these past few year--except steroid use.

Welcome to the new era of the "non chemical aided" free swinger....it's not a pretty sight.

Sortable Batting
1Ryan HowardPHI56091136252431291172189.243.330.525.855
2Mark ReynoldsARI48784118253279210156183.242.321.472.794
3Jack CustOAK434669916028660096176.228.368.459.826
4Dan UgglaFLA4788812537130845565152.262.357.531.889
5Chris YoungARI56976140416197412553151.246.309.439.749
6Carlos PenaTAM4427010921228881183148.247.374.493.867
7Adam DunnCIN/ARI45972110200368921109146.240.389.519.907
8Matt KempLAD54483155364166933942141.285.336.454.790
9Jeremy HermidaFLA4807011922316586046131.248.322.406.728
10Jim ThomeCHW4488211126031841080130.248.364.513.878

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