Friday, October 31, 2014
Trick or Treat!
'Twas the day before Halloween when I came home from work was greeted with a pile of mail on the kitchen table. Included therein was a PWE from Pat of Hot Corner Cards, which meant I was in store for a few great Mets cards.
Keith Hernandez has a lot of great cards, but maybe my favorite of them all is his '90 Topps. Not only is it his final 'regular' (read: non-Traded or oddball) Topps card, but it's a pretty awesome photo of Mex, replete with full-blown stirrups and pine tar rag.
I didn't realize this card had made the cut when Topps did its 2001 Archives set, but I'm glad it did!
Happy days at Shea during the late '90s normally concluded with John Franco on the mound, recording the final outs of a Mets win. So, this card always makes me wistful for the good ol' days when the Mets weren't a mess. I've got a copy of this in my collection presently, BUT this will be an awesome addition to my Horizontal Heroes frankenset.
I guess it's appropriate to have a 'frankenset' mention on Halloween, no?
Lastly, my seminal Jon Matlack card! I'm not really sure how Matlack has eluded my collection to this point, but that's trivial now. This is a great card to be the first, and one that's been on my wish list for some time. It's Matlack's second Topps card and his only horizontal card.
Pat, thanks for the treats! And congrats on reaching the 9K mark with your Tigers collection!
Thursday, October 30, 2014
YDF, 10.30.14 (aka Bummer!)
|2012 Heritage Target Black, #HP66|
Welp, the final baseball game of 2014 did not disappoint us, did it?
A legendary (and seemingly effortless!) performance by Mr. Bumgarner-- or #MadBum as I saw all over Twitter last night. More so than that, what a series by this guy! In 21 innings, he allowed one run on nine hits with 17 strikeouts and just one walk. That's just...wow!
In other words: Wow!
Hats off to the Royals for an unbelievable ride. They produced the type of season and playoff run that Kansas City fans can only dream of usually. I hope this isn't a one-and-done thing for them, and that they remain in the running for the foreseeable future.
And now the long hibernation til 2015's spring training begins...
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
YDF, 10.29.14 (Game Seven edition)
|2010 Topps, #602|
Was anybody expecting that? Ten to nothing? Wow, okay then!
So, tonight either ends a 29-year drought for Kansas City or crowns the Giants champions for the third time in five years.
My original series prediction of 'Giants in Six' now by the wayside, I'm going to submit 'Royals in Seven." I don't care who pitches tonight for the Giants. Madison Bumgarner, Juan Marichal, Christy Mathewson...doesn't matter.
Game Seven, folks. Enjoy it!
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Buffalo Football Gameday, 2014: Week 8
The Buffalo Bills (4-3) look to head into their by week with a winning record as they head to New Jersey to take on the New York Jets (1-6) at 1 p.m. this afternoon.
The Bills eked out a thrilling last-second victory over the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, needing a Kyle Orton-to-Sammy Watkins 2-yard touchdown pass to pull off a 17-16 win in Orchard Park.
The Jets, meanwhile, lost on a blocked field goal attempt in Foxborough last Thursday. New York's Nick Folk had his 58-yard attempt blocked as time expired, granting the Patriots a 27-25 win and handing the Jets a sixth straight defeat. New York's lone victory of the season came on opening day versus Oakland.
The Jets lost last week despite clicking off 218 net rushing yards and out-gaining New England by 100 total yards. It follows the narrative that New York's record isn't very telling of their efforts for the most part this season. The Jets' last-place standing is somewhat ely a byproduct of their schedule, which has featured the quarterbacking likes of Rodgers, Cutler, Stafford, Rivers, Manning and Brady so far.
So today would seem to be a breather-type of game for the Jets, and Vegas largely agrees by listing the home team as 3-point favorites over the Bills.
Buffalo has not registered a victory in the new Meadowlands stadium since its opening in 2010 and are just 3-9 against New York overall since the beginning of the 2008 season. The last Bills victory in New Jersey occurred in October of 2009, when the defense intercepted Mark Sanchez five times and kicker Rian Lindell booted a 47-yard field goal in overtime.
In regards to today's featured football card, Buffalo's quarterback for that last Meadowlands victory was Trent Edwards, while linebacker Paul Posluszny was one of five Buffalo players with an interception.
The Bills and Jets split last season's contests, with each team winning on its home field.
I don't have the best feeling about this game. The Jets have come close to that elusive second victory on numerous occasions and are overdue to claim it. Plus, I think it comes down to coaching preparation and on-the-fly gameplanning. Rex Ryan has figured out the Bills quite well since his New York coaching tenure began in 2009. The Bills staff, meanwhile, has more often than not been left grasping at straws.
I would be pleasantly surprised with a win today, and would be thrilled to sit on a 5-3 record through the bye week.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Chrome Is Where the Heart Is
It's been quite a while since I purchased baseball cards in traditional fashion, meaning via boxes, hangers, blasters or packs. I kinda (read: really!) miss it, but with our family budget the way it is these days, getting six random cards that will most likely disappoint me for $3.99 a pack ain't very appealing.
Instead, I've taken to eBay on a few occasions when I really need my fix. Heck, if I'm gonna shell our four or 10 or 20 shells, I better be getting the biggest bang for my buck, right?
Well, one of the new and shiny 'toys' that has been on my radar for some time now has been Topps Chrome. More specifically, the 1989 Chrome Refractor inserts.
Yep, it's a well-documented fact that I'm a junkie for anything pertaining to '89 Topps, as it's my all-time favorite set. So my hobby senses went bonkers when I learned that Chrome had devoted a 25-card insert set to my beloved '89 design in stunning refractor form. My heart was instantly warmed and I knew I had to get 'em in my collection some way, some how.
I didn't take my long to track down an auction for a complete set of the lovely refractors for considerably cheaper than the cost of a blaster.
As you can see, the fronts and backs of the cards stay true to the spirit of the '89 design, even if the player name within the swoosh is left-aligned instead of being centered. Somehow it's not as noticeable on these as it is for the cards in the Archives set.
Anyhow, I couldn't be happier with the way the cards look, especially when I slipped 'em in to binder pages.
Here's a peek at what they look like, arranged alphabetically by the suffix in the 'card number'. In this case, that suffix would be the player's initials.
Okay, here they are...
And, of course, the Yasiel Puig card would be the final one of the set, so the final binder page is left with two blank pockets. Hey, it beats having that one orphan card taking up an entire page.
Some impressions of the set, which features a pretty decent mix of players both veteran and new:
Biggest Star in the Set: Obviously subjective, but Trout is essentially the 'face of baseball' these days, so I'll give it to him. Kershaw is pretty good, too, I hear.
Biggest Omission: Uh, Jeter? Shocked that we didn't get our mandatory dosage of RE2PECT.
I'm Suprised He Was Included: I guess this isn't the most flattering category, and this guy might be a future ace, but I'm sorta surprised that Tijuan Walker was chosen for the checklist. And, to be fair and not pick on the rookie, how about Cargo and Tulo? Always hurt and they play for a bad team.
I Wish He Was Included: Gotta be Jose Fernandez, my favorite non-Met.
I Wish He Wasn't Included (aka Please Stop): No more Ryan Braun. Please.
Most Important Rookie: Abreu and Tanaka are both high-profile, sought-after rookies. Flip a coin.
Meet the Met: Indeed, David Wright made the cut. Somewhat surprising given his apparent fall from stardom, but, hey, he plays in NY and he's a handsome devil.
The Only Retired Player: Only one, and it's Junior. Makes sense to me, though, since his '89 Topps Traded cards is one of the greatest cards in the history of mankind. Along those same lines, it woulda been neat to have included a a few of the other key rookies from the '89 set, such as the Big Unit, Craig Biggio or John Smoltz.
Department of Redundancy Department: Photo recycling alert! Since I'm a Mets fan and Wright collector, I immediately I knew the DW was a recycled image (2013 Archives). That's the only one I'm sure of, but I suspect one or more of these photos have been around the block. The Goldschmidt and Prince photos look very familiar.
Best Captures the Essence of the '89 Set: The Posey, Trout and Miggy cards each feature photos which I feel would seamlessly fit into the style of the '89 set.
How Many Mariners? Oh: Yup, three M's. Can't argue with any of them. Well, actually, I guess I already did with Walker.
So now that I've got this set out of the way, my next objective is to start attacking the die cut minis from this year's Series 1, 2 and Update. That's 150 cards to track down.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
The Fall Classic
Forty-five years ago, the "Miracle" New York Mets, in just their seventh year of existence, shocked the sports world when they defeated the heavily-favored Baltimore Orioles to take the 1969 World Series.
Now, I might be biased, but I don't think a more amazing feat has been or will ever be accomplished in the realm of sport. The story would have been miraculous enough had the Mets, previously a lovable doormat, just captured the pennant or won their division. But, in an era where there was no free agency or big television contracts, New York's expansion baseball club defied logic and trounced the odds by taking the whole shootin' match.
And, of course, the 2014 Fall Classic blasts off tonight with another rags-to-riches story perhaps taking center stage from the team in the opposite dugout, which aims to win its third title in five years. No, Kansas City isn't quite the story the Mets were in '69, but the Royals and their fans certainly endured a lot over the 29 years it took 'em to get back to the Series. For the Giants, meanwhile, October has become old hat; business as usual.
Should be a fun ride over the next week or two. I'll be pulling for the underdog Royals, but my head tells me the Giants will win it in six. Regardless of the outcome, I think we're all in for a treat.
The gorgeous UD Masterpieces card up top was one of the cards that recently came my way in PWE form from my buddy Nick of Dime Boxes fame. A perfectly appropriate card for the occasion, and one that nestles wonderfully into my ever-growing Mets collection.
Lots of other goodies included in Nick's PWE surprise.
There were more Mets, of course...
Some fine additions to my player collections, as well...
How about a couple of cards for my Gabe Kapler collection...
I LOVE the faux-Wheaties insert from Skybox Thunder. Never seen this insert set before!
Finally, an epic addition for the Horizontal Heroes frankenset.
As a matter of fact, I think I sent a copy of this very card to Nick last year, prior to dreaming up such a mish-mash project. I'm extremely happy to now have a copy of my own...again! It's gotta be one of the most unique and downright brilliant horizontal cards ever conceived!
Nick, as always you kicked major booty with your selections. All are fantastic!
Enjoy the Series, everyone!
Sunday, October 19, 2014
Buffalo Football Gameday, 2014: Week 7
Last Sunday, for the one-billionth time in the past 15 seasons, the Buffalo Bills (3-3) were emasculated by Tom Brady the New England Patriots. I'm so sick and tired of watching it happen, I've exhausted myself of words to properly express it.
So, as a penalty for their shortcomings, I've chosen to post a card from today's opponent--the Minnesota Vikings (2-4)--for today's gameday post. The Bills and Vikings square off at Ralph Wilson Stadium this afternoon at 1 p.m. Buffalo are 5.5-point favorites over their NFC North visitors.
No, the great Fran Tarkenton won't be at the helm for the Vikes today (thank God!), but given their inconsistent level of play this season, the Bills can't afford to take any opponent lightly. That being said, Buffalo ought to handle business today and get above the .500 mark. After all, Minnesota will start a rookie at QB and has managed just 13 total points over the past two weeks of play.
As an aside, the only thing as good as vintage baseball cards is vintage football! For the most part, Topps has scored touchdowns with their football card designs over the years. This one, from 1978, isn't necessarily a press-stopper, but it's colorful and basic without being overly drab. And that's even with Topps having to airbrush the the helmet logos off the photos. See, Panini, it can be done!
So that's that for today. I'm not going to go overboard with analysis or prognostication for today's game. All I want to see is the Bills go out and dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and win a game that they sorely need.
Is that too much to ask?
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
A Three-Sport PWE
Howdy, friends! Have you gotten any new Stadium Club? How about brand spanking new Topps Update, which 'officially' came out today?
Negative on both counts here, as I didn't get a chance to make it out to Target or WalMart for Update either of the past couple days. I plan to add "2014 Update Hobby Box" to my Christmas list, but I'd still like to pick up a pack or two of the stuff in the meantime just because. Plus, I'll need a pack to add to young Gabriel's stash of 2014 packs.
In the meantime, my sports card sanity has been kept in order thanks to good hobby Samaritans like Shane, my Zistle buddy over at Shoebox Legends. He crafted yet another fantastic PWE which included the 2008 Stadium Club gem of Johan Santana you see up top. It had most definitely been on my wanted list for a good amount of time, and I'm thrilled to add it to my collection!
Speaking of being thrilled, this Lance Johnson Collector's Choice All-Star is as good as it gets. The "One Dog" had an unbelievable '96 season for the Mets, which included a start in that season's Midsummer Classic. He batted leadoff and went 3-for-4, helping the N.L. to a 6-0 victory at Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia.
And you know who was the MVP of that '96 All-Star game, right? None other than Mr. Mike Piazza, then a member of the Dodgers. The Pennsylvania native went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs.
Darryl Strawberry played in his fair share of All-Star Games, as well. Eight, to be exact. This is an '89 League Leaders mini of Straw, who led the league in homers (39) and was second in RBIs (101) during the 1988 campaign.
Matt Harvey received quite an honor when he was tabbed to start the 2013 All-Star classic, which happened to be hosted at New York's Citi Field. The Mets' ace fanned three and allowed one hit over his two innings of work. By the way, this is a pretty badass trio of pitchers featured on the above red hot foil parallel.
No All-Star appearances for Wayne Garrett over the course of his 10-year big league career. No matter, this is a great vintage addition to my collection. And a member of the '69 Miracle Mets to boot. Great photo on this card and, well, can you really beat '71 Topps?
No, not a Met, but A-Rod is still one of my favorite players to collect. And what you need to know about this card but can't clearly tell from the scan is it's grainy texture and very thin, newsprint-like card stock. An unusual and interesting twist from a most unique card company like Pacific.
As the title alludes to, it wasn't just baseball in this PWE...
We at the Clubhouse are always excited to receive Buffalo Bills cards! In my last post I talked about how Doug Flutie was the last Bills quarterback to lead the team to the postseason. And, coincidentally, here's Mr. Flutie gracing the front of this Fleer Tradition team card from 2000.
Flutie engineered the Bills to 10 wins during the '99 season, yet was unceremoniously stripped of his starting job the week leading up to the Wild Card round. Call it the 'Curse of Flutie' or whatever, but it's been 14 years since Buffalo's football team has made the postseason.
And the third sport represented in Shane's mailing is one that I know is very dear to him...
Yessir, hockey is back in full swing. I don't have a whole lot of hockey cards, but anytime I can get a card of the greatest captain in New York Rangers history, I'm a happy man. The front of this card is pretty awesome, yet it doesn't hold a candle to the back...
No commentary necessary here, I think. Just seeing this picture gives me goosebumps. I was 13 when the Rangers won the Cup and it still ranks as probably the greatest 'sports fan' moment of my life. [Ed. Note: In case you were curious, I was only six when the Mets won the Series in '86 and don't remember a thing from it, unfortunately.]
Shane, thanks for the cards, as always! And, more so than that, thanks for rekindling some All-Star memories and even a Stanley Cup moment of greatness.
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Buffalo Football Gameday, 2014: Week 6
Today, the Buffalo Bills (3-2) and New England Patriots (3-2) square off in Orchard Park, N.Y. with first place in the AFC East on the line.
I could rattle off a bunch of depressing statistics and trends which would paint a very one-sided and (for Bills fans) nightmarish picture of the Bills-Patriots series over the past 15 seasons. But, I'd rather go into today's game with a positive frame of mind. After all, the sale of the Bills from the Wilson family to Terry and Kim Pegula officially was ratified this past Wednesday, so it kind of feels like a clean slate of sorts.
Both teams are coming off wins last Sunday, albeit in very different fashions. Buffalo overcame a 14-point hole and got a 58-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter with four seconds remaining to scratch out a 17-14 win in Detroit. The Patriots, meanwhile, dispelled any rumors of their demise with a very convincing rout of the Bengals in front of a primetime national television audience.
Kyle Orton will make his Ralph Wilson Stadium debut at quarterback for the Bills. The veteran signal caller eclipsed the 300-yard passing mark and threw a TD pass last week against the Lions. It was Orton's first appearance and first start as a Buffalo Bill, as head coach Doug Marrone gave the Purdue product the nod over struggling sophomore E.J. Manuel.
If Buffalo hopes to emerge victorious today, they'll likely have to ride their stingy defense, which presently ranks fourth in the NFL in points allowed (17.8 ppg), second in rushing defense (71.0 ypg), and first in quarterback sacks (17.0).
As for today's card, I was in a Flutie type of mood. He was the quarterback the last time Buffalo made the playoffs (Rob Johnson be damned!) plus I was enjoying his sidelines analysis during yesterday's Notre Dame broadcast on NBC. Oh, and he is also one of two Bills quarterbacks (along with Drew Bledsoe) to have played for both the Bills and Patriots during their careers.
The Bills are 2.5-point home underdogs today. Kickoff from The Ralph is 1 p.m.
Friday, October 10, 2014
And They're Off!
The hockey season is underway. And an appropriate way to celebrate that occasion is to explore a recent PWE from our friend north of the border, Douglas of Buckstore Cards.
Now, I've made it known I'm a New York Rangers fan through-and-through, and I'm excited to watch their defense of last year's Eastern Conference title. However, Douglas has been sending me Gabriel-centric cards since the birth of my little guy and, as a result, I've adopted Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog as my new favorite non-Ranger. I even made it a priority to draft him onto my fantasy hockey squad this year. [Ed. Note: Yes, you read that right. Fantasy. Hockey.]
Above, you see the young Swede's base card from this year's OPC set. I gotta say, I really love the OPC hockey cards. I'm by no means a hockey collector to any great extent, but I can definitely appreciate these. A nice, clean look with a photo that is neither too small nor oversized.
Hell, I wish Upper Deck still had an MLB license if for no other reason than to make another O-Pee-Chee baseball set.
Ah, my first Gabriel goalie card. I'm lovin' the jersey. If I ever purchase a jersey from a Quebec Major Junior league team, it would absolutely be a Shawinigan Cataractes jersey. In case you're interested (and I know you are), Girard played in France the past two years and presently plays for a club in a low-level Quebec league. Go Gabriel!
And here is by far the strangest hockey card I've ever seen.
Okay, you got me. Anyhow, Jackson was drafted in the 3rd round by the Raiders this past spring and, from what I can tell, he's Oakland's starting left guard.
By the way, I like Bowman's football card design better than their baseball cards this year. Furthermore, the flagship Topps football cards look more like Bowman cards than Bowman cards do. If that makes sense.
Thanks for the trio of Gabes, Douglas! And, I see you landed some 2014 Stadium Club cards already. Totally jealous! Check out Douglas's blog and check 'em out if you haven't already!
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
In a recent eBay hunt aimed at scoring a cheap Topps Chrome refractor of Travis d'Arnaud, I came across an auction for a three-card lot of X-Fractors that included the aforementioned Mets catcher. The staring price was right so I put in a bid and *poof* I wound up winning the lot! It wound up costing me less than a buck per card, which I guess is pretty decent for these things.
Also included in the lot was Rafael Montero, who made his big league debut back in mid-May vs. the Yankees at Citi Field. This is my first non-Bowman Prospect card of Montero, who will certainly be in the discussion for the 2015 Mets rotation. Either that, or he'll be dangled as trade bait, since the names outnumber the available slots for the rotation next year.
Finally, this Oscar Taveras card was the third member of the X-Fractor trio.. Kind of random that the highly-touted Cardinals prospect got grouped in with a pair of Mets, but it's a nice bonus nonetheless. I like collecting Chrome rookies, and this guy's got a chance to be a good one if all the scouting reports are accurate.
I'll admit that I've always been kinda confused by the whole X-Fractor thing, but these are three pretty sharp looking cards that I'm happy to add to my collection!
Monday, October 6, 2014
Things have been somewhat slow around the Clubhouse of late. I haven't made it to any card shows over the past month-plus and I can't even recall the last time I purchased a pack (or repack) of cards.
I intended to pick up a pack or two of Stadium Club when it came out last Wednesday only to be informed by my LCS owner that single packs were not for sale. And I ain't about to sink over 100 bucks into a hobby box of the stuff, as badly as I want to rip into the third-generation rebirth of TSC. For the time being, I'll keep scanning eBay for a reasonably priced sampler lot or maybe a Mets team set.
Regardless of my recent cardboard slump, I thankfully keep lucking into PWEs from my inner circle of blogging pals. It's nice to be thought of, ya know?
This time around, my oldest trade partner came through with a nifty envelope of cards, as mail came my way last week from Marcus of Backstop Cards!
The highlight of the group is the above orange refractor of Zack Wheeler from this year's Topps Chrome. I've meant to buy a rack pack of Chrome, but every time I get close enough to breath on one, I think about spending that 10 bucks and how I might use it more responsibly elsewhere. Bummer.
More Chrome, but this time a base card of the Mets' captain. I recently found out via Zistle that there is a super-duper rare photo variation version of Wright's base card from this set. I've only seen one on eBay and, of course, it's ridiculously priced. But, it's probably No. 1 (or pretty darn close to it) on my most-wanted list.
Enough of this new and shiny stuff, let's talk about some 'vintage' late-'90s goodness, like this Premium Stock parallel of Bernard Gilkey from 1997 Score. You might be tempted to think that the highlight of Gilkey's short time in New York was his heralded cameo in the '97 summer blockbuster Men in Black. Yet, Gilkey had one of the finest single seasons in Mets history in 1996, posting a slash line of .317/.393/.562 to go along with 30 homers and 117 RBIs.
Man, I sure have changed a lot as a collector over a short span of time. If you would have told me three or four years ago that I would have placed a 1990 Upper Deck base card of Alejandro Pena on any sort of 'want list', I'd have called your bluff. Yet, this very card was on my Zistle want list. And, now it's not!
The backside of this card is as enjoyable as the front, if not more so.
And there you have it: a nice and neat little offering of cards from my good buddy down in Texas. I'll be sure to procure some new Gwynns for your collection the next time I make it to a show, Marcus. Who knows, maybe it'll even be his card from the new Stadium Club. I think he's probably the lone Padre to be represented in the checklist.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Buffalo Football Gameday, 2014: Week 5
Today, it's the Buffalo Bills (2-2) looking to snap a two-game skid as they travel to Motown to take on the Detroit Lions (3-1) in a 1 p.m. tilt at Ford Field.
So, then, what's with the Broncos card? Well, in case you missed it, Bills head coach Doug Marrone finally decided to pull the plug on struggling second-year starter EJ Manuel and insert veteran Kyle Orton at the quarterback position. Orton, a former Bear, Bronco and Cowboy, signed a two-year contract with Buffalo in late August after severing ties with Dallas and contemplating retirement.
A veteran of eight seasons, Orton has started 70 career games and split them evenly among wins and losses. His last game action was Week 17 of last season; a start in place of the injured Tony Romo as the Cowboys hosted the Eagles in a defacto NFC East championship game. Orton acquitted himself rather well, completing 30 of 46 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns, though the Eagles came away with the win in the Jerry Dome.
I support Marrone's decision to sit Manuel and play Orton, as the last two weeks produced some of the poorest quarterbacking I can recall in some time. And that's saying a lot when you consider some of the ragged arms that have played QB in Buffalo over the past 12 or so years.
Beyond the quarterback position, the Bills actually have a pretty talented team featuring fine depth at running back and wide receiver. Defensively, Buffalo is a top-10 unit which has thrived under new coordinator Jim Schwartz--formerly the head coach of today's opponent.
Furthermore, the AFC East seems to be a wide open proposition for the first time in over a decade with Brady's Patriots appearing to be in decline while the Jets and Fish are predictably suspect.
If the Bills can even get modest production out of Orton, they could conceivably fashion a winning season and sneak away with their first division crown since 1995. As far-fetched and semi-ridiculous as that sounds, it is nonetheless reality, thus making Marrone's actions nothing short of necessary. The NFL is a win-now league, and if you even think you have a shot, you ought to be gunning for it with all your might.
As for today, it's a tough situation for Orton to step into, as the Lions boast a top-notch defense highlighted by a sinister amount of talent on the defensive line. But, in my opinion, it's better for Orton to cut his teeth this week against a non-conference opponent rather than the Patriots the following week. After all, the New England game is a thousand times more important than today's contest.
One fast fact to pass along which will have absolutely no bearing on today's game: Kyle Orton is 4-0 as a starter vs. Detroit for his career.
Detroit is a seven-point favorite today.
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