Claudell Washington (by sansho1)

Editor’s note: This is the point in the offseason where we start Mac’s annual tradition of providing player recaps as we count down to March. But I honestly don’t have the heart to ask anyone to write player profiles for Hector Olivera, Adonis Garcia, AJ Pierzynski, and Mike Foltynewicz. So I thought I’d take it in a different direction, and assign player profiles for the 1982 Braves.

I think it’s good to remember how out-of-nowhere that team was. Since Hank left Atlanta, the team had never finished higher than fourth, and it was the team’s first divisional pennant in 13 years. In other words, I think we need some hope, and I think the 1982 team might be a good place to look. Here’s the first profile!

The following is excerpted from the chapter “Spring, 1982” of the unpublished autobiography I Looked Good in the Uniform: The Life and Times of Claudell Washington – Up(per)s and Downs in a Nomadic Baseball Life, and How My Teammates Went from Gloriously Mustachioed to Merely Patchily Bearded (title and footnotes by John Feinstein):

Why, again, am I here?1 I had it all from the get-go. 2 Oh well, I’m trying to make the best of it.3 I tried to joke with Murph4 that we’re lucky to have all this grass between us and the homely dudes around the infield5, but he just laughed and looked embarrassed.6

1After being traded three times by age 25, Washington hurried to sign a 5-year deal with the Braves after the 1980 season. Owner Ted Turner caved quickly to the demands of Washington’s agent so that he could concentrate on his two primary free agent targets, Dave Winfield and Don Sutton.

2Washington was born and raised in Berkeley, California, and signed as an amateur free agent with his hometown Oakland A’s out of high school in 1972. Despite the lack of pedigree, Washington rose quickly through the minors. His blazing speed and line-drive hitting made him impossible to ignore, and he got called up to the big club at the All-Star break in ’74, when he was just 19. He arrived just in time to play a significant role in the final World Series championship of the A’s dynasty, batting .285 as a DH and reserve outfielder, and going 4-7 in the Series win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1975, he punctuated his first calendar year as a big leaguer by becoming the youngest player in history to record both a hit and a stolen base in an All-Star Game.

3Washington played well in his first season with the Braves, hitting .291/5/37 during the strike-gutted campaign. He added 12 steals, and adapted well to the National League style of play, notching an impressive eight sacrifice hits.

4Braves center fielder Dale Murphy, handsome.

5To wit, Glenn Hubbard, Rafael Ramirez, Bob Horner, various members of the pitching staff. Washington – “When I was coming up, the players had a sense of style and grooming. Reggie, Rollie, Sal Bando, Gene Tenace, they all cultivated a look, facial hair-wise. Even the ones who really couldn’t pull it off, like Joe Rudi, at least they TRIED, you know? These fellas here show up to the ballpark like the Trailways bus dropped them off after a hunting trip or something.”

6Murphy is famously temperate.

169 thoughts on “Claudell Washington (by sansho1)”

  1. Great idea to look at this team. Actually, it may just be the “homer” in me, but I was really thinking that team could be good. By 84, the bloom was off the stinkweed.

    Claudell definitely looked like an athlete, really like a body builder. At that time, the “weight room look” almost never applied to baseball players.

  2. Dodgers acquire Aroldis Chapman for “two prospects.”

    Jon Heyman reports that the prospects are NOT not Corey Seager, Julio Urias or Jose Deleon

  3. @3- Iwakuma? I’d say the Braves just got another potential trade partner. Does Shelby like coffee?

  4. Shopping the guy with arm troubles makes a lot more sense than trading for the guy with arm troubles. Just sayin.

  5. Per the conceit of these profiles this incident hasn’t happened yet, but it’s worth a look. Claudell vs. Mario Soto, 1984:

    Note how far into the process did John Sterling bring up the possibility of Claudell not being ejected….

  6. krussell’s TSGITR guesses were hilarious. Since there’s a slight conspiracy undercurrent, I was thinking something around “The Second Gunman In The…” but it broke down after that.

    Running out of trade partners for Miller. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to hold onto your ace.

  7. Arizona keeps coming up, so I would imagine that Pollock isn’t untouchable for the right deal.

    They might be interested in Vizcaino and one of our outfielders (Cakes or more likely Smith) maybe we ask for a young arm and throw in Folty.

  8. Arizona has 4 outfielders they’d like to start. I can’t imagine they’ll want another outfielder. Pitching seems to be the best currency for them.

  9. Miller for Peralta and an arm. Trade Markakis to the O’s for something. Sign Zobrist for the Markakis money

  10. According to bref and fangraphs, Claudell Washington had almost exactly the same career WAR as Joe Carter

    Speaking of good, not great, outfielders of the 80’s, I was looking at the statistics of Dave Henderson, and I found it perplexing. Dave Henderson was a below average defensive CF until he was 30, at which point he suddenly became a way above average defensive CF for 4 years or so. This did coincide with a move to Oakland, but it is still remarkable.

  11. Old defensive stats should really be taken with a grain of salt — they stand on an even flimsier foundation than the stuff from the UZR era. Carter’s an interesting guy: like Juan Gonzalez and Dante Bichette, he’s someone whose gaudy homer and RBI totals distract the fact that, thanks to his unimpressive OBP and terrible defense, he was basically just an average player, a more famous version of Todd Zeile.

  12. The Red Sox might be moving two of Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, or Clay Buccholz. If they do, they’ve got the prospects to grab Miller from us for sure.

  13. @Stu from last thread: TSGITR isn’t a Michael Lewis reference. It’s just this:

    (The phrase was most famously applied in pop culture as a subtitle to a book written by a Fortune reporter about Enron, but I never read it.)

    And yeah, irony noted, it does pretty much describe anyone who ever comments on a baseball blog. But the peanut gallery is pretty much made for being a pompous dick! It’s a less attractive quality when you’re in a zero-sum competition with 29 other smart people.

    (Side note: I “like Michael Lewis narratives?” I like making fun of people who reference Lewis a decade-plus later as if “market inefficiency” is a thing that exists anymore!)

  14. Hisashi Iwakuma
    was originally best known for his trashy sense of humor
    a Dodger now
    defer he must to the Guggenheim cash cow.

  15. @26 Market inefficiencies are the new…alright, this just got confusing.

    The documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is pretty great if anyone knows a good way to get hold of it.

  16. Re: TSGITR, as Bill Simmons likes to say — well, he liked to say this back when I could stand reading him, anyway — “The lesson, as always…” For some reason, I was thinking that was another Michael Lewis book. Google reveals that I was confusing it with The Big Short. So, yeah.

    Anyway, has it been established that it’s actually a quality of Coppy or whomever else it is that’s being accused of it? Coppy has had some I-don’t-really-care-what-the-average-fan-thinks-of-my-trades comments, but that’s hardly enough to make me think he’s more pompous than any other front-office head honcho around MLB.

    You seem anxious to find signs of major character flaws in these guys.

  17. The major character flaw that I see in the aging brain trust is an inability to consider the possibility that they are the problem. Schuerholz and Cox are in their mid-’70s, and it’s a young man’s game. It’s time for them to retire and move on, and I said that a year ago.

  18. 31—If they have more say in the day-to-day on-field operations than I’ve been assuming they have, I agree with that. I assume they’re both basically just figureheads, though.

    Similarly, I assume that people like Coppy (and Hart) have nothing to do with the move, or the stadium plans, or the transportation debacle, so I haven’t held concerns related to things like that against them.

  19. @33

    I agree that Bobby is a figurehead that occasionally gets pulled in for advice (probably like Hank Aaron did 20 years ago.) I honestly think Schuerholz still has a big role with the club.

    I think Coppy will be fine. He probably should take a few public relations classes, but otherwise I don’t have a problem with him yet.

    If anyone needs to hang it up, it may be Terry McGuirk. But honestly, I have no idea what anyone over Coppy/ Hart does anyways.

  20. DOB….I’ve got a feeling #Braves haven’t given up on getting INF Javier Baez or OF Jorge Soler from #Cubs for Miller. Baez esp could fill big hole

  21. @33, like you said, I don’t view Coppolella as any kind of architect. If anyone’s driving the bus, it’s going to be some combination of McGuirk/Schuerholz/Cox/Hart. McGuirk is widely perceived to be a suit, not a baseball guy — his background is cable TV. Hart is the new guy, and he first joined the team as a consultant. Considering that Schuerholz was the public face of Wren’s firing just a little over a year ago, I have to imagine that this strategy is still very much his, with Hart and Coppolella in charge of tactical implementation. I don’t know who ultimately had the brilliant idea of trading Andrelton for a couple of pitching prospects, and I don’t think that Schuerholz is the shadow puppet master behind every deal, but I do think that he’s a key decisionmaker, and I don’t doubt that he has veto power. Like you, my impression is that Cox is less involved, but as long as he’s Bobby Cox, he’ll still have exactly as much say as he wants to. I think it’s time for all of these greybeards to ride off into the sun.

  22. Or “into the sunset”, but I rather like the mental image of them literally riding into the sun

  23. “Atlanta might not be looking to trade Shelby Miller, but other teams believe the right package would get a deal done quickly. That said, the Braves want for MLB-ready bats, which few teams are prepared to trade.”

    Not that this (from ESPN) means much, but if it’s true, does the above mean that pitching isn’t “currency”, after all? At least not in an environment where bats are scarce?

  24. @41, that would be one way to go from winning the Justin Heyward trade to losing it in one fell swoop

  25. Rosenthal – #Brewers listening on Lucroy. Teams love his contract – $4M this season with a $5.5M club option for 2017.

  26. @43 I wouldn’t say they have to.

    After the season he had, he is probably as valuable now as he will ever be. He’s coming off a great year (that is potentially an anomaly) and he has three years of control left. His salary should climb each year (40-60-80 is the quick and dirty arb. approximation), so he is likely to provide the most surplus value in 2016.

    Obviously, the Braves are likely to be better in the immediate future if they keep the talent they have, but, if that’s the plan, it’s a new one.

  27. @40

    Actually, I think it proves it. We need a scarce item, but we’re able to pursue it with several different clubs because our currency is universal. If we stockpiled catchers, and the D-Backs and Cubs have catchers, then that’s quite a square-peg-in-a-round-hole situation.

    We just need more currency because Miller for Pollock is pretty one sided.

  28. @41

    Where does Soler play?

    I dunno man, a young, shutdown reliever and a major league ready second baseman really wouldn’t be a bad haul. Soler has more talent, therefore more value, but he can’t play anywhere without a corresponding move.

    I’m looking forward to someone doing a case study at some point of all of the talent we traded vs. all the talent we got back, say, 18 months from the beginning. Sort of a “Where Are They Now?”.

  29. 37—Yeah, our impressions are a bit different. I don’t think the strategy is primarily Schuerholz’s, for example; I’m confident, given how unique it is from anything Schuerholz ever tried, that it’s Coppy’s (for better or worse). I’m sure he has to sell his vision to his superiors, of course, as all people who have superiors must do.

    I also think you overstate Bobby’s authority — Coppy had options, and I don’t think this is the GM job he’d have taken if he didn’t have the autonomy I’m assuming he has.

  30. Wasn’t Aroldis Chapman traded today?

    He was just arrested for domestic violence. Police say he choked his girlfriend and fired 8 gun shots.

  31. 52—I meant this offseason, when the Braves promoted him because other clubs were starting to show interest. And I believe it’s widely understood that Coppy has been the one making most of the moves that have been made over the past couple of years, even before the promotion.

  32. My best Claudell memory:

    We’re playing the Reds, and Mario Soto drills Claudell in the first inning.

    Claudell’s next atbat. On the first pitch, a ball, the bat sails out of Claudell’s hands toward the second baseman. Claudell stares down at his hands — not enough pine tar, I guess, says Claudell. He strolls slowly toward the errant bat, and about halfway there, rushes the mound and starts assaulting Soto. Two Reds pull him off and from about 5 feet away, while Claudell is on the ground being restrained by multiple Reds, Soto fires a fastball at his head. Luckily, he missed.

    Next to the minor league guy who kung-fued the catcher before rushing the mound, best tactic I’ve seen.

  33. All of this half-baked Kremlinology about who “really” runs things in the front office is just boring as all shit.

  34. I think we should stand firm on Miller. If he comes out and pitches well in the first half, his value will only go up.

    Stu, I would like to get Soler and Baez.

  35. @60- That’s what I think, too.

    The Red Sox really do have the kinds of pieces that could blow us away for him.

  36. I think the Braves should stand pretty firm (read: not just trade him for the best offer of two good pitching prospects that they receive) but really be looking to unload him now. It will be hard for his value to increase, IMO, and I think his contract situation looks particularly nice in the context of all these expensive FA deals being handed out right now.

    And, yeah, the Red Sox are the ideal partner. As you say, Edward, they have lots of nice pieces, and they have a GM who’s always been willing to deal good prospects for established players.

  37. I disagree on waiting on Miller. His value is at an all time high. We just need the right trade partner and the 3 John’s need to get this one right.

  38. Wake me up when we decide that we have some players that we’d like to actually keep, you know, so they can play baseball, for our baseball team.

  39. Cubs are out now it appears. Guess we aren’t budging on our demands. Now in talks with the Dodgers.

  40. @58, lol

    @57, 67, I’m not sad to see teams dropping out on Shelby–it means we are being firm wrt demands, or at least I would like to interpret it that way. Players like Joc Pederson and Dansby Swanson are exactly what we should be demanding to trade Miller. The Cubs got Addison Russell for freaking Jeff Samardzija who had less success and less controllability.

  41. @68, I’m sure that the Braves have that in the back of their mind and are wondering whether they should hold out until the All-Star Break. But, again, it would be hard for Miller’s value to be higher than it is right now, even if demand hasn’t necessarily peaked.

  42. I think this process is “silencing the critics” (see what I did there?) of people who feel like Coppolella has under-sold our players or have condescended fans with how he’s discussed trades publicly. He’s gone all Chuck LaMar on the league. “I’ll take the moon, thankyouverymuch.”

    I like the idea of waiting until the All-Star break. A team in contention might sell the farm to get him. His value doesn’t diminish too much, and he can help keep the season from getting out of control in the first half. That definitely has value in the current state of things.

  43. One small injury could eliminate that value.

    Im sure Coppy is trying to find ways to include Bourn and Swisher in the deal with Miller. (not really, but wouldn’t surprise me)

  44. If you get useful offensive prospects now, you move him now. Sell high means SELL HIGH. It is, by definition, the point where the fan base is the highest on the guy you’re dealing away and will complain the most about losing him, but that’s what sell high MEANS.

  45. Sorry, sansho, didn’t see that comment.

    Forgot that he got drilled after a homer. Other than that, not bad.

  46. A year or two ago, that would’ve been totally reasonable for Zobrist. But he is 34–will be 35 in May, and he just came off a 1.9 WAR season, appearing to be in decline.

    He does apparently know how to win the World Series, so there’s that

  47. I hope other teams tell the Braves to take a hike on their Miller demands, because I’d like to keep him.

  48. Dusty Baker has made more comments that go to African Americans (and Latins, this time) being more capable than whites. Paraphrasing “Teams need speed and you’ve got to get Latins or African Americans for that.”

    Just before that he took an off shoot on the MLB domestic violence policy to comment that he has a friend who is being abused by his wife and somebody ought to do something about that also.

  49. If teams agree to our price on Miller then we are getting top dollar and it’s the right time to move him.

  50. Looks like Tyler Flowers will be a Brave. The CBeth era looks to be coming to an end before it gets started.

  51. I don’t feel great about a Flowers/AJP platoon, but I don’t think there was a catcher that would sign for $3m AAV that could hit lefties like I wanted. But we are slowly but surely plugging the holes with acceptable short-term players that don’t block others, which I like.

    Bethancourt is only 24 years old. I think this will be his last year to get it together.

  52. Jayson Stark: “Teams that have talked to Braves about Shelby Miller say the price isn’t coming down. One exec guessed chance he’s dealt is 2 on scale of 10”

  53. Oh, thank God… I was starting to worry that I wouldn’t be able to watch Shelby Miller pitch for a 68 win team.

    Also, isn’t Bethancourt out of options?

  54. This just in, though no word yet on who the Braves get.

    Ken RosenthalVerified account
    Sources: #DBacks agree to acquire Shelby Miller from #Braves, pending a review of medical records.

    Buster Olney reporting that A.J. Pollock not included in trade.

  55. Finish last, why not? Between the Braves, Marlins & Phillies, this’ll all approximate the sound of your toilet flushing.

    BTW, Ben Zobrist to Cubs, 4 years, $56M.

    Cubs’ Starling Castro traded to Yankees for Adam Warren & Brendan Ryan.

  56. Joel Sherman reporting that Braves get Ender Inciarte and others for Miller.

    Nick Piecoro:
    Hearing from multiple sources Ender Inciarte, Aaron Blair and Dansby Swanson are involved in the Shelby Miller deal.

    Olney points out that Swanson was #1 pick of 2015 draft.

  57. What is an Ender Inciarte? And more importantly, what do you guys think we can trade him for?

  58. Inciarte is a very good defender who can play center and has a little upside. This is a great deal. Exactly what I wanted.

  59. Remember a few year’s back when the Braves had to either trade Delgado or Teheran to the Diamondbacks?

  60. Braves traded 1 year of Heyward for 1 year of Shelby Miller, 6 yrs of Tyrell Jenkins/Aaron Blair/#1 overall pick Swanson, 5 yrs of Inciarte.— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) December 9, 2015

    I think it’s very safe to say that the Braves won the Heyward trade.

  61. This is an amazing haul.

    Unless it’s like when we acquired Justin Upton and it was 30 min before we learned Prado was included. If we find out in 30 minutes that we had to include Albies, my opinion might change.

  62. Braves including a minor leaguer in the Miller trade as per Bowman.

    Edit @104: Ha. Albies for Swanson straight up – would you do it?

  63. @104 – I would. But I wouldnt trade Miller for Inciarte and Blair.

    Fwiw, dbacks beat guy reporting it’s Gabe Speier going back. We got him with Krol in the Maybin deal.

  64. I’m glad they stuck to their guns with regards to getting a premium young hitter for Miller. If they talked themselves into trading him for a couple of pitchers the way they did with Simmons, I would have been furious.

    I am curious as to when they plan to stop shuffling assets and start putting a team together, though.

  65. I’d point out that this deal doesn’t really work without moving Simmons for our #1 pitching prospect. It’s a process. Can we all step off the ledges, now?

  66. Holy crap, what a trade. This has single handedly flipped my outlook on the rebuild. Inciarte is an actual good player, right now, and Swanson is the kind of enthusiasm-inspiring potential star that the system has lacked. Fantastic!

    There should be a team policy of only ever trading with Dave Stewart.

    @109 Completely disagree with that. There’s zero reason for Andrelton to not be on the team when it’s good again.

  67. We can agree to disagree, Pete, but without the reemergence of Lucas Sims and the acquisition of Sean Newcomb to sow depth at the near-Major League level for starters, we can’t trade Miller nearly as easily.

  68. Well, we can thank Frank Wren for Sims. I’m not so sure yet about Newcomb, but he could be the best player in our system.

  69. Newcomb is way far off from the majors. He’s the best of a fleet of babies that are multiple years off at best. I agree about Sims though.

  70. @117, 114 – I don’t know much about the kid myself, but whoever wrote the MLB trade rumors article says Aaron Blair is possibly ready for the rotation this spring.

  71. Ender Inciarte
    engender wince, to start, he
    but batting two nine three
    we might assume we all agree.

  72. So let’s see. Opening day payroll is down to ~$80 million right now. Anybody want a right fielder?

  73. As a Vandy fan, I had what I thought was a pipe dream that Arizona would continue to under-value 1st round draft picks and trade us Swanson. Never thought it would actually happen though.

    I’ve watched him the past 3 years and met him briefly. Everybody knows he’s talented, but his leadership and off-field qualities are special too. Braves fans are gonna love him.

  74. Dansby Swanson
    spans few years for him no swansong
    slot valued then at eight point six
    can we afford to add him to our mix?

  75. So the lineup looks like:




    Perez/Banuelos/Jenkins/McKirahan? Gotta have a lefty somewhere

    The offense doesn’t have the second power bat, but it’s much deeper than in year’s past. Only one black hole left!

    Bench doesn’t have that go-to pinch hitter, but Swisher or Bourn giving days off

    Rotation will need at least two guys to really impress in Spring Training.

    Bullpen actually looks pretty good. Deep and the 7th through the 9th look pretty well covered. We definitely need a lefty though.

    I really like the direction they’re heading. I’m also liking having Bethancourt and Mallex Smith in AAA for the entire season. That should be really good for both of them. I wonder if there will be some sort of salary dump of Swisher or Bourn in some fashion. You have Toscano out there who now doesn’t have a roster spot, and I doubt they want to deprive him.

  76. This kid Blair is a top-100 prospect, too. MLB has him at number 61. This is pretty stunning. Are Dbacks fans apoplectic?

  77. I don’t think this trade validates the Andrelton trade — we’ll see what happens, but I imagine it’s Blair and not Newcomb who joins the rotation faster. Blair isn’t as exciting, though.

  78. Aaron Blair
    foreswearin’ wear and tear
    displays an arm untainted
    a happenstance with which we hardly are acquainted.

  79. Aaron Blair
    foreswearin’ wear and tear

    Internal rhyme like whoa.

    People need to realize that it’s not out of the question that Inciarte has just as productive a season next year as Shelby. These are the kinds of trades that teams need in order to make that leap.

  80. I’d like to go on record with the following sober and measured trade analysis: HOLY BALLS THAT WAS AMAZING!

  81. @127 Swanson wouldn’t’ve been surprising. They made a safe #1 pick and many would jump at the chance to convert him into an even safer current mid-rotation starter.

    Inciarte, Swanson, and Blair together is where it turns into a haul.

    @135 And for two years after Shelby’s a free agent

  82. their riband’s blue
    no deadweights too
    we always knew
    what they could do
    we can’t believe
    you’ve traded them to me.

    so JHey see
    the heads agree
    that year we lost
    comes back times three
    could we conceive
    that this was meant to be?

  83. If it was AJ Pollock for Miller, then I definitely like this trade much better.

    Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte is the core of the sort of deal I was expecting to see for Jose Fernandez, not Shelby Miller.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2015

  84. This could be our Tex trade. Our Herschall Walker moment.

    Hell I’m happy we have a CF that doesn’t suck ass. Ender was 5.3 WAR player last season. Well done heavily criticised FO.

  85. I’m not an expert on WAR, but Shelby was a 3.6 WAR player last year and Inciarte was at 5.3. Bourn has not been a 1+ WAR player in over 3 years. The Braves filled a huge area of need (CF) with talent at a position we are certain to not see a 4.3+ WAR difference at. It would seem that not only did the Braves improve their team in 2017 and beyond, they very well improved their team in 2016.

    This trade is already a win for the Braves now, but what if the Braves are right that Shelby is due for a regression?

  86. I just want to know if Swanson can help turn the Braves into men, the men into gladiators, and the gladiators into..


  87. I’m the first to criticize this FO, but holy damn, credit where it’s due. This is the biggest on-its-face heist I’ve seen this team pull since the 2013 trade to acquire JUpton.

  88. I’ve gotta say that after looking at this deal it’s hard not to be excited for a change. Inciarte is a .300 hitter and a good fielder and baserunner, Swanson is the 10th best prospect in baseball as a shortstop, Blair is the 61st best prospect and could be ready to join the rotation immediately! Definitely hard to find fault with this deal.

  89. Not that I would’ve made the deal, but inciarte for miller one up would’ve been a fair deal. So would Swanson for miller.

  90. And so we now have Arizona’s #14 overall pick from 2014 and their #1 pick from 2015. It’s almost like we had already been tanking for 2 years.

  91. @157 – And Blair was the 36th overall pick in 2013, compensation pick after the 1st round.

  92. I’d like to see a veteran starting pitcher added to the mix. I think Wisler will be ok, but see Norris as risky as well as Folty.

  93. There is no reason not to like this trade. This is a Coppy pattern now: a major league ready player plus the top two prospects in the system…only if we could have gotten more from th Simmons deal. Nevertheless, the Heyward deal is turning into a monster.

  94. @ 150

    I expect everyone to report to camp with one of three haircuts: high and tight, crew cut, or buzz cut.

  95. Just when I think you couldn’t get any dumber, you go and pull a stunt like this… And totally redeem yourself!

  96. Most analysts already had the Braves with a top 5 farm system. Will be interesting to see some of the rankings now. Top 3 at least I’d say. Maybe #1?

  97. First, this is great value for Shelby. Second, the opening season in WFF might feature a last place team. I think we’re now all in for 2018 and 2019.

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