Manny Hits Home Run Number 500

Not a bad weekend thus far for Boston sports fans.

Manny Ramirez hit the 500th home run of his career tonight in Baltimore. It was struck in the seventh inning, on the first pitch he saw from former teammate Chad Bradford. On NESN, Don Orsillo gave the call, and then he and Jerry Remy let the moment speak for itself.

Sean McAdam has an appreciation of Manny’s career and accomplishments on ESPN.com

Somewhere, Mike Adams was heard complaining that Manny watched the home run for too long and didn’t run the bases quickly enough.

Check the coverage as it is posted at RedSoxLinks.com

Celtics Return To Finals

The Celtics got the job done on the road last night, closing out the Detroit Pistons 89-81 in Auburn Hills Michigan. They now are in the NBA finals, where they will play their great rivals of the 1960’s and 1980’s, the Los Angeles Lakers.

I got chills just writing that.

In the early returns, I can already tell that the focus on this series from a national perspective is going to be much more on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers rather than on the Celtics. I think I’m ok with that. Just keep Bennett Salvatore away from the series, please.

Don’t believe me on the Lakers focus? Check out what the ESPN Experts are predicting:

ESPN Picks for the NBA Finals

Over on the BSMW Full Court Press, Matt Richardson has a look back at last night.

Though Bill Simmons doesn’t think the Celtics have a chance against the Lakers (HAS to be a reverse jinx attempt), the series should feature a less physical style of play than the six games Boston just went through with the Pistons. Ignoring Shaughnessy’s front page story in the Globe, I went to Bob Ryan first this morning. Steve Bulpett looks at Paul Pierce getting his chance to write his own chapter in Celtics championship history.

Globe columnist Kevin Cullen has an online-only piece on Boston.com about the Celtics getting back to the finals, and takes a look back at how the Celtics were the most progressive team in the 1960’s with regards to race.

Jeff Jacobs has the Celtics riding their defense to the finals. Jim Fenton credits the stirring fourth quarter rally by the Celtics. Rob Duca says that the Celtics earned this one.

Get the rest of your Celtics fix at CelticsLinks.com.

The Red Sox won in extra innings in Baltimore last night, check the coverage at RedSoxLinks.com.

They’re Back! The Friday Megalinks are Here!

Ken from Fang’s Bites here. After a week’s absence and the start of my massive computer problems, I give you the Friday megalinks. I appreciate your patience during this tough stretch for me. About another week and I should be back on track.

Let’s go over the viewing weekend before we get into the megalinks.

Weekend Viewing Picks

There are plenty of sporting events to watch to avoid taking your significant other to “Sex and the City”.

The NBA Playoffs potentially have the weekend off if the Celtics win at Detroit in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight. ESPN has tonight’s game at 8:30 p.m. If the Pistons win at home tonight, then Game 7 would be played Sunday night on ABC (WCVB, ABC6 and WMUR) at 8:30.

The Red Sox hope to right their travel woes in Baltimore this weekend. NESN has all of the games. Night games tonight and Saturday at 7. An afternoon game on Sunday at 1:30.

Fox has its usual slate of three MLB games on Saturday with Joe Torre returning to New York as his Dodgers take on the Mets, Atlanta travels to Cincinnati and the Detroit Tigers travel out west to take on Seattle. All games begin at 3:55 p.m. On Sunday, TBS carries Florida at Phialdelphia (1 p.m.), WGN has the Cubs hosting Colorado (2:10 p.m.) and the ESPN Sunday night game will be the Dodgers at the Mets (8 p.m.).

The Stanley Cup Finals are in full swing. NBC has Game 4 of the Detroit-Pittsburgh series Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tennis fans can watch the French Open on Tennis Channel and NBC this weekend. Tennis Channel has coverage starting at 5 a.m. with NBC starting up at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

NASCAR heads over to the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware and the Nationwide Series race, the Heluva Good! 200 will be on ESPN2 this Saturday at 3. Fox has its last race of the NASCAR season, the Sprint Cup Best Buy 400, Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

The Indy Car Series is in Wisconsin on ABC, Sunday at 4.

The PGA Tour continues without Tiger Woods as the Memorial Tournament will be on both the Golf Channel and CBS throughout the weekend.

NBC has the LPGA’s Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika Sorenstam at 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re a softball fan, the Women’s College World Series is on the ESPN family of networks from Oklahoma City.

ESPN 2 will have the Reebok Grand Prix track & field meet from New York Saturday night at 8.

And I would be remiss if I did not mention the primetime network TV debut of Mixed Martial Arts as Screamin’ Gus Johnson will call the Elite XC Xtreme Combat bout which will include Kimbo Slice on CBS, Saturday at 8 p.m.

Now to our links.

National

USA Today’s Michael Hiestand profiles Mary Carillo who is doing the French Open for ESPN and NBC as well as working for HBO and CBS.

Now, I’ll start our links in the South, go up the East Coast, then move across the country and into Canada. It’ll make sense when all is done.

South

From The State in Columbia, SC, Doug Nye says baseball fans won’t be able to watch the University of South Carolina’s quest to go to the College World Series this weekend.

Barry Jackson in the Miami Herald says CBS officials are having mixed emotions about showing Mixed Martial Arts.

Dave Darling of the Orlando Sentinel also writes about CBS’ first venture in the MMA arena.

Tom Jones of the St. Petersburg Times says the local NBC affiliate will be pre-empting tennis and LPGA action on Sunday because of a telethon.

David Barron in today’s Houston Chronicle writes that FSN Houston is ready to move to new headquarters in the downtown area.

Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram talks about some announcing musical chairs in the Texas Rangers’ TV and Radio booths as analyst Tom Grieve leaves temporarily due to medical reasons.

Mel Bracht of the Oklahoman talks with ESPN’s John Kruk who is saying he lobbied for the assignment to call the Women’s College World Series. Mel writes that ESPN is bullish about softball’s ratings. In his notebook, Mel discusses MMA moving to CBS. And Mel has his weekend viewing picks.

East and Mid-Atlantic

In the Boston Globe, Nancy Marrapese-Burrell writes about the annual Hot Dog Safari hosted by Eddie Andelman.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times talks with CBS’ Gus Johnson who will call Saturday’s Mixed Martial Arts event. And Sandomir says the NHL outrated the NBA in Detroit on Wednesday.

From the New York Post, Phil Mushnick says it took ESPN too long to fire Pittsburgh talk show host Mark Madden for his comments about Senator Ted Kennedy.

The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman did not like the Mets’ dog and pony show on Monday.

Newsday’s Neil Best also discusses the Mixed Martial Arts event on CBS. In his blog, Neil says the NBA’s ratings are soaring in this postseason. And Neil talks with Fox Sports’ Tim McCarver who’s enjoying doing a schedule of national MLB games.

The Baltimore Sun’s Ray Frager talks with Orioles’ radio voice Joe Angel.

West

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret (UT) Morning News says CBS is wrong to pick up MMA.

Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune says the Padres are not concerned that their TV ratings have slipped this season. And Jay has the ratings from last week in San Diego.

John Maffei of the North County Times also discusses the CBS/MMA telecast.

Over to the Ventura County Star where Jim Carlisle wonders what CBS was thinking when it signed to carry four MMA events.

In the Los Angeles Times, John Scheibe in the Sound and Vision column talks about TV covering Joe Torre’s return to New York with the Dodgers.

Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News talks about CBS and MMA. Tom also has his extensive media news and notes in his Farther Off the Wall blog. And just to make you sick, Tom has pictures of various celebrities attending the Spurs-Lakers game on Thursday.

John Ryan in the San Jose Mercury News says the MMA event on CBS could get ugly.

Midwest

George M. Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal writes that Browns left tackle Joe Thomas will be co-hosting a fishing show on STO.

Mike Zuidema of the Grand Rapids (MI) Press says MMA has hit the primetime.

Bob Wolfley in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that NBC is hoping for a star-studded French Open this year.

Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune says former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly is ready to hit ESPN with a big bang starting Sunday.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Judd Zulgad says the Timberwolves’ return to KFAN also means the return an adversarial relationship between the two parties.

Canada

William Houston of the Toronto Globe and Mail says Hockey Night in Canada’s dislike of Sidney Crosby is now bordering on the ridiculous.

Crash Cameron of the Edmonton Sun says legendary CBC NHL voice Bob Cole still has got game.

And Don Brennan of SLAM! Sports says despite his advanced age, Cole is not ready to leave the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast booth.

Blogs

From the Women’s Tennis Blog, there’s a great spread of Ana Ivanovic in Hello! Magazine.

Maury Brown from the Biz of Hockey blog says NBC saw a huge increase in the ratings for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals from last year.

In his sports marketing and public relations blog, Joe Favorito liked the way the Reebok Grand Prix track & field meet tried to get some pub.

CNBC’s Darren Rovell wonders if a meaningless last second shot in last night’s Spurs-Lakers game cost bettors some money.

The Sports Media Watch now with the Lakers in the NBA Finals, the league can be assured of good TV ratings.

That will do it. Enjoy your weekend.

Approval Ratings – Michael Felger

Michael Felger So is he a newspaper writer, radio personality or television host?

Felger holds all three roles at the moment, though his work at the Boston Herald has been scaled back considerably. He first joined the paper in 1989 and worked his way up to the Bruins beat where he served from 1997 to 1998 before being pulled off the beat after an incident involving the Bruins ownership. He was moved to the Patriots beat starting in 1999, and really started to make a name for himself as an early supporter of Bill Belichick’s decision to go with Tom Brady over Drew Bledsoe in 2001.

He became a regular on WEEI’s Big Show, as well as on WBZ’s Sports Final, where his battles with Globe writers Ron Borges and Nick Cafardo were appointment viewing for a time. In those battles Felger was viewed as a Patriots toady, and ironically, since that time he has pretty much done a complete 180 and is now among the team’s more outspoken critics.

In 2005, Felger jumped to the new 890 ESPN Boston where he was given his own drive-time show in competition to WEEI’s Big Show. In the last year he has also taken over as co-host of Mohegan Sun’s Sports Tonight on Comcast SportsNet, replacing Greg Dickerson, who moved to the role of sideline reporter for the Celtics broadcasts on the station.

Felger is originally from Milwaukee and a graduate of Boston University. He is married to former WBZ/WSBK news anchor Sara Underwood.

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Michael Felger Approval Ratings
Total Votes: 1990 Started: May 30, 2008 Back to Vote Screen

Celtics Look To Close Out Pistons

This week I had a chance to chat with NECN’s Mike Giardi on his blog as part of his “Personality Plus” feature at the Cable News Station’s website.

Even though I love computers and they’re how I make my living, sometimes they just don’t cooperate. This is one of those days.

The Celtics tonight have the opportunity to join the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals. Game six with the Detroit Pistons is on tap for tonight, and it will be the stiffest test the Celtics have had all season. The Pistons will be desperate, the crowd raucous.  Richard Hamilton is listed a questionable tonight with a strained elbow, but you know he’s going to play. For all the coverage from this morning’s papers, CelticsLinks.com is your best resource for keeping up with everything.

The Red Sox  are in Baltimore this weekend, where Manny Ramirez will try and hit home run number 500. The Sox have had their struggles on the road this season,  and in particular the bullpen has struggled. Those are the subjects of a number of articles that can be found on RedSoxLinks.com.

The Patriots continued their passing camp yesterday, and Bill Belichick talked a little Celtics with reporters.  Catch up on the offseason activities over on PatriotsLinks.com.

We’ll have approval ratings at noon, and if Ken Fang can get HIS computer struggles figured out, we’re hoping for some Friday megalink action later in the day.

Tomase – Whoops He Did It Again

From the Herald’s Point After blog today, which carries the byline of John Tomase:

Andrews was pulled over in Lowell on Feb. 5, just two days after the Super Bowl, with three pounds of pot and over $6,800 in cash.

On Boston.com’s Reiss’ Pieces, posted by Chris Gasper today:

Andrews was pulled over by police in Lowell on Feb. 5 and found to be in possession of a half pound of marijuana and $6,808, according to a police report.

Tomase is going to be in the spotlight going forward, and can’t afford mistakes of this sort.

Edit: Tomase’s post has been edited to read:

Andrews was pulled over in Lowell on Feb. 5, just two days after the Super Bowl, with three bags of pot totaling a half pound.

No note or explanation was given for the change. Sort of makes the title of his post, “Andrews admits his mistakes” a little ironic.

Approval Ratings – Don Orsillo

Don OrsilloAnnouncer boy is up next.

Don Orsillo is the play-by-play man on NESN’s Red Sox telecasts, he’s done most of the games starting in 2001, and has done all of the local non-national broadcast games since the 2005 season.

Orsillo’s first game was Hideo Nomo’s no hitter in Baltimore in 2001, and he received some criticism for what was perceived as a lackluster call of the final out. He’s gotten some practice on calling no-hitters since that time, and his performance is well received overall in most quarters.

Orsillo’s NESN.com bio lists out his past experience:

Orsillo got his start as a baseball play-by-play announcer for the Pittsfield Mets of the New York-Penn League during the 1991 and 1992 seasons. In 1993, Orsillo moved to Binghamton, N.Y., to do play-by-play radio and television for the Binghamton Mets of the Double-A Eastern League. While with Binghamton, he had the opportunity to serve as a commentator for the nationally syndicated 1994 Double-A All-Star Game.

During the 1991-1996 hockey seasons, Orsillo was the play-by-play radio and television voice for the Springfield Indians/Falcons. He hosted “Inside the Indians,” a weekly live television talk show and was the analyst for the 1994 AHL All-Star Game.

Orsillo was awarded a local Emmy in 2003 as Outstanding Sports Broadcaster and in 2005 was named the Massachusetts Sportscaster of the Year.

During the 2007 postseason, he called games for TBS on their national broadcasts.

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Don Orsillo Approval Ratings
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Celtics Hang On, Take Game 5

The Celtics had to hang on for dear life last night, but they did the job at the free throw line in the final minutes and closed out the Detroit Pistons 106-102 in last night’s game five of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Mark Murphy says it was a night of transformation at the Garden. Marc J. Spears has the Celtics hoping to avoid having to play a game seven on Sunday, while the Pistons are already counting on it. Mike Szostak has the Celtics able to hold off the furious fourth quarter comeback by the Pistons. Paul Doyle has the Celtics pulling out perhaps their most important victory of the season. Scott Souza has the Celtics able to sweat out a close one at the Garden. Bill Doyle has the big three coming up big in game five for the Celtics. Mike Fine has the Celtics one win away from the finals. Jeff Howe has the Celtics remaining flawless in the most important games.

On the BSMW Full Court Press Kevin Henkin says to remember the win and forget everything else.

Dan Shaughnessy calls last night “one of the more exciting playoff games in the New or Old Garden.” Bill Reynolds says that this one harks back to the glory days of the Bird era. Jeff Jacobs has Ray Allen proving to be the difference for the Celtics last night. Lenny Megliola says that these teams deserve each other and the intensity that they put into these games. Bill Burt says that will Ray Allen on track, it changes everything for the Celtics. Tim Weisberg says that the three was the key to game five.

Steve Bulpett has Kendrick Perkins setting the tone for the Celtics and leading the way on the boards. Monique Walker has Perkins taking center stage in the first half. Robert Lee has Perkins putting together an “unforgettable, career night.” Matt Langone has Perkins playing the game of his life last night.

Bob Ryan has Ray Allen looking a lot more like the Ray Allen of old last night. Tony Massarotti has Allen finding his stroke at just the right time for the Celtics. Jennifer Toland has more on Allen finding his stride at just the right time for the Celtics. Dan Ventura has Kevin Garnett coming up big last night for the Celtics. Michael Vega has Garnett hitting the clutch free throws which sealed the game for the Celtics.

Steve Buckley has Paul Pierce disappointed with how the Celtics let the Pistons back into the game in the fourth quarter after leading by as many as 17 points in the second half. Reynolds has the Celtics defending the home court, just as they needed to. Lee says that as Rajon Rondo goes, so go the Celtics. Szostak has the Celtics altering their defense on Antonio McDyess last night.

Buckley reports that Tony Allen injured himself in practice Tuesday afternoon, and his status for the rest of the postseason is up in the air. If the Celtics manage to advance to the finals and if they play the Lakers, the Celtics could be missing a key Kobe Bryant defender. Lee has more on how Allen’s 2008 season could be over right now. Jessica Camerato notes that the injury could be the end of Allen’s Celtics career.

Julian Benbow has Rasheed Wallace going off on the officiating. Massarotti says that Richard Hamilton is underrated. Ventura has Theo Ratliff grateful to be playing in big games once again. Toland look at how Ratliff played a small part in Celtics’ big deal last summer. Vega has a look at how Jason Maxiell, though undersized for a big man, has given the Pistons a huge lift off the bench with his energy.

Murphy’s notebook has Doc Rivers electing to put the Pistons on the line at the end of the game rather than allow them to shoot three pointers. The Globe notebook has more on the injury to Tony Allen. Szostak’s notebook has Ray Allen finding his shooting touch. Doyle’s notebook has the Lakers looking to get well rested for the finals by closing out the Spurs tonight. Burt’s notebook has the Celtics following the game plan.

Over in the Metro, I’ve got a look at why the change in media access to athletes isn’t a big deal to the reader.

Red Sox

Jeff Horrigan has the Red Sox bats silenced by Erik Bedard last night. Amalie Benjamin has the shutout leaving Tim Wakefield with no support on the night. Sean McAdam has more on the Sox bats going south out west. Jeff Goldberg notes that the road remains a tough place for the Sox.

Nick Cafardo says that even though Manny Ramirez is downplaying and even joking about his upcoming 500th home run, you can tell it really means a lot to him. Michael Silverman advises the Red Sox to rest Daisuke Matsuzaka and not let him push on through his fatigue. Horrigan has Daisuke Matsuzaka slated for an MRI tomorrow. McAdam has a more detailed report on Matsuzaka and what the Sox are doing with him. Silverman has Tim Wakefield taking the hard luck loss.

Horrigan’s notebook expects Kevin Youkilis to be back in the lineup tomorrow against the Orioles. Benjamin’s notebook has more on Matsuzaka’s scheduled MRI. McAdam’s notebook also reports that Youkilis should be back in the lineup tomorrow. Goldberg
s notebook
has more on the status of Dice-K.

Patriots

Karen Guregian has tight end David Thomas happy to be back on on the field for the Patriots and looking forward to playing again. David Heuschkel has more on Thomas hoping to bounce back from a lost season last year.

Mark Farinella has Matt Gutierrez doing his best to take advantage of any opportunity he gets. Shalise Manza Young also has Gutierrez hoping his hard work will pay off. Christopher L. Gasper has cornerback Mike Richardson hoping to make an impact this season.

Mike Reiss has new safety Tank Williams getting some work in at linebacker in passing camp yesterday. Christopher Price also has a look at the hard hitting Williams. Douglas Flynn has safety Ray Ventrone getting in work at wide receiver yesterday. Farinella has more on the Ray Ventrone Experiment.

Manny Hits Number 499 in Sox Loss

Daisuke Matsuzaka left the game after four innings in Seattle last night, for what is being described as “fatigue.” At the time, the Red Sox were trailing 3-0, and they tied it up in the sixth inning on a three run home run from Manny Ramirez, number 499 in his career. With the score tied in the ninth inning, Mike Timlin gave up the winning run to the Mariners in a 4-3 Red Sox defeat.

Amalie Benjamin says that Matsuzaka will be examined further today. Jeff Horrigan has more on an eventful night in Seattle, which also included Terry Francona and Julio Lugo getting ejected. Jeff Goldberg has Ichiro proving to be a thorn in the Red Sox side all night. David Willis has former Sox outfielder Rick Miller taking over the Nashua Pride. Joe Haggerty says that the Red Sox have options available in the starting rotation.

Michael Silverman looks at the Red Sox dominating the All Star voting, and with the game to be held at Yankee Stadium, that fact is getting some notice. Sean McAdam looks at why the Red Sox haven’t followed the current trend in baseball and signed their young stars to long term deals. Nick Cafardo looks at how important Dick-K has been to the Sox this year, and why they need him healthy. Silverman also looks at the shoulder fatigue which got Dice-K pulled last night. McAdam looks at Boston’s issues with umpire Angel Hernandez.

Horrigan’s notebook has Kevin Youkilis resting his hand another night. Benjamin’s notebook has more on the All Star voting. McAdam’s Journal has more on the events last night in Seattle.

Celtics

Steve Bulpett says that the Celtics need to keep it simple and move the ball on the Pistons. Christopher L. Gasper has Paul Pierce delivering a strong message to his teammates at practice yesterday. Bill Burt says that the season will not be tarnished if the Celtics lose this series, or the next. Scott Souza says that the Celtics need to be the aggressors in game five.

Tony Massarotti has the Celtics going into a huge swing game tonight. Dan Shaughnessy says that Kevin Garnett needs to prove he is more than just a “Timberwolf for life.” Lenny Megliola says that the Celtics can’t afford another home loss. Mike Szostak has the Celtics split personality holding them back in the postseason.

Steve Buckley says that Celtics fans should forget game four, be happy the club won game three, and look ahead to gave five. Glen Farley looks at the Celtics going into a third straight game five with the series tied. Mark Murphy has P.J. Brown finally feeling fully a part of the team, and just in time. Jeff Howe looks at Garnett’s manic fervor.

Massarotti’s notebook has the Celtics trying to figure out what to do with Antonio McDyess. Julian Benbow’s notebook has things heating up in game four…literally. Farley’s notebook says that the Celtics need a big performance from the big three. Szostak’s notebook has more on the captain’s message to his team.

Other

Karen Guregian has a piece on new Patriots linebacker Victor Hobson. Mark Farinella does some spring cleaning.

…and yes, I am aware of the post by Mike Florio over the weekend which seemed to lift many elements from my Spygate post. While I’m by no means claiming exclusivity on the material in my post, its clear to me where Floria got HIS material. As someone who has protested in the past about larger sites taking his material, It would have been nice had Florio not done what he complains about and instead just acknolwedged where he got the information from.

Approval Ratings – Dan Shaughnessy

Dan ShaughnessyYes, the day is finally here.

The Boston Globe clearly considers Dan Shaughnessy the star of its sports department, putting the columnist front and center whenever a big sports event is catching the attention of even the most casual of sports fans. Shaughnessy gets the call for all the front page stories during the baseball postseason, and even now with football and basketball. He is used by the paper to be the voice of Boston sports.

Shaughnessy grew up in Groton, and is a graduate of Holy Cross. He started his professional career with the Baltimore Sun in the late 1970’s, serving as Orioles beat writer. He moved on to the Globe in 1981, where he covered the beat for the Red Sox and Celtics before moving to the columnist role. He is a seven time Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year, and eight times he has been selected as one of Americas top-ten sports columnists by Associated Press Sports Editors.

Shaughnessy’s feud with Curt Schilling has been well documented, and as has his role in the (short lived) resignation of Red Sox GM Theo Epstein following the 2005 season. His formulaic columns, ripjobs and contrarian opinions have earned him the title of The Most Hated Man in Boston, though I have a feeling he’s not as hated by the average fan as we might think he is. His work has inspired his own watchdog blog, the entertaining Dan Shaughnessy Watch.

He is a frequent guest on national sports shows such a Jim Rome, and is a frequent guest on stations all across the country.

Shaughnessy has written at least 11 books, including The Curse of the Bambino, The Legend of the Curse of the Bambino and Reversing the Curse: Inside the 2004 Boston Red Sox. Other credits include Senior Year: A Father, A Son, and High School Baseball and Ever Green The Boston Celtics: A History in the Words of Their Players, Coaches, Fans and Foes, from 1946 to the Present.

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Dan Shaughnessy Approval Ratings
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