Oswalt Brightens a Gloomy Day

On a wet and gray afternoon on Monday, July 17th, Corey Oswalt was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Binghamton Baseball Boosters. He chatted with the members for approximately twenty minutes as the group gathered under the right field party deck at NYSEG Stadium, which shielded them from the rain that eventually cancelled the doubleheader scheduled that evening.

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Oswalt chats with the Binghamton Baseball Boosters during the July general membership meeting. 

Oswalt was drafted in the seventh round of the 2012 amateur draft out of Madison High School in San Diego, where he starred as a shortstop. During his senior year he pitched about 20 innings so that he could show his potential as a pitcher and increase his prospects of being a high draft pick. Though he had only that limited experience as a pitcher, the Mets saw promise in his arm strength. After drafting him, the Mets converted Oswalt to a full-time pitcher and assigned him to the Kingsport Mets, a short-season rookie team in the Appalachian League. Oswalt got off to a rocky professional start, compiling an 8.15 E.R.A. while pitching 35 innings. Since that rocky start, however, Oswalt’s rise through the minors has been steadfast and he has found success at such stops at Brooklyn, Savannah, and St. Lucie. Last fall Oswalt showed he was ready for Double-A baseball by having an impressive Arizona Fall League debut, where he went 4-1 with a 3.31 E.R.A.

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Oswalt’s goal is to pitch in the Major Leagues; his performance this year for the Rumble Ponies has put him on the radar screen of the Mets’ front office. 

Oswalt is enjoying a breakout year with the Rumble Ponies, going 7-3 with a superlative 2.31 E.R.A. He has teamed with PJ Conlon and Chris Flexen to form a formidable starting rotation for the Ponies.  Oswalt and Conlon were both selected to the pitching staff of the Eastern Division for the Eastern League All Star game and Oswalt threw a shutout inning as the starter.

Regarding his time as a shortstop before he became a professional, Oswalt was objective. “I miss playing shortstop today, I liked being part of the action for every game, every play. But my baseball advisor thought I could enhance my draft position by also pitching a little during my senior year, as my arm strength has always been my strongest asset as a baseball player.” Oswalt still likes to swing the bat and his two home runs this year show he still has some talent in the batter’s box.

“When I come up to hit I know the pitcher is probably going to throw me fastballs early in the count,” Oswalt explained to the boosters when he was asked about his success at the plate. “So I look for the fastball and am ready to put a good sing on it,” he concluded. Oswalt also takes a cerebral approach to the game when he is on the pitcher’s mound. “A lot of times I’ll decide on what to throw by reading the batter’s swing, he stated. “If I have a batter reaching for the outside breaking ball, I know I can follow up with an inside fastball.”

One of the biggest differences Oswalt has noticed from St. Lucie is that the hitters miss fewer mistakes in the Eastern League. Oswalt’s assessment of the batters in the Eastern League echoes the earlier comments of such former Binghamton players as David Roseboom, Logan Verrett, and Mike Fulmer, who warned of more sophisticated hitters at Double-A when they spoke with the boosters in prior seasons. Oswalt cautioned, “If you miss up in the zone in this league, the hitters will make you pay for it, whereas in Single-A they might only foul off a mistake.” Regarding the umpires in the league, Oswalt noted the hubris of umpires, as well as drawing laughs from his audience when he stated “All the umpires here think they should be in the big leagues!” Oswalt explained that the strike zone is narrower here, as pitches that are off the plate are not called strikes as much as they are in the lower levels of minor league ball.

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Oswalt delivers the ball from a 3/4 arm slot during a recent game at NYSEG Stadium. 

When Oswalt has a few hours of spare time, he likes to check out the eating places of Binghamton and he is especially partial to visiting Wegman’s. “I love Wegman’s,” he exhorted when he asked about what he likes about Binghamton. Though an avid golfer, Oswalt has not taken advantage of any of the numerous golf courses in the area, as he prefers not to play during the season, shielding himself from an injury risk and preserving his energy.

On the mound Oswalt pitches off his fastball and relies on keeping the ball low in the zone; he is known more for his command than his strikeout artistry. In 81 innings this year, he has struck out 69 and only walked 26. His three best pitchers are his fastball, curve, and slider. Oswalt is looking forward to finishing the year in strong fashion and seeing the Rumble Ponies make the playoffs in their first year of existence.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the boosters gave Oswalt a round of applause and Gary Kaiser bid farewell to Oswalt by calling out, “See you in Citi Field.” If Oswalt continues to pitch as well as he has in the first half of the season, he will no doubt follow in the footsteps of such former guest speakers for the boosters as Michael Fulmer, Brandon Nimmo, Paul Sewald, and Logan Verrett.

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Nimmo Smiles, Collins Chats, and Harvey Hustles While the Boosters Enjoy Themselves at Citi Field

by Jim Maggiore

During a backstage tour of Citi Field before the Mets took a 13-4 drubbing at the hands of the Colorado Rockies on Sunday, July 17th, the Binghamton Baseball Boosters were treated to a surprise when outfielder Brandon Nimmo greeted the group inside the stadium, just outside the Mets clubhouse. Nimmo greeted each person with a huge smile and a firm handshake as they entered a small foyer nestled close to the Gil Hodges entrance.

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Brandon Nimmo greets the clubhouse in a room a few feet away from the clubhouse doors. 

Nimmo recalled his time in Binghamton with a warm smile, stating “That was great to win the championship, a lot of the guys from that team are here now.” Indeed, most members of the group could name the current New York Mets who were part of that 2014 Eastern League Championship team besides Nimmo: T.J. Rivera, Chasen Bradford, Steven Matz, and Matt Reynolds. Nimmo got a kick out of seeing the changes made at NYSEG Stadium, as Booster President Kevin Healy showed Nimmo pictures of the batting cage and enhanced right-field seating area from his cell phone.

During his chat with the boosters, Nimmo gave a brief medical lesson as he explained why he was on the disabled list with a partially collapsed lung. “It sounds more serious than what it was. Actually, what I had was a technically called a ‘bleb.’  The doctors told me it was like having a blister on your lung that pops. When it popped, air escaped into my chest cavity and depressed the lung a bit.” When asked what symptoms he had, Nimmo said he only felt some tightness in the chest and his side hurt a little when he leaned on his left side. “I was surprised it was a partially collapsed lung, but it feels fine now and they told me the condition often happens in young males who are active. There is no known cause for it; but it just heals itself and I feel really good now,” Nimmo concluded.

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Nimmo poses with members of the Binghamton Baseball Boosters.

Nimmo’s humility and concern for the group was on display throughout the session. When asked what was his secret for his success as a pinch hitter, Nimmo was about to reply when another member came up to him and asked for a picture to be taken. Nimmo smiled and dutifully posed for the picture. After the photo was taken, Nimmo picked up his answer to the posed question, needing no prodding. Regarding his pinch hitting prowess, he simply retorted, “Just luck. You try to stay ready for whenever they need you and I’ve been fortunate so far.”

Nimmo gave a hearty laugh when a member shouted out that the new batting cages at Binghamton make it a great place for a rehab assignment; he went on to explain that he hopes to return to active duty very soon, as he is the only left-handed pinch hitter off the bench. Eager to return to the active roster, Nimmo gave no hint of needing a rehab assignment to stay sharp.

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Kevin Healy, right, shows Nimmo the changes at NYSEG Stadium via pictures on his cell phone. 

About midway through the session, around 11:20 or so, a young man with a closely cropped beard and wearing sunglasses made his way through the room, politely saying “excuse me” as he made his way through the crowded room. As Nimmo held court, the dark haired young man darted to his right, exiting through an open door that led to the hallway. The young man’s quick walkthrough the group provided an added treat for the boosters, as he was Matt Harvey, making is way to the clubhouse doors, which were only a few feet away. “I didn’t realize it was Harvey until he was past me,” noted Marie Terry. “He was so polite, excusing himself as he hurried off.”

After meeting with Nimmo, the group continued with its tour; from the DELTA room the group got a unique view of Lucas Duda and Matt Reynolds taking indoor batting practice, as the Delta Club overlooks the indoor batting cage. After the Delta Club, the group got a great view of downtown Manhattan from the Foxwoods room. At the beginning of the tour, the group also captured a glimpse of broadcaster Gary Cohen, who was hustling from a pre-game conference to finish his pre-game preparation. Another treat was catching manager Terry Collins being interviewed in a room off the clubhouse as the group passed by the clubhouse doors.

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The security guard called out “No pictues here” a second too late for this picture to be taken as Terry Collins sits for a pre-game interview. 

Though the Mets got clobbered on the field, the Binghamton Baseball Boosters felt they were winners by having their day at Citi Field. Thanks goes to John Hughes, owner of the Rumble Ponies, who arranged for the group to have its “backstage” tour.

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Charlie Blackmon, shown here making a great catch, had a stellar day, as he also hit a home run to spark the Rockies in a rout of the Mets on this day. 

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From the Beach Bums to the Rumble Ponies, Delgado Focuses on Keeping Mound Mistakes to a Minimum

Casey Delgado, who is in his second tour of duty with Binghamton, was the featured speaker at the June monthly meeting of the Binghamton Baseball Boosters. The meeting took place in the Terraced Seating area at NYSEG Stadium before the Rumble Ponies beat the Bowie Baysox, 7-2, on Tuesday, June 20th.

 

Delgado came to the Mets organization in an unorthodox fashion as, after pitching and graduating from  Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, he pitched for two years in the Frontier League, an independent baseball league. After posting a 1.15 E.R.A. for the, and I kid you not, the Traverse City Beach Bums, at the start of the Frontier League season in 2015, Casey signed with the Mets and went on to win 8 games for Savannah, the low Class-A team for the Mets. In 2016 Casey split his time between St. Lucie and Binghamton, winning 12 games for the season. This year Casey has been in the starting rotation all year for the Ponies and is 4-4.

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Delgado chats with the Boosters about two hours before the first pitch on June 20th.

“We basically lived out of our bus,” Delgado explained about his first year of play in the Frontier League in 2013, where he played for the Frontier Greys. “We played away games every game, just going hotel to hotel, it was kinda crazy.” In 2014, his second season in the Frontier League, Delgado played for the Traverse City Beach Bums, where he posted a 3.25 E.R.A. in 116 innings. Early in the 2015 season, as Delgado started his second season with Traverse, the Mets bought his contract and assigned him to Savannah.

Delgado’s pitching repertoire includes a fastball, sinker, curve and changeup. He throws both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, with his fastball sitting in the 89-90 mph range. His bread-and-butter pitch is his sinker. When asked what the biggest adjustment to Double-A baseball has been, Delgado explained “The hitters don’t miss your mistakes up here. I’ve had to improve my command because the hitters here do not miss your misses.”   As for living in Binghamton, Delgado has enjoyed his time in the area and likes the small-town ambience. “I really like it here. It’s a great place to live. You know, I grew up in Miami, so for example when they talk about crime here, I smile to myself because this area has no crime at all compared to where I grew up.”

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Casey loves wearing his Rumble Pony gear. 

Delgado comes from a baseball playing family, as his three brothers have all played the sport at one point or another. His younger brother, Riley, a shortstop, was drafted by the Braves in the 9th round in this year’s amateur draft and has been assigned to the Danville Braves in the Appalachian League. One of his other brothers is serving as a volunteer coach for the Huntsville College team. Another one of his brothers played high school baseball before going to the Air Force Academy and becoming a pilot. His youngest brother is playing high school ball. When Casey is not on the diamond, he likes to spend time on the golf course as well has hang out with his fiancé. Delgado, who turned 27 on June 15th, spent his off day Monday (June 20th) in Philadelphia with his fiancé as they got in some sightseeing for a day. When he is out and about in the city, Casey likes to get a bite to eat at Thai Time on Front Street.

Notes: President Kevin Healy also addressed the Boosters. He announced that the Boosters picnic with the players was rescheduled to July 2nd; the picnic was rained out from its original  June 18th  date. Kevin pointed out attendees can pay at the “door.”  He also asked the Boosters to “hold the date” for June 30th, for a special announcement by the Rumble Ponies.  Everyone is invited to attend the announcement; more information (via E-MAIL) will follow in the next week.

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President Healy addresses the Boosters while the grounds crew gets the field ready in the background. 

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The Ponies Love Their Road Trip Packages

One of the things that the Binghamton Baseball Booster Club provides throughout the season for the Rumble Ponies is a road trip snack package. Before every road trip, the boosters take a trip to a local grocery so the players will have snacks to munch on during their bus rides to various cities from NYSEG Stadium.

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Here’s the shopping cart for the road trip snacks for a recent bus trip of the Rumble Ponies. 

Typically the road trip packages include fruit (apples, bananas, clementines) and sweets (cookies, brownies, fruit snacks, etc.). A road trip package is done for every road trip during the season, which usually numbers 13 trips. Each road trip package costs approximately $60.00 to put together–that’s about 80% of the membership dues we collect every year. So all Binghamton Baseball Boosters, take a tip of the hat, for it’s your membership dues that directly enables the boosters to provide the Rumble Ponies with these snacks!

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Feedback from the players is solicited from each trip during the season.

Of course the boosters also do a variety of other activities, such as provide monthly player meals for the players, sponsor monthly membership meetings with light snacks (and a player as a guest speaker), and award gift certificates to players who are selected as Player of the Month. The fund-rasing activities of the boosters are what enables the boosters to continue these activities–so again, thanks for your support with our fund-raising efforts!

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Al Downing, former Triplet and New York Yankee,  threw out the game’s first pitch on June 7th. There weren’t any road trip snacks for him and his teamates in 1961, when Downing starred at Johnson Field. He went 9-1 and was called up to the Yankees in July.

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Picnic with the Ponies!

by Kevin Healy, President of the Binghamton Baseball Boosters

That’s right.  Enjoy a leisurely old-fashioned picnic with your favorite Rumble Ponies players!

On SUNDAY JUNE 4th right after the 1:05 game with the Portland Sea Dogs, we will meet in the Left Field Picnic Pavilion to enjoy Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Speidies and even Brautwurst and Brisket!  Beer, Lemonade, Ice Tea and Water will also be available.

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Colton  Plaia (back center) holds court with family, friends, and teammates at last year’s picnic.

All this for just $15 for BBBC Members ($20 for non-members) and can be easily paid by sending a check made out to the Binghamton Mets Booster Club (our dba is still pending) and sent to  PO Box 598, Binghamton, NY 13905. Or, you can pay your membership renewal, Citi Field Trip and/or this picnic at our Booster Club Table on Friday May 26th and May 27th.  All picnic payments can be handled by Vince Fiacco or Jeff Smith – if you miss the table dates.

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President Kevin Healy had door prizes for both fans and players at last year’s picnic.

This is a great way to get to know your Rumble Ponies players a little bit better; get autographs; and ask a few questions about the player.

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Fans have plenty of time to mingle with the players at every picnic. (That’s Josh Zeid and Logan Taylor sitting and facing the camera).

Reserve your spot now! For more information or questions, send an e-mail to bboosters17@gmail.com, or contact the boosters on Facebook (“Binghamton Baseball Boosters”).

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Boosters Make History with Two Guest Speakers for the May 2017 Meeting

On Tuesday, May 16th, the Binghamton Baseball Booster Club welcomed two guest speakers at a membership meeting for the first time in its history. Catcher Colton Plaia and Rumble Pony owner John Hughes addressed the 30 or so members at the meeting, which was held on the Party Deck at NYSEG Stadium. The meeting’s agenda also included President Kevin Healy, who gave an update on the various activities of the Booster club, along with a financial report from treasurer Vince Fiacco.

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Catcher Colton Plaia addresses the Binghamton Baseball Boosters.

Colton Plaia, a 15th round draft pick of the New York Mets out of Loyola University in the 2013 amateur draft, is back in Binghamton for his second season. Last year he hit .236 with one home run as he backed up Xorge Carrillo, who played in Binghamton for 3 years. “Last year Xorge, being a veteran and everything, was a leader in the clubhouse and was a great help to me,” Plaia told the Boosters. “This year I came into the season hoping to follow in his footsteps and help my pitchers develop and also serve as a clubhouse leader.”

This marks Colton’s third season playing for Rumble Pony manager Luis Rojas, who was his manager in Savannah in 2014 and St. Lucie in 2015. “Playing for both Rojas and Pedro Lopez has been a great experience,” Plaia stated. When asked if he had to make any adjustment in playing for Lopez, Colton mentioned that the two managerial styles are different, but both successful. “Luis is more of hands-on manager, he gets involved a little more than Pedro did.”

Colton is an admitted “foodie,” and he was quick to name a variety of restaurants he enjoys when he is not at the stadium. He mentioned he enjoyed the wings at the Old Union Hotel and he liked the tacos at The Garage. The Colonial has also been a popular spot for him and his teammates. He and his fiancé (Colton will be getting hitched this November) have also visited some neighboring sites on his infrequent off-days, including such venues as Watkins Glen and local parks. Colton’s face broke into a big smile when he told the crowd that he and his fiancé took a day to ride all the carousels last year. “One of the carousels was closed, so technically we only rode 5 of them but we got our pin for completing the circuit,” beamed Plaia. When asked if he had made it to Cooperstown yet, Colton’s face broke into a wistful smile. “No, I haven’t made it there yet. All of my friends and family who have come to see me play have made it up there to visit, but I have yet to get there.” Plaia went on to say that he should have taken advantage of the team’s off day on Monday to visit Cooperstown.

After the boosters gave Plaia a warm sendoff with their hands clapping, they took a short break to get some chicken fingers, fries, onion rings, and hot dogs that were provided by the Rumble Ponies. While the boosters ate their finger food, John Hughes addressed the gathering. “I want to thank you for your great support of baseball in Binghamton,” stated Hughes as he began his comments. “We’ve been busy doing plenty of updates as you see before you,” expanded Hughes as he waved his arm toward the right –field entrance and batting cages, “and we still have lots more to do.”

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John Hughes on baseball in Binghamton: “It’s Here to Stay and Thrive.”

Hughes mentioned it was a fulfilling experience to rebrand the team and update the stadium. He pointed out that ESPN will be showing a documentary about the rebranding trend throughout the minor leagues during this year’s baseball All-Star break. “Binghamton is featured in the documentary. ESPN visited the area numerous times to capture our story.” Hughes grew animated and his voice grew in excitement as he continued discussing the ESPN efforts. “Jeremy Schapp conducted lots of interviews and we had support from the City of Binghamton. The city opened the carousels during the winter so ESPN could film us riding the horses. They interviewed numerous people about the rebranding and we’re all looking forward to seeing it later this season.”

Hughes emphasized that baseball is here to stay in Binghamton. “I know everyone always talks about attendance and wants to say we’re always at the bottom of the Eastern League, but in my eyes we’re doing fine,” Hughes stated. “Richmond has 1.2 million people, Harford has a metropolitan area of 1.8 million people, so to compare our attendance with theirs doesn’t tell the whole story. We have approximately 250,000 in our target area and last year we drew 190 thousand people. That’s a pretty good ratio in my book,” noted Hughes. Hughes emphasized he is far from done, as more enhancements are being planned. He even gave a teaser to the boosters, as he noted “In the near future, I’ll be coming to the boosters and asking for help as hopefully we’ll have something to announce within the next week or two. Right now I can’t share any details, but we’re looking forward to some great things ahead.”

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The Boosters munch with their fingers while waiting for Hughes to address the gathering.

Important Dates for the Boosters: Boosters will greet fans at a concourse table up to the first pitch of the game on 5/26, 5/27, 6/2, 6/3, 6/16, and 6/17. Player of the Month awards will be given out on 6/8, 7/17, 8/10, and 9/3. Membership meetings are 6/20, 7/17, and 8/21 at NYSEG Stadium.

 

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Nido Hopes to Replicate Florida League Success with the Rumble Ponies

Tomas Nido, catcher for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and a native of Puerto Rico, helped the Binghamton Baseball Boosters kick off its 2017 season by being the featured speaker at the organization’s first meeting of the year on Monday, April 17th. The meeting ran from 4:30-5:30 and was held along the left field seating area at NYSEG Stadium, with approximately 30 members in attendance. During the business portion of the meeting signups for the July 16th bus trip to see the Mets take on the Colorado Rockies were taken, along with membership renewals.

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Toma Nido chatted with the Boosters  at the new terraced seating area on April 17th.

Booster members were happy to have Tomas Nido be the guest speaker; Nido had an outstanding year in 2016 for the Port St. Lucie Mets, leading the Florida State League with a .320 batting average. His outstanding year last season has moved him up on the Mets prospect lists, as just about all organizational rankings have him ranked as one of the top 30 prospects in the Met organization.

Nido went on to explain that he’s looking forward to the season and added that Binghamton seems like a great place to live. He was focused on talking baseball and politely refrained from answering some basic non-baseball questions. When booster member Marie Terry asked him where he was living, Nido gave an impish smile and stated, “I can’t tell you.” Shortly after, when Marie followed up by asking him how old he was, Nido also denied answering the question, offering Marie a small smile instead.

In a response to a question from the audience about his style of play, however, Nido answered eagerly.  “I am aggressive, both at the plate and behind it. I will not hesitate to throw to a base to pick off a runner and I take pride in my ability to throw out a runner. At the plate, I want to attack the ball.”   Nido spoke in a confident tone and between smiles offered, “I also have good power to the opposite field.”

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Nido displays his slightly open stance as he awaits a pitch on April 30th. 

Nido was part of the big league camp during spring training this season and he relished the opportunity to catch the pitchers on the big league club. In discussing his spring training experience, Nido refrained from ranking the Mets pitchers, but offered that catching the starting staff was fun. “They’re (Syndergaard, deGrom, Harvey, Matz, Wheeler, etc.) all excellent in their own right.”

Currently Nido is splitting time behind the plate with returning catcher Colton Plaia. Though Nido is off to a slow start, hitting .132 in his first 38 at-bats, he is confident things will fall into place.   “I look forward to playing at Citi Field sometime in the future and Binghamton is one step along the way,” offered Nido.  Regarding his thoughts on splitting time with Plaia, Nido showed that his maturity level is as high as he hopes to see his batting average reach when he stated “I leave it up to the manger to decide when I play. He’s the boss. I play when he says I play.”

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