Results tagged ‘ Eric Bruntlett ’

As The Weather Turns

The Phillies took on the Atlanta Braves today in Orlando and won, 7-3.  As for me, I was taking the day off from baseball and the crappy weather today…not to mention skipping the 2 hour drive to Orlando.  Instead of sitting in the rain, I decided to go scuba diving with sharks and other critters at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.  In the video, you will see a lady behind me with a big stick shooing the sharks away as they got too close.  The other guy is the dive master – his job was to rescue me should something try to make dinner out of me :O)  Happy to say, I still have all my fingers and toes.  There were reef sharks, white tips, sand sharks, nurse sharks and others…check it out:

So while I was off tempting fate, the Phillies were braving the nasty weather.  It was cold, windy and rainy today, yet the Fightin’s prevailed.  Marcus Giles stole the show with 2 hits, 2 steals and 1 RBI; Eric Bruntlett collected 2 hits as well and swiped one bag. 

The real fun though was the battle for the 5th starter position which continued today when Chan Ho Park took the mound for 3 innings.  Park gave up 4 hits and a solo homer, leaving with a 3.0 ERA and he got the win.  Tomorrow both JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco will get their next turn at making a good impression. 

A few injuries on the home front:  Jayson Werth has not played yet in Spring Training due to what he says was a slow start after a less than productive off-season.  Is that a nice way of saying he sat on his butt and ate Ben & Jerry’s for 3 months?  Hmmm…  Werth is scheduled to start tomorrow; we will see how it goes.  I’ll be on the lookout for love handles :O)  Brad Lidge and Chad Durbin are also in a holding pattern; Lidge has a sore shoulder and Durbin has a sore right hamstring.  I am guessing this is baseball related, not ice cream related.  Then again, fill up that spoon and lift…it can be quite tasking.

See you in Dunedin tomorrow; game time 1:05pm vs. the Toronto Blue Jays.

 

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Spring Training Games Begin In Controversy

Today’s first Spring Training game got off to a rather odd start; while the players were stretching on the field before the game, suddenly, almost all of the Phillies broke out in applause, mid-stretch.  Everyone looked around to see what the fuss was about and then noticed Jimmy Rollins running on to the field – late.  The applause was to congratulate J-Roll on actually showing up.  He was in such a rush to get onto the field, he had forgotten to remove the bling from his ears; realizing this, J-Roll removed the earrings and stuffed them in his pocket.  Rollins began to stretch and Charlie Manuel strode over to confront Rollins.  J-Roll pointed to the nearby highway and tried to explain his tardiness.  Manuel, looking less than pleased, must have been having bad flashbacks to last season when Rollins was benched for being  late.  After Manuel finished scolding Rollins, Ryan Howard attempted to comfort his buddy:

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Rollins was not benched after the incident, but there may be fall-out later for him to deal with.  I will keep you posted.  And on to the game:

The Good

- Jamie Moyer continues to age in reverse; he pitched 2 strong, scoreless innings and chased after a foul ball like an 11 year-old kid on the playground, which brought cheers from the crowd.

- Raul Ibanez got his first pre-season hit as a Phillie.

- Mike Koplove pitched well; could he be a piece to the bullpen?  That remains to be seen.

The Bad

Minor league pitcher Joe Bisenius was all over the strike zone; his wildness cost the Phillies 4 runs in one inning and led to the 8-2 loss; Scott Nestor was no better, allowing 3 runs in one inning.  It does not look like either pitcher will be seeing time in the majors in the near future.

The Ugly

The first two innings for the Phillies batters seemed to echo ghosts of dysfunctional innings of the past; It began with J-Roll popping out, Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard striking out and Eric Bruntlett hitting into a double play with one out and the bases loaded.

Below, you will see Moyer pitching, Howard striking out and JJ Furmaniak trying to pick off a runner:

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The Weird

Birds!  Like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, birds swarmed the Pirates stadium, with many of them hanging out in the outfield during the game.  Greg Dobbs nearly lost his head:P2253560.JPG

Poor guy.  Happy to report, aside from the possibly birdy bomb, no one was seriously injured.  Tomorrow the Phillies take on the Blue Jays for the first home game of Spring Training.  Game time is 1:05pm.

 

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Tales From The Strange Side…

Pajama Party

The highlight of today’s final Spring Training practice came when the players dressed in front of the crowd.  Each fielder donned a black or blue pair of Slip-N-Slide-type nylon pants and tossed their cleats aside, wandering about in only their red socks.  It looked like they were all wearing footy pajamas and having a sleep-over.  Here is a look featuring Eric Bruntlett pulling up his pants:

The outfits, as it turns out, were part of a base sliding drill.  Interesting as it was to see them sliding around, the socks and baggy pants were the real entertainment.

Utley’s Rehab

Prior to the sliding drill, players worked with Davey Lopes on base running techniques, running from home to 3rd, 1st to 2nd, 1st to 3rd, etc…  Chase Utley participated in the runs at full speed and looked very comfortable.  He is turning corners without hesitation, running through the bases and seems to have gotten most of his flexibility back.  Good news for Phillies fans!

Photo Highlights

Utley and the rest if the group were in high spirits again; here are a few highlights from the day during batting practice and fielding with Utley, Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard:

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And a few shots of the pitchers; Chan Ho Park, Chad Durbin and Brett Myers, who appears to be measuring something??  You decide:

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A Tall Tale?

Speaking of Utley, I received some information today from a fellow fan about the “World F*@ Champions” debacle after the World Series parade.  Keep in mind that this is third party information and not confirmed; according to fan accounts, Pat Burrell has been sharing his Parade tale while at Rays camp with anyone who cares to listen.  Rumor has it, Pat told fans that prior to the Parade speeches, Utley asked him if he thought he should let the F-Bomb fly or not.  Utley was under the impression that it would not be live TV and tried to confirm that through Burrell.  Burrell claimed ignorance, and the fun ensued.  If you watch the tape back, you will see that right before Utley blurted out the cuss word, it appears that he turned and looked directly at Pat Burrell.  True or not, I cannot be positive; but either way, an interesting story.  Utley is the only one who really knows what happened.  I do still think it was very funny, whether planned or not :O)  Anyway, this one will get filed with the myth of the Chupacabra for now – no one knows for sure if it really existed ;O)

 

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Spring Training Practices Winding Down


P2232834.JPGSo far, the mood in Phillies practice has been very upbeat.  Shane Victorino was all smiles as he tossed balls to children in the crowd earlier today.  Cole Hamels returned to the team, having taken care of his “personal issues” and spirits were high.  There are a few story lines causing some stress among the natives , including the battle for the 5th starting position.  Kyle Kendrick threw a good session today and Scott Eyre helped him keep the mood light.  Either that, or Eyre has mistaken Kendrick for a cute little baby…

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Other developing story lines include the competition among the rookies trying to make the team. 
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Jason Donald, who may replace Chase Utley if he has a setback and is not ready to go for Opening Day, is keeping pace with the big boys.  Lou Marson, understanding the team is heavy on catchers, keeps up his hard work in the hopes that he makes an impression for future call-ups.  And Mike Cervanek , who made his major league debut last year after 10 years in the minors and independent leagues, has been hustling to get some attention.  Cervenak could be the right-handed bat the Phillies need, plus he is able to play 3rd, 2nd and 1st bases.  Having been a member of the World Series squad, the coaches already know Cervenak, but this will be a case of perseverance on his part to make the team.

P2232753.JPGWith so many good looking men wandering about the practice fields, it makes you wonder where a few of these guys are getting their hair style advice.  Women do seem to love the beard, but Eric Bruntlett may want to consider a trim.  It’s hair gone wild!  And then in the plain “hair has gone away” category, new Phillie Raul Ibanez may want to consider a new look.  Here are a few for him to “try on.”

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Only one day left of practice before the games begin on Wednesday; the Phillies will take on the Pirates in Bradenton, FL for the Spring Training opener at 1:05pm.  Stay tuned for game coverage!

And on to the Photo of the Day…it’s an unusually chipper Mike Schmidt:
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Spring Training Fan Fest

The Phillies held their annual Fan Fest tonight in Clearwater, FL at Bright House Field.  There was a silent auction, photos with the World Series trophy, game used jersey’s for sale, autographs, a moon bounce and, of course, the Phanatic.  Sorry to report that I missed out on the moon bounce, but I think I can live with that.  I did get autographs from the following Phillies, pictured below from top to bottom, left to right:  Joe Blanton, Eric Bruntlett, Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs.

Clay Condrey wandered though the crowd for a minute before the signings…I stopped him and yelled out for him to give me a high five.  He stopped, turned and yelled back, “I gotcha right here!” and slapped me five.  He is a funny guy.  I also spoke to Scott Nickle (Phillies marketing) for a while; he remembered me from the cruise and stopped me to talk.  He is going to try to plan another Phillies Cruise for next year :O)

At the end of the night, the Phillies planned a fireworks display; Brett Myers and Ryan Madson, who were not scheduled to appear, showed up with their families to see the show, along with Chad Durbin’s wife and child.  Here are some shots of the guys on the field playing with the kids.  I love the one of Madson tossing his kid into the air!
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We all watched the fireworks and headed out.  I’ll be attending practices over the next few days and will report back on that soon!

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This Week In Phillies Land…

Injury Updates

Although Pedro Feliz insists he will be ready to go for Opening Day after undergoing back surgery, it seems his manager is less certain.  Charlie Manuel has divulged that Feliz has suffered a slight setback and may not be ready to go.  However, the Phils have plenty of back-up with Eric Bruntlett, Greg Dobbs, and possibly, Chris Coste.  If Manuel decides to keep Coste, which he should, Coste can play a variety of positions, including 3rd base.

More concerning will be the progress of Chase Utley after hip surgery as his recovery time was expected to be longer than Feliz.  However, all reports indicate that Utley is in great shape and even ahead of schedule.  He has taken ground balls, done some light running and taken some dry swings.  If there is a delay in Utley’s return, back-up should not be a problem here either, especially with the recent signing of utility man, Miguel Cairo.  Cairo will likely serve as an insurance policy if all else fails.

Big Losers

A couple of the Phillies players have begun camp this year as big losers; Ryan Howard and Brett Myers
Brett Myers.jpgboth lost a considerable amount of weight in the off-season while preparing for Spring Training.  While most never imagine Howard being light on his feet, 30 fewer pounds may give him a bit more speed and flexibility.  Myers, admitting that his body is starting to feel older, decided the move to lose was necessary in order to keep healthy.   Kudos to them both!

Moyer Speaks About A-Rod


Jamie Moyer.jpgJamie Moyer, former teammate of Alex Rodriguez, expressed his disappointment today with A-Rod’s use of steroids.  Moyer recounted on Comcast Sportsnet how their son’s used to play together and now that the children are teens, he worries about how this news has affected them.  Here is Moyer’s stance on the issue: “It’s about respecting the game,” Moyer said. “I’d be disappointed in anybody in that situation. When people have had an impact on your life, you want to feel for them. But how can I feel for him? To me, if you’re doing it, you know it’s illegal. I commend him for coming out and saying it, but why didn’t he say it seven years ago?”

Mo’ Money

And with a World Championship comes mo’ money…  This year’s season ticket sales for the Phillies have increased by more than 4,000 tickets last year.  The club has already sold 24,000 season tickets in a ballpark with a capacity of 45,000.  John Weber, vice president for ticket sales and operations, say that sales of season tickets will be capped at around 27,000 to 28,000, giving the Phillies the potential to sell-out season tickets. 

As a result of the boom in sales, individual game tickets will be much harder to come by.  This is great news for the team as a whole, as they can sign more players and keep those around who are of higher quality.  More games will sell out, adding to the excitement and atmosphere.  But it is bad news for the average fan, who will be slowly priced out of the live game experience, opting to stay home and avoid the expense.

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What Happens In Vegas…

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…will be written here for all to see!  So much for things “staying” in Vegas.  Ruben Amaro Jr. in his new GM role has all eyes on him at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, waiting for him to make his mark on the 2009 Phillies team.  Rumors abound, as they usually do this during the Winter Meetings, but so far, nothing has transpired.  Talks with pitcher Jamie Moyer are slowing down to a near halt…it looks like he is asking for 2 years at about 10 million a year.  The Phillies simply aren’t going to pay that for a guy in his mid-forties.  It is too big a risk.  And as much as we all love Jamie and would like to believe that age is never a factor, it can be.  He showed signs of slowing down towards the end of 2008, but still remained on the active roster all year without an injury.  But if you placing bets on whether this will remain the case for one or maybe two more years, those are odds even the nuttiest Vegas gambler wouldn’t bet on.

The Phillies have been looking at options, in case Moyer decides to go elsewhere.  Randy Wolf, ex-Phillie and Geoff Jenkins look-a-like, has been mentioned.  It is also rumored that an offer has been made to Derek Lowe.  Amaro also mentioned he’d like to add one more arm to an already outstanding bullpen.  Scott Eyre has already been signed to a one-year, $2 million contract extension, so we know he’ll be back, giving us one more lefty to play with in addition to JC Romero.  Ryan Madson may be signed, rather than allow him to go to arbitration, but nothing specific has been mentioned on that one.   Chad Durbin and Clay Condrey are also eligible for arbitration.

Arbitration is going to play a huge part in moves this offseason.  With TEN Phillies eligible, including those mentioned plus Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Greg Dobbs, Cole Hamels, Eric Bruntlett and Joe Blanton, salaries for any new additions are going to be at a premium.  Amaro knows he has big money due to some of these guys and has to plan accordingly.  I am hoping none of them will end up being trade bait, so as to keep the core of this team intact.  But you know what sometimes happens with a new GM; they try to make changes, even if they don’t have to, just to put their own personal stamp on the team and separate themselves from the previous GM.  I am really hoping Amaro does not fall into this trap.  It is a mind game and one that is likely to produce bad results.  He needs to do what is best for the team, not for his ego or reputation.

As for a utility infielder, there have been rumors of bringing 31 year-old Nick Punto back to Philly.  With the Twins since 2004, he has played every infield position, except first base, and even some outfield.  Punto has a lifetime average of .252, with a .284 average in 2008, having played in 99 games.  His career fielding percentage is .976 with 49 total errors in 8 seasons.  Honestly, for a guy that does not play every day, that is not so great.  So, I am hoping this rumor goes away…

As for Pat Burrell, that train has come to a stop, at least for now.  It appears Burrell is fielding offers from other teams and so this becomes another case of wait and see.  Even manager Charlie Manuel is asking for a contract extension so he can retire as a Phillie.  Nothing solid on this, other than most expect this deal to be done this week sometime.  So we will wait and see.  And I will keep you posted as things progress this week.

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Utley & Feliz Surgery Update

Chase Utley had surgery on his hip on Monday and according to the Phillies, the outcome was as expected.  He will still have a 4-6 month recovery time.  The procedure was done to trim the labrum and a bony lesion in his right hip and was described as an “arthroscopic debridement .”  GM Ruben Amaro said, “Our early reports are that it was very successful surgery.”  I imagine Utley will not be turning cartwheels anytime soon, but it is possible, although unlikely, that he would be ready to play on Opening Day.  The Phillies have been rumored to be looking for a player to stand in for Utley until he is ready, but I would Bionic.jpgimagine with Eric Bruntlett as a back-up option, they may not put this high on their priority list.

Pedro Feliz had surgery on his back last week and that procedure was also said to have gone very well.  Feliz will complete a rehab program at home which is said to take about 8-12 weeks.  He should be back for Spring Training.  In the meantime, we are all waiting for Bionic Man technology to emerge and get these athletes in top shape right now!  Combine that with the salaries these players earn and it will give a whole new meaning to “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

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Phillies Lead The Series 2-1

Fans waited through an hour and a half rain delay before Game 3 of the World Series began.  And it was worth the wait.  It took until nearly 2:00am Sunday morning to finish it off, but the Phillies came out with the win to go ahead in the series, 2-1.  I did predict that the weather would be a factor in this game for the Rays and it was – the delay kept all of the youngsters on the Rays team up WAY past their bedtime! J


P8207990 Moyer.jpgJamie Moyer, who is old enough to stay up late, got the job done tonight, not only with his pitching, but his fielding as well.  Too bad the 1st base umpire decided not to count the play.  In the 7th inning, Moyer dove on the ground to scoop up a bunt by Carl Crawford, he shuffled the ball to Ryan Howard with his glove and Howard caught the ball bear-handed.  The replay showed Crawford was out by a whole step, and yet the umpire called him safe.  The next batter hit a double, giving the Rays runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs, instead of a man on 2nd with one out.  BIG difference; a couple of ground balls later, and the Rays had 2 runs in.  Crawford never should have scored.  I am SO disgusted by the umpiring in this series.  In Game 2, the home plate ump screwed up TWO calls…I won’t even get into the wacky hand motion on the wall he gave to Baldelli, but when Jimmy Rollins had a pitch hit his uniform (watch the replay), he did NOT give Rollins the base and he wound up popping out.  Now, would Jimmy have scored if that did not happen?  Who knows.  But the extra run today was clearly the fault of the 1st base ump.  When is MLB going to make these umpires accountable for their mistakes?  Sure, I understand human error; but calls that are blatantly missed and change the score of the game, like this one today, should never happen.  It is truly disgusting.

Many people were worried about Jamie Moyer going into the game tonight, as his last 2 outings were not good.  I wasn’t worried; Jamie has been waiting his entire career for this day and he was not going to blow it.  And the young Rays hitters like to swing, which works to Moyer’s favor.  He wound up pitching 6 1/3 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 5 hits and one walk; he also struck out 5 batters.  Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre combined to close out the 7th inning and Ryan Madson took the 8th.  Madson gave up an infield single to BJ Upton and then for some reason, the Phillies decided not to pay any attention to him being on base.  He stole 2nd base without any attempt to throw him out and then he stole 3rd as no one was watching.  Carlos Ruiz committed a throwing error on the steal, the ball got away from Pedro Feliz and Upton scored to tie the game 4-4.

The Phillies offense looked a bit sleepy again and they missed a huge opportunity in the 1st inning.  With Jayson Werth on 3rd and only one out, Ryan Howard struck out and Pat Burrell flied to center.  They did get one run in the inning, but should have had at least one more if Howard could have just made contact.  He did hit a home run in the 6th inning, as he and Chase Utley went back-to-back.  Then with the game tied in the 8th, they blew another opportunity to score.  Werth walked and stole 2nd base; only a few pitches later, he got picked off and then Utley proceeded to strike out.  Howard did the same and ended the inning. In the ninth inning, JC Romero who pitched part of the 8th, remained in to pitch.  Usually in a tie game in the 9th, the home team will put in their closer (Lidge), assuming they expect their offense to score in the bottom of the 9th.  Charlie Manuel did not do this, which shows a real lack of confidence in his hitters.

So with the game still tied, the bottom of the 9th wound up being a wild one:  Eric Bruntlett got hit by a pitch; with Shane Victorino up, Bruntlett went to 2nd on a wild pitch and then advanced to 3rd when the throw to 2nd flew right on by the infield.  The Rays then intentionally walked both Victorino and Greg Dobbs to bring up Carlos Ruiz with the bases loaded and no outs.  Ruiz hit a short grounder to Evan Longoria who could not make the play to home – Bruntlett scored!  Game over – Phillies win 5-4.  Whew!

Well, I am going to attempt to get some sleep now so I will be awake to drive to the game tomorrow J  if you are going, I’ll see ya there!  Go Phillies!

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Phillies Close Out Regular Season With A Sweep

The Phillies ended the season today with a series sweep of the Nationals, winning today’s game by a score of 8-3.  This game very much resembled a Spring Training game, as all of the rookies and back-ups got the start.  It was a lot of fun as the whole team, having already clinched the Division, was very relaxed and they were all having a good time.  Most fans even stuck around after the game to dance, catch prizes from the Phanatic and the ball girls and just revel in the glory of a great season and the Phils’ 2nd consecutive NL East Title.  Signed balls, tee shirts and I don’t know what else, flew through the air as the fireworks erupted above.  The only question that still lingered was, will it be the Brewers or the Dodgers?

That question was answered shortly after the game as the Brewers won and the Mets, for the second straight year, lost and will again not see the post-season.  Another sad collapse for Mets fans; a bright spot for Phillies fans as I think we can all agree that the Brewers will be the better match-up in the playoffs.  And so it is; the Phillies will face the Brewers on Wednesday in Philly – Time TBD.

As for today, there were a lot of great moments for the youngsters and back-ups playing; Lou Marson went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, including hitting his very first Major League home run.  What a night for his first start in the Bigs!  Right after Marson hit his homer, on the very next pitch, pinch hitter Matt Stairs followed with one of his own!  Nice.  And the fun continues…So Taguchi looked like the player we all assumed he was at the beginning of the season; he went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI and was great on defense as well.  The other “guchi,” Tadahito Iguchi, and Eric Bruntlett each had 2 hits in the game.  Jayson Werth pinch hit in the 4th, whacked a single and then followed it up with his 20th steal of the year as he swiped 2nd base.  That put him in the 20-20 club with more than 20 homers (24) and 20 stolen bases.  Impressive for a guy who was not a starter at the beginning of the year.  And then for more pinch hit fun, in the 6th inning Ryan Howard hit a slap-bunt up the 3rd base line to beat the shift and eventually wound up scoring in that inning.  If he can do this more often, he may see the Howard defensive shift slowly disappear…  And as a side note, Howard managed with that hit to raise his batting average over the .250 mark for the year (.251, to be exact).

Here are some photos from the game…first one is from the pre-game.  Many of the Phillies regular starters came out to thank the fans and a few of them spoke.  Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge were both very eloquent in their speeches.  Then, the microphone was passed to Chase Ultey who proceeded to give the world’s fastest “Thank You” ever.  All he said was, “You guys have been unbelievable,” and then immediately began to walk off, which prompted this reaction from his teammates:
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Funny stuff!  The crowd laughed right along with them.  Utley, as we know, is a bit speech-shy.

Next photos – Top row:  Phanatic & the Mystery Baby Phanatic (from the crowd!) try to hex to opposing pitcher; Eric Bruntlett makes a great play.  Bottom row:  Bruntlett and Taguchi round the bases; Chris Coste, in a rare appearance at first base, scoops up a dribbler and tags out the runner.
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Les Waldron collects his first Major League Win!
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Steve Smith sends Jayson Werth home; Greg Golson catches a fly ball in centerfield.
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A great end to a great season!  Stay tuned for post-game info and coverage!

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