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Possible Super Bowl Match ups.

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 1:03pm
Derek Weber
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Sure the NFL Conference Championships are this weekend, but let’s look ahead. Who could we see in Super Bowl XLII, and who do we want to see?

There are four possible matchups at this point.

New England vs Philadelphia

New England vs Minnesota

Jacksonville vs Philadelphia

Jacksonville vs Minnesota

Our friends in Las Vegas say that we have the best shot of seeing a New England vs Minnesota match-up. Does that sound the most interesting to you? Perhaps, obviously the most recognizable team to the county/world out of this group is New England, and while Minnesota has Case Keenum running its offense most folks seem to trust him more than they do Nick Foles at this point so wouldn’t this be the best possible match up to watch?

You’ll have a Pats offense that will throw 40-50 times and a Vikings D that has the ability to hold their own.

Or…

Should we go crazy here and should we think about the best possible game from an entertainment stand point? Could that be a dreaded match up of Jacksonville vs Philadelphia? Most fans would poo poo this potential match-up of two QBs who wouldn’t start on half the teams in the league. But hear me out. Don’t we want to watch a game full of surprises, full of competitiveness, full of wild changes?

Tell me why this match up wouldn’t produce? Neither team has won a Super Bowl, the Eagles have won some NFL championships before the Super Bowl became a thing, the Jags haven’t even played in one. Both teams would be fighting for their first Super Bowl, both teams have a great D but are susceptible to long plays.

Annnnddd, both QBs have had success in the past. We should all remember Nick Foles' 27 TDs and 2 INT season or Blake Bortles' 4,428 yard 35 TD season?

We’ll see in a couple of days what match up we get but I don’t care for ratings I can about TV entertainment. I’m pulling for a Jags vs Eagles. How about you?

 

Too bad about Nick

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 4:56pm
Cliff Pfenning
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As the football season heats up professionall, and concludes collegiately, I look longingly at Nick Saban and how he isn't a better American. Or isn't allowed to be a better American ... because he's just a coach. A football coach, and really nothing more.

Saban is a great coach, who's built an absolute dynasty at the University of Alabama, but that's pretty much where his impact on the world ends. He's a coach. And, when football really is boiled down, it's entertainment for the masses. There's plenty of life lessons involved for the athletes involved, and those get passed on to fans - often in the form of movies. But, when society hits a social minefield such as the one we're engulfed in now, coaches of pretty much every sport at every level are pretty much required to ... shut up.

"You're a coach, so just coach."

And, that's what he does for more than $11 million per year. Anyone else in his shoes might do precisely the same thing, as you're not required to do more.

Yet, especially when there's mention of the "Tea Party" that infiltrated the U.S. Elections in 2010 and beyond, it's not hard to wonder how the nation will become "great again" if people don't make it happen, especially people who have the ability to influence a community for a greater purpose. That Tea Party was involved in causing colonists to break away from British rule in the 1750s into the 1780s. They did it at considerable peril, too.

Saban's considerable peril is just monetary.

As I think about what Nick could do for America, there's a path that's not actually all that perilous that would help the nation greatly. All he has to do is share with the world what he teaches his players about life, and then examine the world through those lessons.

How much respect can you give someone for calling you names in public? Like "Little Marco," or "Lyin' Ted"? Our elected leaders don't seem to be able to touch a subject like that because they seem to have lost the ability to be good Americans themselves, and instead are just Republicans or Democrats.

What all our elected Republicans and Democrats need is a return to basic logic, such as legislative acts should be well planned and thought out for the good of the country, not just won or lost on behalf of a particular party. The media would immediately turn that statement toward Republicans in Congress for their repeated actions of "just win, baby" so we can say we won. That would make Nick a liberal or a Democrat-sympathiser, which would be the peril involved because Alabama fans, according to one study done in 2012, are the most Republican-leaning fans in the nation - pro or college.

Why would Nick tell Congress to act better? Because it's a great thing to do, and it's a great time to do it, too. Remind our public leaders that there's a nation they need to take care of, and it's more than just two parties with differing views.

That's the kind of thing that would make him more than just a coach, more than just an entertainer. That would make him a great American.

 

 

 

Can the NFL Stand Up To Bullying?

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 1:06pm
Cliff Pfenning
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If there's anything somewhat progressive coming out of the social battle involving NFL players taking a knee during the National Anthem of their games, it's the attention and potential it might have to create a national, even international, revolution against history's greatest evil - bullying.

Addressing the issue of bullying is the key for players taking a knee - almost all of whom are black - to get their issue the greater attention it deserves, and the President and America's elected officials can be the starting point for progress.

Bullying is a tremendous issue in America's government, and if elected officials won't address it, maybe paid athletes can because they have voices that are regularly more well heard than those of elected officials. And, society tends to react more readily to those athlete's voices.

Kneeling at football games is the flash point so far, one made much more of an issue by the President because he he is using it as a way to divide America into those who see it as dishonoring the nation and it's troops, and those who support it as a way to address the social issue of black people, primarily men, being shot by police simply for being black.

Where the movement of kneeling is missing out is it's lack of greater focus. The issue has divided teams, in fact, into those who kneel - almost all of them black, and those who don't - basically all the white players. The larger issue is bullying, which the President is showcasing his significant ability to accomplish. Bullying is the key to the social issue that turns into deadly shootings, and it's separating America powered by the President.

There's no better way to address the issue of bullying than by focusing on the President, and his elected followers.

The President has focused attention on kneeling because it dishonors the flag and America's military in the process. So, kneeling is about a lack of honor.

Now, let's go to the President, and his commitment to honoring America's military and the flag through his actions.

This past week, the President responded to comments that he hadn't remembered the name of a fallen soldier when talking to his widow by telling the media, and therefore world, that he did use that soldier's name many times because someone had written it on a chart and put it in front of him to read off. Then, he promoted he remembered the soldier's name because he has a good memory, and then pointed to his head to, apparently, remind everyone that's where his memory is located. This was not a way to promote honor or integrity as the ultimate leader of the U.S. Armed Forces.

These types of press conferences, of course, are repeated enough that 24-hour news channels have increased their ratings significantly in the past two years. Late night talk-show hosts have an endless supply of material. How this is allowed to continue is the issue players need to direct the public's attention toward. It's allowed to continue through the evil called bullying. They don't need to attack the President, either, just challenge the main group allowing itself to be bullied - Republican Senators and Representatives.

Start with Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. You might remember them better as "Lyin" Ted and "Little" Marco from the 2016 campaign after the President came up with these playground names for them. He has never apologized for using those names, and they have not called for him to apologize, either. To apologize, we all know from the President's past, is to show a sign of weakness.

So, he continues to create playground names for individuals on an international level.

The President insults members of his own party regularly, members of his own cabinet regularly, international leaders. And when his plans don't work out right, he blames Congress for not doing it's job. It's their fault. This would be like a coach addressing the world after a loss and saying his players sucked. He/she had the perfect game plan, the players just sucked. Imagine practice the next day.

"Lyin" Ted and "Little" Marco have the ability to do something about this uncontrolled bully, though - they can vote him out of office using the 25th Amendment. Do they have the character to kneel on the White House lawn, demand an apology and address the evil of bullying?

Do the members of Congress, and this is primarily those who are in the Republican Party, have the character to address why they say nothing when the President comes up with these names as though he were a bully on a playground?

What about the President's wife? She made bullying a point to combat upon reaching the White House? That campaign does not seem to exist.

Bullying is a key to Capitalism, so it's not an easy issue to tackle. And being a bully basically involves someone or a group telling someone to do something regardless of what it means to that person or group simply because they/it tells it to. Harrassment? Force? There doesn't need to be any logic involved, any thought of compassion to those involved, just the outcome. People with political or social power don't want that to change, either, so they don't make any kind of issue out of it.

"Do it because I tell you to. And don't complain."

How white police officers have abused their power is a key to the issue black players want addressed. But, it has turned into a black vs. white issue. "Black Lives Matter." And, now "White Lives Matter." The President has done some passionate work to move this issue of black vs. white forward ... through bullying. Bullying isn't an issue of color, though, it's a societal issue and one that black and white football players, heck all athletes, can address at the National Anthem.

Stand Up To Bullying. Take a knee before the anthem, then stand up for the anthem to promote the campaign.

England already has a Stand Up To Bullying Day. The U.S.has a campaign, but it hasn't gotten beyond Massachusetts.

Black players in the NFL have the world's attention, but it's largely being lost as an issue that only relates to people of one color and the issue of honoring America's military by kneeling during a song. They need to move the issue from kneeling to the evil of bullying and make that the issue. They need their teammates of all color to join them. Take a knee before the anthem, then stand for the anthem and make that a social campaign. Stand Uo To Bullying.

How do you think the President would respond to this campaign? Black players taking a knee on the sideline, then standing up for the national anthem? Where's the dishonor there? What if their white teammates did that, too? White players stood up to bullying because it's an issue that affects white people, too.

A worldwide revolution can start from this campaign and challenge injustice on just about every issue. Congress? Why is it that as soon as someone gets elected and arrives on Capitol Hill, they immediately fall in line? Every issue is Us vs. Them. Democrat vs. Republican. Liberal vs. Conservative. Obamacare? It has to be repealed and replaced because it's broken. It's falling apart and was never a good idea in the first place, in spite of all the people who did achieve affordable health care. Millions of people. But, it's a terrible system that should never have been approved. That's a bully speaking.

An effective politician might say, "if it's broken, fix it."

If your car were damaged and struggling to run, would you just keep driving until it stopped and leave it on the side of the road to go get a new one? Or would you stop at a repair shop and work on making it run better? Especially if you knew the problem was simply a lack of gasoline.

The bullying that involved sacrificing Obamacare has gone so far that Republican leadership wouldn't even tell the nation what it was working on before voting on it. "It's going to be great because we tell you it's going to be great." That sounded like someone making a degree from Yale or Harvard look quite valuable. And making the framers of the Constitution quite proud. Lots of honor there.

This kind of bullying - "repeal and replace because I tell you to" - is making Yale, Harvard, Cornell, The Ohio State, Penn State, every college for that matter that's got a degree on a wall of an elected official, look terrible. America has no strength to think for itself, especially these days.

Stand Up To Bullying by getting Congressmen and women to think for themselves, using logic and compromise to better the nation, not just the people who voted for them. And not just people of one color.

Then, we're off.

Obamacare. There's a single-payer health care system in America's future, and if Obamacare is going to be fixed, this is the fix it needs. Capitalism and health care just don't mix for much of the public - the part that's old and/or sick.

How about the Military Industrial Complex? That's a biig one, but ... wow an issue. For starters, why does the U.S. have such a large military? And, apparently getting larger. We're not getting invaded. We can play police for the world, but does that need so many aircraft carriers and nuclear submaries? And, why is Russia our enemy, by the way? Heck, what is Communism? I think it's a nation run by one person, or a ruling party, that severely restricts the freedoms of its citizens to keep them under control. "Do it because we tell you to." Sound familiar?

Communism might be a bad way to run a nation, but Russia isn't invading the U.S., and really has never been close to invading our territory and putting Communism in place. So, why did the world need all those thousands of nuclear missiles? Why do we need them now? The answer is Capitalism and the need to keep factories and ports building the elements that power the military. Without wars and enemies, there's not need for tanks and fighter aircraft.

Of course, the companies that produce tanks and aircraft could be reformed to produce ... better roadways or spacecraft, renewable energy sources etc. Capitalism can survive a changing military direction.

Education. When I watch sports, there's an endless supply of commercials relating to the military. Either join up, or get insurance or health care or great loans because you were in the military. There's nothing wrong with any of those, but I often think what if they had the same commercials for ... teachers? Become a teacher, or get great health care and access to loans because you are or were a teacher. Education should be a much greater focus for the nation.

Gerrymandering. This is one of the main reasons elected officials get re-elected so often and regularly feel the need to just ... get re-elected by voters in their party rather than work together between political parties for a better nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give the Dodgers a chance

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 12:39am
Cliff Pfenning
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When you reflect on all the pro teams from the five major leagues across the US: NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and even Major League Soccer, what's the top brand name for fans across the nation and even worldwide?

The New England Patriots might be No. 1 in terms of Super Bowls won in the past decade, but does anyone in Greece know who they are?

The New York Yankess, due to their long history of success, have to be one of the top teams. The Dallas Cowboys, due to their success during the television age and cheerleaders, are a top consideration, too. Red Sox, Cubs, Packers, Lakers, Knicks, Celtics ... even the Browns - the Sportsland, Oregon episode connects with those topics.

I would love the Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers to be up there.

LISTEN NOW

Timbers? Portland's soccer franchise has to be one of the top US brands in the sport because of its fans, but it's got a long ways to go to be an international brand. That's something that comes with straying into the international scene, and the Timbers haven't really done that other than host an English team now and then. So, does the Timbers Army even want to be known in Scotland, or Sweden or Germany?

And, why are the upcoming tournaments for college and high school basketball players so long and short at the same time?

Good stuff to listen to on the Sportland podcast.

 

Southridge riding high into state playoff run

Sat, 02/04/2017 - 9:02pm
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Nearing the stretch run of the high school basketball season, a majority of the six defending champions in girls play appear as solid picks to repeat, something that has not happened in the state's history.

At least not yet.

A review of state records shows that since championships began being awarded in 1976, teams regularly repeat as champions, but rarely do the same teams repeat in the same year. The feat happened in two of the four classifications from '76 through 2006 five times, and since 2007 three of the six champions have repeated in the same year. But, no more than four.

This year, that could change, as it did last year when four of the defending champions played in finals. Just Sutherlin won for its fourth straight title at 4A.

This season Sutherlin has struggled to retain its form atop the state rankings and appears as the lone team unlikely to make a run at a title.

Southridge, at Class 6A, is rated at No. 1 among the OSAA rankings heading into the final three weeks of action.

At 5A, LaSalle returns all-tourney unanimous pick Taycee Wedin and is No. 3, behind Central, a relative newcomer to the top rankings, and Marist, a semifinalist last season.

At 4A, Marshfield is ranked ahead of Hidden Valley and has a win over the Mustangs. The Pirates are having a season for the ages as the school has never reached a final in girls play. Banks, last season's runner-up, is ranked third.

At 3A, all four semifinalists from last season are ranked in the top seven, with defending champion Blanchet Catholic at No. 4.

At 2A, defending champ Monroe is ranked second behind Kennedy, the top-ranked team from last season that Monroe beat in the semis. Kennedy won in 2016.

And, at 1A, Nixyaawii and Country Christian appear headed for a return trip to the final, which Nixyaawii won convincingly.

 

Timbers have high expectations

Fri, 02/26/2016 - 6:04am
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Is there anything close to a dynasty brewing for the Portland Timbers?

That’s one of the things fans of the team can dream about after the franchise won the Major League Soccer title in only its fifth year of play.

And, it’s brought the teams’ fans bragging rights throughout the Northwest in regards to league results. Neither Seattle or Vancouver, their Cascadia Cup rivals, have even played in the league championship since it began in 1996.

When the 2016 season begins, not only will defending the title be among dreams of fans, but winning more than just one will as well.

Looking at the history of the league, three franchises: D.C. United, Houston and the Los Angeles Galaxy have won back-to-back titles, but none has won three straight. That will be among the thoughts of fans when the team begins play March 6 with its season opener at Providence Park against the Columbus Crew, its opponent in the league finale.

When is the MLS Cup again?

Wed, 11/11/2015 - 6:41pm
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Does anyone remember the Miracle at Providence Park? It was just two weeks ago, but the MLS Playoffs have essentially buried the excitement of the Portland Timbers' shootout victory over Kansas City in the first round of the league playoffs.

Fans owe that to the global soccer version of playoffs, which allows for each team to play a home game.

It's used across the world, and in the U.S. At least for part of the playoffs. It's time for the U.S. to complete its revamping of the world's playoff structure and ditch the home-home system.

Just play of game each round, and get to the championship game, which could be played Sunday if the league wanted.

That's a U.S. playoff system - one game with the winner moving on. U.S. football uses it, and MLS does to, at least for the first round, and then the final. The conference semis and finals are the problem, with each team getting a home game in each round. All it truly does is extend the playoffs and make them less exciting.

Get to the championship game - that's the point of the playoffs, especially with all the inter-league and national team matches going on.

If the Timbers eventually do reach the MLS Cup, it'll be nearly six weeks after the win over Kansas City because of the home-home series, and a week off for national team play. From the start of the season til the Cup, the Timbers will have played nine months starting March 7. Not even baseball, which has a 162-game regular season, plays that long.

MLS already has a U.S. version of regular season play, which separates the league into two conferences rather than one full table. And, there's no relegation/promotion with the next level league. So, it's a U.S. version of soccer. The playoffs are the final step to Americanizing the global game, which the league needs to do to capture the excitement of games like Portland's win at Providence Park, Oct. 29, 2015.

 

Is Michigan a roadmap for Oregon football?

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 5:05pm
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Imagine if the Oregon football team went unbeaten the rest of the season, and beat unbeaten Utah in the Pac-12 Conference title game. Would that be enough for the Ducks to reach the College Football Playoffs?

Even though Oregon would have two losses at the time, while there may likely be more than four other teams with just one loss.

That's a subject for Sportsland, Oregon 2015 - Episode 27. Will there be a two-loss team among the four teams that reach the playoffs.

And, is that even something the Ducks should be focused on at all? Once upon a time, the Rose Bowl was a big deal - remember?

The NFL's crazy season as well gets some time, as does the upcoming Major League Baseball playoffs. Sure the American League has some prime contenders, but will anyone watch the Toronto Blue Jays play the Kansas City Royals if they win their division series? And, just who's on the Yankees these days other than A-Rod?

Fortunately, there's five outstandings options for the World Series on the National League side, so an audience for that series seems assured.

The Timbers get a few moments, too, as do the Oregon football uniforms for this week.

All recorded Monday at Pour Sports Restaurant in Southeast Portland.

College football should realize playoff pressure

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 4:08pm
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Three weeks into the college football season, the race to predict the four teams headed to the national championship semifinals is in full swing.

Ohio State is No. 1, but barely beat a Northern Illinois team that's not a gimme to win its own conference, the Mid-American. Mississippi played its way up to No. with a resounding win at Alabama Saturday. TCU continues to remain the pride of the Big 12 and a prime contender for one of the four spots. And Notre Dame is No. 6 with its legitimate hope of getting in with an unbeaten record. If the Buckeyes, Rebels, Horned Frogs and Irish all win out, then there's no problem picking the playoff semifinalists.

Trouble is when those teams start to lose, even once. Then, the decision to name the four teams turns to persons who aren't involved in the action on the field, which is a problem that the game can actually resolve fairly easily. College football needs a conference ranking system, not a team ranking. The conference schedule then becomes the integral part of the playoff system, as it should be.

Michigan State and Oregon are in key positions to illustrate this argument especially if Oregon should happen to win the Pac-12, but lose another game. The Spartans have a win over then No. 7 Oregon - a thrilling game that featured playoff pressure. But, it wasn't a playoff game because the teams are in different conferences so the outcome only affected people's opinions. And opinions don't win games, teams do.

The big potential challenge could very well happen November 21 when OSU plays host to MSU. If both teams win out until then, they should be No. 1 and 2. Should OSU win, and then win the Big 10 title the following week, they're in the semifinals. Easy.

Michigan State's 31-28 win over Oregon in the second week of the season gives Spartans fans that feeling of confidence that even if they lose to OSU and Oregon wins the Pac-12, they should be one of the four semifinalists ahead of Oregon because of the head-to-head win. That conundrum gets better, though, if Oregon should lose to USC when the teams meet November 21, but then return to beat the Trojans in the Pac-12 final two weeks later ending the season at 11-2 and with its conference title. 

Unbeaten Mississippi beats unbeaten Florida for the SEC title and earns its spot.

Notre Dame loses twice: to USC and Stanford, and is out.

TCU has a loss to Baylor, which also has a loss - to eventual 7-5 Nebraska, and those two schools finish as the only two ranked teams from the Big 12 (which actually only has 10 schools). Baylor is ranked as the conference champion.

Clemson goes unbeaten through the season, but loses in the ACC title game to 10-2 Duke, which has losses to Northwestern and Georgia Tech. Duke is 11-2, while Clemson is 12-1.

How does a two-loss Oregon team get into the semifinals over teams that have one loss? Same for Duke, which also has a conference title.

Easy, the Ducks and Blue Devils would be two of four conference champions, having won the games that mattered most - those that got them to their conference title games, and then that game, too.

With five Power Conferences, the only rankings the playoff committee would need to make is the one that ranks the five conferences - with No. 5 getting left out of the playoff. That was TCU and the Big 12 last year.

MSU has only one loss and a win over Oregon. But, that was a non-conference win. The Spartans' key game is Ohio State, assuming they beat their other four division rivals. That takes on the pressure of a playoff game, with the game's loser being dropped from the playoffs.

The five conference champions might very well be ranked this way: Ohio State, Mississippi, Baylor, Oregon and Duke.

Duke gets left out. Florida, Clemson, Michigan State, TCU - all one-loss teams, scream to be ahead of Oregon, but none have a conference title.

That Michigan State loss is out there for the college football world to salivate over at the right time because of insider opinions, but it shouldn't be, even if the Ducks lose another game. Oregon has five division games, which lead to a conference title game, and that's the playoff system that every other team has, too - the Big 12 has more conference games, so that's its argument to overcome the lack of a conference title game.

The Power 5 conferences will each have a champion, and those are the only five teams that should be considered for the four semifinal spots, regardless of their records. That's how a playoff system works - the better team doesn't always win because which team is better is from an opinion based on stats and records. The actual better team wins on the field, and every team in the Power 5 (plus Notre Dame) has its shot at winning the games that matter.

 

 

Adams, Oregon show off well

Sat, 09/12/2015 - 10:22pm
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The University of Oregon football program got a pretty good idea of who Vernon Adams, Jr., is as a quarterback under duress Saturday night, and he performed at an uneven level. But, you also got a good idea of his inner drive, and he showed off he's got the will to win.

He certainly didn't perform at the level the UO world may have thought he was going to when he announced his intention to transfer from Eastern Washington in spring, but at the end of Saturday's thrilling game with Michigan State, the Ducks were in position to win. With a couple fewer yards on a lofty pass down the left sideline, Adams may very well have led the No. 7 Ducks past the No. 5 Spartans.

Overall, it was a gritty performance by a veteran playing on the national stage for the first time with the final a frustrating 31-28 on the scoreboard.

Frustrating in that Oregon fans can easily look at the game as that the Ducks didn't win, not so much as the Spartans beat them. Michigan State survived, although that's all that's needed.

Adams showed he's a gamer, able to overcome his shortcomings and keep his team in contention to win.

Oregon's defense did that, too, inspite of giving up 31 points. Oregon's offense should have topped that total in the game, and might have with some better play calling.

Scott Frost's game as offensive coordinator might be the biggest issue from the game in that the plan seemed to go away from what was working in terms of getting passes outside and letting what might easily be the best trio of receivers in the nation make excitement happen. Just simple screen passes. That opened up the middle for running back Royce Freeman, which carried the team to a score on its first possession and seemed like a pathway to many other scores.

But, as much as Adams is working his way into the Oregon playbook, Frost seems to be working his way into understanding Adams in the playbook. That's what a severe lack of preparation will do to a top-flight program like Oregon.

And, inspite of those issues, the Ducks were in position to win a game that might have moved them up to as far as No. 3 or 4 in the nation.

Still, it showed they're a team worthy of consideration of mention as playing its way back to the title game.

That's an easy road with just a dominating performance in Pac-12 play, which they seem capable of doing if Saturday's game is an indication.

 

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