Author: Randy Page 2 of 24

Game 26: The Yankees Bounce Back With A Laugher

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The Yankees and their fans needed a game like this. Yes, they’re playing the woeful Detroit Tigers. With the way this season has started, we can’t take anything for granted. But, the pinstripes took care of business. They win the first game of the long homestand by a comfortable score of 10-0. It’s nice to watch a laugher for once, especially after yesterday’s mess of a game. Here are the takeaways.

Aaron Judge Makes The Lineup And Rakes

If you follow Yankees Twitter, you’re well aware of the Aaron Judge chatter. There have been some takes. And there have been some takes. Aaron Judge is the most important position player in the Yankees organization. Aaron Judge transforms the Yankees from a really, really good team into an elite one with his high-level offensive and defensive skill sets. He is easily a top 15 player in the game, and I may be lowballing that ranking. The concerns about durability are valid. However, the recent criticism of Judge and the team is unfair. The current load management strategy is a proactive approach for injury prevention. It isn’t because he’s “soft.” The Yankees want their best player healthy for a full season and playoff run.

Tonight’s game is a fantastic reminder that Judge remains the number one guy on the team. Both he and Giancarlo Stanton can change a game with one swing. Aaron Judge can also change a game with a big catch or a laser throw to home. Judge decided to bring the heavy lumber for this game.

Before we get to the two bombs he hit tonight; I want to point out one of his under the radar performances from the game. We know that Aaron Judge will strike out quite a bit. He will chase pitches low and away from time to time. High fastballs tie him up from time to time. Aaron Judge is far from a hacker, though. He isn’t flailing away at anything near the plate like Rougned Odor. Instead, Judge has tremendous control of the hitting zone. That was on display tonight.

In total, Judge saw 20 pitches at the plate. Of those 20, there were five different types of pitches: four-seamer, cutter, changeup, splitter, and slider. Judge swung at 11 of the 20 pitches. He didn’t swing and miss once. In fact, he only saw two called strikes in three at-bats. This is pretty remarkable for an elite power hitter. Here are the two pitches that led to his two home runs:

Those two pitches led to these two results:

Aaron Judge has 7 home runs in 96 plate appearances. Here are his current 2021 percentile rankings:

I think that works for a guy who apparently isn’t tough enough to play for the dynasty Yankees.

Gerrit Cole Is The Best Pitcher In The AL

It is getting really hard to write about Gerrit Cole. The dude is an absolute monster. However, the discussions surrounding Cole always interest me. When fans and media talk about the Yankees starting rotation, more times than not, people will use some version of the phrase “Cole and everyone else.” This feels dismissive of Gerrit’s brilliance. It takes his presence, talent, and dominance for granted. The Yankees haven’t featured a pitcher like this since CC Sabathia. We all wanted Cole for so long, and now that he’s here, it feels like we skip over him at times.

Gerrit is on an incredible run to start the season. Cole has tied the franchise record of four games with ten strikeouts or more with no walks in a single season. It is April 30th. Sarah Langs from takes this one step further:

Again, it is April 30th.

We’re watching the start of a potentially historic season for Gerrit Cole. We haven’t seen this consistently high level of pitching from a Yankees starter in a very long time. Admittedly, I haven’t looked this up, but there aren’t many seasons with this start in the franchise’s history. You can feel free to suggest some in the comments.

This was a dominant start for Cole. Dominant may not serve him justice. He had everything working for him at an elite level. He cruised with 87 pitches and earned 21 swings and misses. His CSW rate was 44%. FORTY-FOUR. He threw 25 curves which had a CSW rate of 52%. The curve averaged 52 inches of vertical break. This plays off a fastball averaging 97mph along with a filthy change. All of this is absurd. You may be able to do this in The Show. You shouldn’t be able to do it in THE SHOW.

If that wasn’t enough, the command was filthy. Cole threw the ball wherever he wanted to, whenever he wanted to do it. Here is his pitch chart:

As many of you know, I’m a filmmaker. I routinely turn to fine art for references in my work. My favorite artist is Caravaggio. I could go on and on about him, but this is a baseball blog, so I’ll save the artsy stuff. I bring the mercurial painter up because this pitch chart is a work of art. It is the command, pitchability, and usage. This illustrates elite pitching. When you’re an artist like Cole, you can easily see his strategy because he executes it so damn well. He also commands all four quadrants of the zone. There aren’t many pitchers who can do this over the course of a start, let alone multiple starts. Cole is on his way to a Cy Young campaign.

We’ll end this section on this thought. A few of us in the Views slack wondered when we start saying Cole is on Jacob deGrom’s level this season. deGrom has been otherworldly. Cole has as well. We have the two best pitchers in baseball in New York City. That is pretty awesome.

One Final Thought

Giancarlo Stanton is the best performing hitter for the Yankees this season. He is currently on an eight-game hitting streak. He’s been destroying baseballs all season. The one thing holding him back from time to time is his negative launch angle. Stanton is beginning to show how valuable he can be for this team over the course of a year. If Judge and Stanton play full seasons, we will see video game numbers that will lead to many wins. Let’s enjoy the performances.

The Yankees and Tigers do it again tomorrow at 1pm. It will be Taillon versus Turnbull. Let’s get another blowout. Have a great night.


Game 25: Frustrating End to the Road Trip

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The Yankees need to win this game. Baltimore is bad. They faced a bad pitcher. This specific game demands the Yankees put their best foot forward to win a series against the dregs of the AL East. Instead, the Yankees played down to their competition and lose a game they had no business losing by the score of 4-3. The Yankees are 11-14.

The Awful Tenth Inning

We will start at the beginning. The extra-inning rule is stupid. It doesn’t accomplish anything except undermine the competitive integrity of a nine-inning game. The rule is in place though. We can complain about it until we’re blue in the face, but it is part of the game for now. Teams have to perform accordingly.

When you are the road team in extra innings, it is advantageous to hunt for as big an inning as possible. The reasoning is pretty straightforward. The home team also gets a runner on second base and has the chance to win a ballgame without having to do too much. The Yankees were already at a disadvantage because Tyler Wade led off the inning.

If you’ve followed us on the blog or the podcast, you are very familiar with my feelings on Tyler Wade. He is not a major league-caliber player. He is a better baseball player than me, but who cares. Amongst his professional peers, Tyler Wade does not belong. With Wade leading off and a runner on second, the offensive options are minimal. If it was another hitter, I’m sure the Yankees are asking that player to hit away. Wade can’t hit, so you ask him to lay a bunt down to get the runner over. He was unsuccessful.

Tyler Wade has to get the bunt down. It is his job to do so. Instead of laying down a sacrifice bunt, Wade had three non-competitive attempts in his at-bat. When you can’t hit a lick, you have to execute fundamental baseball plays to make team contributions. Not only was he unsuccessful, but he also looked totally overwhelmed in the box. I understand Tyler was facing a nasty lefty, but he had no shot at laying the bunt down. There was poor technique. There wasn’t a competitive nature to the attempts. You could see the struggle immediately.

It is also curious to give the bunt sign with two strikes. You have to allow Wade the opportunity to run into a pitch he could pull. The chances aren’t high, but lighting can strike. I am not sure what Boone saw in Wade’s at-bat that made him think his hitter could get a sacrifice down. There wasn’t good execution or management in that spot.

The Wade bunt attempt wasn’t the only issue in the inning. We love to mention that it is early in the season. This is true with 130 plus games remaining on the calendar. With that said, the Yankees have an emerging Aaron Hicks problem on their hands. He’s obviously going through a power shortage, but his command of the hitting zone has deteriorated. Hicks has been susceptible to changeups all year. He is expanding the zone while also being uncharacteristically aggressive at the plate. This is the pitch from his at-bat in the tenth inning:

What are you doing with this pitch? If you turn on it, it may be a ground ball on the pull side, and the runner can’t advance. The alternative is hitting a weak fly ball that you hope finds grass. The result was the latter, but it landed in the fielder’s glove. This is anecdotal, but it always feels like the hitter in the box with a run-scoring opportunity and one out sways the outcomes of innings more times than not. Hicks was in a big spot. He was unable to come through, and it was a massive swing in the frame.

The tenth inning was a microcosm of a larger trend for the team that we will get into now.

The Inconsistent Offense Returns

Jorge López is not a particularly good starting pitcher on the Major League level. He entered today’s game with an ERA over 8. His career ERA is 6.18, along with a 1.50 WHIP. However, even with a lineup struggling to put it together, López is the perfect elixir for ailing hitters. So in true 2021 fashion, he was successful against the Yankees from a run prevention perspective.

This game followed a growing theme for this offense. They are routinely hitting the ball hard, but it isn’t always leading to run production. It also feels like there are more opportunities for the hitters to do real damage in the hitting zone, which isn’t consistent. López didn’t pitch well. His line looks better than his performance if we’re going by control and command of the zone. Here is his pitch chart:

There are changeups without bite, as well as sinkers that didn’t sink. There are a lot of pitches in the hitting zone. The funny thing about this is the Yankees were smoking the ball. Here are some of the exit velocities against López:

One would think these velocities would lead to success, but they didn’t. One reason could be everyone’s favorite baseball term: launch angle. It is important to keep in mind that launch angle is a measurement and not a technique. It gets a bad rep because some people misuse it. The sweet spot for launch angles is generally between 15 and 30 degrees. The lower end of that spectrum will result in line drives, while the higher will be more of the fly ball variety. The key is obviously combining elite exit velocities with launch angles in this range. That isn’t happening right now. Some of these balls are either below the spectrum or way above the spectrum. They’re not hitting that sweet spot.

We know this even with the eye test. There are a ton of ground balls from the lineup. The encouraging sign is the loud contact. The next step is to get this contact in the air with consistency. We see it a little bit more, but they aren’t there yet. Until that happens, the inconsistency from a run production standpoint will remain.

Montgomery Shines

Jordan Montgomery is off to an inconsistent start this year, but this feels like his best performance of the early season. Jordan had four pitches working in unison with fantastic command. Pitch efficiency is something the young starter has needed to improve from start to start. He was far from efficient in Cleveland, but today was the total opposite. It all begins with Montgomery’s command.

We’ve paid attention to Montgomery’s velocity over the last few years, but the command is what makes him successful. He features a five-pitch arsenal that depends upon movement and location more than velocity. Montgomery has never really had control issues. He can throw strikes. It’s been a battle to locate pitcher’s pitches with consistency. This leads to stretches where he nibbles a bit too much and then has to battle to get back into counts. Montgomery did a fantastic job of dominating the zone today.

The change and curve were Jordan’s best friend today. The two pitches led his pitch usage today. They rewarded him. Of his twenty changeups, he earned a 25% CSW rate. The curve was even better. He threw eighteen of them, and it amassed a 44% CSW rate. Jordan had more called strikes on the curve than he did swing and misses. That is a good sign for a pitcher who relies heavily on the curve to induce soft contact and end at-bats quickly.

Montgomery’s issues came with the cutter. Trey Mancini’s game-tying home run came on a poor cutter. This isn’t to say the pitch performed poorly. It was just the one pitch that gave Jordan difficulty at times. Here is the chart on the cutter:

As you can see, there were some good ones and not so good ones. If he had a little bit better command of the pitch, there is a chance he wins this game.

I believe Boone had a pretty quick hook for Montgomery. He was cruising for the most part. I understand he had a relatively rested bullpen, but building Jordan up feels important. This is nitpicking, though. Jordan’s outing was encouraging.

The Yankees did have a successful road trip. It was 5-3. They could’ve easily gone 7-1 or 8-0 if we’re honest. There are still some things to clean up. The Yankees return home tonight to face the Tigers at the Stadium tomorrow evening. It will be Cole versus Skubal at 7pm. Enjoy your night and the NFL draft if you’re watching. The Niners better draft Fields or trade for Aaron Rodgers.

Game 19: Power Moves

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The Yankees have won two in a row. Can you believe it? It really looks like they are emerging from their malaise. It’s important to keep in mind the team has played nothing but East-division teams in the regular season since the beginning of last year’s weird season. It is nice to see different opponents. Maybe the Yankees needed to face less familiar foes to get going. The bombers took tonight’s game by the score of 5-3. They are now 8-11 on the young season. Here are the takeaways.

Too Many Damn Home Runs

Here at Views, we’ve routinely preached patience with the Yankees. They are nowhere near as bad as this recent slump indicates. It is incredibly frustrating to watch, but not an actual indication of this team’s talent level or fortunes for this season. You can look no further than the production, or lack thereof, of the Yankees’ offense. Bobby wrote a great piece searching for reasons behind the offense’s poor start, and he was stumped. We’re all stumped. Despite this, it feels pretty appropriate to describe the slow start as an anomaly. Tonight’s performance is a good indication of why that is the case.

The biggest struggle for the Yankees offense so far this season is the total lack of power from everyone in the lineup. They have done very little damage on mistake pitches. The lineup has done a pretty consistent job of putting itself in hitters’ counts, but there is little to show for that hard work. That wasn’t the case tonight. Logan Allen served up a bunch of meatballs, and the Yankees got fat.

The night’s biggest story is clearly the home runs, but there was more to tonight’s performance. The Yankees’ hitters were routinely smoking the ball. During this slump, the lineup has struggled to make consistent hard contact. There were games when the hitters couldn’t get the ball into the outfield with any authority. The Yankees reversed that trend at least for one night. Here are some of the exit velocities against Logan Allen:

This chart has more red than Cleveland’s uniform. As you can see, some of these at-bats resulted in outs, but the quality of contact is crucial to point out. We haven’t seen this type of consistent contact from most of the Yankees’ lineup in quite some time. As the team slowly creeps out of this malaise, it is really encouraging to see them begin to square up mistakes. This is a good indicator of offensive success.

And in a pleasant surprise, the Yankees actually smacked some home runs. Aaron Hicks kicked off the homer party. Rougned Odor, who we will get to in a second, joined in on the fun. Apparently, Giancarlo Stanton was jealous of his teammates and decided to steal the spotlight. Look at this:


Statcast measured this laser beam at 118 MPH. I’m going to take the liberty and add another 118 MPH. This ball went out at 236 MPH, and you can’t tell me otherwise. We’ve been talking about punishing mistakes, and Stanton certainly did that.

If that wasn’t enough, Giancarlo went oppo taco for good measure in his next at-bat.

Stanton is actually one of the few players who has hit the ball hard this year with some consistency. His issue is all of the ground balls. If he starts getting the ball in the air with regularity, we’re going to see a home run binge pretty soon.

I have a quick thought on Rougned Odor. I believe the trade for Odor was a shrewd one for two reasons. One, the cost was minimal. Second, he still has the ability to hit the ball hard. We’ve seen the Yankees pursue hitters with that hard-hit profile. He clearly has not been good the last few years. The thing is, those awful seasons weren’t with the Yankees. Those seasons have no bearing on what he can do in pinstripes. The organization deserves some benefit of the doubt with moves like this. We’ve seen it with Hicks, Voit, and Urshela. I’m not saying Odor will turn into a thirty home run hitter again, but he could be a solid contributor from the left side as a depth piece. Odor has come through with some big hits in his short time with the team. The move has been fine so far.

Jordan Montgomery Must Find Consistency

There is a lot to like about Jordan Montgomery. He has a five-pitch repertoire. He consistently induces soft contact. His chase rate and walk rates are good. With that said, we rarely see starts where he overwhelms a lineup. Of course, there are a bunch of good starts, but I can’t recall many dominant starts from him. There are too many outings where his control eludes him. Fortunately, this doesn’t lead to many walks, but it does lead to largely inefficient starts where he still can’t get deep into games with any consistency.

The first inning was a prime example of this flaw. Of his 89 total pitches, 37 of them came in the first. Aaron Boone had Nick Nelson warming up in the bullpen. In most instances, a starter has at least one pitch they can rely on to navigate an inning. That was not the case for Montgomery.

This is ugly. When he could get the ball in the zone, the Cleveland hitters were taking advantage. The Cleveland lineup had a 60% hard hit rate in the first inning. Here are a few of the exit velocities in the first:

This isn’t a good sign for a pitcher who thrives on managing hard contact. I don’t think we will confuse the 2021 Cleveland lineup with the 1995 Cleveland lineup. Montgomery needs to establish control of the game from the first pitch, especially against poor lineups. This feels like the next step in his evolution as a pitcher. We want to see that jump, but it’s frustrating when you see such a pedestrian performance.

The Yankees really need length from their starters. It’s on Montgomery to start providing that. Jordan has a responsibility to get the team as deep into the game as possible, and he’s not fulfilling it at the moment. He can’t throw almost half of his night’s pitches in the first inning. To his credit, he did settle down as the game moved along. But he put the team in an early hole and couldn’t complete the fifth inning because of 87 stressful pitches. If Jordan is to emerge as a truly dependable starter, these inefficient starts need to be a thing of the past. This and his propensity to give up the long ball are holding him back. This needs to change.

The Yankees look to win the series tomorrow and their fourth game in the last five contests. We’re getting a fantastic pitching match up tomorrow. It will be Gerrit Cole against Shane Bieber. The Yankees bats are starting to come around at the right time. The game starts at 6:10 pm. Have a great night.

Game 17: More Of The Same

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That was another boring game from the Yankees. There was an encouraging start from Corey Kluber, but that was the only positive to take from the contest. The Yankees lose to Atlanta by the score of 4-1. They are 6-11 on the season. Let’s get to the takeaways.

An Improved Corey Kluber

While the line isn’t going to look pretty, this was easily Corey Kluber’s best start in his early Yankees career. The knee-jerk reaction would be, “well, he couldn’t be any worse,” and that would be pretty off base. Through his first three starts, Kluber has generally shown good stuff. The velocity has been down, but there is good movement on multiple pitches. The biggest issue for Kluber is his control and command. There was some progress on that front in this game.

During the broadcast, David Cone repeatedly mentioned Kluber’s need to control the east and west portions of the strike zone. He lives on the corners with both his cutter and slider. If he isn’t flashing command on both the inner and outer portions of the zone, it will be a battle for him. Over his first three starts, we could see flashes of that, but many non-competitive pitches missed the corners. He would get swing and misses on some nasty offerings, but there were many instances when pitches were balls as soon as they left his hand. Kluber did a better job of hitting the corners for the majority of this start with his curveball.

Kluber threw a cutter, curve, sinker, and slider tonight. There were two changeups in there, but we can throw those out. It was clear that Kluber felt good about his curve. He threw the pitch 37% of the time. The cutter was second in usage at 25%. Kluber did his best work with the curve. Here is his pitch chart:

If you’re looking at the corners and down in the zone, you can see many good things here. He painted the corners. His ability to expand the zone is also encouraging. It felt like he finally found a pitch that allows him to control both sides of the zone and induce soft contact.

Speaking of soft contact, Kluber did a fantastic job of contact management today. If you’re struggling to find consistent control, a pitcher must minimize hard contact. A pitcher won’t survive if he has to come in the zone and gives up rockets all over the place. Kluber did well to avoid Atlanta’s barrels in this start:

Outside of two Sandoval at-bats, Atlanta couldn’t square up Kluber. There were a lot of off-balance swings throughout his start. This is the result of controlling the edges and strong pitch mixture. He threw his curve, cutter, and sinker over 20% of the time. The hitters could never really hone in on a pattern or zone. It was just good and smart pitching from Kluber.

The one downside to the start was the fifth inning. He clearly tired in the frame. His pitches were up in the zone, and he lost the corners throughout the inning. He surrendered three walks and put the team in a pretty tough situation. We will get to that in a moment. This is Kluber’s final pitch chart:

At first glance, this doesn’t look great, but context matters. Many of the pitches up in the zone came from the fifth inning when he ran out of gas. There are definitely encouraging signs from tonight’s game for Kluber. The movement is there, and he’s beginning to find the edges. This is a nice start to build on.

The Bullpen Decision That Changed The Game

This heading may be a little harsh but play along with me. Kluber exits the game in the fifth, with the bases loaded after three walks. Boone had Nick Nelson and Lucas Luetge warming in the pen. To Boone’s defense, Kluber was rolling, and then the inning quickly changed. I wouldn’t have warmed the pen up to start the inning, given Kluber’s control of the game. The issue was who the Yankees had up in the pen.

Although it was the fifth inning, this was clearly a pivotal moment in the game. We all know how poor the offense has performed this season. Run prevention is the most important thing the Yankees can control at the moment. Darren O’Day did not pitch yesterday. He’s on two days’ rest and is a veteran reliever who entered tough situations over his career. O’Day also has a funky delivery that can challenge the righty, Marcel Ozuna. The Yankees need one out to escape the jam. The decision to go with Nick Nelson instead of O’Day was a poor one.

You don’t need to save O’Day for a jam later in the game. The game is in the balance in the fifth inning. If Ozuna gets a hit there, it becomes hard to imagine the Yankees’ current offense being able to come from behind. Nick Nelson has talent. His stuff can be electric. He also hasn’t done anything to earn the game’s highest leverage moment. His opener performance against Tampa tells us he isn’t ready yet to take on a lineup’s best hitters. He also has the most control issues of anyone in the Yankees pen. The decision to go with Nelson was baffling. Predictably, he quickly walks Ozuna, and the game was pretty much out of reach in the fifth inning.

I don’t want to bash Boone. His decision-making isn’t the primary reason why they’re in this rough stretch. Boone does have to help the team out in these moments, though. O’Day is clearly the best option for that situation on a night when the manager is trying to stay away from his top relievers. There is still one top reliever available, and you have to read the magnitude of the moment. The fifth inning called for Boone to keep his team within striking distance, and he chose the wrong door. When it rains, it pours, but sometimes you need someone to bring an umbrella to keep you dry. Boone left the umbrella at home.

The Offense Falters Again

There isn’t much to say about the offense. It stinks right now. They’re not driving the ball. They’re not having good at-bats. They’re missing meatballs. They’re letting meatballs go by. They didn’t drive the ball into the outfield more than five times at the most tonight. They’re not just experiencing a power outage. The Yankees aren’t hitting the ball hard. It is bizarre and totally out of character.

The one thing I do want to touch upon is this idea of perception and eyewash. Because the Yankees aren’t hitting the ball, the focus is now on the team’s effort. There are now suggestions that the Yankees aren’t playing hard. There is one play making the rounds: Gleyber’s ground ball in front of the plate in the seventh inning. When things aren’t going right, people start taking liberties with their perceptions. It can’t possibly be as simple as the team not having good at-bats. It has to be a matter of effort and really wanting it. The Yankees don’t want it enough. Why else would Gleyber not run 3,000 MPH on a 25 footer in front of the plate?

Because displays like that are total eyewash. Gleyber running super hard down the line in forty-degree weather right after Gio Urshela left the game with back tightness while *running to first base* isn’t changing the outcome of the play. It doesn’t change how we feel about Gleyber as a player. The Yankees aren’t scoring a run on the play. His speed to first base is doing absolutely nothing to change the fate of the game. The only thing it’s doing is playing into a silly misperception of effort and competitive spirit. Gleyber wants to win. Gleyber posts up every day. His effort isn’t an issue and never will be. I don’t want the starting shortstop risking some soft tissue injury to satisfy some WFAN callers and some Twitter accounts. I need to see a healthy Gleyber get out of his rut.

The bigger issue on the play was the check swing. It’s a 1-1 count, and he took an unconvincing and off-balance “swing.” That is what we should be talking about. The at-bats suck. I don’t care if Gleyber takes ten minutes and trots around the bases backward if he jacks one out there. I want to see him hit some bombs from the fifth spot in the lineup. That is the “effort” the team needs and not some sprint speed test for Statcast.

The Yankees will face a non-East team in the regular season for the first time since 2019. How wild is that? They will face the Cleveland baseball team in Cleveland. It will be Doming Germán against Aaron Civale. The game starts at 6:10pm. Enjoy your night.

Game 13: Nonsense

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This was atrocious, embarrassing, and low-level play from the Yankees. They are playing one of the worst-performing teams in the league early on in the season, and the Yankees made them look like world-beaters. The manager set the tone with his opener decision, and it was downhill from there. We’re watching awful baseball, and it’s unacceptable. And the worst part of the night didn’t come from the home team. It came from some fans who thought it was cool to throw baseballs at the Rays. It is truly embarrassing stuff.

So, in honor of the worst performance of the season, there won’t be any takeaways. There is nothing to analyze and break down. It was a terrible game, and the Yankees would be the first to admit it.

The best thing to do is shake this off and focus on tomorrow. It will be Jordan Montgomery against Tyler Glasnow. The game starts at 1 pm on YES. Watch a good movie. Have a nice glass of your favorite drink. Play The Show. Kiss your loved ones. Have a good night.

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