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July 6, 2012

Pebble Hunting

The Blind BABIP Test

by Sam Miller

If we want to evaluate a pitch, there are few things we can focus on. We can look at the qualities of the pitch itself as it moves toward home plate, including movement, pitch type, and location. We can look at the catcher's glove, to see how much it moves from its target. We can look at the batter, to see how balanced he is as he swings at it. And we can look at the result: hit, out, stung, dribbled. I have a theory, which is that we (non-scouts) are mostly unable to make much of the first, second and third ways. That, mostly, we only remember the fourth.

So what follows is an experiment. I don't know what the point of this experiment is or what it will show. I don't know the best way to conduct this experiment. This might be an experiment I revisit in a better form someday in the future. But the experiment is simple, and I think it will be interesting, and I can't wait.

Last week, Jake Peavy started a game against the Twins. It was a kind of a classic BABIP-buster game. He struck out seven and walked one; he didn't allow a home run. But he gave up 10 hits and three runs, and he took the loss. Twins batters put 20 balls in play, and 10 became hits. This raises the question of whether BABIP failed Peavy, or whether Peavy failed BABIP, and whether these hits were his fault. So I've created GIFs of these 20 pitches. One was a bunt, and one had bad camera work, so 18 GIFs. Nine hits, nine outs. The twist is that you get to see only up to the frame just before the ball is hit, which means the ball is, at the very most, within eight feet of the batter. You don't get to see the result. You get to see three of the four pieces of evidence, but not the fourth. (I'll also give you the count, and a description of the previous pitch, so you'll have a sliver of sequencing information.) Can you identify the hits?

Each pair below has an out and a hit. Write down your guesses and leave them in the comments, or send them to me by clicking the email button below, or send me a tweet at @sammillerbp. You can simply list the guesses ("The hits are on the 1. Left 2. Right 3. Right" etc). Or you can give me more specific guesses of what you think happened and your explanations of why you think this; I will be fascinated by all information I get out of this, and every response is valuable. Once I have a bunch of guesses, I'll pop back in and add the answers to the bottom of this page, and we'll see how we all did. I don't really have a hypothesis for how this will go, but I think it will say something about a) pitching or b) observation or c) BABIP. Here we go!

1. Pitch on the left came on a 1-1 pitch after a swinging strike on an outside slider. Pitch on the right came on the first pitch of the at-bat.

2. Pitch on the left came on a 1-2 pitch after a low two-seamer for a called strike. Pitch on the right came on the first pitch of the at-bat.

3. Pitch on the left came on the first pitch of the at-bat. Pitch on the right came on a 2-2 pitch after an inside slider for a ball.

4. Pitch on the left came on a 2-2 pitch after a two-seamer outside. Pitch on the right came on a full count after a slider low and outside.

5. Pitch on the left came on a 2-0 pitch after a two-seamer outside. Pitch on the right came on a 1-2 pitch after a fastball high and away.

6. Pitch on the left came on a 1-0 pitch after a fastball low and away. Pitch on the right came on a 1-2 pitch after a slider away.

7. Pitch on the left came on an 0-1 pitch after a slider taken for a strike. Pitch on the right came on a 1-2 pitch after a slider low and away.

8. Pitch on the left came on a 2-1 pitch after a changeup low and away. Pitch on the right came on a 1-1 pitch after a fastball up and away.

9. Pitch on the left came on a full count, after a changeup outside. Pitch on the right came on a 2-2 pitch, after a fastball taken inside.

Go.

[Results.]

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

Related Content:  Pitching,  Jake Peavy,  White Sox,  Babip,  Hits,  Sequencing

76 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

saigonsam

ah, the advantages of living in Asia, I get to be the first to comment.

1-5 all Left
6-9 all Right

I am not being lazy. For me, I looked to see which pitch caught the most of the plate.

Jul 06, 2012 02:40 AM
rating: 0
 
saigonsam

Those are what I believe to be the hits, BTW.

Jul 06, 2012 02:49 AM
rating: 0
 
divcoman

I think the first six had the hit on the left and the out on the right.
Then I thought the last three were the reverse: out on the left and hit on the right.

I don't have some deep reasoning behind this. In most cases I think my guess comes, like saigonsam, from location.

Jul 06, 2012 04:20 AM
rating: 0
 
Rick Lopez

1-L / 2-L / 3-R / 4-L / 5-L / 6-L / 7-R / 8-R / 9-L

I'm dizzy...

Jul 06, 2012 04:29 AM
rating: 0
 
woodenbats

Hits are on the 1. R 2. L 3. R 4. L 5. R 6. R 7. R 8. R 9. R

used ball in relation to catcher's glove, and batter's balance and hand position on swing; and unsure of all my guesses.

Jul 06, 2012 05:07 AM
rating: 0
 
CrispinGlover

Where I think the hits are,
1. R, 2. L, 3. L, 4. R, 5. L, 6. R, 7. L, 8. L, 9. R

Jul 06, 2012 05:14 AM
rating: 0
 
dREaDS Fan

Hits: R, R, L, L, L, R, R, R, R

Fun experiment ... thanks.

Jul 06, 2012 05:29 AM
rating: 0
 
VelvetFog

1 - Right
2 - Right
3 - Left
4 - Left
5 - Left
6 - Right
7 - Left
8 - Left
9 - Left

Jul 06, 2012 05:34 AM
rating: 0
 
SC

R,L,L,L,L,R,L,R,R

Jul 06, 2012 06:19 AM
rating: 0
 
Leg4206

Hits: R,R,L,R,L,R,R,R,R

Besides hits, it would be nice to match with the solidness of contact because I assume that is the result each guesser is trying to predict.

Interesting article.

Jul 06, 2012 06:41 AM
rating: 0
 
MHaywood1025

Hits on the :

1. Left
2. Left
3. Right
4. Right
5. Right
6. Left
7. Right
8. Right
9. Right

Jul 06, 2012 06:41 AM
rating: 0
 
dREaDS Fan

How about separately capturing the experiment results of "quasi-scouts" like KG, Professor Parks, others who presumably have a better eye for these things?

Jul 06, 2012 06:53 AM
rating: 5
 
Beilfuss

1 - R
2 - L
3 - L
4 - L
5 - R
6 - R
7 - R
8 - L
9 - R

Jul 06, 2012 07:33 AM
rating: 0
 
turbo7773

My guesses on the hits:

1. R
2. L
3. R
4. R
5. L
6. R
7. L
8. R
9. R

I used a combination of pitch location, sequencing context, and gut feeling to make guesses.

Jul 06, 2012 07:38 AM
rating: 0
 
GoTribe06

The hits are on the:

1. Right (misses glove)
2. Left (flat pitch)
3. Left (hanger)
4. Right (misses glove)
5. Left (less movement)
6. Right (other pitch was nasty)
7. Left (heart of the plate)
8. Right (little higher?)
9. Right (misses over the middle).

Jul 06, 2012 07:38 AM
rating: 0
 
Peter Ellwood

Fun game! Though I now feel like the kid from lost who is forced to watch the violently moving images over and over again.

Hits on the:

1 Right
2 Left
3 Left
4 Left
5 Right
6 Right
7 Left
8 Right
9 Right

Jul 06, 2012 07:39 AM
rating: 0
 
MattDavis

Hits: R, R, L, R, L, R, L, R, R

Margin of error +/- 9.

Jul 06, 2012 07:40 AM
rating: 1
 
surfdent48

Hits: L,L,R,L,R,R,L,R,R. Most of these pitches are "fat"

Jul 06, 2012 07:51 AM
rating: 0
 
ducat2

Hits are:
1)Right
2)Right
3)Left
4)Right
5)Right
6)Right
7)Left
8)Left
9)Right

Jul 06, 2012 07:59 AM
rating: 0
 
AJ

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, select, start.

Jul 06, 2012 08:11 AM
rating: 1
 
pbsenerchia

Hits:

1. R
2. R
3. L
4. R
5. L
6. R
7. L
8. L
9. R

Jul 06, 2012 08:14 AM
rating: 0
 
pbsenerchia

Forgot to add - my guesses were mostly based on the catcher's movement; if the pitch hit its spot. Also looked at location and movement.

Jul 06, 2012 08:21 AM
rating: 0
 
gardner37

1. Right
2. Right
3. Left
4. Left
5. Left
6. Right
7. Left
8. Right
9. Right

Jul 06, 2012 08:16 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnbaseball

1. Up
2. Down
3. Up
4. Down
5. Left
6. Right
7. Left
8. Right
9. B
10. A
11. Start

Jul 06, 2012 08:27 AM
rating: 1
 
sbnbaseball

Oh, man, not only did I forget what account I was logged in under, but someone made the same joke before me. Amazing. Two errors on the play.

Jul 06, 2012 08:28 AM
rating: 0
 
SC

and you forgot to hit select. No 30 lives for you.

Jul 06, 2012 10:13 AM
rating: 0
 
BillJohnson

Hits:
1: R
2: R
3: R
4: L
5: L
6: R
7: R
8: R
9: L
Pure SWAGs, and every guess could be wrong, but based on the hitter's balance, and particularly, the way he appears to be tracking the pitch. In other words, it has to do with the way things are going at the plate end, not the mound end.

Jul 06, 2012 08:47 AM
rating: -1
 
PaddyE

1 - R
2 - L
3 - L
4 - R
5 - L
6 - L
7 - L
8 - R
9 - R

No real method to my madness--simply which one I thought looked more hittable by a batter of that size with that stance. I will not be at all surprised if I get them all wrong, and I won't even feel bad about it.

After all, we know all of these pitches were hit, it's just a matter of whether they were hit were they ain't. If we got position of fielders maybe we'd have another piece of data we probably wouldn't be able to evaluate properly either.

I don't see any BP staff responses (yet). Even if you have to take a secret poll, I'd sure like to see how you folks who presumably watch a lot more baseball a lot more closely than many of us do match up against the unwashed masses.

Jul 06, 2012 09:09 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Bill Skelton
BP staff

Hits:
1: R
2: L
3: L
4: L
5: L
6: R
7: L
8: L
9: R

Jul 06, 2012 09:13 AM
 
BJohannsen

Hits:
1-L
2-L
3-R
4-L
5-L
6-R
7-R
8-R
9-R

Some of them the batter looked like he was getting a bad swing - was going to miss, and since we know he put it in play was probably a pop-up or bouncer. I called those outs.

I tended to assume the straighter pitch was a hit, the more movement was an out. Not always, but a tendency.

Jul 06, 2012 09:34 AM
rating: 1
 
bline24

The hits are on the
1. Right
2. Left
3. Right
4. Left
5. Right
6. Left
7. Right
8. Right
9. Right

For what it's worth, I based my guesses almost entirely on the batter's reaction/position. Except for a couple of pitches that were right down the middle, I found it very difficult to devine much of anything from the pitch.

Jul 06, 2012 09:35 AM
rating: 0
 
antonsirius

Mine were almost exactly the same as yours... R-L-R-L-L-L-R-R-R.

I based mine, as much as I can say I based them on anything, on how solid the contact appeared to be/whether it looked like the pitch was going to be pulled or taken up the middle or away, and the likelihood of a ball in play in that zone getting through for a hit.

Jul 07, 2012 15:33 PM
rating: 0
 
seeinred

Great idea, Sam; I love this little experiment.

Hits:
1 - Left. It looks to me like the right gif runs in on him and probably jams him

2 - Left. For some reason I imagine Dozier taking a protective 2 strike slap at the ball, resulting in a soft liner to shallow right.

3 - Left. I don't know why, it just looks to me like he's gonna smoke that ball.

4 - I'm going left again, but I think both of those were hit pretty hard.

5 - Right. It looks like he kinda hung that one a little bit.

6 - Left. Both of those looked like balls, but I have an easier time seeing the golf swing as a hit than the jammed swing.

7 - Right. Just because it caught more of the plate.

8 - Right. I'm done offering my rationale because really I'm just guessing. And not guessing very well, I imagine.

9 - Right. Just because.

I had to open each image in a new tab because the gifs are kinda jumpy with 18 of them loaded on one page on this slow work computer, I'm wondering if the numbering of the gifs offers any clues?

Jul 06, 2012 09:35 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Sam Miller
BP staff

Numbers, and which were left and which were right, were essentially random. No clues there.

Jul 06, 2012 13:25 PM
 
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

Of course, if there were clues there, this is exactly what you would say.

Jul 06, 2012 13:27 PM
 
Mikeyruler

Listed which side the hit is on
1. right - pitch moved right over the middle of the plate even if it was jamey carroll batting, should be a hit
2. left - pitch on right seems to be bitting hard down and in on the lefty, pitch of left was probably just flipped out to right field
3. left - not much difference between the pitches allthough the one on the right seems to move a bit more to the outside, so I'll go with left for the hit
4. left - pitch on the right seems like it is going to eat the guy up inside, pitch of left is a hanger to mauer, not a good idea
5. left - revere looks out in front for the pitch on the right, also good location of the breaking ball so I'll go with morneau on the left with the hit
6. right - real good slider low and away on the left so probably not much contact, pitch on left seems to run back over the plate
7. left - pitch on the left right down the middle and jamey carroll is batting on the right
8. right - hung the slider a bit on the right so probably a hit there
9. right - span looks on that pitch on the right especially since peavy just threw him the same pitch right before, good breaking ball on the left to morneau

FYI - this was fun and hope this helps

Jul 06, 2012 09:37 AM
rating: 1
 
OonBoon

R, L, R, L, L, R, R, L, R

Why do I suspect Sam is setting us up? I'll bet the fat pitches were 75% outs.

Jul 06, 2012 09:51 AM
rating: 0
 
misterjohnny
(925)

1 R
2 L
3 L
4 L
5 L
6 R
7 L
8 R
9 R

Jul 06, 2012 10:08 AM
rating: 0
 
jtanker33

My guesses as to which were hits: left, left, left, left, left, right, right, right, left.

1) left - Looks like the batter was squaring it up
2) left - Pic on right looks like probably infield ground ball
3) left - Both look like the hitter took the other way. The one on the right had more movement.
4) left - It looks like the one on the right got popped up
5) left - Just looks easier to square up.
6) right
7) right
8) right
9) left

Jul 06, 2012 10:19 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

1. L
2. R
3. L
4. R
5. R
6. R
7. L
8. L
9. R

Seems there was a lot of spot missing. More than I would have thought. On a certain level, to do this you have to trust that the pitcher and catcher hitting their spot will create an out. I suspect there might be a bit of, as it stated, "bad" hits.

Neat idea, Sam. I am now terrified that I got all of them wrong.

Jul 06, 2012 10:57 AM
 
BP staff member Ben Murphy
BP staff

1. right (ball is up more and tailing less)
2. right (misses target more, left looks like a popup)
3. left (ball on right tailing heavily away)
4. left (ball seems to be in the middle of the plate)
5. left
6. right
7. left
8. right
9. right

fun stuff. i would love to see the same 18 gifs but rolling another half second or so each so that we can see contact, and then see how many we get right (collectively).

Jul 06, 2012 11:27 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

1. Left - Pitch seemed to have less life (caveat of GIF not through contact), also batter's leg seemed more dynamic in swing
2. Left - Pitch on right seemed to tail in too much for good wood.
3. Right - WAG
4. Left - Pitched seemed to catch too much of the plate.
5. Left - Hitter seemed to be in the process of a more balanced swing
6. Right - Pitch tailed in over the plate
7. Left - Platoon advantage
8. Left - pitch seemed to catch more of the plate
9. Right - Pitch was hanging more
Fun exercise.

Jul 06, 2012 11:46 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

All based on which batter looked in most control of his swing:
1: L
2: L
3: R
4: R
5: R
6: L
7: R
8: R
9: L

Fun. Checking back I seem to agree mostly with MHaywood, followed by either Rick Lopez or Johannsen. I don't expect to be very good at this as I don't watch much baseball - that's not my thing. There are a bunch who went mostly with L among the first 4 or 5 and R among the last 4. Otherwise, we are all over the place.

Jul 06, 2012 12:59 PM
rating: 0
 
SC

I hope someone on staff is going to give us our "collective picks" so we can learn whether the hive mind can see the (immediate) future.

Jul 06, 2012 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
misterjohnny
(925)

33 respondents through Hoot Stromboli:
# of L/# of R
11 22
23 10
22 11
22 11
23 10
7 26
18 15
9 24
5 28

I am very close to the hive mind (8/9). I have been assimilated.

Jul 06, 2012 13:56 PM
rating: 0
 
misterjohnny
(925)

There are 3 people who are equal to the hive mind:
SC
MikeyRuler
misterjohnny

The outlier is RA Wagman, who only picked 2 with the Hive. Which means, of course, that he will be the most correct.

And I really wish I could edit my previous post.

Jul 06, 2012 14:06 PM
rating: 1
 
misterjohnny
(925)

Outlier is Hoot. Again, edit would be great :(

Jul 06, 2012 14:07 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

dammit! I was ready to celebrate my outlier-dom.

Jul 06, 2012 14:27 PM
rating: 0
 
Matt

I love this. I am going with the pitches that are highest, as far as I can tell.

1. R
2. L
3. L
4. L
5. R
6. R
7. R
8. R
9. R

Jul 06, 2012 14:19 PM
rating: 0
 
slarkin712

1. R
2. R
3. L
4. L
5. R
6. R
7. L
8. R
9. R

Jul 06, 2012 14:25 PM
rating: 0
 
tiger337

Totally based on instinct:
1. R
2. L
3. R
4. L
5. L
6. R
7. R
8. L
9. L

Jul 06, 2012 14:28 PM
rating: 0
 
jmanig

1. R
2. L
3. L
4. L
5. L
6. R
7. L
8. L
9. R

Since the location of the previous pitch was given, I tried to go by how much that pitch would have kept the batter off-balance.

However, my expectations are that there is no pattern whatsoever, or close to it.

Jul 06, 2012 14:56 PM
rating: 0
 
ehunke

Hits:
R
L
R
L
L
R
L
L
R

Jul 06, 2012 15:05 PM
rating: -1
 
jrfukudome

R
L
L
R
L
R
L
R
R

Jul 06, 2012 17:09 PM
rating: 0
 
WaldoInSC

L-R-L-L R-L-R-R

Hey, it's a paradiddle!

Jul 06, 2012 17:12 PM
rating: 1
 
smallmanoncampus

Well you should have 9 answers

Jul 06, 2012 19:16 PM
rating: 1
 
marctacoma

hits:
R, L, L, R, R, R, R, R, L

Jul 06, 2012 18:48 PM
rating: 0
 
smallmanoncampus

Left, Left, Left, Right, Left, Right, Right, Left, Right

Jul 06, 2012 19:15 PM
rating: 0
 
Ben Solow

Where I think the hits are:

1. Right
2. Left
3. Left
4. Right
5. Left
6. Right
7. Right
8. Left
9. Right

Jul 06, 2012 22:34 PM
rating: 0
 
bwilhoite

From my phone I thought it was the first six with the hits on the left and the last three on the right, but after looking at it on my computer I would venture to guess:

1. Right
2. Left
3. Left
4. Left
5. Left
6. Left
7. Right
8. Right
9. Right

Jul 06, 2012 23:25 PM
rating: 0
 
bwilhoite

For what it's worth, I thought I'd further note that from my computer I actually looked at the. "double-blind." my fiancé pulled all the gifs onto the desktop and I watched them one by one in no apparent order. I separated the. Into a hit column and an out column and then she went back through the. To determine which were the left and right images. I had to redo two sets as from that method I had both images from the first set as hits and both from the sixth set as outs. Otherwise they were all the same as what I have above.

I did a read through of the counts the first time on my phone, but didn't pay attention to them on the computer. I was looking for a combination of movement, hitting the spot, and the batters hands and weight distribution. So, from the first set, I'd guess the out was a well hit out, but right at somebody; and from the sixth set, I'd guess the hit was a lucky poke that found a hole (seeing eye single).

Jul 07, 2012 12:16 PM
rating: 1
 
Brian Cartwright

1 HO
2 HO
3 OH
4 OH
5 HO
6 OH
7 HO
8 OH
9 OH

Jul 07, 2012 00:18 AM
rating: 0
 
jonathanaustin

Hits:

1 - Right
2 - Right
3 - Left
4 - Right
5 - Right
6 - Left
7 - Left
8 - Right
9 - Right

based on the pitch movement and location as well as the batter's reaction.

Jul 07, 2012 02:30 AM
rating: 0
 
ajs480

Based on how far the pitcher missed the catcher's target (except for #5, which looks like a get-me-over meatball):

1. R
2. R
3. L
4. R
5. L
6. R
7. L
8. R
9. R

Jul 07, 2012 09:43 AM
rating: 0
 
bcat31

Hits

1R
2L
3L
4R
5L
6R
7R
8R
9R

I'm not sure what this says about me, but this was fun. I didn't give the batter much credit in my decison of "hit or out," other than in full count situations. I concluded that what I deemed to be nasty pitches an out.

Looking forward to the answers! Thanks.

Jul 07, 2012 11:45 AM
rating: 0
 
Kent Hertel

Hits are
1.L

Jul 07, 2012 12:36 PM
rating: 0
 
louispupu

1L: out, grounder or pop-up to 1st
1R: hit, liner to right-center

2L:out, grounder to 2nd
2R:hit, liner down the right-field line

3L:out, grounder to 2nd
3R:hit, liner to left

4L:hit, liner to right
4R:out, fly to center

5L:out, ground to short
5R:hit, grounder to right

6L:hit, soft liner to right
6R:out, pop up to infield

7L:hit, liner to right-center
7R:out, grounder to 2nd

8L:out, fly to right
8R:out, liner to center

9L:hit, liner down the right-field line
9R:out, pop up to 1st

Jul 07, 2012 13:09 PM
rating: 0
 
louispupu

correction:

1L: out, grounder or pop-up to 1st
1R: hit, liner to right-center

2L:out, grounder to 2nd
2R:hit, liner down the right-field line

3L:out, grounder to 2nd
3R:hit, liner to left

4L:hit, liner to right
4R:out, fly to center

5L:out, ground to short
5R:hit, grounder to right

6L:hit, soft liner to right
6R:out, pop up to infield

7L:hit, liner to right-center
7R:out, grounder to 2nd

8L:out, fly to right
8R:hit, liner to center

9L:hit, liner down the right-field line
9R:out, pop up to 1st

Jul 07, 2012 13:10 PM
rating: 0
 
Kent Hertel

Hits are
1. L
2. L
3. L
4. L
5. L
6. R
7. L
8. R
9. R

Jul 07, 2012 13:59 PM
rating: 0
 
bwilhoite

My sister's boyfirend, who is a catcher, came up with:

L
L
R
L
R
L
R
R
R

Jul 07, 2012 22:39 PM
rating: 0
 
bwilhoite

My brother, a former pitcher, came up with:

R
L
R
L
L
L
R
R
L

Jul 08, 2012 13:54 PM
rating: 0
 
jfmoguls

1-4 the hit is on the left
5 is right
6 is left
7-9 is right

I went a lot on the previous pitch. At least of a couple of my choices for hits came on pitches that seemed to come in close to where the previous pitch came.

Jul 08, 2012 07:58 AM
rating: 0
 
eliyahu

The hits:
1 - L. I like the way he's stepping into pitch.
2 - L. Right side is clearly going to be a bouncer on the ground. While that may be a hit, would be silly to predict it as such
3 - L. Fatter pitch
4 - L. Ditto
5 - R. Hitter sitting on off speed stuff
6 - R. Much more hittable pitch
7 - L. Getting too tired to explain
8 - R. See above
9 - R. Catcher set up outside and pitcher missed inside, leading me to believe this was a mistake pitch.

Jul 08, 2012 19:50 PM
rating: 0
 
Dodger300

The Hits:

1 - R
2 - L
3 - L
4 - R
5 - L
6 - R
7 - R
8 - R
9 - R

Jul 08, 2012 23:06 PM
rating: 0
 
DaveKavanagh
(776)

The hits:
1 Left
2 Left
3 Right
4 Left
5 Right
6 Left
7 Right
8 Right
9 Right

Jul 09, 2012 03:51 AM
rating: 0
 
thegeneral13

LRLLRLRRR are my guesses for the hits.

All based on count, previous pitch (entire historical pitch sequence and results would add useful info IMO, not that you could reasonably have provided this), pitch location, pitch movement, and batter's swing (timing, extension, etc.).

Jul 09, 2012 09:57 AM
rating: 0
 
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