Sunday, 25 July 2021

The plot sickens

It was a great Saturday for analysing the rules of minority sports. From working out what constituted 'ippon' in judo, to a sport that's harder to adjudicate than a Supreme Court trial.

You wouldn't be hearing about umpires if we'd run over the top to win. And you still won't at any great length from me. A team that plays in a manner that draws shitloads of free kicks drew shitloads of free kicks, some were questionable, and we still got close, with all the momentum before collapsing like our drinks were spiked. If your main takeaway is the free kick count there may be vacancies for you at the Essendon Football Club, apply c/o The Hangar, Tullamarine, 3043.

I didn't expect a relaxing evening, and when the commentators were revealed to be Brayshaw and BT that became even less likely. Last week James Harmes had an ear infection, this week we were all going to end the night with bleeding ears. I presume Jason Bennett wasn't available because Channel 7 is smuggling him into Japan to call Sport Climbing, there's no other excuse for having these two together on television. Seven should send Taylor to Tokyo, set up a fictional sport for him to commentate, then leave him there.

The only thing more offensive than the commentary was the digital logos on the wings, an attempt to fool us into forgetting that nobody's there. If you need a reminder of how many stupid people there are just go for a walk around your local shopping centre, but surely nobody's impressed by Playstation 1 level graphics that spookily float in mid-air like Casper the Friendly Ghost. Now that we've lost top spot let's go back to Foxtel, where you might have to put up with Dwayne Russell shrieking like he's sat on a nail, but where there's a banging theme song and they only treat the viewer like half a moron.

Presumably, they thought a top of the table clash deserved their best-known callers, and for that we say thank you not very much. It was also, for the second time, a first place battle between premiership aspirants in an empty stadium. This time it was our home game, flushing another several hundred thousand dollars down the drain, along with the millions lost last time. If we ever get out of this one you can set your watch for Lockdown VI: The Ultimate Challenge to interrupt the first week of finals. If there's an ancient burial ground discovered under the Bentleigh Club we might be the first club to celebrate the double chance by rattling tins.

That is if we make the top four, now that the first leg of the Spirit of 2004 first place to losing an Elimination Final tour is in the bank we've got four weeks and a final to complete the set. At that point I'll happily join the community sooking, despite feeling like the bubble has been about to burst since Carlton.

While we remained true to the side that couldn't beat 17th last week, simply reintroducing Harmes to try and recapture the magic of his tag on Liberatore last time, wacky funster Luke Beveridge ignored the long-range weather forecast and picked a swathe of tall forwards. Turns out one of them was there to be a defender, which came in handy when they lost one of their real backmen during the first quarter. After offering little for years (albeit still at an average of 1.2 goals a game, which is more than you can say for most of the forwards we've employed since David Neitz), the touch-typing friendly Josh Schache played a fine game in defence. Like Hawthorn reverting to type and conceding 100 points this week, he'll probably never do it that well again, and will eventually receive a retrospective Kingsley nomination.

Given that the first quarter was played in the sort of Big Piss we narrowly avoided last week, perhaps we could have lost a tall before the bounce. Do modern teams even do tactical late changes? Or is everything such a system-driven wankfest that picking somebody for the conditions would cause an irrevocable tear in the space-time continuum?

For all my pro-Brown propaganda, I thought he might have been temporarily shelved for a smaller man. So when he instead ignored the rising damp to take a strong overhead mark in the opening minutes I felt guilty for even considering it. Of course, he missed, because that's just what we do. After a wonky opening fortnight, we had a few weeks of (relative) accuracy, but have now kicked 57.76 since the bye.

This one proved costly, as the Bulldogs (complete with BT unfortunately pulling up on describing something as a 'headfuck' just in time) went down the other end for the opener. It came courtesy of one M. Bontempelli standing on his own in an area code of space. Which makes perfect sense when he's the best player in the competition.

Other than Brown's wasted mark, we looked as threatening inside 50 as usual. Which was convenient, because we were playing like every other week, with scant regard for it bucketing down. I'm not qualified to tell you how I'd have done it, but it didn't seem like hopeful long bombs into a pack were going to have a high success rate in conditions that were drifting from 'moist' to 'wetter than an otter's pocket'. It looked like we'd have to pluck goals out of thin air, and there are few better for that tasks than Petracca. His gather and finish on the run was as good a way as any to confirm that we weren't going to end the night on 0.9.9. By his standards, the rest of his night was wasteful, but this finish was delightful.

We still spent the rest of the quarter looking as likely to win as [insert topical Olympic reference here. Eric the Eel? Eddie the Eagle? Melbourne in 1996?]. Down the other end, they were finding many and varied ways to score. Josh Bruce celebrated his by doing the exact same bull-horn celebration that caused Gary to lamp Tony in an episode of Men Behaving Badly. For the sake of completeness, I wasted half an hour unsuccessfully scouring episodes on YouTube to find a link to that scene. Maybe, like the Dees contending for the flag, I just imagined it. 

In the week Nathan Buckley used COVID test numbers to cast doubt on whether the virus is all that powerful (gee, I wonder why), his earlier point about the uselessness of hitouts couldn't have been better proven. If he wasn't just doing a pre-emptive strike to make sure he gets laid again, he could have used them to answer his own question about Coronavirus. How many there are (tests/hitouts) doesn't matter if they don't lead to anything (confirmed cases/clearances). Gawn was having the easiest night since the time he got 80 hitouts against some 180cm part-timer in the VFL but it didn't help. We only narrowly won centre clearances, though I'd never have guessed without consulting the stats, and lost around the ground. This is an area of concern.

Oliver couldn't have done much more to try and get us going. For heroic performances in a loss, it fell short of his Adelaide masterclass, but he was in everything. We're getting to the point where somebody paid to clickbait will ask if his possession domination is counter-productive to the side, and they should be hung in the stocks and pelted with rotten garbage. He's not perfect - and how can anybody be in a side that kicks at 35% efficiency in a quarter? - but good luck extracting half the ball from congestion without him. Would be good not to concede SIX goals from defensive stoppages, but that shouldn't detract from his individual contribution. Mind you, even I was a bit embarrassed when he reacted to having his head pushed down with the gentlest of force like he was Rayden Tallis.

Speaking of Dermott Brereton stepping on people, the man who once missed the point of American Psycho came out with some odd anti-Fritsch sentiment during the week. Not about Bayley's flat new haircut, but his apparently growing reputation as a 'faux tough-guy'. Not one other human on the planet seems to have this concern but it takes all types. The flimsy supporting evidence was a) the fend-off in Hobart, b) gently pushing somebody into a goalpost, and c) a marking contest that left a young Hawthorn player with a zero week injury.

I'm into free speech (e.g. when I eventually slip up and defame a public figure on here, hopefully they ignore it), but would fall over laughing if Fritsch extracted a grovelling apology by threatening to sue. It's not as bad as naming the wrong player as a sex offender, but you could argue it sullies his reputation and potentially affects future earnings. Sadly cooler heads prevailed, but considering the '87 Prelim, the '88 Grand Final and the way we fell over at home against the Swans in '94 (a shock loss to a lowly team, there's a surprise), you'd think Derm would be more polite to us.

In addition to superstar players hanging out on their own in front of goal, the Dogs also found the sort of arsey goals that are worth their weight in gold on a wet night. For instance, Tim English Muffins losing a hitout, then standing back, waiting for the ball to fall to him anyway, and kicking straight up in the air, only for the ball to hit the jet stream and float through from 45 metres out. Forget the umpires, I felt persecuted by air.

At quarter time the rain floated away, hopefully towards New South Wales. This left some hope of kicking a competitive score. After all, we're played like it was dry during the first quarter anyway, so this should have suited us. Giving up a start against a good team for once was a novelty, but one that lost its charm when they got the first goal after the break.

As somebody who's been looking for reasons why we'll fall over for months, I was preparing to wave the white flag like a coward when Derm's mate reintroduced forward pressure to win a free in front of goal. It kicked off a few fun-filled Fritsch minutes, where he made a good fist at trying to half-volley one from an awkward angle, then kneed the ball through from close range. Can't help it if you're unlucky, they're flinging goals through at that end (when not literally flinging the ball from tackles) and we couldn't get the ball to sit 30 centimetres lower for a tap-in. Despite Fritsch showing absolutely no interest, we still had to sit through a minute of replays before confirming he hadn't shinned it.

Now we were starting to get back into the game, and had Brown not stuffed his next set shot into the post from 30 metres, things would have looked a lot better. His long-distance run-up isn't so entertaining when he's missing, but he must have had the memo explaining how we absolutely bloody love a point at this club. Later he kicked out on the full at a near-right angle, but considering the marks,, an eventual two goals, and the need to find some consistency I'm comfortable that while he didn't shut the door on Weideman or 'none of the above', it remains his spot to lose. 

Shame we'd had to go three goals down before turning up, but it's not the first or last time that will happen this season. That we came back at them several times is the only reason I'm not fully necking myself over this result. I remain on high alert to see how we react next week. We may be the first ladder-blind team, willing to treat anybody from 1st to 18th with the same respect.

What we didn't need, having finally got back into it, was to concede two goals at the end of the quarter. As we discovered after Bombers fans went nuts, the first one should technically not have been a free. However, no matter what degree of prior opportunity you have, fresh-airing a kick or handball should morally be illegal so I'm not going to punch a police horse over it. Sure, they missed a Dogs player handballing with his bicep a few seconds earlier, but there was nothing the umpires were doing to us that we couldn't have been covered at our best.

After just five goals in nine games since joining the Dogs, it was inevitably our old mate Mitch Hannan who kicked it. You'll never get me to say anything mean about him after that goal, and he could end the year as the most unlikely ex-player to win a flag since Steven Armstrong, but how typical that a guy who's kicked one goal in a month would save up two for us. Cue memories of other ex-players enjoying the time of their new life against us. Hard to believe we're as far away from Sean Charles nearly leading bottom of the ladder St. Kilda to an upset win against us (FANCY THAT), as 2000 was from 1979. Welcome to my ongoing midlife crisis.

While only the biggest "you're with us or against us" wanker would hold any ill feeling towards Mitch, feelings were running high on field, and the goal lead to some handbags (Hannanbags?) at 20 paces manly jostling. Most of it was at Brayshaw's expense, and even if he probably shouldn't have conceded the free, it formed part of a very ordinary night. It was a fair way down from the heights of our last meeting, where he did the best wing defence since Bianca Chatfield. It's almost like coaches relish playing us a second time. On the other side of the ground, Langdon was restricted to his lowest possession count since the last time we played the Dogs, suggesting they already knew what to do with him, and we didn't know about to counter it.

Given our gradual improvement during the half, a half time deficit of 15 wouldn't have been too bad. Then we went into full DemonTime mode and conceded in the last minute, leaving us needing to repeat the second half reinvention against Brisbane. It nearly happened, but try playing from the start instead of mounting heroic comebacks every week. 

For matches in the first week of an Olympics, it shit on being 61-0 down on the night of the 2008 Opening Ceremony, but still left such a sour taste that I couldn't face any half time analysis. After leaving the room and finding something better to do, I almost missed the restart. For once hearing the game switch back to Channel 7 commentary was a good thing, if I'd walked in late I'd have missed our most potent attacking period of the match. All 90 seconds of it.

The first came from that wonderful man Oliver pinging out of the middle like a rocket and finding McSizzle 30 metres out directly in front. Alas, while he had a big go for the rest of the night there wasn't much more sizzle on the cards. I still maintain that he and Brown will be a good combo, based entirely on the Sydney game.

When Fritsch got another from the next centre bounce it was beginning to look a lot like Brisbane. Except for completely wasting the hot start by letting two in at the other end. I don't care how close we got or how defensive teams win finals, this is why I still think we're too flaky for a flag. If I'm proven wrong the starting 22 + substitute can spit in the premiership cup and I'll pour it over my head or worse, but this is a good side, not a great one.  

Just as I was about to microwave my hopes and dreams, the time finally hit Brown O'Clock, and he converted a set shot. I don't know if it's polite to hope a vegetarian gets blood lust, but I hoped this would encourage him to run riot. Not quite, but there were signs.

The story of the night was that just when you thought we'd discovered the answers, Footscray changed the questions. After another pair of misses (reminder - 57.76), they found a way to fumble another goal through and we were back to where we started.

I'm not usually interested in opposition players unless they used to play for us, but am quite fascinated by Cody Weightman. His hair seems to be made out of mop fibres, and he's got a Bill Clinton style "I love mischief" face. I'd already decided to theatrically dislike him for years to come when he climbed on Gawn's shoulders for a tremendous screamer. There have been times where we've ridden on Max's back (see the first Hawthorn game), now between this and the way they intercepted his taps, Maximum might score votes in their B&F. Didn't mean he played a bad game, it was just a night where nothing worked. 

Weightman then flipped the Jeremy Howe Rule on its head, not only delivering an effective possession immediately post screamer, but dashing forward to crumb a goal. There were complaints about our defence allowing it, but I'd argue you can afford the odd meltdown if not aiming to win 65-55 every week. We did our bit, shame on the Dogs for kicking five more goals than they were supposed to.

The rest of a surprisingly high scoring quarter (not compared to Adelaide and Hawthorn playing with bottom four freedom on the other channel) broke two goals to one in our favour, and there was still hope of a barnstorming finish. If not, it still hadn't been the sort of dire performance to make you stockpile weapons and settle in for siege mentality, but enough to convince me we'll need luck to get past the second week of the finals.

I thought Hunt was amongst our best, but he should have feigned an injury and offered himself for substitution after causing one of the goals via a suicidally stupid downfield free. I know he's quick, but surely not at the sort of warp speed that meant he couldn't pull out of the chase-down before it became a clothesline. I only realised you could play on from a downfield free when the Dogs walked into an open goal. Any danger we might get a few easy ones like that? For the first time all night I was getting upset, but a rare hands-down win in the middle and replying goal from Viney calmed the nerves. After a ropey outing against the Hawks, he was a lot better. Still not operating at full capacity but did enough for me.

Our cause was further helped by the Dogs losing a player to concussion courtesy of a collision with Pickett. It was a fitting development for a night where Kysaiah (still never Kozzy) was inspired Richmond-style to annoy previous flag winners. Let's see him complete the hat-trick by giving West Coast players and fans the shits. It was more contest than bump, but given that the Footscray player will miss a week due to a concussion I'll bet they give Pickett one too. Might do him well to take an enforced break. Don't bother challenging, direct the legal fees to Fritsch vs Brereton.

While any sort of comeback is appreciated, I was secretly looking forward to a week of articles declaring us finished. We got away with it after the Hawthorn game due to the confusion over whether games world be played at all, but it would be well deserved here. Instead, everyone can concentrate on trying to sack the Carlton coach instead, because we launched a mini-stranglewank comeback and almost won. Where 'almost' = getting within range then folding like a house of cards.

Even when it got close I didn't think we'd win, but was willing to take the ride. If we'd been the ones defending that comeback my heart rate would have shattered records. First Pickett, then Brown's second, and bugger me, the margin was back to less than a goal. As somebody who looks like he should be playing drums for Redgum, Brown provides an exciting visual spectacle when he gets excited. When I watched all those videos of him kicking goals at North while trying to convince myself he was the right option, it struck me how many he got from frees. From the 'make enough contests and you'll get rewarded eventually' file it came after he was clobbered trying to mark.

If we'd nicked it from here it would have been thievery on such a grand scale that Ronnie Biggs would have risen from the dead to get involved. Sadly, both ours and Ronald's comebacks were thwarted when we didn't get any closer. Who knows what would have happened if the goal umpire didn't have a post in his way when the Dogs player clearly rushed a behind. We might have won, we might have lost by more, we might have done a GWS 2017 and drawn two games in a row. The only thing that is certain is we'd have scored one more than we actually did. 

After a night in the Bermuda Triangle, third gamer Jamara Ugle-Hagen (try singing his surname to the Blue Swede song and see if you get cancelled) missed the sort of set shot that Jack Watts would have been executed for at the same stage of his career. Fortunately for this #1 draft pick, his miss indirectly led to the sealer, falling short for a stoppage, before we failed to learn our lessons from earlier and let Bontempelli again roam free in front of goal. Then, from the next centre-bounce JUH (not the catchiest acronym) took advantage of a pressure-free clearance to lead up the middle like Jason Dunstall. With the practice shot under his belt he double sealed it.

When they stacked on another one it left us a little worse off than where we deserved, but the premiership points went to the right place. Umpires or not, we got within touching distance of the lead against a side with one player less on the bench, one key defender with a blown hammy, a star player isolating at home because he had a coffee at the COVID Cafe, and a forward gamely having a go in defence, then ran out of gas. In these final few weeks before he apparently goes back to Adelaide that might be RIP for Burgessball. 

While the Dogs had to delve into their reserves after five minutes, Tom Sparrow spent another evening watching from the bench without being called on. He's well and truly eclipsed Kade Chandler as Mr. Tracksuit Time now, playing his fifth 'game' without setting foot on the ground, as well as a one minute cameo against the Dogs first time around. No doubt players will start dropping like flies now that finals are just around the corner - and every time Steven May gets clobbered in a pack my heart skips - but our luck with in-game injuries until now has been incredible. Other than Tomlinson's big issue, you've had May get assassinated with a stray elbow, Langdon concussed with a minute left and... nothing else. I will not be held responsible if it goes wrong from here, but it's got to be one of the best runs of the modern era. 

I hate myself for not turning off at the siren, regardless of the fact that Pickett was about to have a shot. We're going to make finals and percentage isn't relevant due to the draw, so what did it matter? I could have gotten a head start on doing absolutely anything else and not had to see any happy Dogs players. The extra seconds wasted just on the "we kick so few goals I'd best see them all go through" pipedream were wasted when he missed everything. I don't think the ball had landed when I dived off the couch and shut the Megawall powering laptop. I will mentally burn the tapes, Goodwin and team should review them until they catch fire. 

After one win in a month, it would be good if things got back on track and I was exposed as a panicky idiot, but I feel like they're suffering general physical and mental fatigue. Shame there's no chance of a snap fixture chaos related bye. Sydney and GWS can't even get a game pushed back 24 hours when they lost a bunch of players before the first bounce, next week will go on even if it means seven games at Casey Fields on a Wednesday. A few weeks ago I'd have said do what you've got to, we've got a flag to win, now I just want a week to come up with a plan that the rest of the league hasn't sussed.

This is still the best side we've had in 15 years (compared to 2018, a worse forward line is cancelled out by a much-improved defence, because if scoring is going to drop to 1967 levels you may as well take advantage), but even after our brief go at nicking this, can we now be serious about where our season's at? We've all done the FM radio style "at least we won't play shit teams in the finals. Ho, ho ho" comedy. Now that top sides are just as capable of rolling us as flotsam and jetsam, staying the course and trying to win playing the same way would be immensely brave. If it works then everyone involved will be hailed as a genius, if it doesn't we'll have something to whinge about for years. And I guarantee you, if it turns out to be the latter nobody's going to care that we sat on top of the ladder for half the season.

Yes, this fit right into my theory that nobody's going to fall for the way we play twice. If GWS and Hawthorn didn't do it, a non-flaky top side wasn't going to either. And we still could have won, which is certainly something in our favour. Like a plane losing altitude, there's still plenty of time to recover. The seatbelt sign is on, and we may be about a week away from oxygen masks dropping, but it hasn't reached the 'PULL UP! PULL UP!' stage of imminent stackage yet, but my faith is shaken.

2021 Allen Jakovich Medal for Player of the Year
5 - Clayton Oliver
4 - Jake Lever
3 - Jayden Hunt
2 - Jack Viney
1 - Alex Neal-Bullen

Slight apologies to Gawn, Petty and Petracca. 

Leaderboard
Well that's blown the big one wide open, with Oliver taking full advantage of the sort of night he was built for, while Petracca got plenty of it but kicked like he had a wooden leg. In the minors, I'd have already declared Lever and Gawn provisional winners if there wasn't at least one finals game to be played. Good luck beating them anyway. In the case of the Stynes, Jackson currently sits exactly on the qualifying mark of 10 hitouts per game, so not only does he have to pick up eight votes on Gawn but he's got to do it while spending a decent amount of time in the ruck.

45 - Clayton Oliver
39 - Christian Petracca
29 - Jake Lever (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year)
22 - Tom McDonald
20 - Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year)
19 - Steven May
17 - Christian Salem
13 - Kysaiah Pickett
12 - Luke Jackson
9 - Ed Langdon
7 - James Harmes
6 - Angus Brayshaw, Bayley Fritsch
5 - Jayden Hunt, Charlie Spargo
4 - Harrison Petty
3 - Michael Hibberd
2 - James Jordon (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Rising Star Medal), Adam Tomlinson, Jack Viney
1 - Alex Neal-Bullen

Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Week
Bah, I'm in no mood to give out awards. Let's go for Pickett's snap in the third quarter and move on. He wins a subscription to the DuoNiggle app, where he'll learn techniques for giving opposition players and the fans the shits from legends like Dayne Zorko and Tom Bugg. He also retains the overall lead for the phonebooth goal against the Saints.

The All-New Bradbury Plan
Not winning last week has left us in a world of pain in the race for the top four, and as much as I'd have donated a knacker to finish fifth at the start of the year it does not appeal at all now. So, how do we get there? Well let's be brave and assume battling wins over Gold Coast and Adelaide. Then my via conservative ladder predictoring (we use and recommend the Squiggle system) says that if results go where they're expected to elsewhere we've got to beat one of West Coast or Geelong. So, we face the statue of Bradbury and hope other teams stack it.

Next week, if the fixture remains the same, you'll want North, Adelaide and Hawthorn to pull off tremendous upsets against Geelong, Footscray and Brisbane respectively. Because we're not involved, fat fucking chance. The action is all with GWS, who after years of being abused for recruiting questionable individuals, can do us a solid by rolling Port. 

The following week it's the Giants again, this time against Geelong. It will be viewer's choice whether you go for Essendon against the Bulldogs, or just concede that Footscray are certainties and do their best to avoid an Elimination Final against the Bombers. You've also got Port vs Adelaide, where anything can happen, and the unlikely but not impossible chance of Brisbane slipping up against Freo.

As we've seen over the last 19 weeks, nothing ever goes exactly as you'd expect but I reckon we're in more trouble than the early settlers. If we're the bunny who gives Essendon their first final in 17 seasons, after also providing the last, it will complete one of the biggest fizzes in history. If anyone can do it...

Next Week
Like last week, I think we're playing Gold Coast. And like last week, I've got no confidence that by the time you read this we still will be. I suppose we've got to play them at some point by the end of the year, but am almost certain that if restrictions are eased outside Melbourne, the Round 23 game will be brought forward so we can play Geelong in front of a crowd.

What do I know about the behind the scenes action at the club, but it feels like we're a bit snookered with selection. There are players waiting in the wings, reduced to playing scratch matches in horrible, Frankenstein-style combined teams while waiting for the world's worst reserves competition to restart, but do any of them suggest improvement beyond what we've got now? Maybe a bit fresher because they've been sitting around with their thumb up their arse waiting for a competitive game, but otherwise it's not exactly the All-Australian team waiting in the wings.

Despite the worst game of the season coming immediately after the bye, some excuses have been offered about players being flat because of increased pre-finals training loads. I don't know if that's a) true, b) scientific, or c) worrying when directed by somebody who was at Port when they often died in the arse late in the year, but I'm willing to blindly trust a process I know nothing about.

Regardless of whether we play at Kardinia Park, Carrara or Kokomo, I think it's time to gently start resting young players. Jordon has done very well to rack up a shitload of possessions while playing every game, but finally looked like he'd run out of juice this week. Likewise, Jackson was without vim and/or vigour, so in recognition of a season well played I'd like to offer him a night on the couch. 

In their place come Sparrow, the new king of unused subs, and Nathan freaking Jones [Note from the future - probably should have consulted the injury report to see if he was available]. There's a guy you know can just walk in and have a crack without having to worry about warming up in the twos first. He might be straight back out again the next week, but for once I'm willing to flirt with sentiment and give him the chance to establish a spot before finals. McDonald plays as little second ruck behind Gawn as possible and we hope for the best.

Gold Coast haven't been bad recently, sticking with the Dogs and playing a ripping first half against Brisbane before forgetting to turn up for the second, so I wouldn't get too excited in advance if they're the opponent. As for Geelong, you can just assume they've worked us out after last time and will win somewhere between convincingly and very convincingly.

IN: Jones, Melksham, Sparrow
OUT: Jackson, Jordon (rested), Pickett (susp)
LUCKY: Harmes, Neal-Bullen, Rivers, Spargo
UNLUCKY: Anyone whose livelihood requires VFL games to be played.

Final Thoughts
Depending on how many Victorian teams make the top four, there's no serious difference where you finish in the top four. Still, assuming we don't fall out entirely, I did get a rush from seeing us on top for a bit. We've been there, lost that, and got back again once this year so you never know, but for now I reserve the right to be very, very afraid.

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