If They Weren’t Jocks: Michael Schumacher And Kimi Raikkonen, Taxi Drivers

January 19, 2009

by Peter Toth… This morning a minor accident on the streets of New York City left onlookers gawking in amazement. Two NYC taxicabs tied up traffic for hours as people gathered to view the pileup.

Taxi driver Michael Schumacher, a longtime NYC resident who originally immigrated from Germany, rear-ended Kimi Raikkonen, a New Jersey cabbie whose taxi stalled at the intersection as the traffic light turned green.

“I voz looking in zee meeror, zeeing how preetty I vos, und BOOM, eet voz zere een my vay, I had nein time to halt,” said Schumacher in a German accent frighteningly similar to Jay Leno’s impersonation of Arnold Schwartzeneger. “Zee idiot has not to bee zere,” he stated, “doesn’t zee dumkopf know zat I am Michael Schumacher und he should get raus of my vay?”

According to eyewitnesses, Raikkonen, the driver of the stalled cab, exited his vehicle after stalling, ripped off his steering wheel, snatched his baseball cap off of his head, threw them both down to the pavement in disgust, and stormed off.

Upon returning a few minutes later, and finding his cab perched on top of Schumacher’s, he stated “How will I explain this to my boss? I don’t know what the deal is with me and cars. They don’t seem to like me. This is the third one that has died on me this month, at least the engine didn’t blow like on the first two.” “Good thing I’m not a race car driver,” he jested.

Schumacher joined in the goodwill banter by joking “Ven I vos a kinder, I alvays vanted to be der race car driver, but everyvun zed I vas too long to feet een zee pitcock. Maybe een anozer life I veel be a formula champion. Ja, I really sink so.”

Both drivers, now friends, shook hands and parted ways, probably never to meet again.

Just Say NO to A.J. Burnett

December 2, 2008

by Peter Toth… It’s been a while since I’ve ranted on this subject. But since today I’m in a pissy mood anyway, what the hell.

A.J. Burnett, formerly (I pray it stays that way) of the Toronto Blue Jays, is not worth the money being thrown at him.

Let’s look at the numbers first:

Strikeouts are nice but really don’t account for THAT much in baseball. The same goes for complete games, shut-outs, and a slew of other sabre(rattling)matrics. See Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.

What really matters are wins, ERA, and innings pitched. You want your starter to go seven-plus innings, give up as few runs as possible, and hopefully win the game. It’s not rocket science.

Of course, the defence that plays behind you, and offence that provides the run support, is going to factor in on the aforementioned statistics. See Cy Young also-ran Roy Halladay.

The bottom line is, when your starter takes the mound every five games, you’d like to be sure that he will give you a decent chance to win.

A key point here.

Starting pitchers only play one fifth of the season—32 games. And that’s only if they stay healthy the whole season. Four out of five games they have NO direct influence what-so-ever over the outcome of the game. The most games a starting pitcher can ever win in a five-man rotation is 32.

Yet there are 162 games in the season. What about the other 130? That’s where the other four starters come in. Usually, you’d like for them to win at least 10 games each.

So, let’s look at our good friend, Mr. Burnett. The best he can ever hope to do is win 32 games (a one in a million chance) for whatever team he signs with. The worst he can do, is win zero games (a one in 10 chance—happened in 2003).

Burnett has averaged 8.7 wins in his 10 major league seasons, 12.7 wins with the Blue Jays. Until this year, the most wins he ever had was 12 on two occasions. He also had 11 wins in 2001 and 10 wins in his first two years wearing a Jays uniform.

Let’s break it down:

Wins - Chance

32 - 1/1000000

10 - 1/2

0 - 1/10

The man is 32 years old. He is not “just starting to peak.” And few pitchers have the ability to go strong into their late 30s and early 40s. Burnett has three to five years left in him. He is no Randy Johnson.

In the next five years, you can expect the following:

Three years with 10-12 wins

One year with 15-20 wins

One year with 0-5 wins

And that’s the optimistic line.

In five years total, that’s 45-61 wins, 9-11 wins per year, or an average of 10.

How much would you pay a starting pitcher that will average only 10 wins a year?

Of course, Burnett might defeat the odds and win 20-plus games each year for the next five years. But then again, John MacDonald could win the Triple Crown.

Let’s look at the basic facts. The man is 32 years old. After five years, he’ll be 37. He has a history of injuries. He has just one season of wins greater than 12. His ERA is 3.81 over the last 10 years, his lowest was 3.30 in 2002. He has averaged only 138 innings pitched over the last ten years.

Is this guy worth even $10 million per year?

I say he did the Jays a major favor by opting out of his contract.

And, any team that signs him to longer than 3 years and more than $10 million per year, is just asking for trouble.

As for the Jays, use the money to pick up a decent shortstop who will bat lead-off.

More bang for the buck. N’est ce pas?

Blue Ball Gazing 3: A Quarter Of The Way Through For The Maple Leafs

November 23, 2008

by Peter Toth… The first quarter of Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2008-09 regular season is now officially in the rear-view mirror. Looking forward, I’d like to present the G-A-P projections for the whole 82-game season.

I’ve taken into account the games remaining to be played and based on Per Game figures, extrapolated totals for the full 82-game season.

For Mike Van Ryn I have taken an optimistic approach that he will miss 12 more games before returning from his concussion. For Hollweg and Frogren, I have split the remaining games between them.

The Leafs should have four or five 20-goal scorers and maybe one 30-goaler in Antropov and a long shot 40-goaler in Grabovski.

Of course, trades, injuries and hot/cold streaks will make the following table look radically different come April 2009.

So why bother? It’s fun to do.

Final Maple Leafs Points Leader 2009:

Player GP GR G A P GPG APG PPG G82 A82 P82
1 Matt Stajan 19 62 6 13 19 0.32 0.68 1.00 26 55 81
2 Nik Antropov 20 62 7 8 15 0.35 0.40 0.75 29 33 62
3 Alexei Ponikarovsky 20 62 6 9 15 0.30 0.45 0.75 25 37 62
4 Tomas Kaberle 20 62 2 13 15 0.10 0.65 0.75 8 53 62
5 Mikhail Grabovski 20 62 9 5 14 0.45 0.25 0.70 37 21 57
6 Ian White 9 62 3 4 7 0.33 0.44 0.78 24 32 55
7 Niklas Hagman 20 62 6 7 13 0.30 0.35 0.65 25 29 53
8 Jason Blake 18 62 3 7 10 0.17 0.39 0.56 13 31 44
9 Pavel Kubina 20 62 4 6 10 0.20 0.30 0.50 16 25 41
10 Nikolai Kulemin 20 62 3 6 9 0.15 0.30 0.45 12 25 37
11 Mike Van Ryn 14 50 3 5 8 0.21 0.36 0.57 14 23 37
12 Dominic Moore 20 62 4 4 8 0.20 0.20 0.40 16 16 33
13 John Mitchell 15 62 2 4 6 0.13 0.27 0.40 10 21 31
14 Anton Stralman 13 62 1 4 5 0.08 0.31 0.38 6 23 29
15 Jeff Finger 13 62 0 4 4 0.00 0.31 0.31 0 23 23
16 Alexander Steen 20 62 2 2 4 0.10 0.10 0.20 8 8 16
17 Jamal Mayers 20 62 1 3 4 0.05 0.15 0.20 4 12 16
18 Luke Schenn 20 62 0 2 2 0.00 0.10 0.10 0 8 8
19 Ryan Hollweg 10 31 0 1 1 0.00 0.10 0.10 0 4 4
20 Jonas Frogren 10 31 0 1 1 0.00 0.10 0.10 0 4 4

GR - Games Remaining, GPG - Goals Per Game, APG - Assists Per Game, PPG - Points Per Game, G82 - Projected Goals after 82 Games, A82 - Projected Assists after 82 Games, P82 - Projected Points After 82 Games.

www.petetoth.com

Jays Halladay a Distant Second in Cy Young Voting: Indian Lee Wins

November 14, 2008

Peter Toth… A long shot at best, Roy “Doc” Halladay came up short in the 2008 AL Cy Young award voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. In probably his best MLB season ever, Halladay was overshadowed this year by Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians.

Lee’s “freakish” 22-3 won-loss record complimented by a stingy league-leading ERA of 2.54 was enough to garner him the coveted pitching award with 24 first-place and four-second place votes.

Halladay was voted first by only four members of the association and received 15 second-place and six third-place votes. He led the league in Innings Pitched and Complete Games.

Third place went to Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez and his league-leading, MLB record-breaking 62 saves.

Complete Voting Results courtesy of BBWAA
Player Club 1st 2nd 3rd Points
Cliff Lee Cleveland Indians 24 4 — 132
Roy Halladay Toronto Blue Jays 4 15 6 71
Francisco Rodriguez Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — 7 11 32
Daisuke Matsuzaka Boston Red Sox — 2 4 10
Mariano Rivera New York Yankees — — 3 3
Mike Mussina New York Yankees — — 2 2
Ervin Santana Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — — 2 2

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Mats Sundin Baby Update: Unanswered Questions and “Bloggism”?

November 13, 2008

by Pete Toth… In the November 8 edition of the Sporting News, Mathieu Schneider states that “[Sundin's] always kind of maintained that he wanted to play in the East. I think it’s the travel. He has a young baby now, and it’s so much more difficult with the travel in the West. You just feel like you’re never at home.”

Is Mats Sundin a father?

The answer is “no,” according to Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun in his latest (November 12, 2008) article No Baby for Sundin:

“According to Sundin’s buddy, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos, and Sundin’s agent, J.P. Barry, there is no truth to the report.

Schneider made ‘a mistake,’ Barry said in an e-mail last night.”

First, the unanswered questions:

1. How does someone make a mistake like that? It’s not like calling someone “Bob” instead of “John.” Having a baby is a life-changing experience, and one usually remembers the event. Now, if you forget someone has a kid, that’s one thing, but to “forget” someone does NOT have a “young baby now” seems awfully strange.

2. Even stranger is the fact that Schneider used Mats having a “new baby” as the supporting foundation for his argument of why Sundin prefers playing on the East coast. Again, does it not seem strange to make a mistake like that when it’s the main support of your argument?

3. If Schneider did in fact spill the beans and Barry is covering up, this then begs the question, “why the secrecy?” Is it somehow connected to present or possible future negotiations between Sundin, his agent, and NHL clubs?

I’m stumped. Something definitely smells fishy in the state of Sweden!

Speaking of fishy:

Parts of Mr. Zeisburger’s article look suspiciously similar to

the one I posted yesterday “breaking” the story of the alleged Sundin baby. Stopping short of making any charges of plagiarism, I would just like to point out the similarities in the two pieces.

Toth:

In the November 8th Sporting News article, Mathieu Schneider has a warning for Mats Sundin, Craig Custance quotes Schneider saying “(Sundin’s) always kind of maintained that he wanted to play in the East. I think it’s the travel.

“He has a young baby now, and it’s so much more difficult with the travel in the West. You just feel like you’re never at home.”

BABY?

Ex-squeeze me, did he say “baby?”…

So, after being loving support for his wife during her pregnancy and labor, Mats has now enjoyed a few months of “being a father,” and is now ready to play hockey again.

Zeisburger:

In an article found in the Nov. 8 edition of the Sporting News, former Maple Leafs defenceman Mathieu Schneider has a warning for Sundin.

Schneider is quoted as saying: “(Sundin’s) always kind of maintained that he wanted to play in the East. I think it’s the travel.

“He has a young baby now, and it’s so much more difficult with the travel in the West. You just feel like you’re never at home.”

Wait a minute. Rewind that.

Did he say Sundin “has a young baby now?”

Is that why the big Swede didn’t start the season? Was it because he wanted to be there for the birth?

Sure, it’s not plagiarised “word-for-word”, but the last time I checked the definition of “plagiarism” it stated that plagiarism is:

Literary theft. Plagiarism occurs when a writer duplicates another writer’s language or ideas and then calls the work his or her own. Copyright laws protect writers’ words as their legal property. To avoid the charge of plagiarism, writers take care to credit those from whom they borrow and quote.

Language. Ideas. Where’s the credit?

I may be off-base here, but the similarities along with the timing make me very suspicious. Is it possible that Zeisberger read my piece before writing his own? At the time I wrote mine there was no Google mention of Sundin and a possibility that a baby may be the reason for his indecision. In fact, no one except some members of a fan forum had even picked up on the fact that Schneider mentioned Sundin has a new baby.

Look, to me it’s no big deal if “Joe the Blogger” (to plagiarise a Palin-McCain favorite) plagiarises my junk. But what would really irk me is if a “professional” journalist writing for a major newspaper or blog did it—they get paid to do what they do, hence the term “professional.”

We’ve all seen evidence of this. “Cut-and-paste” journalism (bloggarism) runs rampant even in the “major” leagues.

But can you blame these “journalists?” It’s how they got to where they are. By plagiarising throughout high school and university, plagiarising resume and reference letter formats, and now ultimately bloggers’ articles. Not an original idea in the bunch. Hats off, however, to the many “true” journalists out there. Yes, you know who you are (and who you aren’t)

Disclaimer: I am NOT accusing Mike Zeisberger of plagiarism and do NOT wish to, intentionally or otherwise, ruin his good name. He is free to contact me at any time to shed further light on this situation.

check out Toth here:

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Blue Ball Gazing 2: Future of the Toronto Maple Leafs After 16 Games

November 12, 2008

by Pete Toth… Alllll righty then!

16 games into the season puts us at the 20-percent season-completion milestone, and gives us an easy way (current stats, multiplied by five) to project players’ numbers for the full 82-game season.

This time I will be comparing current projections (after 16 games) with projected stats from eight games into the season. P8 was projected after eight games, and P16 is projected after 16 games (current stats after last night’s game).


Team Record
: W-L-OT-PTS

Current: 6-6-4-16

P8: 30-20-30-90

P16: 30-30-20-80

Total points are projected lower by 10, with 10 extra losses. The law of averages comes into play, and the Leafs are beginning to look more like the team people expected them to be this year. However, they are currently ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, within striking distance of the last playoff spot.

Offensive Stats

Current: 49G - 85A - 134P

P8: 180G - 280A - 460P

P16: 245G - 425A - 670P

Monster offensive numbers compared to after eight games. That’s a 3.06 average goals scored per game! The question “where will the goals come from?” has been answered.

Defensive Stats

Current: 53G (3.31 GAA)

P8: 220G (2.75 GAA)

P16: 265G (3.31 GAA)

However, a new question arises—”Where’s the defense?”

Individual Stats

Player: P8 (Point Difference), P16

Goalie: P8 GAA (Difference), P16 GAA

Mr. On-Fire

Mikhail Grabowski 10-0-10 (+45) 35-20-55

Matt Stajan 0-20-20 (+45) 20-45-65

Tomas Kaberle 10-10-20 (+30) 5-45-50

Pavel Kubina
10-10-20 (+25) 15-30-45

Niklas Hagman
20-20-40 (+20) 30-30-60

Ian White 0-0-0 (+20) 5-15-20

John Mitchell
0-10-10 (+15) 10-15-25

Mr. Warming-Up

Luke Schenn
0-0-0 (+10) 0-10-10

Jeff Finger 0-0-0 (+10) 0-10-10

Nikolai Kulemin 20-10-30 (+10) 10-30-40

Jamal Mayers 0-10-10 (+5) 5-10-15

Dominic Moore 20-10-30 (+5) 15-20-35


Mr. Consistency


Nik Antropov
40-30-70 (0) 30-40-70

Alex Steen 0-20-20 (0) 10-10-20

Alexei Ponikarovsky 20-40-60 (0) 25-35-60

Carlo Colaiacovo 0-0-0 (0) 0-0-0

Mr. Cooling Down

Mike Van Ryn 10-40-50 (-10) 15-25-40

Jason Blake 10-30-40 (-10) 10-20-30

Anton Stralman 10-10-20 (-10) 5-5-10

Jonas Frogren 0-10-10 (-5) 0-5-5

Vesa Toskala 2.61 (+0.54) 3.15

Mr. Freeze

Curtis Joseph 3.00 (+0.91) 3.91


Mr. Welcome-Back

Jiri Tlusty 0-0-0 (0) 0-0-0

Mr. Ain’t-Misbehaving

Ryan Hollweg 0-0-0 (+5) 0-5-5

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The Mats Outta The Bag: Sundin Is a New Daddy!

November 11, 2008

I said it back in August. The reason Mats Sundin is waffling on his decision to play or not, is a personal one, probably something to do with his new fiancee/wife.

In the November 8th Sporting News article, Mathieu Schneider has a warning for Mats Sundin, Craig Custance quotes Schneider saying “(Sundin’s) always kind of maintained that he wanted to play in the East. I think it’s the travel. He has a young baby now, and it’s so much more difficult with the travel in the West. You just feel like you’re never at home.”

BABY?

Ex-squeeze me, did he say “baby?”

Last I heard, Sundin was engaged to his new girlfriend, though at the time there was some debate as to whether or not they were married. A reporter had spotted a wedding band on Mats’s left hand and asked him about it, to which Sundin replied “Oh, no. We are just engaged, that’s how it’s worn in Europe.”

It seems Mats Sundin has in fact been married all along - probably since finding out about his girlfriend’s pregnancy. And being the private person he is, he has kept this information a secret. Of course this is all pure speculation at this point.

The baby is now born and all of a sudden the entire “will I play, or won’t I play” episode of the summer past makes so much more sense.

One ponders if it would not have been easier for Mats (and the entire hockey world) to spill the beans in the summer, but Mats, as we all know, is Mats.

So, after being loving support for his wife during her pregnancy and labor, Mats has now enjoyed a few months of “being a father,” and is now ready to play hockey again.

After all, as all new fathers quickly learn, the only thing worse than getting slammed into the boards from behind, is having to deal with the crying, vomiting, and pooping of newborn babies. I speak from experience.

“Congratulations Mats!”, and “Welcome Back!”

Toronto Blue Jays Firesale: Get ‘Em While They’re Hot!

November 6, 2008

by Pete Toth… Robert MacLeod’s Globe and Mail article What’s Next? schocked the pants off of me by making a case of dumping Jays’ sweetheart Roy Halladay. “Is this guy nuts?” were my first and second thoughts. However, MacLeod makes a ton of sense.

In a nutbag, he states that the Jays and their penny-pinching $100 million self-imposed payroll cap are WAY out of their league if they are seriously considering contention in 2009.

The Rays, along with the fists-fulla-dollars Yankees and Red Sox will be hard to beat in the next few years, MacLeaod claims, so why not rebuild instead?

Trade Roy Halladay while you can in exchange for a couple of young budding stars.

It makes sense. As the Maple Leafs of the NHL (so far) and the Rays before them have shown, it can be done.

In the stockmarket, the age-old adage is “Buy Low, Sell High.” If you’re going to deal Halladay, now is the time. Coming off an awesome season and with two years remaining on a “steal” of a contract, there really is no better time for Doc’s departure. I would hate to see him go, but it does make a ton of sense to move him.

But why stop there?

Fire sale the whole team. Seriously. I love the Wellses and the Rioses but why not slap a for sale sticker on them and yell “get ‘em while they’re hot!”

Burnett’s gone. Forget him.

Halladay would be the sensation grab of the off-season for any team. He would get a chance to win the World Series and get the pay and respect he truly deserves. Otherwise in two years, it will probably be “adios” time.

Certainly B.J. Ryan will fill a hole somewhere. Why wait another year and get nothing for him in return?

Lyle Overbay would fetch something too. Scott Rolen the same.

But Vernon Wells and Alex Rios would make the icing on the cake even sweeter.

Why not?

Snider and Lind in a couple of years could be the next Wells and Rios.

Give the kids a chance. The Maple Leafs did and their rabid fans are tickled pink (blue).

Sometimes a breath of fresh air is better than missing the playoffs by 10 games every year.

I certainly would welcome a complete overhaul of the Blue Jays team. It’s just that I’m not sure I would trust the current General Manager to be involved.

Just a thought…

Mats Sundin Will Be a New York Ranger

November 5, 2008

by Pete Toth… My inside source just told me the winner of the Sundin Swede-stakes.

And the winner is? The New York Rangers!

The big undeciding Swede has made his decision. Mats Sundin will be a New York Ranger.

My inside source turns out to be my brain.

My heart says Sundin will stay with the Leafs, especially now that they are playing well. But logic dictates otherwise.

Mats KNOWS he will be playing this year. He is only waiting to see with which team.

Why? Because he wants to be sure that team will REALLY contend for the Cup this year.

He is pulling a “Hossa.”  He will take a lower offer for the chance to play for a Stanley Cup contender.

But, unlike Hossa, he wants to be as sure as possible, and wait as long as possible to “decide.”

It’s not about money, or finishing up a career in a “beloved home,” otherwise he would have been in Vancouver or Toronto by now.

If you don’t need the cash or the warm blue fuzzies, the ring is all that remains, despite what Sundin has said in the past.

Mats Sundin is going to New York.

He knows it. Sather knows it. Remember the rumors of the Naslund-Sundin dynamic duo from summer past. Remember the NY Post article quoting inside sources (poo-pooed by both me and The Star.)

Mats just wants to be sure, and so far, the Rangers are looking like contenders. He’ll wait a bit longer just in case, and for some room to be squeezed out under the Rangers’ salary cap. But mark my words, come Christmas time, our Big Swede will be stuffing his stockings in a New York zip code.

It sure explains the Shanahanigans of the past month.

Blue Ball Gazing: Predicting The Future Of The Leafs After Eight Games

October 27, 2008

by Peter Toth… http://flamesfan77.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/toskala.jpgOK, eight games into the season puts us at the 10% season completion milestone, and gives us an easy way (current stats times ten) to project players’ numbers for the full 82-game season.

Keep in mind that in the real world of statistics, this procedure would certainly result in an error rate close to 100%. But we’re talking about the Leafs here, and they, and the term “real world,” have never really been synonymous.

Also, back in September I put out my stats predictions for the upcoming Leafs season: 2008 Projections: Things Are Looking Rosy For The Leafs.

I would like to compare these predictions to the projections I’m making after eight games.

To avoid any confusion, I will refer to my September projections as my “predictions.”

Please remember that while my research methods may be quaint, much insight can still be extrapolated from the results.

Not sure what that last sentence actually means but I always used it in my college papers 20 years ago.
Team Record: W-L-OT-PTS

Current: 3-2-3-9

Projected: 30-20-30-90

Predicted: N/A

Of course, after 82 games the won-loss-OT make-up will look different, but 90 points is nothing to sneeze at. Looks more like a playoff spot than a draft lottery ticket. And, so much for the “tanking” theory. Of course with 74 games still to go, anything can happen, and probably will.
Offense Stats

Current: 18G-28A-46P

Projected: 180G-280A-460P

Predicted: 240G-420A-660P

As you can see from these sumbers, and are already surely aware by now, the Leafs offensive output is very weak. Scoring an average of 2.25 goals (as opposed to the 2.93 I predicted) might win you games only if you have two In-their-prime-Haseks standing side-by-side in your net.

As most Leafs players are still getting their bearings with all of the line-shuffling and doghouse-sitting going on, this is to be expected. By the halfway point of the season, this number will be closer to 3.00 than the current 2.25 goals scored per game. And, if Mats Sundin returns to the Leafs (and I‘ve been saying all along that he will), I see it being more like 3.25.

Defense Stats

Current: 22G (2.75GAA)

Projected: 220G (2.75GAA)

Predicted: 200G (2.40GAA)

A GAA below 3.00 at this early stage is rather impressive. As the season progresses, this number can only fall (barring injuries) and will stabilize around the 2.50 mark. Toskala is sitting pretty at 2.61 and Cujo is sporting a decent 3.00.

Individual Stats

Player/Projected/(Difference)/Predicted

Over-achievers

Nik Antropov 40-30-70 (+10G) 30-30-60
Big Nik has taken the torch handed to him by the indecisive Mats Sundin and has yet to drop it.

Alexei Ponikarovsky 20-40-60 (+5G, +20A) 15-20-35
The Pony has found his stride after a rough start out of the gate.

Mike Van Ryn 10-40-50 (+5G, +15A) 5-25-30
Eight games and two healthy wrists later, MVR is making Leafs fans ask McWho?

Dominic Moore
20-10-30 (+15G) 5-10-15
Do-Mo is here to stay. He will surely only get better.

On-trackers

Niklas Hagman 20-20-40 (-5G) 25-20-45
Steady as she goes for this Finnish vessel. Haggy shouldn’t stray off course all year.

Nikolai Kulemin 20-10-30 (-10A) 20-20-40

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