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Some good smack about Leslie Mak

January 13, 2012

Friday, Friday ... Friday is my favorite day! Even if it's a Friday the 13th, which doesn't strike fear into the heart of the Blog, as we were born on a Friday the 13th.

It's the end 'o the week down here at the WWHQ, where we're now a mere 140 days away from the start of Season VI in Corvallis. It all begins with a June 1 game at Walla Walla in a rematch of the 2011 WCL Championship Series, which we won in two straight games.

Even our new radio broadcaster, Virginia Tech senior Kevin Burke, is ready to rock. In an e-mail earlier this week, he said can't wait to get to Corvallis, and that the new Knights gear he's been sporting around Blacksburg and in his hometown of Leesburg, Va., has been a big hit.

Way to represent.

So, rest assured we're not just goofing off waiting for the season to start. We're selling tickets and punch cards. We probably have a few more players to sign to 10-day contracts. The first of what we hope will become our annual Hot Stove Night is set for 7 p.m. next Wednesday in the Omaha Room at Goss Stadium, featuring Brent Morel, Gabe Sandy, and Knights president Dan Segel.

And just to prove I'm not a slacker, here's another edition of the Blog, with news from around the globe about Knights past, present and future.

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One of our superstar 2011 Oregon State College of Business interns, OSU senior gymnastics standout Leslie Mak, is profiled this morning in the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

The reigning Pacific-12 Conference Gymnast of the Year is expecting another big season with the Beavers. Now she just needs to find a way to incorporate the second-inning Papa's Pizza giveaway into her floor exercise routine, or use the plunger from the Albin's Plumbing "hillbilly horseshoes" skit as a balancing tool while on the beam.

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Speaking of the Hot Stove Night, a limited number of seats are still available by e-mailing the blog at brooks.hatch@corvallisknights.com.

Morel, an ex-Knight (2006-07) and the starting third baseman for the Chicago White Sox, and Sandy, a former Knights coach (2005-06) who is the NW area scout for the Miami Marlins, will speak about their experiences in major league baseball. Segel will speak about the Knights and the West Coast League.

Admission is free, and Morel will be available afterward for autographs. See you there!

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As many of you know, Knights' coach Brooke Knight manages the Perth Heat of the Australian Baseball League in the winter. He led the Heat to the championship in 2010-11 in the league's first season.

And, he's got the Heat in position to repeat. They clinched the No. 1 seed for the upcoming playoffs by defeating the Canberra Cavalry on Thursday night, and are now guaranteed to host two playoff series.

The first series will begin on Jan. 26 against whoever finishes second in the regular season standings. A series victory would give the Heat a bye in Round 2, and would bring the Grand Finals to Perth, A series loss would give the Heat a home series in Round 2, and then if they won that, they would play away in the Grand Final.

The Heat also defeated Canberra on Friday night, behind six shutout innings from former Knights star (2009-10) Dylan Jones. Overall, Jones is 1-0 in four appearances, with a 4.91 ERA and four strikeouts in 11 innings.

Former Knights' star catcher Alex Burg, our 2008 Player of the Year, is hitting .277 in 34 games, with 10 homers and 23 RBIs. He was on the World team for the ABL All-Star Game earlier in the season.

So, congrats to Brooke, Dylan and Alex!

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Former Knights' catcher Bo Altobelli (2010), a junior at Texas Tech, earned honor roll recognition for the fall semester for the third consecutive year. He's an exercise and sports science major.

Students must have a 3.0 grade-point average to earn honor roll honors. Way to go, Bo.

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Here's some news from around the West Coast League:

WALLA WALLA: The Sweets have signed UC Riverside freshman infielder Nick Vilter and Linfield sophomore pitcher Zach Brandon for the upcoming season. Here are all the details from the Sweets website.

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And finally, some more news from the ever-growing world of summer college baseball. Say hello to the Hall of Fame League, which will have six franchises in Texas and Louisiana and provide an alternative to the established Texas Collegiate League.


Lots of news on a frosty Thursday

January 12, 2012

When it rains, it pours, right?

After several leans days (hey, it is January, right?), we've got tons of news for today's edition of the Corvallis Knights daily blog.

So, let's get started (and just in case you wondered, it's 141 days until our June 1 opener at Walla Walla and 146 until our June 5 home opener with Klamath Falls).

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We've signed junior pitchers Rob Dittrick of Pacific University in Forest Grove and Eric Weir of Concordia University to 10-day contracts.

Dittrick was the 2011 Northwest Conference Pitcher of the Year. A 5-foot-9, 175-pound right-hander, he was 8-3 with a 2.26 ERA in 11 starts, with a NWC-best 66 strikeouts in a school-record 87.2 innings. He had one shutout and five complete games.

Dittrick's eight wins were the second-most in school history. He tied former Knight Brian Ranta (2011) of George Fox for the most wins in the NWC; they tied for ninth nationally in Division III.

Rob's consistency was amazing," Pacific coach Greg Bradley said. "He had a year that puts him in a very select group of Pacific pitchers."

He was 1-4 with a 10.57 ERA in 11 games as a freshman in 2010, with 21 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. A native of Mililani, Hawaii, he graduated from the Mid-Pacific Institute before enrolled at Pacific.

Weir is a 6-2, 170-pound junior right-hander from Vancouver, Wash., who played at Clark College in 2010. Weir was 1-2 in four games at Clark, with a 5.79 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 14 innings. He played at Skyview High in Vancouver.

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Congrats are in order to Mike Parker, our play-by-play broadcaster from 2007-11. He was named Oregon's Sportcaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association of Salisbury, N.C.

Here's the official release from Oregon State, where Mike's worked since 1999.

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Former Knights first baseman Mark Samuelson (2006-07) of UC Riverside was traded on Tuesday to the London (Ont.) Rippers of the Frontier League from the Lincoln (Neb.) Salt Dogs of the American Association.

Samuelson, who turns 25 next month, played for Normal (Ill.) and Florence (Ky.) in the Frontier League and Lake County (Calif.) in the now-defunct North American Baseball League in 2011 and hit .276 overall, with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 75 games. Lincoln acquired him from Normal on Nov. 16, 2011.

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That's it for today. See you all on Friday.


Bust out those credit cards!

January 11, 2012

The last piece of our new-fangled new credit-card machinery arrived at the WWHQ yesterday and we've now joined the 21st century.

The Knights are now equiped to take credit and debit cards for all ticket and merchandise purchases. And that's good news to our fans who've stopped by in the past to buy an item, only to be stymied because we only accepted cash or checks.

Now, we're up-to-date, and it's easier and more convenient to purchase Knights' stuff. We'll also be plastic-friendy at the ticket booth and merchandise stand at Goss Stadium this summer.

So unleash your plastic, and come see us!

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Cal Poly sophomore right-handed pitcher Chase Johnson, a mainstay on our 2011 West Coast League championship staff, was profiled recently for his accomplishments in the Fallbrook Bonsall Daily News, his hometown newspaper. Click right here to read the story.

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Two former Corvallis Knights have made the cut so far in College Baseball Daily's list of the top 100 college baseball players for 2012.

Oregon State junior lefty Matt Boyd (2010) checks in at No. 32. Here's his evaluation from CBD editor Brian Foley. And Washington State senior first baseman Taylor Ard, the top slugger on our 2009 WCL runner-up club, checked in at No. 52. Here's his evaluation, also by Foley.

The final players on that list will be named shortly. We'd be surprised if that list doesn't contain Cal Poly junior outfielder Mitch Haniger (2010) or Long Beach State shortstop Matt Duffy (2010).

Three other members of that 2009 club made CBD's 2011 top 100 prospect list: Lefty pitcher Tyler Anderson of Oregon, at 22; Oregon State catcher Andrew Susac, No. 73, and UC Riverside righty pitcher Matt Andriese, No. 100.

Anderson (1, Colorado), Susac (2, San Francisco) and Andriese (3, San Diego) all were selected in the first three rounds of the 2011 MLB draft and turned professional. Anderson and Susac signed late and did not play minor-league ball; Andriese starred for the Eugene Emeralds in the Northwest League.

We always brag that you'll see some pretty darn good baseball with the Knights and the WCL and the experts and the draft keep validating that claim.

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We learned some other good news today about a former member of the Knights' family, but unfortunately we have to keep that under wraps for a couple more weeks. That just gives you another reason to check out future Knights blogs!


Let the countdown begin!

January 10, 2012

Today is The Blog's one-year anniversary with the Knights. So it's a big day down here at the World Wide Headquarters. Let the party begin!

Also, my 2012 University of Richmond calendar finally arrived on Monday so this morning we promptly wrote in our schedule, and the countdown for the upcoming season, on the appropriate dates.

So, according to my definitely unscientific calculations, it's ONLY 143 more days until our June 1 opener at Walla Walla, and 148 more days until our June 5 home opener against the Klamath Falls Gems.

Sounds like a long time, but it will go quickly. So make sure to get your 2012 season tickets, punch cards and Knights merchandise, either online or down here at the WWHQ in the Madison Plaza building in downtown Corvallis.

And remember, reservations are still available for our initial Hot Stove Night, set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18 in the Omaha Room at Goss Stadium. Admission is free.

The guest speakers are Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel; Miami Marlins Northwest area scout Gabe Sandy, and Knights' president Dan Segel.

Morel played for us in 2006 and 2007 and is the first Corvallis Knight to make the major leagues. Sandy coached for the team in 2005-06, when we were still based at Mt. Hood Community College, before the great migration southward for the 2007 season.

An autograph session will follow the event, and we'll also have a no-host after-party at the Hilton Garden Inn's Stadium Grill. Reservations can be made by e-mailing Knights' director of public relations Brooks Hatch at brooks.hatch@corvallisknights.com.

See you there!

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Some news from around the West Coast League:

BELLINGHAM: The Bells have signed catcher Ryan Somers and pitcher Andrew Olson of Seattle University for the 2012 season, according to The Bellingham Herald newspaper. Somers is a returnee from 2011. Please click right here for more details.


Knights sign Keenan to 10-day contract

January 5, 2012

We've got another signing to report.

Right-handed pitcher Alex Keenan of George Fox University has agreed to a 10-day contract. He is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior from Portland who graduated from Jesuit High School in 2009.

A second-team Metro League all-star in 2009, Keenan then played at Mt. Hood Community College for two years before transferring to GFU for the upcoming season. At MHCC he was 0-1 with a 3.43 ERA in 2011, with 15 strikeouts in 21 innings over 15 appearances, and 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 2010, with 10 strikeouts in 19 innings over 12 appearances.

We expect to add several more 10-day pitchers to strengthen the staff in early June, when we play 15 games in 17 days. Many of our 2012 pitching signees cannot report until classes at their respective schools end in mid-June.

Welcome, Alex!

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Junior right-handed pitcher Kyle Hart of the University of Redlands, a 2012 returnee and one of our top arms in 2011, is a big reason the Bulldogs are ranked No. 15 in Collegiate Baseball magazine's preseason NCAA Division III poll.

Redlands advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2011 and Hart was a Southern California Intercollegiate Conference all-star. Here are all the details, from the Redlands website.

Linfield College is ranked No. 6. Junior pitcher Zach Manley will join the club this summer, as the first Wildcat to play for the Corvallis Knights.


Knights pitcher rated among WCL's best

January 4, 2012

The website Summer Ball has included six Corvallis Knights in its rankings of the top arms in the West Coast League from the 2011 season.

So honored were lefties Ben Wetzler (4); Dylan Stuart (6); Jace Fry (7) and Mark Trentacosta (8), and righties Chris Johnson (10) and Max Beatty (14).

The better news is, Stuart, Trentacosta, Johnson and Beatty are signed to return in 2012. That foursome, and returnees Kyle Hart and Chris Mendoza, gives us a great foundation for returning pitching coach Connor Lambert to build a staff around.

Here's the complete story from the Summer Ball website. It's a great resource for summer-league baseball and often has stories on the Knights and other WCL teams.

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Don't forget, reservations are required for the Jan. 18 Hot Stove Night at Goss Stadium, featuring Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel and Miami Marlins scout Gabe Sandy.

Capacity in the Omaha Room is limited to 100, and we're well on our way to "selling out," even though the event is free. So send me an RSVP at brooks.hatch@corvallisknights.com if you're interested in attending. It should be a great night!

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Some news from around the West Coast League:

BELLINGHAM: Speaking of the Summer Ball website, here's a brief Q & A with 2011 Bells' pitcher Jack Vander Linden of Georgetown University, one of the first players from the Big East Conference to play in the WCL. Sounds as if he really enjoyed his summer in the Pacific Northwest.

BEND: The Elks have signed Arizona State sophomore right-handed pitcher Josh McAlister , a returnee from 2011, and Western Nevada sophomore pitcher Andrew Woeck, an NC State signee, for the 2012 season.

Read all about it by clicking on the lead item on the menu on the Elks website.

KLAMATH FALLS: The Gems have redesigned their website; it looks sharp and is full of all the info you need on the Gems.


Hot Stove Night reservations still available

January 3, 2012

We're steadily filling up but reservations are still available for our first Hot Stove Night, planned for 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in the Omaha Room at Goss Stadium.

Our special guests are Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel, our 2006 MVP and a 2006-07 Knights alum, and Miami Marlins scout Gabe Sandy, a former coach for the Knights.

Knights' president Dan Segel will also speak about our team and the future plans for the West Coast League.

Following a panel discussion, Morel, Sandy and Segel will answer questions from the audience and Morel will be available for autographs afterward. All guests are then invited to a no-host social at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The event is free, but limited to 100 guests. To reserve a spot, RSVP to Knights' public relations director Brooks Hatch at brooks.hatch@corvallisknights.com.

("Hot Stove" is a baseball-related term, referring to the sport's off-season. The phrase does not denote an actual league, but instead calls up images of baseball fans, anxious for the start of the new season, gathering around a hot stove during the cold winter months discussing their favorite teams.)

It should be a fun night. See you there!

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Some news from around the West Coast League:

BELLINGHAM: Several news itens about the Bells. First, according to the Bellingham Herald newspaper, they've signed a deal with a new hotel property, which should be very convenient for visiting teams for the upcoming season.

And their bid for an East Division playoff berth, and moves made by their new ownership, earned them an honorable mention in the Herald's list of Bellingham's top 2011 sports stories.

COWLITZ:The Black Bears bid for a West Division playoff spot in their second season earned them a tie for 10th place in The Daily News of list of the top 10 sports stories for 2011 in Kelso-Longview.


Hot Stove Night on Jan. 18

December 30, 2011

We're pleased to announce the first of what we plan to make an annual tradition: Hot Stove Night.

("Hot Stove" is a baseball-related term, referring to the sport's off-season. The phrase does not denote an actual league, but instead calls up images of baseball fans, anxious for the start of the new season, gathering around a hot stove during the cold winter months discussing their favoriteteams.)

Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel and Miami Marlins scout Gabe Sandy will be the featured speakers at the Corvallis Knights' first Hot Stove League night, scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 18, in the Omaha Room at Goss Stadium.

Admission is free; the event starts at 7 p.m. and will also include Corvallis Knights president Dan Segel. Following a panel discussion, Morel, Sandy and Segel will answer questions from the audience; Morel will be available for autographs afterward.

Morel played for the Knights in 2006 and 2007, after his freshman and sophomore seasons at Cal Poly, and was our 2006 MVP. He was drafted by the White Sox in 2008, made his MLB debut in 2010, and hit .245, with 10 homers and 41 RBIs, as a full-time starter as a rookie this past season.

Sandy coached for the Knights and at Mt. Hood Community College before joining the Marlins. He is the team's Northwest area scout.

After the event, all guests are invited to a no-host social at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The event is limited to 100 guests. To reserve a spot, RSVP to Knights' public relations director Brooks Hatch at brooks.hatch@corvallisknights.com.

It should be a great night!

The office is closed on Monday as we celebrate the New Year's Day holiday. See you again on Tuesday!


Preseason honors galore for WCL alums

December 29, 2011

We are back (finally), after a short vacation over the Christmas break. Time off is always nice, but it's also good to return to the Knights' World-Wide Headquarters (the WWHQ) in downtown Corvallis and see what's been happening while we're away.

First, we've sold a lot of 10-game punchcards and lots of Knights' merchandise in the past week or so, but we've got plenty left. So stop in and see us if you're still interested in purchasing either item.

And, the College Baseball News magazine recognized plenty of former/current Knights and other players from around the West Coast League when it listed its preseason honorees in a recent edition. Here's a rundown:

Former Knight right-hander Eddie Orozco (2008-09) of UC Riverside was named the projected Big West Conference Pitcher of the Year.

Top Players to Watch in the Big West included ex-Knights OF David Andriese (2010-11) of) of UCR; OF Mitch Haniger (2010) and RHP Chase Johnson (2011) of Cal Poly and SS Matt Duffy (2010) of Long Beach State.

Other WCL Top Players to Watch in the Big West included SS DJ Crumlich, C Ronnie Shaeffer, 2B Tommy Reyes and LHP Matt Whitehouse of UC Irvine and Wenatchee, and Cal Poly RHP Joey Wagman of the Bend Elks.

Bend RHP Adam Norton of Notre Dame was a Top Player to Watch in the Big East.

Walla Walla 1B Goose Kallunki and Bellingham OF Kai Hatch of Utah Valley State were named Top Players to Watch in the Great West Conference.

Ex-Knights catcher Corey Davis (2010-11) of Wright State was named a Top Player to Watch in the Horizon League.

Bellingham RHP Tony Bryant of Oregon State was named the projected Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.

Ex-Knight pitcher Dean McArdle (2010) of Stanford; 1B Taylor Ard (2009) of Washington State and 2B Jake Rodriguez (2010) and LHPs Ben Wetzler, (2011), Matt Boyd (2010) and Jace Fry (2011) of Oregon State were named Top Players to Watch in the Pac-12.

Other WCL Top Players to Watch in the Pac-12 included Cowlitz RHP Alex Keudell of Oregon; Kelowna OF Aaron Jones of Oregon; Wenatchee RHP Zach Weiss of UCLA and Bellingham 3B Cody Regis, OF Jeff Gelalich and RHP Scott Griggs of UCLA.

Ex-Knights third baseman Thomas McCarthy (2010) of Kentucky was named a Top Player to Watch in the SEC.

Kelowna SS Bo Cuthbertson of Southern Utah was named the projected Player of the Year in the Summit League.

Wenatchee 2B Cam Schiller of Oral Roberts, Walla Walla 3B Zach Wentz of North Dakota State and Kitsap LHP Richie Mascheri of Western Illinois were named Top Players to Watch in the Summit League.

Wenatchee LHP Marco Gonzales of Gonzaga was named the West Coast Conference's projected Pitcher of the Year. Knights RHPs Kyle Kraus (2009-10) and Chris Johnson (2011-12) of the University of Portland were named Top Players to Watch in the WCC.

Bend OF Royce Bolinger and RHP Andy Hunter of Gonzaga; Bend LHP Jordan Remer of San Francisco; Wenatchee RHP Owen Jones of Portland; Spokane 1B Nik Balog of San Francisco; Cowlitz LHP Matt Mauer of Pepperdine and Klamath Falls OF Turner Gill of Portland were named Top Players to Watch in the WCC.

Wenatchee OF Breland Almadova of Hawaii and Bend 3B Tyler Christian of San Jose State were named Top Players to Watch in the WAC.

WCLers Tony Bryant of OSU, Cam Schiller of Oral Roberts, Marco Gonzales of Gonzaga and Bo Cuthbertson of Southern Utah were named CBN third-team All-America.

Those players are just a sampling of the outstanding talent we're bringing to the WCL every summer.

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Some news from elsewhere in the West Coast League:

COWLITZ: The Black Bears have signed Cole Irvin, a member of the US 18U National Team and University of Oregon signee, and infielders Ben Swinford (Cornell), Alex Rubanowitz (UC Riverside) and Peter Maris (UC Santa Barbara) for the 2012 season.

Here are all the details on the signing from the Our Sports Central website and even more on the story from The Daily News newspaper of Kelso-Longview.


Knights add 10-day signee Marc Gallegos of Corban

December 22, 2011

Every game counts the same in the West Coast League.

So we're doing our best to solidify our roster for the first couple weeks in June, when our players from Oregon State, Oregon, Cal Poly and other schools that are still in session at that time haven't yet arrived in Corvallis.

Toward that end, we've signed freshman middle infielder Marc Gallegos of Corban College in Salem. He's a 5-foot-10, 170-pounder who was a first-team 4A all-stater at Astoria High School in 2011.

He joins pitchers Chris Bishop (PLU) and Mike Massari (Redlands); infielders Austin Hamilton (Linn-Benton CC) and Ryan Plantier (Cornell) and outfielders Caylen Clardy (College of the Siskyous) and Tristen Metcalf (Mt. Hood CC) on our list of 10-day signees.

Welcome, Marc.

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Remember, the Knights' world-wide headquarters in the Madison Plaza building in downtown Corvallis is open through 5:30 p.m. Friday, so you'd better get down here for your last-minute Christmas shopping.

We've got our popular 10-game punch cards available for $40 (just sold five more of them), and we're fully stocked with Nike team merchandise.

Also, we are retiring our cardinal jerseys and they are available for $85. For an extra $10, we can print your name on the back. To order, email dan.segel@corvallisknights.com or call 541-752-5656. We'll be open again after Christmas as usual on Tuesday, Dec. 27.

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Here's some news from around the West Coast League:

BELLINGHAM: The Bells have a new GM (Nick Caples) and he's off to a good start at one of the WCL's charter, anchor franchises.

According to their most recent newsletter, the Bells have already surpassed the number of season-ticket holders from 2011 since they launched a season-ticket sales campaign in early December. That's great news; they ranked eighth in attendance in the WCL in 2011 by averaging 613 fans per game at Joe Martin Field.

We visit Bellingham on July 3-5. I imagine one of those games will be a fireworks night, so we're certain to have a big crowd for the show. The Bells visit Goss Stadium on June 26-28.

Here's more on the Bells from this interview from the Baseball Trenches website.

KLAMATH FALLS: Speaking of Baseball Trenches, here's an interview from that site with Gems' GM Chuck Heeman. Chuck is very complimentary of new Gems' manager Josh Hogan, the former Knights standout (2007-09) who takes the reins this season. Josh will be assisted by former Knights star and coach Billy Clontz.

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That should wrap it up for the Blog for the week, as we're off on Friday (the office will still be open, remember). So here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and we'll reconnect again on Tuesday.