To Sweep and To Be Swept

Sunlight glimmers off the bay like sweat, like flashbulbs, a disco ball, coins from a slot machine, dice rolling, neon signs. Patterns of light moving impossibly fast, not moving at all. Stare long enough, it all becomes one. Time and meaning are lost, like the days themselves, swept out to sea.

The Padres had Monday off. That is, they did not lose.

[Just a heads-up: There are some "naughty" words a bit further into the article; as a courtesy to those who might be offended, I'll let you know before we get there. I prefer to keep things clean around here, but in this case, there was no way around it.]

Caught precious little of Tuesday night’s game — and the wrong parts. The Padres were up, 2-0, by the time I started driving home from work. Missed Adrian Gonzalez’s first-inning homer.

Later watched a couple innings. Saw the Cubs score their first run, then got distracted by life. Flipped back to see the Pads down, 6-2.

Chase Headley grounded into another double play. He’s gotten good at that. More in his first 31 games this season than in 91 games all of 2008.

Watched highlights. Milton Bradley’s home run — needed safety goggles and headphones for that one. And the way he just drops the bat at the plate. Used to burn me, but then I saw him do it for us and I fell in love.

I miss Bradley. He easily makes my list of 20 favorite Padres (in alphabetical order):

  • Andy Ashby — For the first four months of ’98, the perpetual wad of chaw in his cheek, and the serious drawl
  • Josh Barfield — For playing at Elsinore and the homer off Brian Fuentes in ’06
  • Milton Bradley — For the dramatic home runs and yelling “I am that good!” at fans in Philly
  • Ken Caminiti — For the on-field heroics and the painful reminder that ballplayers are human
  • Steve Finley — For the glove, the walkoff grand slam off Felix Rodriguez in ’98, and that Tom Brady thing that makes even straight men swoon a little
  • Adrian Gonzalez — Because nobody outside of San Diego appreciates how good he is
  • Khalil Greene — For playing at Elsinore, the acrobatic fielding, and the way he carried himself on the playing field
  • Tony Gwynn — For everything; he is one of two men alive that could make me drive cross country for a Hall of Fame induction
  • Rickey Henderson — For the infectious smile and generally “Being Rickey”
  • Trevor Hoffman — He’s the other guy who will get me out to Cooperstown; I’ve already started planning the trip — no freeways this time
  • Wally Joyner — For the bat, the glove, and the class
  • Mark Kotsay — For reminding me of Finley and helping purge the memory of Ruben Rivera
  • Greg Maddux — For the precision and the ability to bust bats with an 84-mph fastball
  • Akinori Otsuka — For Yossha!, the Corky’s commercials, and the most ineffectual yet hilarious swing I’ve ever seen from a batter that wasn’t a cartoon character
  • Eric Owens — For the eyeblack and the straight steal of home off Cincinnati’s Brett Tomko
  • Jake Peavy — Another guy who passed through Elsinore on his way to the big leagues; heck, he got a key to the city
  • Oliver Perez — More Elsinore
  • Mike Piazza — For the power, the handling of pitchers, the handling of the media
  • Dave Roberts — For being a pest at the plate, playing hard, and being better than I thought he was
  • Gene Tenace — For the ridiculous OBP and hitting two homers in the first big-league game I ever attended

* * *

[Okay, we're almost to the "naughty" words. If you think you might be offended, maybe try something a little safer.]

I still don’t understand the calls for Bud Black’s head. What did you expect from this team? Did you even glance at the roster?

Then again, change for the sake of change is always good. Look at the difference A.J. Hinch is making in Arizona.

* * *

Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I like to write a terzanelle:

Terzanelle Up Shit’s Creek

The offense sputters, pitching reeks
and we watch helpless as they flail
without a paddle up shit’s creek

Would it help if they’d set sail
with bigger guns and better tools?
Still, we watch helpless as they flail.

Why are we, as fans, such fools
to keep on cheering as they fall
with bigger guns and better tools?

In truth, we can’t resist the call.
Because the game is in our blood,
we keep on cheering as they fall.

The season may well be a dud,
but that’s no reason to lose hope.
Because the game is in our blood,

we somehow find a way to cope
when offense sputters, pitching reeks.
There is no reason to lose hope
without a paddle up shit’s creek.

* * *

Well. There’s something you don’t see every day. Let us hope not, anyway.

* * *

Vacation. Supposed to be cavorting around the southwest, hanging out at minor-league ballparks, seeing the sights. Vegas, Tucson, El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, Carlsbad Caverns, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Grand Canyon.

Smitty’s condition changed our plans, so we’ll try again next spring. Meanwhile, I’ve got two weeks off from the day job, which I’m putting to good use.

I’m having arthroscopic surgery on the knee that has been giving me fits for the past several years. It’s an outpatient procedure, so I should be able to slap together an article for next week. Depending on how “effective” the meds are, it may be less coherent than usual. Or as some might say, “an improvement.”

* * *

The Padres’ free fall continues. They lost, 6-4, on Wednesday. Saw a few at-bats after work. Chris Young served up for homers. That is one way to shut down the running game.

More of the same on Thursday. This one ended up 11-3. Chad Gaudin and friends walked 10 Cubs batters.

On the bright side, the game wasn’t televised.

* * *

The Padres have issued 10 or more walks in a nine-inning contest 45 times in their history. They have won five of those, lost 40. The last time the Pads won such a game? June 29, 2000. Matt Clement — backed by homers from Phil Nevin, Wiki Gonzalez, and Ruben Rivera — beat Darren Dreifort at Dodger Stadium.

* * *

Geoff, Elsewhere

Shameless bit o’ self-promotion. My latest stuff on the tubes:

  • Plate discipline: It’s that thing you don’t have (THT). If the pitch is in the next zip code and you swing at it, you might be a hacker. Ex-Padres Ivan Murrell, Luis Salazar, Carlos Baerga, and Rickey Henderson make appearances, as does former coach Rob Picciolo.
  • Hype Is Awesome!!! (Baseball Prospectus Unfiltered). People who have never seen Stephen Strasburg pitch assure me he’s not that great. Who am I to argue with them?
  • Shouldn’t a closer, you know, close? (THT). Searching for the Tony Cloninger of relievers. Ex-Padre Mark Davis gets a passing nod.
  • Five Homers, Ten Walks, and a Loss (BDD). The Washington Nationals did something amazing on April 27. In a game at Philadelphia, they hit five homers and drew 10 walks… and lost.
  • …and a Bucket of Balls (BDD). The Detroit Tigers acquired outfielder Jason Tyner from Milwaukee… for nothing.
  • Crazy scoring streak (THT). The Oakland A’s once scored four runs or more in 17 straight games and won them all.

As a reminder, my Tuesday dealio at BDD is now at Baseball Prospectus. Thanks to those who left comments over there; nice to see some familiar names.

Also, if you do the Twitter thing, so do I. Yay. Follow me at if you’d like.

* * *

Roster shuffling. Edwin Moreno and Duaner Sanchez are gone, replaced by Greg Burke and Joe Thatcher. Having two players with the surname “Burke” on the roster seems cool until you discover that Burke is among the 250 most common surnames in the United States. Then you find yourself wishing for guys named Arizmendi, Bilderback, or Clingerman.

Not that they’d necessarily help, but at least we could talk about their names. That would kill a good five seconds of awkwardness.

* * *

Mrs. Ducksnorts calls from Vegas while I’m at the car dealer geting tires installed. She’s headed to the sports book, picking up odds sheets for me. In the background, her brother dares me to bet on the Padres.

“$20 to win the World Series?” she asks.

It’s my usual bet.

“Naw, I’ll just set the money on fire this year.”

“Sounds like fun.”


The car is ready. I pay up, then drive to Mission Bay, where I sit on a bench and stare at the water, wondering what the heck there is to say about the Padres at this point. They stink. How much more detail do you need?

* * *

The Padres win Friday night. Adrian homers in his fifth straight. Nice that the opposition is still pitching to him, although I can’t imagine why. The home run came on a full count. He struck out on the 2-2 pitch but it was ruled no swing. Yeah, he swung.

Kevin Correia gave up three earned runs, although there should be an asterisk by two of those. Brian Giles lost a ball in the lights with two out in the fifth. Hit him right in the glove, ruled a double.

Dogging Correia is fun sport, but he pitched well on Friday… Also, it’s weird to see the closer in the eighth. Cool, but weird.

* * *

These guys are still walking way too many batters. The Padres are 28th out of 30 MLB teams in BB/9. For an organization whose philosophy is “pitch to contact,” that isn’t good. Actually, it isn’t good regardless of philosophy.

The last time the Padres averaged 4 BB/9 or higher in a season was 2000. That was a dreadful staff, and yet, I find myself hoping someone can talk Carlos Almanzar and Matt Whiteside out of retirement. Here’s how the Padres have done since then (this is a modified and updated version of the table found on page 19 of the Ducksnorts 2009 Baseball Annual):

Walks Allowed per 9 Innings
Year Padres MLB Diff
2000 4.01 3.75 +0.26
2001 2.94 3.25 -0.33
2002 3.59 3.35 +0.24
2003 3.77 3.27 +0.50
2004 2.60 3.34 -0.74
2005 3.10 3.13 -0.03
2006 2.89 3.26 -0.34
2007 2.91 3.31 -0.40
2008 3.46 3.36 +0.10
2009 4.22 3.73 +0.49

Lower numbers are good. You want to be in the negative differential.

Last year was the first time since the Padres moved downtown that their BB/9 crept above MLB average. This year, they’re back to ’03 levels.

* * *

Pining for the future? Evan Brunnell sends this:

We’re running a MLB mock draft at MVN Outsider, and Daniel Gettinger (Friar Forecast) just picked Dustin Ackley on behalf of the San Diego Padres. Thought I’d send along the link if you wanted to share it with your readers.

Eh, Ackley underwhelms. I’m hoping for Lars Tate’s kid.

Meanwhile, among players actually in the system, Jaff Decker is raking. He hit a blast 450 feet last week that has people talking.

Small sample, but the early returns on Decker are outstanding. In 318 professional plate appearances, he’s hitting .336/.509/.545. He’s 19 years old. Yeah, he might be something.

* * *

Up too early. Getting coffee started. Listening to Coltrane after second straight Padres win. Nick Hundley ended it with a homer to left off Micah Owings with two out in the 16th. Guess Hundley got tired of squatting.

The bullpen did an admirable job, working 10 1/3 scoreless. I still hate the 12-man staff. Watching Kevin Correia and Luis Perdomo bat in extra innings is not my idea of fun. Correia was in there as a pinch-hitter, a sure sign of roster fail.

Thank goodness the game ended when it did. I don’t know how much longer Perdomo could have gone. The Padres were out of position players and pitchers when Hundley hit his blast.

Mark Grant noted that recently acquired shortstop Josh Wilson pitched in a game last week for Arizona. Okay, then what? Eckstein to short, Hariston to second, Perdomo to left?

Coltrane yields to Nick Drake. Coffee is ready.

Five hours and change earlier, Brian Giles led off the bottom of the first with his second homer of the year. He drew three walks in the game, my favorite coming in the second inning. Giles fell behind in the count, 0-2, before spitting on some tough pitches from Edinson Volquez and coaxing the walk.

Volquez loves his changeup. It’s a good pitch, but damn.

I wonder if Adrian is feeling pressure to produce. In the fifth, on a 3-0 count, he chased a 79-mph changeup down and away off the plate. Then he fouled a high fastball straight back before waving at an even higher fastball for the strikeout.

Strange line of the night goes to Jody Gerut: 0-for-7 with 2 RBI. He also robbed Laynce Nix of a two-run homer in the second and made a diving catch of a sinking liner later in the contest.

Reds pitchers struggled with the strike zone, issuing 12 walks. They didn’t get much help from plate umpire Jim Joyce, who refused to call pitches at the knees strikes. Joyce and veteran reliever David Weathers exchanged words as Weathers walked off the mound after issuing a free pass to pinch-hitter Drew Macias with the bases loaded to tie the game.

In Joyce’s defense — and it’s a poor defense — he squeezed pitchers on both sides. If Joyce rings up Ramon Hernandez in the second, then Gerut doesn’t have to make a game-saving catch on Nix’s drive.

Josh Geer looked sharp through four, then started leaving pitches up in the zone, which has disastrous consequences for someone who works with a mid-80s fastball. Geer reminds me so much of Justin Germano it’s not even funny. Like Germano, he must be perfect to have even a chance to succeed. As one scout puts it, “He’s a middle reliever.”

My only gripe is that the Padres should have won the game sooner. They left 17 men on base. Left ‘em loaded in the ninth, 10th, and 14th. Left runners on second and third in the 15th — Scott Hairston popped to short on the first pitch he saw from Owings to end the inning. Both runners had reached via walk. Gee, Scott; anxious much?

* * *

Sat in Section 228 for Sunday’s game. Good to see things from a different perspective.

Jake Peavy on the mound. Needed to save the bullpen, so he did. Went the distance. Gave up one run on four hits. I will miss him when he is gone.

Kevin Kouzmanoff is finding his stroke. A day after drawing two walks, he knocked three hits, including a leadoff homer to right in the eighth. When Kouz starts driving the ball the other way, good things happen. Kinda like Phil Nevin.

In the fourth, Reds starter Bronson Arroyo walked the bases loaded for Adrian, who smoked a ball right at second baseman Brandon Phillips to end the threat. Curious strategy.

The Padres are batting .121/.162/.152 with the bases loaded this year. It’s only 37 plate appearances, but yuck.

* * *

Funny week. Get swept at Wrigley. Come home, sweep the Reds. On average, it was average… Like the guy whose left side is freezing and whose right side is at 100 degrees. On average, he’s at room temperature; it just doesn’t feel that way.

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25 Responses »

  1. Sweet list of favorite Padres. Nobody really jumped out as missing. Maybe Gene Richards, just because I remember him hauling ass around 3rd when the Padres swept a four game series from LA in SD when the Padres were starting to get good for the first time ever (circa 1983). I might also add Mike Darr, though he did not get enough time with us. He reminded me of an Owens but with more talent.

    Honorable mentions: Mark Davis for having a curve ball that would make great hitters look ridiculous. He only did it for a couple seasons, but man was it fun to watch. Sterling Hitchcock for almost the same reason but helped us get to the WS.

    I watched Sunday’s game. Man was Peavy good. Just so much fun to watch. I think one inning he threw 8 pitches, including a strike out and two easy outs. All strikes. Reminded me of a game in Arizona back in 2004, 2005 or so when the pen was depleted so he just decided to pitch to contact and had a complete game. Just threw strike after strike, but good, nasty strikes. Fun.

    It is games like this that make me think that Peavy is a rare enough of a talent that you do not trade him. I start to think, maybe we are not that far away in a division that will be dominated by LA, but LA won’t be overwhelming.

    So my daydream goes like…
    Sign a decent OF. Hairston, Gerut, Macias, decent OF FA. That could work

    IF: Headley moves to 3B. Adrian. Go with a blend of in-house vs. FA for SS/2B. Do the Hundley, veteran blend. That could work.

    Rotation: Jake. CY, either is a #2 or slides down, but keep him. Then you need to spend money on two decent guys, like Wolf and Maddux a few years ago. In house for #5. Spend a little on the 7th and 8th innings guys. We get Adams back. Have Bell. That could work. The rest is Towers shopping that usually works well.

    If you made all those moves, that could cost a marginal 20-25m. Not loose change, but not overwelming. It could blow up, but it could work. That is my daydream to keep Jake and compete in 2010.

  2. Poor Khalil, he lost his starting SS job in St. Louis. They’re going to use him as a utility infielder going forward (SS/3B/2B).

  3. You’re just begging for other people’s favorite Padres, right? My list includes many players from yours, but add: Roberto Alomar (introduced to me as a Padre even if he spent his career elsewhere). I’d love to get a brown pinstripe road jersey with his #12 on it.

    And how about another short-timer: Rod Beck filling in for Trevor. I think that was the last year at The Murph, went 20 for 20?

    And Sterling Hitchcock for his 1998 playoffs performances.

  4. Geoff, just wanted to drop in to say that these weekly posts have been awesome. Really enjoyable. And congrats on the BP thing. Keep up the good work!

  5. Aside from the usual suspects, my favorite Padres include Archi Cianfrocco, Greg W Harris, Randy Ready, Mark Parent, Phil Plantier (what a fun swing he had) and Scott Sanders.

  6. So you are saying you want the Padres to draft a kid that probably won’t sign?

    Tate has consistently said that he is going to UNC to play football and wants to also play baseball there. He has said his ultimate goal is to play in the NFL. Even as late as May 7th he had not changed his tune.

    So why draft someone with an extremely valuable pick who probably will not sign and at minimum will be extremely difficult to sign, over Ackley who is a true 5 tool player and unquestionably the best college hitter?

    Maybe that is why Tate is falling on most draft boards and Ackley is almost a consensus #2 pick.

    On another line, how about Roberto Alomar, Benito Santiago and Greg Vaughn for your list of 20 favorite Padres?

    They are certainly on mine. Roberto Alomar for all those acrobatic plays, Benito for throwing guys out from his knees and a rookie record hitting streak and Greg Vaughn for 50 dingers – a Padres record.

    I am thinking you are not old enough to have Nate Colbert, Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Randy Jones or Goose Gossage on your list.

    I know you have a day job, but it would be nice to see you spend as much space on what the Padres have done right in the past week as what has gone wrong.

  7. #1@jay: Richards is a good call. I didn’t see him enough to form an opinion, but he seems like the kind of player I would have liked.

    #2@Masticore317: Man, I feel terrible for Khalil. Here’s hoping he can put his career back together.

    #4@Christopher Keach: Yeah, Beck’s ’03 was fun.

    #5@Myron (MB): Thanks, glad you’re enjoying them. Hope we’ll see you writing again at some point.

    #7@websoulsurfer: No, I’m saying I want the Padres to draft and sign Tate.

    As for my list, I didn’t start following the Padres until the early-’90s. It’s no secret that I grew up a Dodgers fan. I’ve recovered, though.

    As for what has gone right vs what has gone wrong, I see what I see.

  8. #6@Masticore317: Good call on Mark Parent … my guess is that everybody who saw him play remembers the first time they ever saw him … he was HUGE!!!

    re: right vs wrong … keep on seein’ what you see and writin’ what you write, GY :-) And I appreciate the soulsurfer keepin’ you on your toes … it’s good for all of us!

  9. #7@websoulsurfer: I think that Tate signing with Boras says that he’s not 100% committed to football at UNC …

  10. Of course Tate says he wants to go to college. That’s how you preserve leverage. It’s going to take a lot of money to sign him, and with his raw approach at the plate.

    College bats are always in demand, and Ackley may be getting overdrafted because of it. Usually you wouldn’t let organizational depth determine anything in a draft, but if Ackley’s bat is best suited to CF while his surgically-repaired arm is best suited for left, we already have a lot of future LF in the system. The same kind of thing may be happening with Tate; in what looks like a down year for position players, he may be more attractive than he deserves. Then again, he could end up being a great player.

    If Scheppers would take slot, that could be a solid pick. Risky, but tremendous stuff. I also like Matzek and Crowe. Scheppers and Crowe seem like they would take slot or close to it, because both have already missed a year of development time and their leverage isn’t going to increase.

  11. Peavy to the ChiSox?!?

    For the rights pieces in return, it could very well be a win-win trade? I’m not familiar with their prospects, but I understand they have a few highly touted guys.

  12. I too am a recovering Dodger fan. I grew up in Albuquerque, which was home to the Dodgers AA and then AAA farm teams.

    We all must pay our penance in life I guess.

    I read a recent interview with Tate, I think it was in the Daily Tribune in Cartersville or possibly the News & Observer in the Triangle area in NC, in which he said that he was looking forward to playing football at North Carolina and his life long dream was to play in the NFL.

    He also said that his experience playing baseball last summer had burned him out some and he was looking forward to some time off this summer.

    The one thing that does point towards Tate at least looking at signing a baseball contract is his choosing Scott Boras as his adviser/agent.

    The Padres have already said they would spend about $6 million on the #3 pick and with Tate having committed to play at UNC and with Boras as his agent the negotiating power is on their side. I am not so sure the Padres see Tate as a signable prospect.

    Certainly Tate would be a top athlete, but being an athlete and being a baseball player are two different things and Ackley has proven he is a baseball player with not only tools, but skills too.

    I am hoping Ackley is available at #3.

  13. Steve Garvey is my Padre. Bevacqua, Kevin Brown, Sheff chasing the Triple Crown.

  14. DePo doing his draft prep at the SEC tourny …

    … interesting name dropping :-)

  15. #14@Kevin: “Steve Garvey is not my Padre” … my favorite bumper sticker of all time :-)

  16. I think after today’s ridiculous trade of Jody Gerut to the Brewers for Triple A fodder Tony Gwynn Jr shows that it’s time for Kevin Towers to move on. He deserves better than to make horrible trades just to save $900,000.

    Be interesting to see where the Padres go from here. Peavy is obviously gone — maybe not to the White Sox but certainly in the next week or so. If they are basically cutting Gerut then Giles has to go as well and since no one will trade for him (unlike Gerut) that means their only option is to designate him and eat the rest of his salary. There is also a rumor in a Seattle paper that the Padres are offering either Antonelli or Headley for Yuniesky Betancourt:

    That would make the starting outfield Blanks, Hairston and Venable. That’s better than the current one I guess.

  17. #16@LynchMob: Yes, that was what I was alluding to.

  18. Passing along an observation from FJ blog …

    That got FJ wondering about the biggest home/road differentials in Padres history. Currently, the Padres have a .684 winning percentage at home and a .238 winning percentage on the road for a difference of .446.

    The biggest difference for a full season came in 1999. The Padres were 46-35 at home, for a .568 winning percentage, and 25-56 on the road, a .346 percentage. That’s a difference of .222.

  19. GY (and all his loyal readers here) …

    FJ’s blog entry today has nudged me to one last shot at getting Garvey’s #6 down off the Petco wall …

    Saturday is a big, big day.

    Now, at the ballpark is some really cool stuff. The 1984 NL Championship team will reuinite and be honored during a pregame ceremony. Even better, players will sign autographs from 5:30-6:15 p.m. at the Park at the Park.

    The list of schedule participants includes Kurt Bevacqua, Dave Dravecky, Steve Garvey, Terry Kennedy, Craig Lefferts, Tim Lollar, Kevin McReynolds and Mark Thurmond. How cool is that?

    … and I have left the following comment there …

    OUCH … I want to be there on Saturday … like I was for games 4 & 5 of the 1984 NLCS … my 2 favorite games of all-time!

    I had an idea a couple of years ago (which I just did not muster enough support for) that Saturday would be perfect for … the basic idea was to replace Steve Garvey’s #6 on the Petco outfield wall with the number “1984″ … so that rather than honoring only Steve Garvey for the highlight of his Padre career, the whole 1984 team is honor’d with a “retired number” …

    If anyone out there reading this wants to pick up this ball and run with it, I’d be much appreciative. I actually asked Garvey if he’d do it … I think he was too stun’d to really consider it … but I think it could do a lot to improve his image :-)

    … so, if any of you have any ideas for how to get this on Saturday (and/or *any* time in the future), please let me know what I can do to help!!! I know I’ll get no support for this from Kevin (see comment #14 above) … but the last time poll’d its community about this, 82% of them wanted the #6 down … SO LET’S DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!

    Oh, and one more thing … if any of you can snag me one of the give-away t-shirts from Saturday night, you know I’d be MUCH appreciative!!! :-) :-) :-)

  20. Geoff, I am with you 100 percent with Milton Bradley! I love him and I miss him very much in a Padres uni. It’s funny you bring up the episode with Phillies fans. I don’t know if you’re referring exactly to the August ’07 series SD played at Philly, but I was there sitting in deep left (along the base line) in front of Bradley all night during one of those games that SD won to stay alive. I have never in my life heard or have seen a pro athlete sit there and take the amount of abuse (much of it racial that night). And as a New Jersey resident/Padres fan I have seen far more Padres game in that awful city than at Petco Park, and know all about how Philly fans treat their “rooting and support”. Bradley drilled a bomb late in the game and the place went silent except for… me cherring loudly and having my Padres shirt littered with debris thrown from all four cardinal directions, and Bradley giving it to the place after holding back and taking more abuse than any human should.
    So yeah, even though it was short, Bradley is a fave of mine.
    Another huge fave will always be Khalil Greene. I hope he can rebound and get things together in St. Louis further proving how STUPID SD was this past December.


    This is kinda fun … Eck’s suicide-squeeze-bunt in super-slo-mo … pitcher does a face-plant …

  22. PadresPR @ Twitter says …

    SD is the first team ever to have an active double-digit road losing streak and active double-digit home winning streak at the same time.