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Baseball Is Broken (on the field, proposed rule changes, attendance, etc.)

Discussion in 'MLB Discussion' started by jon abbey, Apr 10, 2018.

  1. DanoooME

    DanoooME Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    13,889
    Yes, Baseball Reference has it in inches.
     
  2. Big John

    Big John lurker

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    839
    The decline in baseball's popularity has little to do with celebrations (or the lack thereof) or with the ethnic composition of the league. Some Black fans may have less interest since there are way fewer Black stars than there were 20-30 years ago, but that's probably a small factor. I also view the length of games as a red herring. Baseball was always a leisurely Summer game-- it's the only major sport that is not subject to the tyranny of the clock.

    The character of the game itself has changed. It's played more efficiently to maximize scoring. That's fine from a statistical point of view, but there is so much less variety in the product on the field. Except for the home run, the incidence of the most exciting plays is way down. I'd much rather see a ball in the gap with a few runners on base-- with motion all over the field as cutoff men get into position and players back up bases-- than just another long clout where the outfielder doesn't even bother to turn around to watch the ball sail into the grandstand.

    Here's a way to shorten the game: treat home runs just like intentional walks are treated now. Just chalk up the score and don't even bother to watch the hitter trot around the bases. You could save 5-10 minutes every game.
     
  3. SumnerH

    SumnerH Malt Liquor Picker Dope

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    Closer to 60-90 seconds.

    MLB averages 2.5 HR/game (1.25/team). The longest home run trot in history was Big Papi's 32.something seconds.
     
  4. SirPsychoSquints

    SirPsychoSquints Member SoSH Member

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    2,859
    The 37 shortest players from 2008-2017, all at 5'6" or lower, combined for 13.2% K's and 7.2% BB's in around 29K PA. Jimmy Rollins and Jose Altuve each had around 15% of those PAs. This group combined for an OPS of something like .702.

    The 66 tallest players from 2008-2017, all at 6'7" or taller, combined for 33.4% K's and 7.4% BB's in around 4.5K PA. Aaron Judge & Adam Wainwright each had around 17% of those PA's. Let's exclude pitchers.

    The 58 tallest non-pitchers from 2008-2017, all at 6'5" or taller, combined for 22.0% K's and 10.3% BB's in around 75K PA. Joe Mauer, Jayson Werth, Dexter Fowler and Alex Rios each had around 7% of those PA's. This group combined for an OPS of something like .793.

    The last search was at this link, the others are slight variations:
    https://www.baseball-reference.com/tiny/yPSPY
     
  5. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    As one who has been on the field with players, I'm not sure how much faith I would put in listed heights. As an example, I stood right next to a player who was listed as 6'4" (my height) and I could see the button on his cap. I've developed my own height scale: players shorter than 5'6" list themselves as 5'6"; if they are 5'6-8" they become 5'9"; 5'9"s and 5'10"s each grown an inch and obviously 5'11"s become 6-foot, etc. In the early '90s, minor league camps at spring training were very open and I have had media passes to minor league and fall league games.
     
  6. SumnerH

    SumnerH Malt Liquor Picker Dope

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    It's still likely that the aggregate tall group and the aggregate short group are somewhere outside the aggregate middle group in height in the proper direction, though. And it's the best data we have.
     
  7. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    Now, to get back to what I was originally go to say...There is an article in today's Washington Post, How to fix baseball? Washington Post readers have a few suggestions that is interesting and amusing.
    It is based on readers' reactions to an article published a few days earlier and the authors took their favorite reader input as the basis for this article.

    The direct link is: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...ave-a-few-suggestions/?utm_term=.d0b18b0adfda

    If that doesn't work (you've read too many free articles this month)...try pasting the link in another browser or do a Google search for how to fix baseball and choose the Post article.
     
  8. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    I'm just saying it isn't perfect and you may be getting players in one group who belong in another one. But as you say, what else can you use.
     
  9. Awesome Fossum

    Awesome Fossum Member SoSH Member

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    What baseball really needs is competition. The NFL has had to fend off challenges from the AFL, USFL, etc. over the years, and even when those leagues crash and burn, the game gets exposed to new rules, ideas, and markets that make the sport healthier. Pull the antitrust exemption and let the next Federal League take a crack at some of these ideas.
     
  10. geoduck no quahog

    geoduck no quahog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Wow. Some really stupid stuff. They must have edited it for outrageousness.

    The one that clicked for me was the noise comment. I literally can’t stand the noise and visuals done in so many parks (I’m guessing Fenway is one of the better ones). Mariner games are nearly un-attendable unless you fancy yourself as Tron. The non-stop volume alone is enough to induce a headache but the worst part is so little empty space, as if quiet would cause all fans to leave.

    I remember listening to a Rangers game that essentially had 55 of every 60 seconds filled with inane electronic music and sounds.

    It’s pretty sad when legitimate crowd noise is drowned out by sound effects.

    On the other hand, I don’t recall how I knew there was a strikeout unless some stupid noise was played after it. Thank god.
     
  11. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    You almost had me up to this. Did you watch the Red Sox last night? Balls to the gap all night and not a single homerun.

    And yeah, 30 seconds is a slow trot
     
  12. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    That comes from the minor leagues. They were doing that at least as far back as 1995. I ran into it in Beloit that year and recall reading a comment by an owner of another Midwest League team (that drew over 500,000) along the lines that he hoped the fans had so much fun they didn't know the score when they left. Teams had started doing things like dizzy bat races between innings but not the constant din that became the norm.
     
  13. The Gray Eagle

    The Gray Eagle Member SoSH Member

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    I wouldn't mind the smaller gloves idea, might be worth a try. Could lead to higher BABIP, which changes the equation a lot in terms of strategy.

    I think baseball is more entertaining when the ball is put in play more often, and more balls in play means more chances for great defense, and things like steals and hit and runs become better strategies.

    Strikeouts and HRs are cool, as long as they aren't the whole game. Walks are always boring but you don't want to tweak them because there would be too many unintended consequences.

    The only other idea in the article I like is robots helping the umps call strikes, which needs to happen.
     
  14. Big John

    Big John lurker

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    839
    Just a little hyperbole to make a point. Last night's Red Sox game must have been more fun to watch than the typical 12 strikeout, 8 walk home run derby.
     
  15. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    31,160
    Hyperbole doesn't work on a message board, especially when you're an unknown property.
     
  16. Big John

    Big John lurker

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    839
    My apologies for that. The post from "The Gray Eagle" pretty much sums up my sentiments about the quality of the current product. If you want to have more balls in play, just deaden the baseball. Many of today's home runs would be long outs, and teams would have to find more creative ways to manufacture runs. You might actually see guys going the other way to beat shifts, instead of trying to pull the ball every time.
     
  17. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    The sports writer for a local weekly just said in this week's column that he thinks one of the reasons attendance is falling at major league games is the costs involved--not just the ticket costs but parking, concessions, merchandise, etc.

    He also says that the advent of cable/satellite television has changed what is now considered to be a "hit" show. Back when you only got three-four stations, then hit shows got 40 million viewers but today it only takes, say, 19 million. (Or to look at that a different way, there are so many more things to watch today.)
     
  18. SumnerH

    SumnerH Malt Liquor Picker Dope

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    Also the teams with the two biggest drops (Marlins and Blue Jays) are down in part because they changed how they count attendance. e.g. the Marlins used to count comps as attendance, but this year they switched to not counting them.

    That combined with this from (as of June 18th) is a chunk of it:
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/mauryb...n-6-5-heres-how-it-can-be-fixed/#4f39369939c2

    The article also discusses rising costs and a relatively tame offseason, along with there being a bunch of really poor-performing teams this year.
     
  19. crow216

    crow216 Dragon Wangler SoSH Member

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    I don’t even think it would save that because the next hitter and pitcher are setting up as he rounds the bases anyway.
     
  20. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    According to the Salem Red Sox, the new extra-inning rule is working. They have played eight games that have exceeded the regularly scheduled innings and all of them have lasted just one extra inning.

    And research released by MILB on games through July 1 of this season have shown that 94% of the 446 games that went into extra innings lasted just one or two innings longer as opposed to 74% in 2017 and 71% in 2016.

    https://www.roanoke.com/sports/base...cle_6199c751-4416-5399-ba90-c8d7eeb281a8.html
     
  21. Ford Frick's Asterisk

    Ford Frick's Asterisk Member SoSH Member

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    207
    I saw my first minor league extra-inning game under the new rule tonight and hate it even more than I did before. For the first three half-innings, the team scored the runner from 2nd but nothing more. It added sort of a false drama which seriously slowed down the pace of play. The pitchers were stepping off and throwing to second base from the start of the inning. Twice the pitcher and catcher had to meet to go over the signs during the first at-bat of the inning. The one time they had a mound conference before the first pitch of the inning. In the bottom of the 11th the home team hit a lead-off double to score the runner, which tied the game, then they bunted the new runner over to 3rd and scored the winning run with a sac fly to center, so one of the teams finally creating their own run is what won the game. The runners on second base really just added 4 meaningless runs and made the two innings take forever.

    *
     
  22. Big John

    Big John lurker

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    839
    It's not the extra inning games that are the problem; it's that these days 22% of all at bats end in strikeouts. In 1950, Yogi Berra had 597 at bats and struck out 12 times. So far this year, Aaron Judge has stuck out 126 times in 343 at bats, Stanton 126 in 363 at bats. Ridiculous.
     
  23. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    Not sure if you are trying to say that the game are longer because the number of strikeout have increased or that it makes games boring for you, but...Retrosheet Play-by-Play logs have pitch sequences. They only go back through 1988, though, so I compared 1990 and 2017. Their pitch sequences contain symbols for throws to bases by pitcher or catcher as well a pitches blocked by catchers, and non-batter involved events like player/player switches before and during innings.

    What I did was compare the strikeout string length to the length of the strings with the extraneous (non-pitches) removed.

    2017 K string_length = 5.332
    2017 K length = 4.834 pitches

    1990 K string_length = 5.237
    1990 K length = 4.803 pitches

    If you could go back into the earlier days of baseball, you probably would see shorter lengths but I suspect that you would not see a lot of difference. There would be fewer pitching changes but stolen bases were a much bigger factor at times.
     
  24. Big John

    Big John lurker

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    839
    I have no problem with the length of games. Once again I think that's a red herring. The problem is that there are not enough baseballs hit in play. There are fewer good fielding plays, less strategy, fewer base hits and extra base hits (except home runs). fewer stolen bases, squeeze plays, cutoff plays, double plays, all of it. They're taking the variety and strategy out of baseball. It's all walks, strikeouts and home runs now. It's becoming a colorless, homogenous nine inning home run derby.
     
  25. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    That has crossed my mind but there are things that are still exciting: think of two recent Red Sox grand slams. I hate the constant showing of replays, especially when they do it from previous at bats and even previous games. I look up and see a player rounding the bases, only to realize that had already happened.I hate having crowded announcer booths, either with too many announcers or with guests and tehy don't pay attention to the game. Frankly, ever since I was a kid a long time ago, I always did something else while watching a game on tv or listening to one on the radio, read, do a crossword puzzle. Today, because of the internet, I no longer keep a scorecard and I probably pay less attention to the broadcasts than I once did.
     
  26. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    I am not sure where I saw the chart, but it's really only a handful less balls in play per game from any time in recent decades, which translates to something like one less per hour. I still don't get why easy fly balls and routine grounders are more compelling than strikeouts, but I've said that before.
     
  27. Big John

    Big John lurker

    Messages:
    839
    Sure, home runs and strikeouts can be very exciting, depending on the situation.

    Baseball is now played to maximize the number or runs scored, but in my view something has been lost in the process. I'm, sure there are many younger fans who prefer today's brand of baseball. I'm still a fan, but I don't find the game as interesting.

    I'd be surprised if the number of balls in play per at bat has only declined slightly in recent decades, given how strikeout and walk totals have escalated.
     
  28. Ford Frick's Asterisk

    Ford Frick's Asterisk Member SoSH Member

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    207
    I do think pitcher usage has made strikeouts less compelling. If guys were approaching Clemens' and Wood's single game record it would be good theater, but when the starting pitcher strikes out 9 and an assortment of relievers add another 6, no one cares.

    *
     
  29. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    Someone more inclined can look further into this if they want, but let's call this the Rob Deer factor. This is the percentage of PA that ended in either a HR, a BB or Strikeout. The average game this year has about 76 PA. Compared to the rate of 1988, that is 7 less balls in play per game. Or a little more than 2 per hour.

    2018 33.8%
    2008 28.8%
    1998 28.4%
    1988 24.8%
    1978 23.0%
    1968 25.1%
    1958 24.0%

    I've mentioned this in another thread, but there is going to be a breaking point where strikeouts are actually more harmful than other outs. What happens when that number gets to 40%? 45%? It's not a good trend.
     
  30. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

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    Last year the average pitch pace was 24.3 seconds. Assuming the pitch clock is implemented eventually to 20 seconds in between pitches, that would shave about 17 minutes off of game time assuming 240 pitches per game which is extremely conservative.

    David Price alone would reduce game time by 12 minutes per 100 pitches before taking the other teams into account.

    Interestingly Joe Kelly is way worse than Price at 18 extra minutes per 100.

    It's just so obviously the easiest way to hold viewers attention.
     
  31. SirPsychoSquints

    SirPsychoSquints Member SoSH Member

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    2,859
    This understates it, because some pitches are already under 20 seconds.
     
  32. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    I did a correlation between teams' Attendance per Game and their Estimated Payroll, their Average Game Time, and their Winning Percentage by year from 2007 through July 14, 2018, using BB-Ref data. Surprisingly, Time of Game was not a big factor but the team's Estimated Payroll (Stars?) had the highest correlation.

    I suspect that adding some offensive and defensive data might provide additional light but that is more difficult because one needs to figure out whether a club's fans are following specific players or whether their team has strong batters and/or pitchers overall. Are they following one or many?

    Year Payroll GmTime WinPct
    2018 0.694 0.176 0.533
    2017 0.658 0.213 0.350
    2016 0.775 0.022 0.557
    2015 0.754 -0.044 0.527
    2014 0.762 -0.024 0.346
    2013 0.772 0.076 0.301
    2012 0.811 0.153 0.273
    2011 0.779 0.142 0.482
    2010 0.719 0.118 0.502
    2009 0.743 0.095 0.679
    2008 0.830 0.136 0.430
    2007 0.794 0.066 0.564
    07-18 0.649 0.098 0.458
     
  33. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    7,470

    Don't teams with higher payrolls live in bigger cities in general? NY, Boston, Chicago, LA etc.
     
  34. timlinin8th

    timlinin8th Member SoSH Member

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    This. Isn’t it obvious how much more enjoyable it is to watch a quick working pitcher like Chris Sale who gets the ball and fires it back in vs. watching those guys who wander around the mound having a conversation with themselves, huffing and puffing, adjusting their cap, going to the rosin bag, more looking around, shaking off half a dozen signs, more huffing, etc?

    Or the batters who, between pitches, just step one leg out of the box, quick tug of the gloves, leg back in, vs. those that do a similar routine as above?

    It has always blown my mind that in beer league ball guys constantly yell at the batter to “get the f in the box, lets go!” or to a pitcher to get moving, but the pros don’t self-police it that way. I get that there is more at stake in their performance but cmon. If they won’t do it then the league really should.
     
  35. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    Not necessarily. For starters, do you consider Boston on par in population with NY, Chicago, LA? In 2013, Houston had more than three times the population of Boston in 2013 but its estimated payroll was only $14,672,300 while the Red Sox's payroll was $175,395.500. The Dodgers had the lowest payroll in MLB in 2010. A lot of front offices blow up their teams and if they are successful in rebuilding, their payroll can jump a lot. I'd post the data for all the teams for 2007-2018 but I need to figure out how to make a table that works on SOSH.
     
  36. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    838
    Isn't that how averages work?
     
  37. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

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    Barely. Only 3 out of 338. https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.a...am=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=11,a

    Though the average number of pitches per game is 288, so the actual overall reduction in game time if actually enforced would be 20 minutes. And that's assuming they are exactly 20 seconds. It would probably be a second or two less if they didn't want to get penalized.

    Baseball games would then average roughly 2 and /2 hours. That's on par with hockey and close to basketball.

    What's interesting to consider is how it would affect hitters. Lots of guys step out, and JDM, as much as we love him, takes 27 seconds in between pitches. Maybe he and other pokey hitters spend that time trying to figure out how the pitcher will work them.

    Of course, who knows if this will actually be strictly enforced by late May.

    The players union needs to understand that it will ultimately benefit them. If it is a better product, that results in higher ratings which is more money (in theory) for everyone.
     
    #137 grimshaw, Jul 16, 2018 at 12:59 AM
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018 at 1:12 AM
  38. SirPsychoSquints

    SirPsychoSquints Member SoSH Member

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    2,859
    Not pitchers, pitches. If all pitches are now 20 seconds or less, then the average will be lower than 20 seconds. The guy averaging 20 seconds already has half his pitches under that mark. I don't know how to find the time of each pitch during the season. Is that out there?

    Edit: For example, the math by averages would suggest Mike Foltynewicz would have the exact same time of pitches. However, just going by the averages in his game log (and assuming exactly zero deviation in pitches in a game) would say you'd cut off 1.12 minutes per start for him. And again, that understates the impact because a) some of his pitches are already under there and b) he's not going to pitch at literally 20 seconds, it's going to be more like 19 with some variation.
     
    #138 SirPsychoSquints, Jul 16, 2018 at 8:31 AM
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2018 at 8:52 AM
  39. Max Power

    Max Power thai good. you like shirt? SoSH Member

    Messages:
    3,032
    You're forgetting that the pitch clock doesn't apply when runners are on base. You'd never be able to control the running game if that were the case. I'd hope that forcing the game to be quicker when the bases are empty would carry over to men on situations, since that's the new normal, but you never know.
     
  40. SirPsychoSquints

    SirPsychoSquints Member SoSH Member

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    2,859
    True. That ruins all the math above, doesn't it?
     
  41. grimshaw

    grimshaw the new rudy SoSH Member

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    3,201
    You just made me throw out my scrap paper. Jerk.
     
  42. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

    Messages:
    838
    For the 2017 season, there were 8049 plate appearances in which a runner was going on a pitch and since the runner may have returned to the base and run with another pitch, the total came out to 9958. While this doesn't necessarily slow down the game in itself, there are also throws by the pitcher and catcher to bases in attempts to keep the runner close, pick him off or catch him stealing, which do have some impact on game time.

    Pitchers threw to 1B 16750 times and catchers 455.
    Pitchers threw to 2B 478 times and catchers 211.
    Pitchers threw to 3B 18 times and catchers 44. These don't necessarily represent individual plate appearances. [data from Retrosheet play=by-play logs]
     
  43. Max Power

    Max Power thai good. you like shirt? SoSH Member

    Messages:
    3,032
    More than half the plate appearances in a season are with the bases empty. You can keep like 55% of that scrap paper.
     
  44. Van Everyman

    Van Everyman Member SoSH Member

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    15,501
    Posnanski with an excellent piece on why the sky may not be falling in Major League Baseball:

     
  45. singaporesoxfan

    singaporesoxfan Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    7,397
    City population is one of the worst ways to measure market size, given that it depends on political boundaries. Just because Cambridge isn’t part of the city of Boston while Houston contains many neighborhoods that are an equivalent distance away doesn’t make the Houston market 3 times bigger. Using either media market size or MSA size gives a much better sense of market size. Looking at MSA size, for example, the Houston metro area is larger than the Boston one, but it’s a lot closer: 6.9 million vs 4.8 million in 2017.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metropolitan_statistical_areas
     

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