Joey Votto

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Joseph Daniel Votto

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Biographical Information[edit]

Votto in 2008

Joey Votto became the Cincinnati Reds' starting first baseman in 2008. He has since won a major league MVP award and missed a second one by a whisker, has played for the Canadian national team and has won the Tip O'Neill Award as the best baseball player in Canada seven times.

He was selected by the Reds in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft and signed by scout John Castleberry. A catcher at the time, his high school did not have a baseball team, yet he was still picked 44th overall and signed for a $600,000 bonus. He debuted professionally with the GCL Reds, hitting .269/.342/.531 in 50 games with 9 home runs. He played primarily DH and third base that year. Votto's 25 extra-base hits tied Rajai Davis for the Gulf Coast League lead.

In 2003, Votto led Reds farmhands with a .406 OBP. He hit .231/.348/.287 in 60 games for the Dayton Dragons then was demoted to the Billings Mustangs, where he smacked the ball to a .317/.452/.488 clip with 56 walks and 80 strikeouts in 70 games. Votto led the Pioneer League in both walks and OBP. Now ensconced at first base, he led the league's players at that position in putouts (517), assists (36), double plays (48) and fielding percentage (.979). He failed to make the league All-Star team, losing out to Brandon Bounds.

Baseball America rated Joey as the #5 prospect in the Reds system entering 2004. Votto continued to impress during that season, leading Reds minor leaguers in OBP once more (.413) and also having the most walks (90), hits (143), total bases (237) and RBI (93) of their minor leaguers. His batting line was .302/.419/.486 in 111 games with Dayton and .298/.385/.560 in 24 contests for the Potomac Cannons. One negative was 131 strikeouts overall. Votto finished fifth in the affiliated minor leagues in walks. He again failed to make a league All-Star team as Brian Dopirak was picked as the top first sacker in the Midwest League. Baseball America moved him up to the 4th on their list of Cincinnati prospects.

Votto had his first decline year in 2005, only managing a .256/.330/.425 line for the Sarasota Reds with a .196 average against southpaws. He hit 17 home runs, drove in 83 and drew 52 walks while fanning 122 times. His 9 sacrifice flies tied Scott Moore for the Florida State League lead.

In the 2005 Baseball World Cup, Votto showed that his regular season was not the whole story. He hit .333/.371/.833 with 5 home runs, 10 runs and 16 RBI for Team Canada. He had the most RBI in the round-robin and finished fourth in the tourney behind Michel Enriquez, Yulieski Gourriel and Sidney de Jong. Only Gourriel clubbed more home runs than the Canadian 1B-DH. He made the All-Tournament team at DH.

Joey then went to the Mesa Solar Sox and was 9 for 36 with two walks and two doubles, backing up Ryan Garko at first base.

In 2006, he hit .319/.408/.547 for the Chattanooga Lookouts. He tied for third in the minors with 70 extra-base hits and tied Seth Smith for the most doubles (46). He led Cincinnati minor leaguers in hits (162), total bases (278), doubles, home runs (22), walks (78) and extra-base hits (70). He stole 24 bases in 31 tries and scored 85 runs while driving in 77. He hit .351 against right-handers, .262 against lefties. He paced the Southern League in practically everything - hits, total bases, extra-base hits, doubles, walks, OBP, batting average and slugging on offense and on defense, he led first basemen in putouts (1,068), assists (127), errors (14) and double plays (99). He was second in the SL in home runs. He fell one double shy of breaking the league record. The honors fell in left and right - Southern League MVP, Reds Minor League Player of the Year (as per Baseball America), SL All-Star first base. Baseball America finally put him on one of their "top prospects in the league" list - 7th in the SL, right behind Ryan Braun. Baseball America ranked him as the best batting prospect and best defensive prospect in the league - among those they considered him a better hitting prospect than were Braun, Andy LaRoche, Matt Kemp and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, all top prospects as well. He tied Jon Knott for third in the affiliated minors in extra-base hits. He played in the 2006 Futures Game, hitting third for the World team and going 1 for 2 before leaving the game.

Votto hit .294 with 7 RBI and 4 steals in 11 games for the Escogido Lions that winter.

Votto played for the Louisville Bats in 2007. He hit .294/.381/.478, made the International League All-Star team at first base and was named the league's Rookie of the Year. He was again picked for the Futures Game. Votto batted cleanup and manned first base for the World Team, getting four at-bats and hitting a homer off of Clay Buchholz, who a couple months later threw a no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox. He finished 7th in the IL in OBP, 8th in slugging, 7th in OPS, 4th in home runs (22), second in RBI (92, trailing MVP Mike Hessman only) and tied with Gary Burnham for 4th in walks (70).

On September 4th, 2007, the Cincinnati Reds announced that Votto would be called up from the minors and would be in the starting lineup on September 5th against the New York Mets. Joey's reaction to being called up: "I'm just happy to be here. My goal is to never go back down."

Votto got his first MLB action on the 4th against New York. He pinch-hit for Gary Majewski against Guillermo Mota and struck out swinging. In his first start, he batted 8th but went 3 for 3 with 2 runs, a walk and a home run off John Maine to help fellow rookie Tom Shearn win his second game. Votto hit a solid .321/.360/.548 with 17 RBI in 84 AB and a 127 OPS+ in his September call-up for the 2007 Reds.

Joey had a OPS+ of 124 in 2008, hitting .297/.368/.506 with 32 doubles, 24 home runs and 84 RBI. On May 7, he hit three home runs in a game against the Cubs, becoming the 23rd player in Reds history to accomplish the feat and the first since Aaron Boone 5 years (minus a day) earlier. He led the 2008 Reds in doubles and RBI.

Votto played for Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, hitting .556 with 1.711 OPS with a homer and two ribbies. He had another excellent year for the Reds in 2009, batting .322 - the 5th best average in the National League - with 38 doubles and 25 home runs. His OPS+ of 155 was 4th best in the league. During the season, he was placed on the disabled list in June and missed 21 games after suffering a bout of depression caused by the death of his father the previous August. He came back to finish strong however. In 2010, he took another step forward, being the key cog in a strong Reds' attack that led the team to a first division title in 15 years. He led the National League with a .424 on-base percentage and a .600 slugging percentage, while batting .324 with 37 home runs and 113 RBI. Even though he lost out to Albert Pujols in both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award votes, he beat him thoroughly in the MVP balloting, getting 31 of 32 first-place votes. He was the third Canadian to win MVP honors in the majors, following Larry Walker and Justin Morneau.

Votto also won the 2010 Tip O'Neill Award given by the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, more than 80% of respondents in an internet and Facebook poll choosing Votto. And the winning continued for Votto in December, who won the 2010 Lou Marsh award for being Canada's athlete of the year; the award is voted on by a committee of sports editors, columnists and broadcasters.

Votto received more recognitions in 2011, winning the National League Gold Glove. He was the first Reds first baseman to win a Gold Glove. He also repeated as winner of the Tip O'Neill Award, this time sharing the honor with reliever John Axford of the Milwaukee Brewers. He finished the season with a .309 average in 161 games, coupled with a league-leading .416 OBP. His 40 doubles and 110 walks were also league bests, and he added 29 homers, 101 runs and 109 RBI for another outstanding all-around season. After the year, the Reds rewarded him with the longest guaranteed contract in major league history, a 12-year agreement worth $251.5 million. It was signed in the wake of huge free agent contracts to fellow first basemen Pujols and Prince Fielder, who had both moved to American League teams during the off-season and had set the market for players of his talent. The contract includes provisions for the Reds to set aside a corporate suite at Great American Ballpark for the use of Joey's charitable foundation for 10 games each year, and annual payments totalling 1% of the value of the contract to Cincinnati-based charities.

Votto had a tremendous day at the plate on May 13, 2012 against the Washington Nationals. He hit solo homers off Edwin Jackson in the 1st and 4th innings, then doubled off Sean Burnett in the 8th, coming in to score on Jay Bruce's two-out double that made the score 6-5 for Washington. He then ended the game with a two-out walk-off grand slam off Henry Rodriguez to give the Reds a 9-6 win, ending the day with 4 hits, 4 runs scored, 6 RBI and 14 total bases. That game was part of an outstanding first half, during which he hit .348/.471/.617 and was voted the starting first baseman in the 2012 All-Star Game while leading the Reds to first place in the NL Central. However, on July 16th, the Reds announced that Votto needed to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a torn meniscus muscle, putting him on the sidelines for a month at a key juncture of the season. He had injured the knee sliding into third base against the San Francisco Giants on June 29th. He only made it back to the Reds in early September, but the team had managed to stay in first place during his absence, plugging various players into the line-up to compensate for the hole left by his injury. He finished the year at .337/.474/.567 in 111 games, leading the National League in walks and OBP. He went 7 for 18 in the NLDS as the reds lost to the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants. After the season, he was named the winner of the Tip O'Neill Award for the third straight season.

Votto impressed again in 2013: selected to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game, he hit over .300 for the fifth straight season and led the National League in walks and times on base, as well as in on-base percentage (.435), plate appearances (726), games played at first base (161) and assists by a first baseman (154). He also belted 24 home runs and tied for the NL lead in intentional walks (19). Off the field, he launched the Joey Votto Foundation to help military veterans and active service members in Cincinnati and Toronto deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. He won the Tip O'Neill Award for the fourth straight time in 2013 for his amazing year, becoming the first player to have done so. However, 2014 was basically a lost season for Joey. He played 62 games, hitting only .255, the victim of playing when he was obviously hurt, and then going on the disabled list for an extended stay on July 8th, blaming a strained quadriceps. He refused to discuss the details of the injury with the media, raising a negative reaction from fans, many of whom put in question his willingness to play. He was also limited to 6 homers, making observers wonder what had happened to his power.

Votto quieted his critics with an outstanding month of April in 2015, when he hit .317 with 17 homers and 17 RBI. He surpassed his previous year's home run total in that month alone, while coming close to his RBI total. However, on May 6th, he was involved in an incident he which he bumped umpire Chris Conroy and was handed a one-game suspension and a fine. Conroy had ejected him for throwing his helmet on the ground after striking out in the 3rd, but Votto had been unaware until he went out to take the field, at which point he rushed towards Conroy and came in contact with him. On June 9th, he became the second player in Reds history after Johnny Bench to have three three-homer games; that day, he connected off Aaron Harang in the 3rd and 5th innings, and off Dustin McGowan in the 7th. He connected on the first pitch of the at-bat all three times as he led Cincinnati to an 11-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. On July 22nd, he had a wonderful performance in a doubleheader, as he reached base 9 times between the two games against the Chicago Cubs, going 5-for-6 with 4 walks. Robinson Cano had been the last player to reach base 9 times in one day, back in 2010 and Votto was the fifth in 20 years. On September 9th, he went berserk against umpire Tim Welke after being denied a time-out during an at-bat in the 8th inning. He was ejected from the game and received a two-game suspension, which was reduced to one game on appeal. He finishes the year with a .314/.459/.541 batting line, with 33 doubles, 29 homers, 95 runs scored and 80 RBIs, while leading the NL with 143 walks. He finished third in the MVP vote.

2016 was another good year for Votto, although not for the Reds, who finished in last place in the NL Central. In 158 games, Joey hit .326 with 29 homers and 97 RBIs. His .434 OBP was best in the league, he walked 108 times, scored 101 runs and added 34 doubles. All of this resulted in an OPS+ of 160, also best in the league. In 2017, he returned to the All-Star Game after a three-year absence as he had one of his very best seasons in spite of the Reds going nowhere. He was insanely hot in August, when he came within one game of matching a feat only accomplished by Hall of Famer Ted Williams, as he reached base at least twice in 20 consecutive games (Williams had done so in 21 contests in 1948). The streak ended on August 16th when he singled in the 1st inning against the Chicago Cubs, but was enable to draw another hit, walk or hit-by-pitch the rest of the game, a 7-6 loss by the Reds. Williams was one of Votto's heroes, as he had been greatly inspired by the "Splendid Splinter"'s 1970 book, The Science of Hitting. He finished the season with a .320 batting average, a National League-leading .454 OBP and an OPS of 1.032, also best in the NL, with 36 homers and 100 RBIs in 559 at-bats. His 134 walks were a league-leading total for the 5th time. He lost one of the closest MVP races in history to Giancarlo Stanton, 302 points to 300, with both players receiving 10 first-place votes. He won the Lou Marsh Award as the best male Canadian athlete in any sport for the second time at the end of the year, having first done so in 2010 when he had been the NL MVP.

Votto had a rough start to his 2018 season as he had only one extra-base hit in his first 21 games, before homering in four straight games starting on April 24th. The Reds got off to an awful start which cost manager Bryan Price his job, and Votto, not known for stirring controversy, got in trouble twice in the span of a few days for remarks to the media. He first seemed to deny sense of pride in being Canadian when asked to comment about the feat of fellow Canuck James Paxton, who had become the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter in Canada; he had to walk back those remarks explaining he still kept very close links to his native city and had been happy to play on the Canadian national team on various occasions, even if he had missed the 2017 World Baseball Classic. One journalist pointed out that his apology and contrition was about the most Canadian thing he could have done. He then seemed to disparage the Reds' management in another interview a few days later, but again backed down, explaining that he was just venting frustration over the team's poor start, a frustration shared by fans, but that he wanted to play with the team for the remainder of his career. On August 4th, he was hit on the right knee by a 96 mph fastball thrown by Ryan Madson and the lingering effects of the injury put him on the disabled list ten days later. The Reds were convinced the pitch was intentional, but Madson escaped any form of punishment. He missed two weeks and finished the season at .284 in 145 games with 12 homers and 67 RBIs; he did lead the NL in on-base percentage for the 7th time, at 417, as he still managed to draw 108 walks.

On April 17, 2019, more light was shed on how exceptional a player Votto had been when it was revealed that when he popped out to first base in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, it was the first time he had done so in 1,592 career games! This highlighted how rarely the left-handed hitter had been jammed by opposite pitchers during the course of his career. In his next plate appearance, on April 18th, he led off the game against the San Diego Padres with a homer off rookie Chris Paddack. It was another first for him, the first time he had hit a lead-off homer in his career. However, overall, he had his worst season, hitting .261 with 15 homers and 47 RBIs in 142 games. More telling, his OBP was just .357 - very good for most players, but for him the lowest he had ever posted. In 2020, his batting average fell to .226, but with 11 homers and 37 walks his OPS+ was back above 100, at 105. This was the pandemic-shortened season, so he played just 54 games that year. The Reds did reach the postseason and he went 2 for 9 in their two-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card Series.

On April 30, 2021, he hit the 300th homer of his career. He was just the third player in Reds history to reach the mark, following Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Frank Robinson. He was also only the second Canadian to reach the total, after another member of Cooperstown, Larry Walker. He notched another milestone on June 30th, his 1,000th career RBI. He went on a tremendous hot streak shortly after the All-Star break, as he hit 7 homers in 5 games. That made him the 9th batter in Reds history to homer in five straight games, joining among others teammate Eugenio Suarez who had done so in 2018. He then set a new Reds record by homering the next day and on July 30th, he made it 7 games in a row with a homer with a blast at Citi Field. That gave him sole possession of the Canadian record - Jason Bay had one done it in six straight games - and left him one shy of the major league mark of eight games. He came within inches of that mark, as in the 8th inning on July 31st, he hit a ball off the top of the fence, but it bounced back onto the field for a long single. He was named the National League Player of the Month for July after hitting .319 with 11 homers and 25 RBIs in 26 games; it was surprisingly his first time winning the monthly award. On August 16th, he collected his 2,000th career hit, becoming again just the second Canadian after Walker to reach the mark. He finished that great comeback season at .266 in 129 games, with 36 homers and 99 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 136. However, the Reds missed the postseason after being caught and passed by the St. Louis Cardinals who had a great second half.

The Reds re-tooled before the 2022 season, trading away veterans like OF Jesse Winker, 3B Eugenio Suarez and P Sonny Gray in return for prospects, and also losing OF Nick Castellanos to free agency, but Votto remained a fixture on the team. On Opening Day, April 7th, he gave what may have been the greatest interview ever, being miked-up and speaking live with the ESPN announcing crew for a whole half-inning while playing his position. This included fielding pick-off throws from Tyler Mahle when Ozzie Albies of the Atlanta Braves reached first base, all the while reflecting on his long career, the evolution of baseball during that time, and also providing comments on ongoing strategy, for what was an absolutely riveting moment of television. However, he got off to a terrible start, as did the Reds as a team, hitting just .129 in April with no homers and 3 RBIs. He was still homerless when the Reds made a rare visit to his hometown, Toronto, for a three-game series in May. After they had lost two close games to the Toronto Blue Jays, Votto was the hero in the finale on May 22nd when he finally hit his first homer of the season in the 8th inning off Yimi García to break a 2-2 tie and give Cincinnati a 3-2 win. He had just come off a long stint on the COVID list entering the series, not having played since May 1st, and finally seemed to find his stroke in the three games, with one extra-base hit in each. The homer was his first ever in Canada in what was likely his final at-bat in the country. On August 14th, he played in his 1,989th game, thus passing Larry Walker for most ever by a Canadian player. Less than a week later, on August 19th, he had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, ending his season. In 91 games, he had hit .205 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 85, easily the lowest of his career.

Still recovering from the surgery when spring training got under way in 2023, he had to decline the possibility of playing for Canada in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. It was not certain that he would be ready for Opening Day either and in fact he only played his first game on June 19th. His return was a triumphant one, however, as he homered and hit a two-run single in leading the Reds to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. It was the Reds' ninth straight win and vaulted them into first place in the NL Central. On June 23rd, he helped extend the winning streak to 12 games by homering twice in an 11-10 win over the Braves; in that game, 21-year-old phenom Elly De La Cruz became the first Reds player in 34 years to hit for the cycle, so both ages of the age spectrum were well represented. On October 1st, in the season finale that was widely speculated to be the last game of his career, he was ejected in the 1st inning for arguing balls and strikes - no going gently into that good night for him. He hit .202 in 65 games, but with good power - 14 homers - and an OPS+ of 99. By the time the final game of the season came around, and the Reds had just been eliminated from the postseason, there was a lot of speculation that he had played his final game, although he refused to make an announcement at the time. On November 4th, the Reds declined to pick up a $20 million option for the following season, making him a free agent.

Expressing obvious frustration about not being re-signed by the Reds by the time spring training had started in 2024, Votto posted an Instagram video of himself sitting in a car going through a car wash saying "This is not Spring Training." After this video went viral, the Toronto Blue Jays gave him a chance to play for the team in 2024, bringing him to their camp as a non-roster invitee. He made his debut in a split-squad game on March 17th, and hit a home run on the first pitch he saw, a towering blast off Zack Wheeler of the Philadelphia Phillies. It was also the only pitch he saw in that game, as shortly afterwards, he accidentally rolled his ankle in the dugout after stepping on a bat and had to leave the game. He said it "hurt like the dickens" but was not a serious injury.

From 2010 to 2017, Votto won the Tip O'Neill Award 7 times in 8 years. Justin Morneau was the only one to break the streak, when he won in 2014, while the 2011 award was shared with Axford. Paxton ended his streak in 2018. Only Larry Walker, with 9 wins over the course of his career, has won the award more times.

Sources: 2005 Baseball World Cup site (seemingly defunct), 2003-2007 Baseball Almanacs, 2007 Reds Media Guide,

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2006 Player of the Year Southern League Chattanooga Lookouts
  • 2008 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
  • 6-time NL All-Star (2010-2013, 2017 & 2018)
  • NL MVP (2010)
  • NL Gold Glove Winner (2011)
  • 7-time NL On-Base Percentage Leader (2010-2013 & 2016-2018)
  • NL Slugging Percentage Leader (2010)
  • 2-time NL OPS Leader (2010 & 2017)
  • NL Doubles Leader (2011)
  • 5-time NL Walks Leader (2011-2013, 2015 & 2017)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 9 (2008-2011, 2013, 2015-2017 & 2021)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2010, 2017 & 2021)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 3 (2010, 2011 & 2017)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 5 (2010, 2011, 2013, 2016 & 2017)

2009 2010 2011
Albert Pujols Joey Votto Ryan Braun

Further Reading[edit]

  • Nick Ashbourne: "Joey Votto deserves more credit for his logic-defying season", Yahoo Canada Sports, August 25, 2017. [1]
  • Zach Buchanan: "Red-hot Joey Votto getting the kitchen-sink treatment", "", The Cincinnati Enquirer, August 15, 2017. [2]
  • Zach Buchanan: "Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto on 2018 season: 'Something needs to start changing'", The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 18, 2018. [3]
  • Ethan Diamandas: "O Canada! Votto's 1st HR a winner in home country: First baseman's 8th-inning jack, Ashcraft's solid MLB debut help Cincy go 5-4 on road trip",, May 22, 2022. [4]
  • John Fay: "Joey Votto says he 'overstepped' with strong comments on struggling Reds", The Cincinnati Enquirer, May 15, 2018. [5]
  • John Fay: "Votto propels Reds to 9th straight win, first place in return",, June 20, 2023. [6]
  • Alyson Footer at al.: "Is Votto a HOFer? The answer is unanimous",, August 19, 2021. [7]
  • Richard Justice: "Votto at crossroads as Reds eye resurgence: 'We're happy to quietly sneak up on everyone,' 10-year veteran says",, February 23, 2017. [8]
  • Cathal Kelly: "Votto's contrition shows his true Canadian colours", The Globe and Mail, May 17, 2018, pp. B15-B16. [9]
  • Keegan Matheson: "Votto agrees to non-roster invite deal with Blue Jays",, March 8, 2024. [10]
  • Keegan Matheson: "Votto homers one pitch into his Blue Jays career",, March 17, 2024. [11]
  • Kevin Murphy: "Gold or diamond? It's Votto's moment of tooth",, April 7, 2022.[12]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Votto, Phillips: Same team, different approaches", USA Today Sports, March 23, 2015. [13]
  • Sridhar Pappu: "The Brainiest Hitter: Can Joey Votto outsmart age?", The Atlantic, May 2020, pp. 14-16.
  • C. Trent Rosecrans: "He wanted to be Ted Williams, so he became Joey Votto", "", The Cincinnati Enquirer, March 30, 2017. [14]
  • C. Trent Rosecrans: "Votto: 'Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro'", "", The Cincinnati Enquirer, June 22, 2017. [15]
  • Glenn Sattell: "Hitting 'easy' again for Votto: Revitalized veteran even considering playing in Winter Leagues",, August 28, 2021. [16]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Votto says he won't waive no-trade clause: Reds first baseman determined to make improvements in game",, December 2, 2016. [17]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Votto 2nd in historically tight MVP vote: Reds first baseman finishes 2 points behind Stanton",, November 16, 2017. [18]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Votto gearing up for return to form in 2019: Six-time All-Star working on conditioning, hitting this offseason",, December 1, 2018. [19]
  • Mark Sheldon: "The crazy story of how the Reds found Votto",, June 11, 2019. [20]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Votto's HR in 7th straight game leads Reds",, July 31, 2021. [21]
  • Mark Sheldon: "3rd milestone's a charm: 2,000 hits for Votto",, August 17, 2021. [22]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Votto sets record for most games by Canadian-born player",, August 14, 2022. [23]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Like vet, like rookie: Votto, Elly stretch Reds' streak to 12 in thrilling fashion",, June 24, 2023. [24]
  • Mark Sheldon: "Votto on time with Reds: 'It’s been so special'",, November 4, 2023. [25]
  • Wick Terrell: "Joey Votto chasing idol Ted Williams, on-base history: He has reached base at least twice in 20 straight games",, August 16, 2017. [26]

Related Sites[edit]