Ep. #019: Endy Chavez- Former MLB Player
Join Evan and Endy Chavez, as Endy shares his baseball journey, what influenced him to become an Outfielder, great moments from across his professional playing career and making “The Catch”. Endy also shares his experiences now as a Coach for the Mets organization as well as key insight, tips and advice for youth ball players dreaming to play professionally one day.
What You’ll Learn:
03:49 What influenced Endy to become an Outfielder
06:29 His journey to Professional Baseball
10:53 His first MLB game experience
15:02 What contributed to success with the 2006 Mets
16:31 On making “The Catch”
23:30 The must-see recreation of “The Catch 2021”
25:24 What contributed to his success as a player
26:49 Endy’s approach at the plate
29:11 Key qualities every young player must have to play at a high level
33:28 Tips for becoming a stronger Outfielder
35:29 Joining the Mets organization as a Coach
38:11 What Endy enjoys most being a Coach and things he’s learned
40:15 Advice to youth baseball players dreaming of playing in the bigs
Thank you for being here with us! Evan and the Born To Baseball Team are looking forward to celebrating your success and sharing this journey together.
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Now, let’s play ball!
Read show notes here.
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Episode 019_ENDY CHAVEZ_FORMER MLB PLAYER
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Unknown Speaker 0:23
Calling all ballplayers. Are you ready to take your game to the next level? Were you born to baseball? Then bring it in? it's game time. Check it out.
Hey guys, and welcome to the born to baseball podcast. I'm Evan and today we have Endy Chavez with us. Endy Chavez has played over 13 years of Major League Baseball with several different organizations. He's played 21 years of professional baseball since his minor league debut in 1997. Baseball fans of all ages are familiar with one of the best catches in New York Mets history made by Endy in game seven of the 2006 NLCS. Endy, I really appreciate you coming on today.
My pleasure, man. I hope you like it and everyone enjoys it.
Yeah, no, I'm really excited. I would like to start off with learning more about your baseball journey. You grew up in Venezuela. When did you begin playing baseball?
Oh, very early. I think I was kind of six years old. And I always loved baseball from the beginning. And, you know, I think that was one of my wish to be a pro player. So like I say, like, every kid wants to do it. But I didn't know if that was going to be possible. But, you know, when I started growing up, I get more, how you say focused on what I want. So, and it's still baseball. So um, you know, preparing myself training alot and I started practicing in an academy and you know, get the best out from from the academy and be a better baseball player too. So I can sign pro baseball, and that's what I did and here I am.
Yeah, yeah. So what was your training like, as a kid?
Well, like a normal kid. I didn't use that kind of training that you can see in social media right now. I think my training was more, you know, playing every sport... soccer, basketball, baseball, riding bike, and stuff like that. I enjoyed myself as a kid. I was doing what kids are supposed to. I understand, you know, life now is a little, You know, a lot changes. Like kids from eithgt,nine years old they are already getting training like pro players, and all that kind of stuff. So a lot of people ask me how you see the kids and all that kind of stuff. And I'm like Oh, he's just 10 years old. Let him be a kid. You know. I cannot tell you if he is going to be in the majors or not. Because it's too early. So yes, let him be a kid and enjoy it.
Yeah. No, you talked about playing all different sports. And that contributes to just being an athlete. And that ultimately helps them yeah.
Oh, yeah. I love basketball. So,
yeah. So did you always want to be an outfielder from a young age?
Well, yes. That's what I was playing from the beginning. I remember the first position that I played was first base. And because I didn't know what position to play, and I asked my dad, and he said, a leftycan play first base, so I don't think I liked too much. ground balls. So... the ground ball was hard. Every time I missed it hit me on my leg or on my arm. It kind of hurt. So I didn't like it that much. So I asked my dad again, lefty can play another position and he said yeah, right field. And I'm like where is that? And he said, in the back of the field, and I'm like Yeah, I want to go back. I didn't want to be any more in the front so I start playing right field. And I liked more the flyballs. So I;m like yeah, this is what I like. So then the coach say oh, you can catch a lot of fly balls, so you're going to play in centerfield. And I'm like, NO my dad told me lefty's can play in right field. And he said no, a lefty can play also in center field and I'm like Okay, well I'll play.
no, that's awesome. That's awesome.
Who are some of the like the major league guys you looked up to when you were a kid?
Ken Griffey, Jr. I like him. Well, I was like growing up. I think I was what 12,13, something like that when I loved Ken Griffey Jr. as a player. And I wanted to be like him.
No, he's definitely a great player. Great player.
When did you know you wanted to play like professional baseball?
Like I said, when I was very, very little I dreamed to be in the major level, like, you know, a big league player. But like I said, that's a dream that we have as a kid. But when I was about 16 years old, I realized that I really want to be a professional baseball player and try to make it to the major league level.
Well, it's awesome that you were able to achieve that goal and get there to that level.
Oh, yeah. It takes a lot of work. But it's not impossible.
It's worth it. So can you tell us about like the moment you found out you were getting signed by a major league organization?
Oh, yeah. I was, uh, the Mets the New York Mets. When, first of all, I was in the Colorado Rockies. Academy. And when the the Academy was closed, they say we're going to close so we want to see you next year. And I'm like, okay, I keep training so they can see me next year. And you know, before like, I think a week before they opened, the Mets showed up and they signed me. And I told him well, I think the Colorado Rockies are waiting for me to show up this year. They said they are gonna sign me and they're like don't show we're gonna sign you. And I'm like, okay, I stay here. So I signed with the Mets. That was pretty exciting. And you know, my whole town was, you know, very, very happy. And it was a fun experience.
No, that has to be a special moment there.
Oh, yeah, definitely. Very nervous too.
So, as you said, you were signed by the Mets and you were picked up by the Kansas City Royals in the rule five draft. You went back to the Mets and then traded to the Royals before making your MLB debut. That's a lot of change. How did you manage to stay positive during that time?
Well, um, you know, first of all, when I was the first four years with the Mets, I was in rookie ball, middle A, and single A, and that year, you know, you just want to play and do the best year you can have, have the best year. And year was the rule five draft and the Mets, they didn't plut me on the 40 man roster. So that's when the Kansas City Royals picked me in the rule five. And I'm like wow, for the major league level and I, I can't believe it you know, I was very excited. And the thing was like, the rule five, You have to be on the 25 man roster the whole year. So if, they take you out you have, I had to go back to the Mets. And it was very exciting. And I'm like oh, a full year in a major league season. But when I was in spring training, all that kind of stuff, the last day of spring training, they called me in the office and they said I didn't make the team. And but they were so happy because I trained me and I'm gonna start in dougle A. And you know, that was a big hit for me because I was very excited that I'm going to be in the major league level and now I'm not. So it caused a lot of frustration in that moment. for me. I feel like I can't play baseball anymore. It was a big hit. So I started in double A and I played two months in double A and finally they called me to the major league level after two months.
I know it was a big hit. Like you said when you didn't make that MLB team but you Pushed through and you're able to make it later on.
Yeah, and the thing is, like, I saw the major league level so close, and then when they put me in double A I saw it, I see the the major league so far, that I was like, you know, my dream is gone, you know, I'll never be able to make it. So, you know, I start playing again. And I had that surprise that I got called up to major league level. So I played a month and three weeks when they called me up, and then they sent me down to AAA. And that's when I get more confident. And I say, Well, if I already was there, I know I can be back. So I started working harder, and made it again to the major league level.
Yeah, that's awesome. In 2001, you made your MLB debut with the Kansas City Royals, what were some of your emotions leading up to that first game?
Woof! It was a lot of excitement because I was double A like I said, and I remember, I flew from Arkansas, to Texas. And that was my first stadium when I played ever, at the major league level and you know, everything was so different everything, even the hotel, and I'm like, Whoa, yeah, this is nice. So I get to the field, to the stadium. And saw the lineup and the board, on the board, and I saw my name, playing left field, No centerfield and hitting ninth. And I'm like, wow, I'm playing so I get ready. I went to the field, take batting practice and I started the game. And when I when my to my first at bat I was a lot of nervous. I want you know, to show everybody that I can play in the major league level. And everything was so no, alot, alot of adrenaline in there. Yeah. And it's, a lot of things happened in my head. So I can't believe I'm there. And like I said, I saw for the first time. I saw the big cat Andres Galarraga, A-Rod, Rafael Palmiero . I saw all those guys that I've only seen on TV. So I'm playing against them so, To be honest, I don't feel like a real baseball player feel more like a fan in there. But the thing is when I start playing, and I get my first hit I think it was in the 3rd at bat. You know, I like I released a lot of pressure. So I remember I made it to second base with a base hit. and RBI. And A-Rod came to me and asked me Oh, your first base hit. Okay, congratulations. Where are you from? I'm from Venezuela. Venezuela, Okay. Oh, congratulations. You know, here it's the same baseball. The only difference that we are here is everybody got money. And I'm like, okay, you know, and I like wow he was so nice to me. And then, you know, that moment I'm never gonna forget.
Oh, yeah, no, that must have been incredible.
So, as you progressed in your career, you were picked up by the Montreal Expos and recorded the final out and Expos history before their transition to the Washington Nationals, which had to be a cool experience. And soon after that you made your way to the Mets. Were you excited when you first learned you were going to play for the New York Mets?
Oh, yeah, like I say, I like to be back home, you know, and I was very excited. And I know New York is a city where the people like the competition, There's a lot of latin fans in there that know, know the game. So you're not going to fool those guy like, oh he's good, he's not good, he can play he cannot play. So I'm like you know, you have to play you have to show that you can play in New York. And, and I like this kind of challenge. And I was happy and like I said, I like that kind of challenge. And I had a very, very good year that year.
Yeah, New York baseball. It's definitely exciting., definitely exciting
The 2006 Mets were a really strong team you had guys like Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, David Wright and yourself a bunch of superstars there. What was it like to play with all those guys on the same team?
Oh that was amazing. I think we had the year we had because the chemistry we had during the whole season, it was very, very, very good. You know, everybody having fun at the same time we're working hard as a team. And like I said, the chemistry, the chemistry was very amazing. And I think that made it easy for each one to make their job and, you know, focus on the game and be professional. Because we know we had a talent. We had a lot of talent on that team, we just had to let it go on the field.
Yeah, no, the guys in the clubhouse in the team. It's it's like family. It's like a second family.
Exactly. That's my point when you feel that way. a lot of positive, good positive things happen. And like I said, the baseball will take care of himself when you do the things right and you have the ambience around you.
So that brings us to NLCS game seven, the score is tied onc to one and Scott Roland is at the plate and you make "the catch" Knowing the hitter and knowing how a pitcher is trying to pitch to a hitter can be very important. Can you tell us about your awareness during that at bat and how it contributed to being able to make one of the greatest catches in postseason history?
Well, um, what I can say is like, when you focus in the game, and you're into it, you know, you read what's going on, like, you know, who's the pitcher, who's hitting. If he's fast, he got power or something like that. You, you're involved in everything and trying to anticipate what's going to happen. In this situation, we had a man on first and Scott Roland was hitting. And I know because of the advanced report, they challenged him in with the fastball. So I'm playing left field and I'm like you know, normally I play where I was playing, I say, at this time, I want to pull a little bit back, I make like four or five steps back, because I was getting prepared in the scenario like if the ball is in the gap, I'm gonna grab it quickly and throw to the cut-off man, if the ball goes down the line, I'm going to do the same thing. So I want to attack the ball, the fastest I can so the guy from first don't score. And that was my mindset. So I pull myself back. And the first pitch I saw that bullet to left field. And my reaction was, you know, trying to get to the fence, the fastest I can. And, and I know right away the ball was in the fence or was a homer. So when I"m hitting the warning track, I still see the ball very high and I'm like Oh, well the ball is not here. So I didn't have that time to to make it to the fence and wait for the ball. So I feel the ball is passing me already. So on my way to the wall, I just tried to time the perfect moment to make a jump and trying to go for it and that's what I did. And honestly, when I elevate my arm, I, I saw the ball in front of me for the last time, but when I catch it, I wasn't able to see my glove. So I just feel when the ball hit my glove and I'm like, Whoa, it's in. I got kind of surprised. Like, oh, the ball is in so I cannot grip it because almost my my glove went off my head because the hit with the fence and I tried to pull it in. And I say well if you had thrown any air, at least it's a double not a homer so I can throw the ball in but when I pull it in and I'm looking for the ball in the air, I saw it right in the top of my glove and I'm like well it's here. So my reaction was look for, Edmunds that was running from first base. And I saw him stopping around shortstop to go back to first and I'm like, well, he better hurry up because I got you. So I saw Reyes and the shortstop shortstop waving at me like Give me the ball. And I'm like you know what Reyes, I got a good arm and I saw Valentin like, near to second base, and I go for it because I love the infield to make the short throw, and that's what I did I throw the ball to Valentin and he threw to first ihe ball to Valentin and we doubled up the inning.
those hops came from basketball when you were a kid
the alley-oop you I call it the alley-oop.
When you were in the dugout at the end of the inning, like the crowd wouldn't stop cheering and they made you come out and do two curtain calls. How connected Did you feel to the fans at that moment?
I mean, when I made the catch that I was running into the dugout, I thought Shea Stadium was going to fall apaty. I thought it was gonna drown. And I you know, it was so much noise that honestly I wanted to cover my ears. It was so loud and when I get to the dugout, I can hear they're calling my name. And and the guys like Endy, you gotta go out. And I'm like, okay, I'll go out. So I, I wave to the people, I clap. You know, let's go. And they won't stop. They keep going and I'm like but what I should do. I already did it. And I never seen like the same guy go twice on the same play. And they say Endyjust go again. So I did it two times. And it was fun. Because everybody was like, what are you waiting for go ahead.
Your catch is known as one of the greatest catches in postseason history.
Yeah. What does that mean to you being able to have the catch as a part of your legacy?
I mean I feel very, very proud. Because like I said, That year, they gave me a trophy as a play of the year. And I'm like, wow, that's very cool. I never thought they got those kind of trophy. And, you know, to have that it was very special. You know, it's something like it's gonna be there for years, you know, for all my life. Like I said that was 13,14 years ago, and the people are still talking about it like it was last season. And it's crazy, you know, because I made a lot of good plays. But like I said, that's the famous one.
No, you made a ton of good plays. But yeah, that one, it was just the right spot at the right time.
I have to say, your recreation of the catch. That was incredible in the snow. That was incredible. The internet went crazy. reposted all over. That was awesome.
Yeah, well, I I got surprised that people liked it because my kids over there were like, you won't be able to do it. You cannot do it. You're too old, you're a dad, like, Oh, really? I don't do it. Okay, watch me. They were laughing. And they said yeah, but that's not all you have to put it on social media and I'm like, oh really! okay. I'll do it. It was fun because I was enjoying with the kids over here and the people liked it. I think they love it because that was... oh well, I didn't know it was going to have that kind of impact.But it was fun to watch all that.
It was crazy. No clearly you still got it. I want to move kind of on to the Texas Rangers. So what was it like playing in the World Series with the Texas Rangers?
Oh, that was special because that was my only world series appearance. And it was special. You know, I wasn't playing every day but I had some action in there. And like I said when when you get to the World Series it's like another world, you know. You, you're in air you know, you're in outer space I don't know. It's very different. And it's the same baseball but the stadium looks so different, you know, it's very fun to be there. I feel blessed to be part of that kind of show.
No, that must have been a lot of fun.
thinking back. What contributed most to your success as a player?
I think discipline, I think discipline was my main core for playing baseball. Because you have to have passion, talent, and be smart about what you have to do. But when you do it consistently, with discipline is when you every day get successful. So you can have talent and, and let's say you today feel "like I don't want to play today". But I'll play tomorrow or play the next day, or I'll play this week, next week, you know, I'll play so-so, that, that doesn't count for me as a baseball player, pro baseball player because you have to work hard every day, every day. No rest you rest when the season is over. And, and that was my, my way to play baseball.
No discipline, that's big. And like you said baseball's every day, every day,
As a leadoff hitter, did you have a certain approach or mindset at the plate?
Sure, everybody, not just leadoff hitters, everybody has to have a plan, every time you go to the plate, you have to know or have an idea what you want to do. In that is specific at bat. And one thing that I just always tell to the young guys, don't wait to your way to home plate to think what you want to do. That starts from the dog out, because you have the hitter, you have the one guy on deck. When you're in the dugout, ready to be on deck, that's when you are watching everything. So by the time you go to home plate, you already know what's going on. So you have to know if the pitcher is throwing strikes or he's just wilds or he just made two out with four pitches. So you have to know all that kind of stuff before you you step to the plate. And that's why I always recommend to the guys be ready from the dugout, start making your plans in the dugout and not wait to go to home plate to make one.
That's great. That's great. Were you always naturally a fast runner? Or was it something you had to build over time?
Well, I used to be fast but not that fast. Because I was like when I was young, I was too skinny that my legs weren't powerful. And after I signed I think the training or the, you know, eating helped me and I got stronger and I start running faster. But that helped me a lot after I signed as a pro player and I started like, looking at it like, well I can do a lot of things you know on the bases, cover some ground in the outfield and in I love the speed in the game
No it brings another aspect into it being fast.
Mm hmm. Yeah.
What would you say are one or two things a young outfielder must have in order to have a chance at playing at a high level?
Well, like I said every player who signs to pro players is because he has talent, right right. From the rookie to the major league level it's the same talent. They from the rookie can throw. if it's a pitcher they can throw 100 miles an hour from the rookie to the major league level. If it's a position player they can do the same thing from their rookie to the major league level. The only difference they, they have to do to make it to the major league level is how much baseball you have in your head,
So that's, that's why you have to learn how to play the game. So you can leave behind the group where you are or where you was. So every time you step in a level, in the minor league level like rookie, middle single A, high A, double A, you will see the thinking of those players, it goes up and up and up. That's why even if they have the same talent, but you're telling everybody you know how to play the game, that's the difference. So like I said, if you you, you miss a ground ball, you drop a fly ball, you know, that's part of the game. And you know, everybody makes mistakes. But what the organization doesn't want is like, if you caught the ball, you must know where to throw it. Where are you going to throw the ball. Not, I caught the ball and what do I with the ball? So that is unacceptable on the major league level, you have to know what to do. That's why you have to anticipate every time the play is coming. So that's basically my opinion on what's the difference between the minor leagues and the major leagues
Yeah, no, that's that's great insight right there. That's great. In your opinion, what unique skills would an outfielder need when they are playing left field versus right field or centerfield?
Well, for me, like, I played from the beginning I played just center field. But, like, in the middle of my career, I had to play left and right, that I never played before. Andthat helped me to have a job. Because if A, like the example they gave me, If A, uh, you know, Ken Griffey, Jr. was in Cincinnati. And they said if Cincinnati want to trade you over there but you are a centerfielder and they want you to play left field like, they are going to trade you because that's the only position you play. So like, they are not gonna give me the chance to be at the major league level because I don't play anything else just center field. And they're not gonna give me the position because Ken Griffey Jr. is there. So, that made sense. And, I was like well, I better prepare myself to play the others too. It's a little bit different. It's not the same thing. And it's like, you know, you have to practice and play because I always say, it doesn't matter how much time you practice, but if you don't play a game, you don't get in shape, you know, to get to the top of the on your skill. So yeah, started practicing hard in the corners. And I started dominating too
Yeah, that's amazing. Can you share some tips that would help young players become better outfielders?
Yes, um, one of the keys is the feet. Always move your feet when the ball is crossing the hitting zone. Because that makes you have an explosive reaction. Then to have your feet flat on the ground. So always like I'm always walking and boom, and boom, every time the ball is crossing in the hitting zone, I know a lot of players they say like yeah, that's too much, I'll just wait, I'll catch it anyway. But for me the right way is that, you know, be always in position every time when the ball is crossing the the hitting zone you know.
All those diving plays, sliding plays you made, they were, I guess they were because of that, that explosion at the beginning.
Yeah. Like I said, I don't catch the ball far away when I get to there. I catch the ball the way I started running from the beginning to there, because most of the time I prefer to wait for the ball. Not the ball wait for me. So I start explosive to get the ball and if I get there before the ball, I'll wait, I'm not hurrying up, I wait for the ball, you know, but if the I'm going slow, and then I see like, Oh, I gotta put more speed, that's when the ball beats the outfielders, and it's too late when you react. That's why always when you see me diving catch, making diving catch or running catch, it's because I didn't have the time to get there first.
I love what you said earlier when you talked about it's not when you get there, you make the catch. It's it's those first few steps. It's that explosion at the start. I love that. After playing in the MLB, you went on to play for the Bridgeport bluefish and the Somerset patriots in the Atlantic league and the pericos de puebla in the Mexican League, you then rejoined the Mets organization as a coach, how did it feel to be back with the Mets organization?
Oh, well, I'm happy you know, especially when I get there, 2019. And I was in, Brooklyn cyclones the low single A. And, you know, I was learning how to be a coach and all that kind of stuff. My first experience ever, and I was excited, because I feel like I know a lot of stuff those guy don't know yet. So I'm able to help them, you know, and, and tell them what I already see in the game that they don't. You know, and, and it was cool. And I was having very good communication with the guys. And we made a very good team. And for my surprise, we had the you know, we won the championship. And it's like, my first year as a coach, and we already have a ring. It's Awesome, you know, yeah, then well and then comes, you know, the pandemic, we didn't have a season and well I'm waiting for this year and see how's it gonna be?
Yeah, no, I remember going to one of the cyclone two games in MCU. Park. And
oh, you were there?
Yeah I think I was along the third base side. But I remember I saw you in the dugout.
No the team played really well. Yeah.
Yeah, we had a great team.
I mean, that's what coaching is all about and being able to share the information that guys may not know yet.
That's why I want to keep being in baseball,
Were there some things you learned as a coach that you wish you knew as a player?
I think the experience, the experience, that especially earlier in my career when I had my talent on the top. I didn't have the experience that I have now. And I said well, if I had, if I knew everything that I know right now with my talent, it would have been a lot different.
Yeah, that's, that's interesting. What do you enjoy most about being a coach?
Being on the field, being around baseball, you know, makes me be alive, and I always like the challenge, I like the competition. And like I said, baseball is my passion.
Is there a difference on how you see the game now that you're a coach compared to when how you saw it when you were a player?
Oh, yeah, big difference. Because as a baseball player, you know, you just think about yourself. You get prepared with what you have to do to prepare for the game and everything. But as a coach, you have to pay attention to everybody. You have to think for everybody. You got to pay attention for everybody, not just you. So that's one of the things I learned. Like, okay, I didn't have to prepare for myself to play the game by have to know if he's ready, he's ready. You know, I have to be all over everybody. And I'm like, Yeah, you know. I cannot think just about me. I have to think for everybody on the team.
Yeah there is so much that goes into this strategy as a coach, definitely
Do you have any interest in managing at the big league level someday?
Yeah, why not? I keep that open door because I like, I like know and understand the game a lot. And I like to be in that position. That's why I'm like learning right now. Because it's a lot of things on the side to learn to be a manager, it's not just to watch the game and make decisions. And that's why I'm learning right now. But in the future Yeah, why not?
That's great! Endy, what advice can you give to youth baseball players like myself who want to play in the major league someday?
Just play the game, enjoy the game, every time you play, go happy. And think about the way you can beat the other team. So if we, they give you something, take it. That's the way I think you can be very successful. Learn from the other guys' mistakes. Don't wait. until it happens to you to learn. Because I think that's why I get very fast to the major league level. Because when my team makes an error or making mistakes, okay, I know that I'm not supposed to do that, you know, so I don't wait to til it happens to me to learn. So watch the game and see everybody's mistakes and learn from them.
that's great advice.
Even the mistakes we make too. But don't wait for those mistakes to come to you to learn. Let everybody else do it (laughter) Yeah,
so I have a few last questions before we wrap up. I call them rapid fire questions. So first, what's your favorite MLB stadium? You've played him?
Well, I got a few. You know, I love playing at the Montreal Expos in Canada, And the Atlanta Braves the old stadium. I love to play there too. And Texas
Yeah, those are great stadiums.
Second, who's one of your favorite outfielders that you've enjoyed watching or learning from?
My favorite outfielders, Andruw Jones is one. I learned a lot watching him play. Ken Griffey Jr. and I had the opportunity to play with him in Seattle. I think those guys, I learned a lot from them.
And last but not least, I hear you're a big salsa music fan. And you love to play percussion.
Oh, yeah. Ask your dad (laughter)
Yeah. So if you had to choose, which is your favorite, the timbales or congas?
oh, los timbales, timbales. Yeah.
No, I have to hear you play sometime soon.
Well, I'm waiting for Bobby to invite me one day (laughter).
So Endy, thank you so much for coming on today. This was amazing.
No problem. My pleasure. I hope people like it and I had fun talking to you man.
Thank you. It was a pleasure.
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