Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Gutter: Cheapskate at the All-Star break

Since it’s the All-Star break, I thought I’d update the standings in the running for the first-ever Cheapskate Award.

For those who came in late (or just forgot since I haven’t updated these standings since mid-May), the Cheapskate rewards the team that is able to spend the least amount of money per win. Here are the numbers we’re working with.

Total salaries (according to this list published by the Associated Press):

Pittsburgh $49,365,283
Oakland $47,967,126
Tampa Bay $43,820,598
Florida $21,836,500

Cost per game:

Pittsburgh $304,723.97
Oakland $296,093.37
Tamp Bay $270,497.52
Florida $134,793.21

We’re rewarding value-based mediocrity and the teams that get the most out of spending the least. To do that, we multiply the cost per game by the total number of games played, and that number is divided by the number of wins; the team that spends the least per win has done the most with the least, and that penny-pinching club will win the Cheapskate at the end of the year.

Even though it’s been almost two months since the last Cheapskate update, the various aspects of the standings are remarkably similar. At the last update, Florida was five games over .500 and spending about $241,000 per win; today, the Marlins are five games over and spending about $256,000. However, Florida has suffered by some surges from the Mets and the Phillies, and the Marlins are now sitting in third in the NL East, even though they’re only 1.5 games back.

Tampa Bay probably would have liked a Cheapskate update a week and a half ago, when the Rays had won seven in a row and 11 out of 12. But Tampa stumbled into the break with seven-game losing streak, so they’re back where they were two months ago: second place in the AL East and six games over .500.

Oakland’s fortunes haven’t been all that great over the past two months. Sure, they’re seven games over .500 and still in second place in the AL West, but the surging Angels have now stretched out a six-game lead in the division.

Meanwhile, our Pirates still pretty much suck. They limped into the break by losing six of ten, and their 44-50 record is good for 12.5 games out of first place. I suppose it’s good that they’re tied with Cincinnati in the loss column, so they should be able to pass the Reds at some point, but the fact remains that the Pirates suck and are spending over $650,000 per win.



Here are the standings:


Record: 50-45
Standing: 3rd in NL East
Games back: 1.5
Money spent per win: $256,107.10

Record: 55-39
Standing: 2nd in AL East
Games back: .5
Money spent per win: $472,141.13

Record: 51-44
Standing: 2nd in AL West
Games back: 6
Money spent per win: $551,546.47


Record: 44-50
Standing: 5th in NL Central
Games back: 12.5
Money spent per win: $651,001.21

Friday, July 11, 2008

Peak: Would you buy this t-shirt?

I really want one of these t-shirts, but the price gets lower as the quantity goes up. So, here's my question to you:

Would you pay $15 for a Johnny Utah No. 9 Ohio State t-shirt? I would.





I'm being completely serious about this. If you would like a Johnny Utah t-shirt, let me know.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Peak: Fever in the funk house, Pt. 11 - Elephant

Or: How I fill up 2 GB

(Being the continuing alphabetical series of the contents of my iPod)





Album: Elephant
Artist: The White Stripes
Released: 2003

Track listing:
1. Seven Nation Army
2. Black Math
3. There’s No Home for You Here
4. I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself
5. In the Cold, Cold Night
6. I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart
7. You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket
8. Ball and Biscuit
9. The Hardest Button to Button
10. Little Acorns
11. Hypnotize
12. The Air Near My Fingers
13. Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine
14. It’s True That We Love One Another


Allmusic.com review:
White Blood Cells may have been a reaction to the amount of fame the White Stripes had received up to the point of its release, but, paradoxically, it made full-fledged rock stars out of Jack and Meg White and sold over half a million copies in the process. Despite the White Stripes' ambivalence, fame nevertheless seems to suit them: They just become more accomplished as the attention paid to them increases. Elephant captures this contradiction within the Stripes and their music; it's the first album they've recorded for a major label, and it sounds even more pissed-off, paranoid, and stunning than its predecessor. Darker and more difficult than White Blood Cells, the album offers nothing as immediately crowd-pleasing or sweet as "Fell in Love With a Girl" or "We're Going to Be Friends," but it's more consistent, exploring disillusionment and rejection with razor-sharp focus. Chip-on-the-shoulder anthems like the breathtaking opener, "Seven Nation Army," which is driven by Meg White's explosively minimal drumming, and "The Hardest Button to Button," in which Jack White snarls "Now we're a family!" — one of the best oblique threats since Black Francis sneered "It's educational!" all those years ago — deliver some of the fiercest blues-punk of the White Stripes' career. "There's No Home for You Here" sets a girl's walking papers to a melody reminiscent of "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground" (though the result is more sequel than rehash), driving the point home with a wall of layered, Queen-ly harmonies and piercing guitars, while the inspired version of "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" goes from plaintive to angry in just over a minute, though the charging guitars at the end sound perversely triumphant. At its bruised heart, Elephant portrays love as a power struggle, with chivalry and innocence usually losing out to the power of seduction. "I Want to Be the Boy" tries, unsuccessfully, to charm a girl's mother; "You've Got Her in Your Pocket," a deceptively gentle ballad, reveals the darker side of the Stripes' vulnerability, blurring the line between caring for someone and owning them with some fittingly fluid songwriting.

The battle for control reaches a fever pitch on the "Fell in Love With a Girl"-esque "Hypnotize," which suggests some slightly underhanded ways of winning a girl over before settling for just holding her hand, and on the show-stopping "Ball and Biscuit," seven flat-out seductive minutes of preening, boasting, and amazing guitar prowess that ranks as one the band's most traditionally bluesy (not to mention sexy) songs. Interestingly, Meg's star turn, "In the Cold, Cold Night," is the closest Elephant comes to a truce in this struggle, her kitten-ish voice balancing the song's slinky words and music. While the album is often dark, it's never despairing; moments of wry humor pop up throughout, particularly toward the end. "Little Acorns" begins with a sound clip of Detroit newscaster Mort Crim's Second Thoughts radio show, adding an authentic, if unusual, Motor City feel. It also suggests that Jack White is one of the few vocalists who could make a lyric like "Be like the squirrel" sound cool and even inspiring. Likewise, the showy "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine" — on which White resembles a garage rock snake-oil salesman — is probably the only song featuring the word "acetaminophen" in its chorus. "It's True That We Love One Another," which features vocals from Holly Golightly as well as Meg White, continues the Stripes' tradition of closing their albums on a lighthearted note. Almost as much fun to analyze as it is to listen to, Elephant overflows with quality — it's full of tight songwriting, sharp, witty lyrics, and judiciously used basses and tumbling keyboard melodies that enhance the band's powerful simplicity (and the excellent "The Air Near My Fingers" features all of these). Crucially, the White Stripes know the difference between fame and success; while they may not be entirely comfortable with their fame, they've succeeded at mixing blues, punk, and garage rock in an electrifying and unique way ever since they were strictly a Detroit phenomenon. On these terms, Elephant is a phenomenal success.


I can admit it: I was late to the party with the White Stripes. For the longest time I held myself at a distance, occasionally pondering what the big deal was about these two weird pale kids from Detroit who had made a band without a bass. Much like I was too good for three-minute songs, I was also too good for whatever was considered the contemporary rock ‘n’ roll of the day. Sure, I had heard the high praise of how Jack and Meg White tapped into a vein of blues-based rock not heard since the hey-days of Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. But by that point in my life I was cynical enough to instantly revolt from those kinds of comparisons; inevitably, all of the bands/athletes/politicians/authors etc. who were considered the “second coming” of whatever greatness had preceded them always seemed to fall short of even the most meager expectations.

So it was pretty easy to ignore the White Stripes, no matter how many times “Fell in Love With a Girl” and “Seven Nation Army” came on the radio (although, to this day those songs still don’t do much for me).

Then, a year or two ago, I thought I’d stop blindly casting off the White Stripes and actually listen to their albums; that way, when I wanted to be condescending and elitist to people who claimed the White Stripes were good, I could cite chapter-and-verse all the ways they were not good.

But, as has happened quite often in my life, my venture to prove my blind dislike turned upside down, and as I listened to more and more White Stripes, from Elephant to White Blood Cells to Get Behind Me Satan, I couldn’t help it:

The White Stripes are pretty damn good.

And so it is with Elephant, the White Stripes’ fourth studio album and their follow-up to the mega-hit White Blood Cells. Powered by the success of “Seven Nation Army,” Elephant was another mega-hit, and as I listened to the album over and over, it occurred to me that its success was not tied to one hit single; rather, the whole album surges with rock energy. Whether it’s the building-but-alternated power of “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” (which features some great Jack White screeching, both vocally and guitar-lly), the pulsating harmonies of “There’s No Home for You Here,” the frenetic “Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine,” or even “In the Cold, Cold Night,” which carries equal parts sultry allure and nerdy awkwardness, Elephant is a complete album, worthy of listen from the opening hit single all the way to the grinning closer “It’s True That We Love One Another” (and that list doesn’t include the awesomeness of “The Air Near My Fingers” or “The Hardest Button to Button”).

For me, the highlight of the album is the seven-minute primal blues jam “Ball and Biscuit.” I once read somewhere (I think it was in Rolling Stone) that the White Stripes are proof that a couple of kids in a garage band really can make it big, provided those kids are geniuses. I think “Ball and Biscuit” puts that claim on display as well as anything else: the groove is basic and the guitar licks are raw, to say the least. But it’s that rawness that draws us all into the White Stripes every time.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Gutter: Cheapskate teams hit struggles

It’s been five days since the last Cheapskate update, and all four of Major League Baseball’s lowest-salaried teams have not been faring well. Tampa Bay, who had won six in a row heading into last Wednesday (the day of the most recent Cheapskate update), lost to the Yankees that day, and though they rebounded with a win over the Bronx Bombers and then took the first game of a series in St. Louis, the Rays then dropped the final two games against the Cardinals and have fallen to second place in the AL East.

Florida has continued to struggle, despite sitting on top of the NL East and the Cheapskate. The Marlins avoided a four-game sweep by the Reds only with help from God, as the final game of the series was rained out on Thursday. The Marlins then hosted pitiful Kansas City for a weekend series, but that didn’t go well either, as the Royals took two of three. Florida is still one game ahead of New York and Philadelphia in the NL East and over $200,000 ahead of (behind?) anyone else in the Cheapskate.

Oakland’s struggles continued over the final half of last week, and the once-hot A’s have now lost five of their last six and seven of their last 10 after getting swept in Cleveland and dropping two of three in Atlanta over the weekend.

As for our hometown Buccos, they still haven’t been able to cross that .500 threshold. Winning just one game in Chicago over the weekend was exactly one more win than I thought they were capable of in the Windy City, but they’ll need to make a statement in the upcoming six-game homestand (vs. Milwaukee and the Cubs). Seems to me that this is the exact kind of homestand that usually dashes all hopes of a successful Pirates’ season: late May, against back-to-back divisional opponents, sitting just under .500. Usually that scenario leads to a 1-5 performance that kills any optimism that might have been lurking about.

This week we’ll get a Cheapskate divisional tussle when the Athletics host the Rays. After that series, Oakland gets the Red Sox at home, while Tampa Bay comes back home to host Baltimore. For the Marlins, this week has two NL West teams coming to town, starting with the hot Diamondbacks to start the week and the terrible Giants to end it.

Just to refresh, the Cheapskate rewards the team that is able to spend the least amount of money per win. Here are the numbers we’re working with.

Total salaries (according to this list published by the Associated Press):

Pittsburgh $49,365,283
Oakland $47,967,126
Tampa Bay $43,820,598
Florida $21,836,500

Cost per game:

Pittsburgh $304,723.97
Oakland $296,093.37
Tamp Bay $270,497.52
Florida $134,793.21

We’re rewarding value-based mediocrity and the teams that get the most out of spending the least.

Now on to the standings:



Record: 24-19
Standing: 1st in NL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $241,504.50

Record: 25-19
Standing: 2nd in AL East
Games back: 1
Money spent per win: $476,075.64

Record: 24-21
Standing: 2nd in AL West
Games back: 1.5
Money spent per win: $555,175.07


Record: 21-23
Standing: T-4th in NL Central
Games back: 6
Money spent per win: $638,469.27

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Peak: Fever in the funk house, Pt. 10 - The Devil's Rejects

Or: How I fill up 2 GB

(Being the continuing alphabetical series of the contents of my iPod)





Album: The Devil’s Rejects: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Artist: Various artists
Released: 2005

Track listing:
1. Midnight Rider – The Allman Bros. Band
2. Shambala – Three Dog Night
3. Brave Awakening – Terry Reid
4. It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels – Kitty Wells
5. Satan’s Got to Get Along Without Me – Buck Owens & His Buckaroos
6. Fooled Around and Fell in Love – Elvin Bishop
7. I Can’t Quit You Baby – Otis Rush
8. Funk #49 – James Gang
9. Rock On – David Essex
10. Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
11. To Be Treated – Terry Reid
12. Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynyrd
13. Seed of Memory – Terry Reid
14. I’m at Home Getting Hammered (While She’s Out Getting Nailed) – Banjo & Sullivan


Allmusic.com review:
"Have fun scrapin' all them brains off the road!" That's just one of the lively quotes peppering the between-song crevices on the soundtrack to Devil's Rejects, Rob Zombie's sequel to his 2003 horror genre throwback House of 1000 Corpses. The dialogue snippets add character to the set, just like the blood, shotguns, and verité mug shots of its artwork. (To say nothing of the entirely separate album released from Banjo & Sullivan, the film's fictional honky tonkers.) Yeah, you can say whatever you want about Zombie. Just don't ever call him unimaginative. Devil's Rejects adheres to its time period with a brace of rock from 1973 through around 1975, and blends the tracks from James Gang ("Funk #49"), Three Dog Night ("Shambala"), and the Allmans ("Midnight Rider") with classic honky tonk from Kitty Wells and Buck Owens. It's a great blend of album rock, air guitar faves, eccentric picks, and country ramble — it would be like the perfect radio road trip down I-65, if radio in America actually still sounded like this. Devil's Rejects also features three selections from '60s British rock dark horse Terry Reid, "Brave Awakening," "Seed of Memory," and "To Be Treated." All three stand up well. They suggest Led Zeppelin's folksier side — "Treated" sounds a lot like "Stairway to Heaven" — but could also be templates for 21st century troubadours like Ryan Adams or Damien Rice. Reid's also a creative, evocative choice next to workhorses from Skynyrd ("Freebird") and Joe Walsh ("Rocky Mountain Way"). Devil's Rejects closes with some hokey "radio spots" and a bumpkin rustle called "I'm at Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed)" from that fantasy Nashville duo Banjo & Sullivan. Overall it's a thoroughly entertaining soundtrack, as happily crass and drive-in proud as the film itself. "And if you don't like it you can kiss my grits," as one of the B&S spots concludes.


It seems to me that a really good soundtrack almost serves the same function as a mix-tape: a collection of songs, sometimes eclectic, sometimes connected, put together in such a manner as to create a feeling of moving from start-to-finish. When they are well-done, soundtracks should achieve the start-to-finish flow as they follow the pace of the film.

With that in mind, The Devil’s Rejects excels as a soundtrack. Not only are there great, great songs here, but the order flows from “Midnight Rider” all the way through to “Seed of Memory” (never mind “I’m at Home Getting Hammered,” by the fictional Banjo & Sullivan). I left the movie soundbites off my iPod, but those add more of the film’s atmosphere to the soundtrack.

Really, what’s not to like about the tunes on this soundtrack? It’s got everything a fan of 70’s music could ask for: great Southern rock; two, count ‘em, two Joe Walsh tunes; some of the best pop rock from the era; some high-quality honky tonk; and the incredible Terry Reid songs. I’ll be honest: I didn’t know much about Reid before this soundtrack; after hearing his tunes in the movie and on the soundtrack, I think he’s worth further investigation.

Truth be told, I’m just a huge fan of this movie. So much so that I am confident that it is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all-time. That’s a high pedestal, but I just can’t talk myself out of it, and it’s a shame that the stigmatized trio of the movie’s title, its director (Rob Zombie), and its predecessor (House of 1,000 Corpses) has dissuaded viewers from ever taking the time to watch it. Far from the over-the-top/music video-esque/uber-horror psychedelia of House, The Devil’s Rejects is an altogether more organic production, with none of the trippy graphics or cut-aways, none of the heavy metal tracks, and nothing even approaching that weird underground sequence near the end of House.

In a way, the soundtrack for The Devil’s Rejects reflects the film’s nature, with its 70’s rock atmosphere. The Devil’s Rejects is almost a buddy movie, following the family of psychos as they run from the law and toward their doom. It’s a testament to Rob Zombie’s development as a filmmaker that he’s able to take the despicable, stomach-turning band of freaks from House and turn them into a group of real human beings with real feelings and real emotions. By the end of The Devil’s Rejects, we see the humanity in the murderers, we sympathize with them, we almost cheer for them, and when they meet their eventual doom, we can’t help but feeling a little lost.

And that’s where the highlight of The Devil’s Rejects comes in. Really, the highlight that I’m including in this post is more the highlight of the movie. To tell the truth, I’ve watched this scene probably 20 or 30 times, and it gets me every single time. There are moments when you get chills, moments when your heart starts racing, and moments when you feel genuine human emotion resulting from the combination of what’s happening on the screen and the music coming out of the speakers.

This is where I think Zombie has pulled off his biggest accomplishment with The Devil’s Rejects. I think the surest sign of effective use of music in a film is when you can’t separate the film from the music. When I hear the end section of “Layla,” I invariably think of the multiple-killings scene in Goodfellas. In The Devil’s Rejects, there are two instances of this music-film connection. The first is the opening credits and “Midnight Rider;” I haven’t heard “Midnight Rider” since and not thought of that sequence. The second occurrence of the inextricably-linked music-film connection in The Devil’s Rejects is in the scene shown below. It’s the film’s final scene, and if you haven’t seen the movie, I think you would be well-served to watch it before you watch this scene.

If you have seen the movie, then this is my gift to you on a May Thursday. I can’t watch this scene without getting all caught-up and wanting to watch the whole damn movie, and I imagine that most people who have seen the movie probably feel the same way. The look on Otis’ face…oh, man.

It’s just that good.




Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Peak: Still some heat in the Cheapskate

I should probably amend that logo that I used on the last Cheapskate update. Instead of showing a roller skate on fire, it should be the Tampa Bay Rays’ logo en fuego, because the Rays are one of the hottest teams in the MLB right now, let alone the Cheapskate standings.

Tampa Bay has the longest current winning streak in the league as winners of six in a row, and that streak of success has vaulted the Rays back into the top spot in the AL East, ahead of the slumping Red Sox.

In the world of the Cheapskate, Tampa Bay’s run has the Rays holding on to second place behind only the very cheap Marlins. And what’s more, the Rays’ cost per win in this update (around $458,000) is the lowest mark achieved by a team other than Florida this season.

Speaking of the Marlins, they’ve hit a bit of a rough stretch, as their seven-game winning streak was snapped by losses in the first two games of a series at pitiful Cincinnati. Florida still sits at the top of the NL East and the Cheapskate, and they get two more shots at the Reds before heading home to host the Royals, so I’m guessing that the Marlins are still in good shape.

Oakland could use another upswing. Sure, the A’s are only .5 game back in the AL West and hanging in third in the Cheapskate, but they’ve gone 5-5 over their last 10. They lost to the Indians in Cleveland last night; after two more games against Chief Wahoo, they’ll be off to Atlanta to face the really-good-at-home Braves. Oakland needs to get on the winning track or they could fall further in the West and the Cheapskate.

And then there’s the flirting-with-.500 Pirates. Winning the opener of Monday’s double-header put the Buccos one game under the magic mark of average-ness, but they dropped the second game. Last night, they rebounded and bounced the Cardinals in St. Louis, and they’re right back to one game under. Pittsburgh is currently 4 games back in the NL Central, but they’ve got a tough stretch coming up; sweeping, or at least taking two-out-of-three from, the Cardinals would go a long way toward establishing some positive momentum.

In the Cheapskate, the Pirates are now just over $100,000 behind the third-place team (in this case, Oakland). This is about as close as the Buccos have gotten to climbing out of the Cheapskate cellar, but a healthy run of winning baseball can push Pittsburgh out of the depths and into contention.

Just to refresh, the Cheapskate rewards the team that is able to spend the least amount of money per win. Here are the numbers we’re working with.

Total salaries (according to this list published by the Associated Press):

Pittsburgh $49,365,283
Oakland $47,967,126
Tampa Bay $43,820,598
Florida $21,836,500

Cost per game:

Pittsburgh $304,723.97
Oakland $296,093.37
Tamp Bay $270,497.52
Florida $134,793.21

We’re rewarding value-based mediocrity and the teams that get the most out of spending the least.



Record: 23-16
Standing: 1st in NL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $228,562.40

Record: 23-16
Standing: 1st in AL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $458,669.70

Record: 23-17
Standing: 2nd in AL West
Games back: .5
Money spent per win: $514,944.99


Record: 19-20
Standing: 5th in NL Central
Games back: 4
Money spent per win: $625,486.04

Monday, May 12, 2008

Peak: This skate's on fire!

And I thought the Cheapskate teams were on fire in the last update.

Look out, big-money markets of Major League Baseball:

Here come the bottom-feeders.

Every single one of the four teams in the running for the first-ever Cheapskate award is on fire. The unbelievable Marlins continue to sit in first place in the NL East on the strength of a seven-game winning streak. The amazing Rays of Tampa Bay are back within 1.5 games of the AL East-leading Red Sox after winning four in a row. The Athletics have held on to the top spot in the AL West by winning four of their last six. And even the Pirates, in all of their crapitude, are currently riding a five-game winning streak that has enabled them to climb to two games under .500 and just a half-game out of fourth place in the NL Central.

It’s amazing what these value-minded bargain-basement teams are accomplishing. And people say the dollar is weak.

Just to refresh, the Cheapskate rewards the team that is able to spend the least amount of money per win. Here are the numbers we’re working with.

Total salaries (according to this list published by the Associated Press):

Pittsburgh $49,365,283
Oakland $47,967,126
Tampa Bay $43,820,598
Florida $21,836,500

Cost per game:

Pittsburgh $304,723.97
Oakland $296,093.37
Tamp Bay $270,497.52
Florida $134,793.21

We’re rewarding value-based mediocrity and the teams that get the most out of spending the least.

Florida has held on to the top spot in the Cheapskate all season, but the Marlins’ new mark of $216,000 per win is the lowest since the first Cheapskate standings. Tampa Bay’s winning streak has vaulted the Rays into second place in the Cheapskate for the second time this season. And while the Pirates are still bringing up the rear, their current rate of $645,000 per win is as low as they’ve had since the season’s second Cheapskate update, when they got down to $565,000 after a big winning streak.

Coming up next, the Marlins go to Cincinnati for a four-game series against the worse-than-the-Pirates Reds. Tampa Bay hosts the stuck-at-.500 Yankees for a four-game series. Oakland has Monday off before a three-game series at Cleveland. And the Pirates wrap up their four-game home tilt against the Braves with a double-header on Monday before going to St. Louis to start a three-game series against the Cardinals.



It’s a big time for the Cheapskate teams. Here are the most recent standings:




Record: 23-14
Standing: 1st in NL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $216,841.25

Record: 21-16
Standing: 2nd in AL East
Games back: 1.5
Money spent per win: $476,590.87

Record: 23-16
Standing: 1st in AL West
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $502,071.37


Record: 17-19
Standing: 5th in NL Central
Games back: 4.5
Money spent per win: $645,297.82

Friday, May 9, 2008

Gutter: Cheapskate update - 5/9

Oh man, the Cheapskate teams are really heating up now.

I mean, for spending next to nothing (in baseball terms, at least), the four teams in the running for the first-ever Cheapskate Award are putting on quite a show. The Marlins and the Athletics have been at or near the top of their respective divisions all season, so there’s not much new there, but all four teams are currently out of the basement; and beyond that, they’re all playing pretty well right now.

After dropping out of the top spot in the NL East for a day or two, the Marlins have been on a tear, winning four in a row to stay in first in the division. They need it, too, since the Braves, who are 1.5 games back, have won six straight.

The Athletics also regained the top spot in their division, winning four in a row to tie the Angels for leads in the AL West. Even the Pirates have put together a little streak, sweeping the worse-than-the-Pirates San Francisco Giants to put a firm hold on fifth place in the NL Central and climb back to only four games under .500.

Only the Rays have been struggling lately, losing four of the last six but doing just enough to stay above .500 and hold on to second place in the AL East.

Not surprisingly, all of this winning has had a positive impact on the teams’ cost-per-win. Everyone’s cost is down in this update, including the Pirates who finally got under that $700,000 mark. Oakland is below $500,000 again, while the Rays keep getting closer to the half-a-mill mark. Florida, of course, with its yard sale salary, continues to be a tremendous bargain. Getting a guy like Hanley Ramirez early in his career will do that for you.

The weekend series for the Cheapskate teams should be interesting. Florida gets a chance to stay hot with a road trip to the nation’s capital for a showdown with the 15-20 (that’s worse than the Pirates) Nationals. Oakland stays in the division with a three-game tilt at 16-20 Texas. The Rays get a chance to help the A’s in the standings with a home series against the Angels. And the Pirates host red-hot Atlanta for four games, which should effectively end Pittsburgh’s current three-game winning streak and any chance the Pirates have of eclipsing the .500 mark.

Now on to the Cheapskate standings. Remember, we’re recognizing the team who spends the least per win, in essence rewarding value-based mediocrity.

Just to refresh, here are the numbers we’re working with.

Total salaries (according to this list published by the Associated Press):

Pittsburgh $49,365,283
Oakland $47,967,126
Tampa Bay $43,820,598
Florida $21,836,500

Cost per game:

Pittsburgh $304,723.97
Oakland $296,093.37
Tamp Bay $270,497.52
Florida $134,793.21



Record: 20-14
Standing: 1st in NL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $229,148. 46

Record: 22-14
Standing: T-1st in AL West
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $484,516.42


Record: 18-16
Standing: 2nd in AL East
Games back: 3.5
Money spent per win: $510,939.76

Record: 15-19
Standing: 5th in NL Central
Games back: 6
Money spent per win: $690,707.67

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Gutter: Woof, woof, avenge me

So, in Mount Oliver on Tuesday evening, police officers exchanged shots with a 19-year-old, resulting in the deaths of the young man as well as a police dog. By most accounts, such as those in the P-G and the Trib, the story went like this:

Police officers were responding to reports of shots fired on Arlington Avenue when they see 19-year-old Justin Jackson standing on the street. The cops, with K-9 in tow, approach Jackson and ask him to take his hands out of his pockets. When he does, he’s holding a gun. The cops release the dog to disarm (or at least incapacitate) Jackson; he responds by shooting the dog. The cops respond by shooting Jackson.

End of story.

So what do we make of this? On my first (and second, and third) readings of this story, I think I was able to put together a rather sound concept of what happened: the kid fired his gun in the direction of the dog, which also happened to be in the direction of the cops, and the cops responded in kind. Sounds relatively cut and dry.

But Jackson’s family sees it a different way. And in their grief, they have formed several well-conceived theories on what happened Tuesday night:


Theory #1:

The cops shot the kid to avenge the death of the dog.

“The officer told me, 'Our dog got shot so we shot him.' They killed my son over a dog,” Jackson’s father said in the Trib.

“"I'm speechless that this happened. I just don't know what to say. They shot him because of a dog.,” Jackson’s aunt said in a separate Trib article.

"They will pay for killing my son. They are going to pay for shooting my son over a dog!” Jackson’s mother said in the Trib.

Okay, folks, all together now: in all likelihood, Justin Jackson was not shot because he killed Aulf, the Pittsburgh K-9 unit’s six-year-old German shepherd. When Justin Jackson shot at the dog, he was shooting in the direction of the police.

Now here comes the really complicated part, so pay close attention:

When police get shot at, they shoot back. Not to avenge a dog, but to protect their own lives.

If you had a gun and someone was shooting at you (or in your direction), I’m guessing you’d probably return fire.


Theory #2:

Jackson didn’t have a gun.

This theory has emerged in today’s reports in both papers (to wit: ”Family challenges police account of killing” in the P-G and ”Police say Knoxville man shot first” in the Trib).

In the Trib: “…family members said Justin Jackson was not known to carry [a gun].”

Naturally, Jackson does have firearms violations on his criminal record, which is normal for someone who is not known to carry a gun.

Of course, the police do feel pretty confident that Jackson was carrying a gun.

From the P-G: “Eyewitnesses, evidence at the scene and trace evidence from the crime lab will prove beyond doubt that he had the gun,” said Lt. Daniel Herrmann of Major Crimes.

Jackson’s father has his own eyewitnesses.

From the P-G: Many family members do not believe he had a gun and theorized that police shot both the K-9 and Mr. Jackson.

Donald James Jackson, his father, said he has witnesses to back up this theory, but he did not want to provide their names yesterday.

He said witnesses told him that they saw one of the officers hover over his son's body and he suspects the officers planted a gun and other evidence there.


About those witnesses, check out some of the quotes from bystanders in the first report in the Trib:

”"He shot the dog, and they shot him," said Glass, 15.

That’s good insight from a 15-year-old.

Also from the Trib:

"I think people should be able to go to the bus stop without being shot," said Stephanie Bibey, 15, echoing a statement made by several bystanders.

Just to be clear: 15-year-olds don’t echo statements; they mimic them.

Undoubtedly, these are the kinds of witnesses Mr. Jackson is relying on to prove that his son did not have a gun.

Never mind that the bullets taken from Aulf were consistent with a .357 magnum, exactly the type of gun found at the scene and believed to have been the one Jackson pulled.

I guess all I’m getting at here is that, sometimes, not all the time but sometimes, a police shooting is not a racially-motivated event created by power-hungry pigs who are overcome with their sense of authority. Sometimes police use their weapons because they are under fire. Justin Jackson didn’t need to die Tuesday night, but when he fired in the direction of the police, I’m not sure what other outcome he could have expected.

The lesson: don’t shoot at cops.

It’s pretty simple.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Peak: Fever in the funk house, Pt. 9 - Desire

Or: How I fill up 2 GB

(Being the continuing alphabetical series of the contents of my iPod)




Album: Desire
Artist: Bob Dylan
Released: 1976

Track listing:
1. Hurricane
2. Isis
3. Mozambique
4. One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)
5. Oh, Sister
6. Joey
7. Romance in Durango
8. Black Diamond Bay
9. Sara


Allmusic.com review:
If Blood on the Tracks was an unapologetically intimate affair, Desire is unwieldy and messy, the deliberate work of a collective. And while Bob Dylan directly addresses his crumbling relationship with his wife, Sara, on the final track, Desire is hardly as personal as its predecessor, finding Dylan returning to topical songwriting and folk tales for the core of the record. It's all over the map, as far as songwriting goes, and so is it musically, capturing Dylan at the beginning of the Rolling Thunder Revue era, which was more notable for its chaos than its music. And, so it's only fitting that Desire fits that description as well, as it careens between surging folk-rock, Mideastern dirges, skipping pop, and epic narratives. It's little surprise that Desire doesn't quite gel, yet it retains its own character — really, there's no other place where Dylan tried as many different styles, as many weird detours, as he does here. And, there's something to be said for its rambling, sprawling character, which has a charm of its own. Even so, the record would have been assisted by a more consistent set of songs; there are some masterpieces here, though: "Hurricane" is the best-known, but the effervescent "Mozambique" is Dylan at his breeziest, "Sara" at his most nakedly emotional, and "Isis" is one of his very best songs of the '70s, a hypnotic, contemporized spin on a classic fable. This may not add up to a masterpiece, but it does result in one of his most fascinating records of the '70s and '80s — more intriguing, lyrically and musically, than most of his latter-day affairs.


The second Dylan album on my iPod is one of the more unique recordings by arguably the greatest songwriter of the 20th century, since seven of the record’s nine tracks were co-written with theater director/songwriter/clinical psychologist Jacques Levy. The result is a collection of perhaps the most literal songs Dylan ever released. You won’t find much in the way of “smoked my eyelid and punched my cigarette” on this album; instead you get a handful of straight-ahead story songs that tell you exactly what they think. There’s no mystery or surrealism in “Hurricane” or “Joey” and anyone with the reading comprehension of a fourth grader can understand those songs for precisely what they are. Only “One More Cup of Coffee” and “Sara” were penned by Dylan alone, but those two don’t deviate much from the straightforward-ness of the Dylan/Levy numbers.

The other unique element of Desire is Scarlet Rivera, whose violin brings a haunting tone to every song in the album and adds more depth to the tunes that one would think a single instrument was capable of. The instant the violin appears in each track, things become exponentially darker, livelier, and altogether more interesting.

“Hurricane” is probably the best-known track on the album, and for good reason: here is Dylan pulling no punches, going after the man in a way that only he can, with enough fire, vitriol, and pure anger to break down prison walls. At times, Dylan ever foregoes the notions of rhythm, verse, and rhyme to make his points, and the effect is even more powerful.

Naturally, such incendiary statements as were made in “Hurricane” drew public ire (which, really, is the only way to gauge effectiveness; if you write a song like “Hurricane” and it doesn’t piss people off, you’ve probably failed). But in reading about Desire, it seems that “Joey” caught a lot of flack, too, for its rather flattering portrayal of mobster Joey Gallo. You can read the wikipedia write-up on Desire for more details, but the short version is that in “Joey” Dylan romanticized a rather un-romantic/un-sympathetic figure. Far from the wrongly-accused Rubin Carter of “Hurricane,” Gallo was, by all accounts, a pretty bad person.

(The interesting sidenote is that Dylan seems to have concocted his notion of Gallo via conversations with actor Jerry Orbach, who was supposedly a friend of the mobster.)

For me, the highlight of Desire is “Isis.” With its driving piano (played by Dylan himself), the adventure-based tale of a man trying to find himself after probably marrying too early almost instantly became one of my favorite Dylan songs. Checking in at almost seven minutes (6:58 to be exact), “Isis” follows the narrator on a long journey that eventually leads him back to his bride; upon his return, the two have one of the greatest conversations ever set to music.

To wit:

She said ‘where you been?’
I said ‘no place special.’
She said ‘you look different.’
I said ‘well, I guess.’
She said ‘you’ve been gone.’
I said ‘that’s only natural.’
She said ‘you gonna stay?’
I said ‘if you want me to, yes.'


Good stuff. The video below is a live performance of “Isis,” but I recommend checking out the studio version as well for its steady, determined flow.

Really, as has been the case with pretty much every album I’ve included in this series so far, I highly recommend seeking out Desire. It’s a must-listen for Dylan fans, to be sure, and I think its appeal reaches even beyond that large segment of the population.



Monday, May 5, 2008

Gutter: Cheapskate update - 5/5

The Cheapskate has started to permeate my life in new venues.

I was on a radio station in Louisville last Thursday to talk about a few Big East topics. I felt like the segment was headed in the right direction when they came out of the commercial break with “Statesboro Blues,” but things took a downturn when the host began bemoaning the fact that the Baltimore Orioles had lost an afternoon game to the Tampa Bay Rays.

In his words, the Rays were a “sucky” team, and he couldn’t believe that his “beloved O’s” had lost to such a bottom-feeder. In all honesty, I was about to begin a 10-minute tangent on the Rays, the Cheapskate, and value-based mediocrity, but he never let me get there, instead steering the conversation back to our predetermined topic. It was particularly relevant because that Thursday game was Tampa Bay’s 8th win in 9 games, and that hot streak had put the Rays not only on top of the AL East but also in second place in the Cheapskate standings.

Then, as the interview concluded, the host signed off with the standard “thanks for coming on the show, we’ll talk to you soon” stuff that usually ends these kinds of things. Sensing my last opportunity to spread word of the Cheapskate, I replied with “no problem, take it easy and watch out for those Rays,” hoping he would bite on the line.


Host: Watch out for what?

Me: The Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays.

Host (with the “go-to-commercial” music blaring behind him): Oh right. You know, I don’t mind being behind the Yankees or the Red Sox, but the Rays? That sucks –

Me (cutting him off and talking as fast as I can): Yeah-you-have-to-watch-out-for-them-they-have-won-like-six-in-a-row-and-they’re-really-catching-fire-and-they’ve-cut-their-cost-per-game-all-the-way-down-to –

Host (after cutting my phone line): We’ll be back in just a minute.



So I tried to spread the word of the Cheapskate, but no dice. Oh well.

Anyway, the Rays have come back down to earth, sort of, having lost three in a row over the weekend. But the rest of the AL East is struggling, too, so Tampa Bay is caught in a three-way tie for second place with the Yankees and the Orioles.

The Athletics went 2-2 over the weekend, holding onto second place in the AL West but jumping over the Rays to retake second in the Cheapskate. The Marlins have had a rough week, losing four of their last six and falling from first to a tie with the Mets for second in the NL East, but their blue-light special salary virtually ensures they’ll stay on top of the Cheapskate for some time.

And the Pirates? Well, they suck. They went 1-3 in a four-game series with the craptastic Nationals over the weekend, they’ve lost two in a row, and they’ve only won three of their last 10. What’s worse is that they’re spending more on annual salary than the other three teams in the Cheapskate and at the same time they have fewer wins (12) than Florida (17), Oakland (19), and Tampa Bay (16).


Just to refresh, here are the numbers we’re working with.

Total salaries (according to this list published by the Associated Press):

Pittsburgh $49,365,283
Oakland $47,967,126
Tampa Bay $43,820,598
Florida $21,836,500

Cost per game:

Pittsburgh $304,723.97
Oakland $296,093.37
Tamp Bay $270,497.52
Florida $134,793.21






Record: 17-14
Standing: T-2nd in NL East
Games back: .5
Money spent per win: $245,799.38

Record: 19-14
Standing: 2nd in AL West
Games back: 1
Money spent per win: $514,267.43


Record: 16-15
Standing: T-2nd in AL East
Games back: 3
Money spent per win: $524,088.95

Record: 11-16
Standing: 6th in NL Central
Games back: 6
Money spent per win: $787,203.59

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Peak: Fever in the funk house, Pt. 8 - Come Dancing with the Kinks

Or: How I fill up 2 GB

(Being the continuing alphabetical series of the contents of my iPod)





Album: Come Dancing with the Kinks – The Best of the Kinks
Artist: The Kinks
Released: 1986

Track listing:
1. Living on a Thin Line

Like many people (I assume), I first became aware of “Living on a Thin Line” after hearing it on the episode of The Sopranos titled “University,” a brilliant third season episode that is probably most memorable for the brutality of one mobster beating a young stripper to death. The song seems to appear repeatedly throughout the episode during various scenes inside the strip bar, and its message of impending change (or the doom that will come without change) is just another example of the genius use of music in The Sopranos.



Youtube won’t let me embed the video (and it looks like some weird video game promo anyway), but here’s the link. Good jam.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Gutter: Cheapskate update - 5/1

It’s a momentous occasion.

The first shake-up in the history of the Cheapskate standings has finally happened: the surging Tampa Bay Rays, who have won 8 of their last 10, vaulted past the stumbling Oakland Athletics to take over second place in the initial standings of the Cheapskate Award, presented annually to the Major League Baseball team that accomplishes the most with the least.

In summation, we’re rewarding value-based mediocrity.

Just to refresh, here are the numbers.

Total salaries (according to this list published by the Associated Press):

Pittsburgh $49,365,283
Oakland $47,967,126
Tampa Bay $43,820,598
Florida $21,836,500

Cost per game:

Pittsburgh $304,723.97
Oakland $296,093.37
Tamp Bay $270,497.52
Florida $134,793.21

An intricate and complicated formula is then applied to determine a cost-per-win to date. The teams are ranked based on who has spent the least per win. The Marlins, with their blue-light special salary, have a considerable advantage, so the other three will have to enjoy extraordinary success on the field to pass Florida.

In addition to holding the top spot in the Cheapskate, the Marlins are also still at the head of the NL East, although that lead is quickly dwindling. Florida has lost two in a row and 5 of their last 8; as a result, the Mets and the Phillies are each within one-half game of the Marlins.

The Athletics, meanwhile, have held strong to the second spot in the Cheapskate and the top spot in the AL West all season, but a two-game losing streak has stripped the A’s of both of those distinctions. Oakland’s problems in the AL West are compounded by the fact that the losses of the past two nights have come against the Los Angeles (nee Anaheim, nee California) Angels, who now sit on top of the division.

The Rays, unlike the other three teams in the Cheapskate, are on fire. After consecutive sweeps of AL East foes Toronto and Boston, Tampa Bay dropped a game to Baltimore. But the Rays bounced back last night with an 8-1 win in Baltimore. Following this series, the Rays head up to Boston for a payback series against the Red Sox, and that stretch could mean the end of Tampa Bay’s surge.

And then there’s the Pirates. Forget yesterday’s bombing of the Mets: the Buccos have still lost four of six and 10 of the last 14. Next they head to the nation’s capitol for a four-game series with the craptastic Nationals. Should be a chance for the Pirates to put some numbers in the win column, but don’t bet on it. That’s exactly the kind of series that the Pirates have perfected over the past 15 years: getting swept by a team that just might actually be a worse franchise.




Record: 15-12
Standing: 1st in NL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $242,627.78

Record: 15-12
Standing: 2nd in AL East
Games back: 1
Money spent per win: $486,895.54

Record: 17-12
Standing: 2nd in AL West
Games back: 1
Money spent per win: $505,100.46


Record: 11-16
Standing: 6th in NL Central
Games back: 6
Money spent per win: $747,958.84

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peak: Fever in the funk house, Pt. 7 - Broken Boy Soldiers

Or: How I fill up 2 GB

(Being the continuing alphabetical series of the contents of my iPod)





Album: Broken Boy Soldiers
Artist: The Raconteurs
Released: 2006

Track listing:
1. Steady, As She Goes
2. Hands
3. Broken Boy Soldier
4. Intimate Secretary
5. Together
6. Level
7. Store Bought Bones
8. Yellow Sun
9. Call It a Day
10. Blue Veins



Allmusic.com review:
It's hard to call the Raconteurs a genuine supergroup since there's only one true rock star in the quartet: the White Stripes' eccentric mastermind Jack White. Sometime between the recording of the Stripes' 2003 breakthrough Elephant and its willfully difficult 2005 follow-up, Get Behind Me Satan, White teamed up with fellow Detroit singer/songwriter Brendan Benson to write some tunes, eventually drafting the rhythm section of Cincinnati garage rockers the Greenhornes as support. Lasting just ten tracks, their debut, Broken Boy Soldiers, doesn't feel hasty, but it doesn't exactly feel carefully considered, either. It sounds exactly as what it is: a busman's holiday for two prodigiously gifted pop songwriters where they get to indulge in temptations that their regular gig doesn't afford. For Benson, he gets to rock harder than he does on his meticulously crafted solo albums; for White, he gets to shed the self-imposed restrictions of the White Stripes and delve into the psychedelic art pop he's hinted at on Elephant and Satan. Both Benson and White are indebted to '60s guitar pop, particularly the pop experiments of the mid-'60s — in its deliberately dark blues-rock, Elephant resembled a modern-day variation of the Stones' Aftermath, while Benson has drawn deeply from Rubber Soul and Revolver, not to mention the Kinks or any number of other '60s pop acts — so they make good, even natural, collaborators, with Brendan's classicist tendencies nicely balancing Jack's gleeful freak-outs. Appropriately, Broken Boy Soldiers does sound like the work of a band, with traded lead vocals and layers of harmonies, and no deliberate emphasis on one singer over the other. Even if there's a seemingly conscious effort to give Brendan Benson and Jack White equal space on this brief album, White can't help but overshadow his partner: as good as Benson is, White's a far more dynamic, innovative, and compelling presence — there's a reason why he's a star. But he does willingly embrace the teamwork of a band here, dressing up Benson's songs with weird flourishes, and playing some great guitar along the way. If the Raconteurs don't rock nearly as hard as the White Stripes — there's a reckless freedom in Jack's careening performances when he's supported only by Meg White — they do have some subtle sonic textures that the Stripes lack, and a tougher backbone than Benson's albums, which makes them their own distinctive entity. And they're a band that has their own identity — it may be somewhat stuck in the '60s, but they're not monochromatic, showcasing instead a variety of sounds, ranging from sparely ominous single "Steady, as She Goes" and the propulsive pop of "Hands" to the churning Eastern psychedelia of "Intimate Secretary" and the grandiose menace of the title track to the slow blues burn of "Blue Veins." These songs, and the five other cuts on this album, prove that the Raconteurs are nothing less than a first-rate power pop band — but they're nothing more, either. They may not rewrite the rules of pop on Broken Boy Soldiers, but they don't try to: they simply lie back and deliver ten good, colorful pop songs, so classic in style and concise in form that the album itself is barely over in 30 minutes. It's brief and even a little slight, but it's almost as much fun to listen to as it must have been to make.


So yeah, that’s quite a long review from allmusic.com, and if you’ve read that, there’s probably not much more I can add. But I still like to talk, and I like music, and I really like this album, so I’ll still say a few things.

Yes, Broken Boy Soldiers is pop rock, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In college, I would have scorned a 30-minute record full of three-and-a-half-minute songs; since then, I’ve grown to appreciate fine song-writing, and this album has it in spades. We already knew Jack White could write a tune in the drum-guitar framework of The White Stripes; here we find out that the dude can write one hell of a rock number in the context of a full band. Songs like “Hands,” “Intimate Secretary,” and especially “Level” are brimming with a pure energy that reminds you how much fun rock music can be (which some of us might have forgotten after listening to The White Stripes too much).

And let’s not forget, “Steady, As She Goes” was used as the music for the Pirates 2007 commercial that featured “Steady Freddy” Sanchez (“Steady Freddy” is a nickname coined by “Voice of the Pirates” Greg Brown; I prefer Dirty Sanchez as a nickname, but they didn’t ask me).

I think that’s about all I have to say about Broken Boy Soldiers. I highly recommend spending 30 minutes of your time listening to the album, and then spending another hour watching youtube clips of The Raconteurs performing everything from their own material to the Gnarls Barkley rave-up “Crazy.” The highlight of the album for me is “Level,” and that’s the youtube I included in this post. The video is a live version, but it still rocks pretty good. Do yourself a favor and go find the original. If you’re my friend, e-mail me and I’ll make a copy for you. It’s just that good.



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gutter: Cheapskate update - 4/29

A weekend sidetrack created a five-day lull in updating the Cheapskate standings. Thank God I’m the only person who is actually interested in this wholly irrelevant system of ranking Major League Baseball teams.

Anyway, I still do find it interesting, so I’m going to continue updating the Cheapskate standings.

Just to refresh, here are the numbers.

Total salaries (according to this list published by the Associated Press):

Pittsburgh $49,365,283
Oakland $47,967,126
Tampa Bay $43,820,598
Florida $21,836,500

Cost per game:

Pittsburgh $304,723.97
Oakland $296,093.37
Tamp Bay $270,497.52
Florida $134,793.21

There have been some surprising happenings in the competition for best value-based mediocrity (or mediocrity-based value, depending on your perspective). Most notable is the Tampa Bay ball club, which has now won six in a row, including a 4-0 stretch over the past five days. And while the winning streak hasn’t been enough to push the Rays out of third place in the Cheapskate standings, they have drawn within $13,000 of the second-place Athletics; perhaps more importantly (although not to me), is that the Rays’ six-game winning streak has brought them into a tie for first place in the AL East.

At the same time, Oakland has gone 4-1 over the past five days to hold onto first place in the AL West and second place in the Cheapskate rankings. But it’s not enough to get over the Marlins, whose 2-2 record over the past five has been enough to stick them in first place in the NL East and the Cheapskates. Florida’s low total salary is going to require a complete collapse if Oakland or Tampa Bay hope to take over the top spot in the Cheapskates.

Oh yeah, the Pirates are in this thing, too. Dropping Matt Morris was a nice PR move, but they still owe him the 10 mill for this year, so it’s not going to help their Cheapskate ranking. Ditto for the 1-3 record over the weekend: that kind of winning percentage is not going to improve any standings, be they in the NL Central or the Cheapskates.


Record: 15-10
Standing: 1st in NL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $224,655.35


Record: 17-10
Standing: 1st in AL West
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $470,265.94


Record: 14-11
Standing: T-1st in AL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $483,031.29

Record: 10-15
Standing: 6th in NL Central
Games back: 6
Money spent per win: $761,809.93

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gutter: Cheapskate update - 4/24

Ordinarily I probably wouldn’t do a Cheapskate update two days in a row, but there is major moving and shaking going on with the four cheapest teams in Major League Baseball, as they combined to go 4-0 last night. And what’s more is that the two bottom-feeders in this group (Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay) have now each won two in a row, climbing out of the basements in their respective divisions in the process.

The Pirates have been particularly impressive, as their two-game winning streak consists of a win over the Cheapskate-leading Marlins (Tuesday night) and a win over the NL Central-leading Cardinals (Wednesday night). Pittsburgh took a half-game lead on Cincinnati in the NL Central in the process, vaulting the Reds into fifth place.

The Rays, meanwhile, have done the best kind of work over the past two days, taking the first two games of a three-game series from AL East foe Toronto and leap-frogging the Blue Jays in the process.

As it stands now, none of the four Cheapskate contenders currently sit in the bottom of their division, and Oakland and Florida continue to lead the AL West and NL East, respectively.

Naturally, all of this winning is having a positive effect on the teams’ costs per win, with the Marlins dipping under $220,000, the A’s right around half a mil, the Rays dropping down to $568,000, and the Pirates looking to get under $700,000. That’s the price of success, folks.




Record: 13-8
Standing: 1st in NL East
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $217,742.88


Record: 13-9
Standing: T-1st in AL West
Games back: 0
Money spent per win: $501,081.09


Record: 10-11
Standing: 4th in AL East
Games back: 4
Money spent per win: $568,044.79

Record: 9-12
Standing: 5th in NL Central
Games back: 6
Money spent per win: $711,022.60