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

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