Does Money Equal MLB Success? Howabout Smarts?

August 15, 2009

Sports radio in Chicago is going bat-shit about how poorly the Cubs are doing.  The Sox, btw, are not exactly KILLING out there either, but it seems to always come back to the money.  “The Cubs spend so much money, there are higher expectations,” say some.  I wouldn’t disagree.

But it’s not like the White Sox are scraping the bottom of the barrel.  They’re actually one of the biggest spenders in the league as well… and have made some expensive moves just recently, trading for Jake Peavy and flat-out buying Alex Rios.

Annnnyway, the “spending” criticism is the same reason most people really dislike the Yankees — as the tend to buy players.  Conversely, it’s the reason people tend to support small market teams that make smart moves… the Marlins, the Rays, and of course, the money-ballin‘ A’s.

There seems to be a sentiment that “buying” a winning team is inauthentic, when in fact, it’s really how the game is played.  I’ve pulled the ’08, and (projected) ’09 team wins and wanted to compare which teams get the most bang for their buck, which teams pay the most to still suck:

So.  Here’s a scattergraph that shows all MLB team salaries compared to their 08 and 09 (projected) wins:

Guess Which Ones Are The Yankee Ones.

The findings were not that wowing.  Part of that, obvs, is because I suck at math, but the trend seems to say if you spend 50 to 100 mil a year on player salaries, you could win anywhere from 58 to 90+ games.  HA!  Thanks, statistics.  Like that helps.  More interesting though, spending LESS than 50 million yielded similar results to spending a little less than 3-times that amount.

Let’s break it down a bit more.

The average number of wins it took to get into the playoffs was:

  • 93 games

So, in the spirit of competition, here’s the average total salary cost for all teams that won (or are projected to win) 90+ games in ’08 and ’09:

  • $106,744,830 (13 Teams)

Here’s the average total salary cost for all teams that won (or are projected to win) 93+ games on ’08 and ’09:

  • $117,918,703 (8 Teams)

But!  This is fuzzy math!  If $ 118,000,000 makes you “playoff-worthy”, we wouldn’t even HAVE a playoff this year.  The 4 teams that spent that much money in ’09 – the Yankees, Mets, Cubs, and Red Sox — include the sub-.500 New York Mets who are certainly not going to make the cut.

So, if the Mets spend that much and still suck, it makes you wonder — who are the most and least-efficient spending teams.  We’re going to look at the total wins vs. total salary in 08 and 09…

The Best – Cost Per Win

  1. Marlins $346,580.03
  2. Rays $583,294.12  (Lost in the World Series)
  3. Pirates $735,252.95
  4. Twins $735,965.13 (Missed playoffs by one game [ed. note: by one one hit])
  5. Athletics $748,077.70

The Worst – Cost Per Win

  1. Yankees $2,161,530.10
  2. Mets $1,747,504.19
  3. Tigers $1,587,633.73
  4. Mariners $1,481,209.80
  5. Cubs $1,405,588.00 (Made Playoffs)

Weird, eh? Lots of spending will not gurantee you a spot in the playoffs, but spending efficiently won’t really help that much either.  To be completely transparent, six of the eight teams that made it into the playoffs in 2008 were below the 40th Percentile in salary-to-games won, so, I guess spending — smartly or otherwise –does increase your chances of making it to October.

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The Digital Switcheroo

May 22, 2009

Photo Courtesy of CNL822 on Flickr

Watching baseball last week with all the jitters, smears, and pauses of digital broadcasting,  I realized I haven’t officially bitched about the digital switchover. All this info (well, except for the Kanye part) I think is pretty valuable:

  • With good reception, digital broadcasts look good. It is a huge step forward for television clarity.  Admittedly.  It does work.  So, if you get a new TV, yay, you get a new TV with potentially much better quality and more channels.  Everybody wins!(?)  The following bullet is much more important…
  • DIGITAL SIGNALS ARE NOT CRYSTAL CLEAR. It’s true.  Before I got a digital converter I didn’t realize this, my coworker didn’t realize this, so I assume some of you have been (or are in the process of being) mislead as well.

Now that people are using digital receivers, we’re realizing that digital TV reception is as bad or worse than analog TV.  Those that haven’t gone digital yet (or in some cases can’t even afford to), hear the Networks pitching the switcheroo and it’s like they’re doing you a favor.  It’s important to know that TV Networks/the government/Big Businss are NOT just doing it for your benefit.

I’m not one for conspiracy theories, hell, any rant that mentions “the government” usually makes me tune out.  But this is true, apparently: The initial digital switch plan (I shit you not) was a delayed reaction to  Post-9/11 communication issues. According to Bloomburg

The government mandated the switch to free up airwaves for advanced wireless services and emergency workers’ radios, to raise money and to provide clearer pictures and more programming.

Broadcast networks volunteered to give their analog frequencies over to  emergency police and fire communications.  Though, “volunteered” is a stretch.  Television networks were well aware that this act, which appears fairly selfless and sensible, had an overwhelming business-minded upside.

Giving up these frequencies and moving to a digital signal would mean that every American that does not subscribe to a cable subscription (~20% of the population, skewed towards the less affluent) must buy a brand new TV, update their televisions on their own dime (that’s 285 million sets as of ’05),  or  get cable.  It was a sweetheart deal all around, exemplified by the nifty bullet points below:

  • Government gets low-freq emergency channels (Which is great… whoopdie-doo.)
  • Broadcast Networks, who have been trying to go digital anyway, get to do so with the government bankrolling them, and in the name of public good.
  • Broadcast Networks now have multiple channels to run second-tier content on, which can steal share back from cable stations like The Weather Channel, Univision, Telemundo, and in NBC Universal’s case —  ESPN.
  • Cable companies  profit off of new subscribers unwilling to make the digital switch
  • Electronic stores (namely Radio Shack) make a killing on digital converter box sales, and on selling peripherals around the digital conversion.
  • Everybody gets to pretend they’re helping John Q. Public

That last bullet is the kicker, because, if you installed the digital converter box you quickly realize that reception can, and does, still suck.  What’s worse, broadcast channels that used to come in a little fuzzy on an analog television will not even register through the digital box.  No longer do you have the option of watching a fuzzy screen — it’s all or nothing now.

Digital TV is a snob — if it’s not crystal clear, you’re not allowed to watch it.   You cannot even manually tell your digital converter to include a channel that is not registering — this is what is happening to CBS (WBBM) on my TV and a friends in Chicago.  I wonder if they’re losing ratings because the digital boxes they forced on their viewers refuse to recognize it as a channel.

The funniest part is those antannae… you know the ones you were supposed to be able to throw away…  those rabbit ears they made fun of in the “swtch to digital” PSAs earlier this year?  Yeah… you have to buy a new one.


LOST: Now with bullet points!

February 12, 2009

SPOILER TIME!

  • Is anyone else sick of The Oceanic Six yet.  Seriously.  It feels like I’m watching Melrose Place or something. 

 

  • For all the hemming and hawing about it being an “impossible” task to get them all back on The Island, ALL OF THEM BUMMING AROUND LOS ANGELES! Even the Korean and the Scotsman.  I pray to God they get these bastards back on the island soon or it’s going to be a terrible, terrible season.

 

  • People that get the nose-bleeding disease fall into dangerous bad acting territory… first Fisher Stevens character (Minkus?) last year, and now Charlotte who starts looking a bit like a zombie, regresses to her childhood, and babbles something about chocoate before she passes away.  (Note:  I’m convinced Charlotte was channelling Claire’s Austrailian voice during one of her rants about “This place is death” etc.  My co-viewers were not as convinced).

 

Some plot twists and plot follow-ups in the last two weeks…

  1. The British twerp is Charles Whidmore.
  2. The clapsed-jaw British-speaking female soldier on the island is Eloise Hawking (*wink* Stephen Hawking *nod*)
  3. Eloise Hawking is, indeed, also the creepy “Grandma Time”
  4. Eloise Hawking is, indeed, the mother of Daniel Farraday (*wink* Micheal Faraday *nod*).
  5. Charlotte has already been on the island.
  6. When english girls say “Dharma” it sounds like “Dahmer”.
  7. Jin is alive
  8. The “Smoke Monster” existed in the 80s
  9. Christian Shepherd is (or at least is manifested as) Jacob.
  10. The Wheel that makes the island flip through timespace is as cheesy looking as ever.

As is standard in all LOST revelations, answered questions will now lead us to MORE questions like…

  1. Why did Charles Whidmore leave the island?
  2. If Eloise is Faraday’s mother, is Whidmore his father? (Methinks yes.)
  3. Did they perhaps leave The Island together because Eloise got knocked-up?
  4. What was the falling out between Eloise and Charles now that Eloise is now working with Benjamin Linus?
  5. Whidmore funded Faraday ‘s research, but does Faraday know that Whidmore may be his father?
  6. Is Miles the son of Dr. Pierre Chang? (aka the guy from the Orientation videos?)

Lost is Back in the Future

January 22, 2009

Through the darkness of future past,
The magician longs to see
One chance out between two worlds:
Fire, walk with me.

-Twin Peaks

As all great shows do, LOST’s Season 5 began last night and answered a few questions (that most already knew) and added a whole bunch more.  So now, as great politicians do, I will pose questions for myself to answer:

 

Q: Why is Sawyer so tubby?

A:  Despite the amount of ‘Suspension of Disbelief’ required for LOST fans, I’m still dismayed by how doughy Sawyer looks.  That said, I guess I have to accept that Sawyer is played by a real human who is not stuck on a mysterious time-jumping island.

 

Q: Why is Sawyer obsessed with putting a shirt on for most of the episode, and why do they focus on him getting jabbed by a sharp bamboo stick?

A:  My best guess is that Sawyer (who was stuck in a giant Skinner Box during Season 2), will now start living through Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Need” theory.  In which shoeless/shirtless Caveman Sawyer can not become truly “self-actualized” until his base needs are met — Food, Water, Clothing, Shelter, Companionship… or as Sawyer would see it — mangos, beer, flannel, a tarp and Juliet(?).   In fact, as LOSTwriters are prone to do, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an unsubtle hint, like a character named “Maslow”, show up on the island.

 

 

Q: Did I catch LOST using both the titles “3 years Before” and “3 Years Ago” in the same episode?

A: I thought I did… bullshit right?  It feels like they’re being aimlessly deceptive.

 

Q: Does the ability of all characters to jump through time and space revolutionize the show?

A: Prettymuch

  

 

Q: Do Tell.

A: It’s a smart move on the writer’s part.  Any loopholes that previous seasons have created can now be closed by depicting their preceding events (in the past) that haven’t been shown yet (in future episodes).

Also, it’s a great storytelling tool that allows the viewer to be sympathetic to a character’s implausible plight.  In that way it reminds me of the film Memento, where moviegoers observe a hero with no long-term memory in scenes which run backward from end to beginning — thereby projecting the character’s brain issues onto its viewers.

 

Q:  Intriguing.  Please go on!

A: If you insist, good sir…  by telling the stories of the “past”, “present” and “future” simultaneously, at some level the viewer will be rattled by revelations that the characters themselves are experiencing.

Also, if you care to geek out about physics even more so (like I occasionally try to), good ‘ol Einstein showed that all “time” really runs concurrently.  (As well as fixed and unalterable as Daniel Farrady emphatically argues.)

So… viewing LOST in what David Lynch might call “the futurepast”, with all times going on at the same time, is actually just as valid as viewing a story from what we perceive, relatively, as the right way — beginning, middle, and end.  Ohhhh, Science — fucking with my brain again.

photo via the Chicago Sun Times

Q:  I feel dizzy and humbled by this new knowledge.  Does this have any direct implications within the reality of the show beyond clever and overly-smart script writing?

A: Absolutely maybe!  For the first two seasons we’d been watching (what we thought were) real-time events buttressed by compelling (and suspiciously coincidental) background stories that manifest themselves on the island.

The first twist was that Beardy Jack (and later other characters like Sun and Kate) were being shown in what we first thought were flashbacks, then concluded were flashforwards, but know now thanks to Season 5 (and Einstein, I guess) that the correct timing of events is all um…. Relative.  I mean, it would be a flash forward or backward only if you view the Oceanic 6’s time on The Island as the “present”.  (And now even that’s messed up.)

So, now that we know that they ACTUALLY JUMP THROUGH TIME AND SPACE, all the things that seem like ridiculous happenstance and coincidence could actually be an intricate and calculated set of events put into motion not by chance, but by necessity.  (And, as a further mind-fuck, possibly set in motion by their future selves in order to set-right the only future that wouldn’t unravel the Fabric of the Cosmos).  And now, if you’re keeping score, we’ve stumbled into Donnie Darko territory.  Break out the emo eyeliner.

More on this later… some thoughts on the future/past, and maybe a sprinkling of mind/body and dream/reality concepts.  So yeah, stuff you talked about while high, or in your Philosophy 001 class, or possibly both simultaneously.


Study: There’s money in Chicago Music. Hood Internet: Chicago Music is money.

June 2, 2008

Originaly posted on UR Chicago Here

A joint effort by the Chicago Music Commission and the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Cultural Policy, found both encouraging and not-so-surprising news about the local music biz. Firstly, Chicago “ranks third among metropolitan areas in the overall size of its music industry” behind, surprise-surprise; Los Angeles and New York. Chicago also had lower total revenue (meaning cheaper ticket prices for us, yay.)

The more-interesting news, fleshed out well by Chicago Innerview, is that Chicago books better bands, more often, for (relatively) cheaper ticket prices than any other American city:

…Researchers looked at the number of performances from Billboard magazine’s “Top 100 Artists” and the “Top 100 Artists” from the Village Voice Critics Poll and found that in 2004, Chicago had about 10 more such concerts than New York City. “There’s no other city where those critically acclaimed shows make up a bigger percentage of the total revenue generated,” the study’s co-author Dan Silver states. “So Chicago is really the center of high critical taste.”

A study quantifying the awesomeness of Chicago Music is nice to have, but there’s another way of celebrating the diversity of music in this city, and no, it’s not to re-name streets as Honorable Peter Cetera Parkway, and OkGo Boulevard.

It’s an all-city mashup mixtape of course! Courtesy of The Hood Internet. Though it doesn’t delve too far into the Blues and Gospel history of Chicago, lots of tunes from multiple decades are represented here and pack a serious punch–Twista rhyming over The Sea & Cake, Diverse with Andrew Bird, Dude N Nem N OFFICE, The Cool Kids party-rappin’ over house legend Frankie Knuckles–it’s all here. It’s a tight mix. My personal fav has to be the ’85 Bears shuffling alongside Kanye and Wilco. -Brian