Wednesday, May 26, 2010


The nice thing about having my own blog is that every now and then, I can just shoot off a disconnected bunch of ramblings about whatever is on my mind. This is one of those.

On Entertainment:

What’s wrong with American Idol? Because of changes in the show’s demographics and the fact that there are no real restrictions on telephone voting, the vast majority of voters are young white girls and women, many of whom vote on whom they think is the “cutest” rather than who really deserves it. Hence, the past three winners have almost been clones of each other, the last two of which (Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze) clearly beating better-singing opponents (Adam Lambert and Crystal Bowersox). African American finalist Michael Lynche never had a chance—would Reuben Studdard or Fantasia win these days? Unless they find a fix for the voting, the show will continue to produce these white-bread clones and the rest of the public will start to lose interest.

Why are TV seasons so short? I remember when shows stayed on the air from September until May, when the summer reruns started. Now, it seems like every time a show gets going, its season ends. How can you really get excited about “Mad Men” or “Parenthood” when there are fewer than 10 shows per year?

What happened to romantic comedies? I thoroughly enjoyed movies like “Bringing Up Baby” “The Philadelphia Story,” and “Pretty Woman.” They were good films, and there used to be many other romantic comedies worth watching. Now, it seems like they are all lame, formulaic nonsense. Too bad.

On Sports:

Why is Dwight Howard allowed to foul at will? I’ve been watching the Magic winning the last two games against the Celtics, partly by physically attacking the Celtics players, and Howard is the chief offender. In addition, when any Celtics go near him, they are called for fouls. Maybe Tim Donaghy was right.

Why do Tampa Bay fans deserve a major league baseball team? Here’s an MLB-leading team that was in the World Series two years ago, and none of the fans show up to what is clearly the major league’s worst ballpark. Then, when they actually come to a game, they ring cowbells. Please!

Why did the NFL award the 2014 Super Bowl to New Jersey? Until now, no team playing in an open stadium in a cold climate has ever been allowed to even apply for a Super Bowl, yet New York is awarded one for a stadium that is not even built yet. The average temperature in New York on February 2 is 30 degrees—during the day. Yet, they are going to play a nighttime game in that stadium. I somehow doubt that if Green Bay, Buffalo, or New England had asked, they would have been considered. It’s a bad idea—the most important annual sporting event in the world should not potentially be decided by weather.

On Driving:

• Why do Boston drivers get a bad rap? I’ve been driving in Boston since I was 16, and the drivers are certainly aggressive, but they generally pay attention. In driving through New Jersey and Philadelphia lately, I realize that most of the drivers there are relatively unconscious. I’ll take aggressive any day.

• What happened to passing in the left lane? Several years ago, the government decided that gas mileage worked out better if people were told they could drive any legal speed in any lane, so they dropped from the driver’s manuals any mention about driving on the right and passing on the left. Big mistake. How many times do you get stuck on the highway between two or three yahoos driving the same slow speed next to each other? When you flash headlights at them, they look at you like you’re from another planet. Likewise, you’ve got testocerone-induced drivers passing at 90 MPH in the right lane, where most cars have a blind spot. Let’s start a movement to reinstate the left passing lane.

• Do we really need generic cars? There are some cars that are so generic that they don’t deserve a name…they should just be called “car.” For 2010, I place in this category the Toyota Corolla, Mercury Milan, Nissan Versa, Kia Rio, Buick Lucerne, Chevrolet Malibu, and Ford Taurus. My criticism has nothing to do with price, it’s about the lack of imagination that goes into producing and buying one of these lame vehicles. If you dislike driving so much, take the bus.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Parently

Alex is 25 years old today. He just finished his first year of law school.

26 years ago, Joni was recovering from a spinal fusion, and some doctors said that carrying a child to term could be very dangerous for that fusion, but she did it, even spending a day in labor before her C-Section. Her fusion held and Alex was born.

The years since then have been financially draining, physically painful for Joni, and trying at times, but we are lucky. Alex is a good person who generally cares about people and succeeds at everything to which he truly applies his active mind.

“He’s very smart,” the pediatrician said shortly after Alex was born. “Too bad. The smart ones are always more difficult.” In many ways, I understand what he meant. Alex will argue for the sake of arguing, often switching sides in the middle, just for the intellectual stimulation of doing so. It used to piss me off, until I heard him doing it with his friends, some of whom do the same thing. I guess he’ll be a good lawyer.

Here’s the crux of it—parenthood is not easy. It’s a complete drain on your time and finances, and for all that, you are often just perceived as a bother. In the end, your kids will grow up to blame their faults on you, but are they wrong to do so? While you take pride in seeing them excel, often crediting that to what they inherited from you, you also cringe when you see that they have some of your worst foibles. There are times when they appear as reflections of what you don’t want to see in yourself.

Then there are the tragedies or near-tragedies. Years ago, my friend Hanley’s daughter died of an asthma attack, and I wasn’t a very effective friend. Alex was very young, and I couldn’t fathom the idea of losing him, so I under-reacted. Since then, I’ve tried to be supportive when friends Genny/Ron and Mike/Arlene went through health issues with their children, David and Nora. Fortunately, those children survived and thrived, but I can only imagine the pain they must have experienced.

So why do we do it? Why make ourselves so vulnerable by having kids at all?

The answer is found when they come home or call you with some minor success or happiness, because from the first day they’re born and look up at you, every smile or joyous laugh makes you forget all the difficulties and relish the moment. It can improve your entire week.

I’ve been lucky to parent with Joni because she’s tougher and more consistent than I am…just ask her students. She’s also more compassionate and patient, with the ability to listen to children ramble endlessly before finally getting to the point. As you might guess, that’s not a skill I possess. But what makes me effective as a parent (when I am effective) is my understanding that while I can love him and guide him, I can’t control my child…I’m just along for the ride. As such, I relish what makes Alex happy, even if it is not something I would normally do. In the end, if he’s happy, I’m happy with that.

I have no idea what his or my future will hold, but I do know that I’m extraordinarily thankful for the last 25 years. I have vivid memories of all the good times that Joni and I have had with our son. Alex is full of fun, he and Joni are my best friends, and I thoroughly enjoy the time I spend with him. I love him more than he will ever know.

Happy birthday, Alex…and thank you.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lewis Weinstein

Lewis Weinstein died today at Paoli Hospital, outside of Philadelphia—the victim of a massive heart attack this past Saturday that deprived his brain of oxygen. He was 56 years old, and he was my cousin and friend. He was the second cousin from my generation of the Moliver Family to pass away, but the first in a long time.

Lew had swagger. From the time he was young, he was a presence, carrying himself with confidence and inner strength. He marched to his own drummer, bringing us along the many phases on his journey through adulthood. His smile was almost as wide as his broad shoulders, and his sarcastic humor always hit the mark.

It was at Lew’s bar mitzvah where I first met Joni, and it was he who later re-introduced us, at 15, at the urging of Edie and Molly. Joni knew Lew since kindergarten, and for most of her young life, he was her protector, champion, and best friend. When she tells stories of her childhood, they inevitably include him. One such story occurred in 6th grade, when Joni ran for the presidency of her elementary school; Lew was her campaign manager, and to this day, she believes she won that election primarily because of her classmates’ support for him. “When Lewis was near,” Joni has said, “I always felt safe.”

As the years went on, and we all went about the tasks involved with raising children, Lew was not always an everyday part of our lives, but he was in our thoughts. During the past year, Joni and I had the chance to really reconnect with our cousin through lengthy conversations on the phone and at family events. I was glad he joined the Moliver fantasy football league last year, because it gave us a chance to communicate on a weekly basis. He added a positive energy and humor to each week, and this year, we will rename it the L.W. Moliver Family league.

Rachel, Saul, and Kevin should be very proud of their father, and they should know that we were all positively affected by his life. That will continue in his memory.

Goodbye Lewis…you will always live on within us.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Favorite US Cabs

This isn’t about cheap wines you can have with dinner, or the best wines under $10, or some other nonsense like that. Nor is it for those French wine snobs who believe there are no world class cabernet sauvignons from the United States.

If you know me, you know that I like wine, so I will intersperse an occasional article like this about wine. But, unlike some of my friends, I don’t drink wine every night…not even once per week, although that differs by the week. So, some of the wines I’ll be recommending here are hard to get and costly. In every case, either I bought it when it was cheaper or one of my friends opened it.

In any event, here are the US-produced cabernet sauvignons that I have liked best:

• 1997 Fisher Wedding Vineyard: We opened this a few years ago at a California Cab night, and it blew away me and everyone else. This Sonoma wine features a rich, velvety taste that attacks your senses while remaining balanced. It is an absolutely wonderful wine that is almost impossible to find. As of this writing, the only bottle I could locate was through, selling for $284.

• 1995 Araujo Estate, Eisele Vineyard: If a wine can be simultaneously subtle and powerful, this is it. I drank it slightly young and wish I hadn’t, but the power, elegance, superb minerality, and lengthy finish stick with me to this day. Unfortunately, the few online sites that still sell this Napa beauty are asking about $400 per bottle.

• 1996 Shafer Vineyards Hillside Select: The first thing that hits you about a Shafer Hillside Select cab is the nose. From Napa’s Stag’s Leap District, there are few wines in the world with a better aroma. And the drinking is almost as amazing, with incredible balance and finish. Online, this bottle currently lists for anywhere from $250 to $385.

• 1994 Dominus Estate: This is one of the most consistent wines from year to year, but 1994 may have been its best year yet. More than most other Napa wines, Dominus is made in the French style, comprised of 70% cabernet sauvignon, with small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. It is smooth and surprisingly fruity for an older wine, currently ranging in price online from $235 to $295.

• 2004 Quilceda Creek: Although technically early in its maturity, this Washington state wine was opened at a recent tasting and blew me away. Overpowering in its richness and not yet completely balanced, this will be a remarkable wine for years to come, and is available online starting at $195 per bottle.

If you’re looking at this list and saying, “What is he crazy? I can’t afford those wines,” let me tell you, neither can I. But if you buy wines from the likes of Fisher, Araujo, Shafer, Dominus, Quilceda Creek, Ridge, Chateau Montelena, Dunn, Beringer Private Reserve, Arrowwood, Etude, Robert Foley, or other vendors when they are first released and store them properly for a few years, you too can have some amazing wines.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Best Albums of 2008

Most people don’t realize it, but 2008 may be one of the best years in music history. Because of technological advances, ordinary people can self-record music that traditional recording companies might find too risky and get it listed on iTunes and other download services. We’ll see how the recession affects this trend in 2009.

If you’re still buying CDs from music stores, you’re probably not being exposed to all of this music. That’s why the previously defunct term “album” has made a comeback as a collection of songs, whether they end up on a CD or not.

The biggest trend this year is the return of R&B/Soul. It’s been happening throughout the decade, but in 2008, the more melodic genre seems to have finally displaced Rap/Hip-Hop as the music of choice for many young artists. Several of those artists are white and many are women. The door that was opened by Joss Stone and Christina Aguilera was knocked down by Amy Winehouse last year, and their successors are flooding through, including Adele, Duffy, Elisa, and even a few with two names like Hilary McCrae, Leigh Jones, and Shoshana Bean. They have joined more traditional R&B artists to make this year very special.

Rock also changed as Emo has faded, replaced by musicians playing varied instruments in songs with interesting changes fronted by singers who refuse to whine. As such, this year conjures images of artists who express themselves fully in a variety of ways. My tastes tend to run toward alternative rock, R&B, and inventive pop music, so if you are a fan of Classical, Country, Rap, Death Metal or traditional folk, you will probably be disappointed with this list.

For all others, I actually found 120 albums worth listing, so I numbered the top 30 and left the rest for “Honorable Mention.” Here they are in ascending order:

30. Big Blue Ball: “Big Blue Ball” This collection of World Music is the brainchild of Peter Gabriel and World Party’s Karl Wallinger, who compiled songs by a wide range of artists. Outstanding cuts include “Whole Thing” and “Big Blue Ball.”

29. Pepper: “Pink Crustaceans” This Hawaiian band combines buoyant tunes with inventive, sometimes outrageous lyrics for a delightful combination of songs. Included are “Things That You Love,” “Love 101,” and “Musical 69.”

28. School of Language: “Sea from Shore” A side project of Field Music’s David Brewis, this album shows outstanding musicianship and songwriting. Listen to “Rockist Pt. 1,” “This Is No Fun,” and “Tear Me a Part.”

27. Fleet Foxes: “Fleet Foxes” If you like vocal harmonies, Seattle’s Fleet Foxes is a band for you. Their songs are rich and full, and seem appropriate in this holiday season. This album includes “White Winter Hymnal,” “Ragged Wood,” and “He Doesn't Know Why.”

26. Amanda Palmer: “Who Killed Amanda Palmer” The lead singer from the Dresden Dolls brings her compelling quirkiness to this solo effort, featuring “Astronaut,” “Runs In the Family,” and “Strength Through Music.”

25. Lalah Hathaway: “Self Portrait” The daughter of Donny Hathaway and a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Lalah Hathaway has been recording since 1990, but this may be her best effort, combining sultry jazz tones with interesting R&B riffs. My favorite tracks include “Learning to Swim,” “What Goes Around,” “Breathe,” and “On Your Own.”

24. Sunny Day Sets Fire: “Summer Palace” This indie pop band from London wins this year’s award for the best late-Beatles-influenced band. Songs include “Wilderness,” “Teenagers Talking,” and “Map of the World.”

23. Buckcherry: “15” This rollicking rock band from California recorded what is easily their best collection to date, featuring such (not suitable for all audiences) gems as “Crazy Bitch” “Everything,” “Sorry,” and “Onset.”

22. honeyhoney: “First Rodeo” Using guitar, violin, and clear vocals to combine, jazz, blues, and country into a delightful alternative mix, this is one of my favorite new bands. Listen to “Black Crows,” “Little Toy Gun,” “Give Yourself to Me,” and “Naughtiness of Me.”

21. Duffy: “Rockferry” Bursting onto the scene this year, Duffy is another throwback to the early 60s, with an interesting blend of neo-soul that includes “Mercy,” “Warwick Avenue,” and “Syrup & Honey.”

20. Jack Peñate: “Matinée” This 22-year-old South London songwriter is another of the year’s best new performers, combining inventive music and infectious lyrics. Songs include “Spit at Stars,” “Have I Been a Fool,” “Torn On the Platform,” and “Second, Minute or Hour.”

19. Raphael Saadiq: “The Way I See It” Formerly with Tony! Toni! Toné!, this album could have been recorded in the 60s, but then it wouldn’t have included performances by Joss Stone and Jay-Z. Tracks include “100 Yard Dash,” “Love that Girl,” and “Never Give Up.”

18. Josh Kelley: “Special Company” Talk about prolific, Josh Kelley released three albums in 2008—“Special Company,” “To Remember,” and “Backwoods.” All are good, but the best is “Special Company,” featuring 14 songs including “Unfair” and “Fallin in Love With You.”

17. Maiysha: “This Much Is True:” She didn’t show up on most critics’ radar, but this is one of the best new R&B artists and one of the many new performers coming from Brooklyn these days. Pay attention to “Over My Head,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “Hold Me,” and “Matter of Pride.”

16. Beck: “Modern Guilt” One of music’s most interesting and influential artists, Beck seems to be getting more prolific with age, and always worth hearing. On this release, some gems include “Chemtrails,” “Orphan,” “Modern Guilt,” and “Profanity Prayers.”

15. Gnarls Barkley: “The Odd Couple” Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse are indeed an odd couple, but only because they continue to redefine modern soul, with songs like “Who's Gonna Save My Soul,” “Going On,” and “Run (I'm a Natural Disaster).”

14. In the Heights (Original Cast Recording) With music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, this Wesleyan-conceived musical is truly the best that Broadway has to offer, featuring Latin-rhythm songs like “It Won't Be Long Now,” “When You're Home,” and “The Club.”

13. Kate Nash: “Made of Bricks” This Irish Londoner combined theatrical tendencies with playful tunes to make one of the year’s most enjoyable song collections, including “Foundations,” “Mouthwash,” “Skeleton Song,” and “Merry Happy.”

12. Ben Sollee: “Learning to Bend” The only cellist on this list, Ben Sollee makes really good music and plays it really well. I love “How to See the Sun Rise,” “It's Not Impossible,” and a wonderful version of the all-time classic and this year’s post-election ballad, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

11. The Autumn Isles: “Wish Lists & Sunken Lands” Hailing from Perth in Western Australia, the Autumn Isles recorded this seven-song gem that reminds me of vintage Beatles/Beach Boys. This is one where I say to buy the whole album, which includes “It’s Been a While,” “A Gift to You,” and “Love's Not a Thing.”

10. Usher: “Here I Stand” Usher Raymond is a very talented artist, and on this album, he shows why he’s at the top of the R&B charts, with a combination of ballads and dance tunes that will warm your soul. They include “Love In This Club” “Moving Mountains,” “Here I Stand,” and “Hush.”

9. The Raconteurs: “Consolers of the Lonely” Fronted by Jack White and Brendan Benson, the Raconteurs have carved a special niche in the alternative rock world—one that combines well-written songs and outstanding musicianship. This list of gems includes “Old Enough,” “You Don't Understand Me,” “Many Shades of Black,” and the title track.

8. Jenny Lewis, “Acid Tongue” Most famous for fronting the superb band, Rilo Kiley, Lewis lets her amazing vocal talents and singing style shine on this solo effort, featuring “Trying My Best to Love You,” “Sing a Song for Them,” and “Pelican Bay.”

7. Beyoncé: “I Am... Sasha Fierce” How can you not love Beyoncé Knowles? She’s one of the world’s biggest stars, yet she continues to stretch the limits with efforts like this 19-song effort that showcases the two sides of her personality—the beauty in the ballads and the wild woman waiting to dance. Don’t miss “If I Were a Boy,” “Ave Maria,” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”

6. Death Cab for Cutie: “Narrow Stairs” I used to think of them as the other band fronted by the Postal Service’s singer/guitarist Ben Gibbard, but with this release, Death Cab for Cutie came into its own. A complete effort, this album features “I Will Possess Your Heart,” “No Sunlight,” “Grapevine Fires” and “Long Division.”

5. Forgive Durden: “Razia's Shadow: A Musical” If it wasn’t for the annoying and unnecessary narration, this might have been my #1 album of 2008. As it is, the complex music and terrific singing by a slew of artists from other bands make this an album worth having. It includes “Genesis,” “Life Is Looking Up,” “It's True Love,” and “The End and the Beginning.”

4. Of Montreal: “Skeletal Lamping” This indie rock group gets better with every album, and Skeletal Lamping is their best effort to date, conjuring images of young Queen and Bowie. All the songs are great, but among the standouts are “Nonpareil of Favor,” “For Our Elegant Caste,” and “An Eluardian Instance.”

3. Adele: “19” London’s Adele Adkins is the best of this year’s new crop of white soul artists. At first overlooked because she doesn’t have movie-star looks, Adele has wowed critics and audiences alike and will doubtless be a fixture on the scene in the coming years. Among her wonderful repertoire are “Hometown Glory,” “Best for Last,” “Chasing Pavements,” and “Make You Feel My Love.”

2. TV On the Radio: “Dear Science” Brooklyn’s best band takes disparate sounds like electronic, punk, and soul music and mixes them into something special and new, which is hard to do in this world of sameness. Each track is wonderful, and they include “Crying,” “Dancing Choose,” “Shout Me Out,” and “Red Dress.”

1. Vampire Weekend: “Vampire Weekend” The year’s best album is the debut of this New York band that uses African rhythms to back a superb array of songs that make you want to dance, sing, and enjoy music as it is meant to be enjoyed. These infectious tunes include “The Kids Don't Stand a Chance,” “Walcott (Insane Mix),” “Oxford Comma,” “A-Punk,” “Mansard Roof,” and “One (Blake’s Got a New Face).”

The following deserve Honorable Mention (alphabetically by artist):

The Academy Is...: “Fast Times At Barrington High”
Air Traffic: “Fractured Life”
The Airborne Toxic Event: “The Airborne Toxic Event”
Akon: “Freedom”
Alamance: “Moving On”
Alanis Morissette: “Flavors of Entanglement”
Albert Hammond, Jr.: “Como Te Llama?”
Alkaline Trio: “Agony & Irony”
The All-American Rejects: “When the World Comes Down”
All Day Sucker: “The Big Pretend”
American Princes: “Other People”
Anathallo: “Canopy Glow”
Annuals: “Such Fun”
Army of Freshmen: “Above the Atmosphere”
Baldwin Drive: “Orange & Black”
Blind Pilot: “3 Rounds and a Sound”
Bodies of Water: “Ears Will Pop & Eyes Will Blink”
Brendan James: “The Day Is Brave”
Broadway Calls: “Broadway Calls”
Charlotte Sometimes: “Waves And The Both of Us”
City and Colour: “Bring Me Your Love”
Counting Crows: “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings”
Delta Spirit: “Ode to Sunshine”
Dwele: “Sketches of a Man”
Ed Harcourt: “The Beautiful Lie”
Elisa: “Dancing”
Elvis Costello: “Momofuku”
The Fratellis: “Here We Stand”
Gabriel Kahane: “Gabriel Kahane”
Hilary McRae: “Through These Walls”
The Hold Steady: “Stay Positive”
The Hoosiers: “The Trick to Life”
The Horror the Horror: “Wired Boy Child”
Inara George & Van Dyke Parks: “An Invitation”
Irma Thomas: “Simply Grand”
Jakob Dylan: “Seeing Things”
James Morrison: “Songs for You, Truths for Me”
Janelle Monae: “Metropolis: the Chase Suite”
Jason Mraz: “We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things”
Joe Jackson: “Rain”
John Legend: “Evolver”
Joshua Radin: “Simple Times”
Katy Perry: “One of the Boys”
Kerli: “Love Is Dead”
The Kooks: “Konk”
Kylie Minogue: “X”
Leona Lewis: “Spirit”
Los Campesinos!: “Hold On Now, Youngster...”
Low vs. Diamond: “Low vs. Diamond”
Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s: “Animal!”
Marié Digby: “Unfold”
Mates of State: “Re-Arrange Us”
The Morning Light: “The Morning Light”
The Mountain Goats: “Heretic Pride”
My Baby Wants to Eat Your P***y: “Ignorance & Vision”
Ne-Yo: “Year of the Gentleman”
News At Six: “What Startling News”
Newton Faulkner: “Hand Built By Robots”
Nickelback: “Dark Horse”
O.A.R.: “All Sides”
Obi Best: “Capades”
The Offspring: “Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace”
Okkervil River: “The Stand Ins”
P!nk: “Funhouse”
Panic At the Disco: “Pretty. Odd.”
Passing Strange (Original Broadway Cast)
R.E.M.: “Accelerate”
Ra Ra Riot: “The Rhumb Line”
Rachel Zylstra: “Before You Could Decide”
Ray LaMontagne: “Gossip In the Grain”
Rehab For Quitters: “Ladies and Gentlemen, Rehab for Quitters”
The Republic Tigers: “Keep Color”
SafetySuit: “Life Left to Go”
Sam Phillips: “Don't Do Anything”
Secondhand Serenade: “A Twist In My Story”
Shoshana Bean: “Superhero”
Snow Patrol: “A Hundred Million Suns”
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin: “Pershing”
Sparks: “Exotic Creatures of the Deep”
T-Pain: “Thr33 Ringz”
These Modern Socks: “Picking a Lock At the Speed of Light”
Tilly and the Wall: “O”
The Virgins: “The Virgins”
Waves On Waves: “Waves On Waves”
We Are Scientists: “Brain Thrust Mastery”
The Week That Was: “The Week That Was”
Weezer: “Weezer (Red)”
What Made Milwaukee Famous: “What Doesn't Kill Us”
The White Tie Affair: “Walk This Way”
The Wombats: “A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why the Yankees Should Keep Winning the World Series

As a Red Sox fan, this is a difficult article to write, but I believe that, for the time being, it is in the best interests of Major League Baseball that the New York Yankees win the World Series—this year, next year, and as long as it takes. “As long as it takes for what?” you wonder.

The figures I shall cite are from CBS Sports. As of 2010, the Yankees spend more than $206 million on payroll. The Boston Red Sox, which had the fourth highest payroll in 2009, have added nearly $30 million in 2010 to vault into second place ($162 million) on the payroll list, still almost $44 million less than the Yankees. At the bottom of the list is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who spend less than $35 million. In fact, if you total the four lowest-paying teams, it would come to less than $180 million—still $26 million less than the Yankees.

So, the fact is that within the “Major Leagues,” (American and National combined) there are actually three sub-leagues:

• The Slightly-Better-Than-Minor League (the ten teams that each pay less than $70 million, and have no chance of winning a World Series).
• The Almost-There League (the seven teams that pay between $70-90 million and may make the playoffs but have little chance of winning a World Series).
• The True-Major League (the 14 teams who spend more than $90 million and have won the last six World Series). In truth, aside from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006, all of the other recent World Series winners now spend more than $100 million.

So, let me return to my initial point—it is in the best interests of Major League Baseball that the New York Yankees win the World Series, as long as it takes to institute a salary cap. The people in Pittsburgh, San Diego, Oakland, Texas, and Florida, who until 2003 (the Marlins) had an actual opportunity to compete, now have absolutely no chance of celebrating a World Series victory. In truth, they should start boycotting baseball games (if they haven’t already) so the league will be forced to deal with empty stadia and waning interest in “America’s game.”

A salary cap is in the best interests of the fans, the league, and eventually the players. It works in football and basketball, where teams from Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and San Antonio have all celebrated recent championships. It helps to control costs, so average people can afford to attend an occasional game. It maintains the integrity of the league, so every team actually has a chance to beat any other team. It helps great players to win championships without making them defect to higher-paying teams.

So, while I’ll continue to root for the Red Sox on a daily basis, I’m rooting for the Yankees to win the World Series until everyone associated with the sport throws up their hands and says “Enough!”