Top Ten ‘The Who’ Songs (And Album Rankings)

The Who are my favorite band. By a lot. According to my last.fm, I have listened to The Who over three times more than my second most listened to band (The Doors). The Who can do almost no wrong with me. All their albums until the death of Keith Moon are all classics. While I clearly was not around for their live shows, they have the reputation for being the best live band of all time. After doing the next best thing and listening to their live performances online I have to agree. They take some amazing studio songs and bring them to life on the stage. So here are my ten favorite The Who songs. This is not to be confused with their best songs, just my favorites.

10) Heat Wave- This is one of the “least” Who songs on the album. It doesn’t seem to fit in with their typical sound as it clearly is a simple pop song. But it’s too catchy to not listen to over and over again.

9) The Real Me- John Enthwistle’s best bass performance and their best opening to an album when it follows I Am the Sea.

8) The Acid Queen- A track of their Tommy album, this song is best when played live. It’s one of the songs I continually get stuck in my head so I have to listen over and over again.

7) Pinball Wizard- I didn’t think I’d put this on the list, but I always get geeked up when it’s played on the radio and it’s arguably their most catchy and fun song. Also, the first song I almost kinda learned how to play on guitar.

6) Who Are You- This is the song that got me hooked in The Who in the first place, so it gets bonus points for that.

5) Behind Blue Eyes- Of all their popular songs, this is my favorite. Very catchy intro by Townshend and I love the build up to the hard hitting part of the song. It’s also a meaningful song to Townshend.

4) We’re Not Gonna Take It/See Me, Feel Me, Live at Woodstock- Any live performance of this is great but I think their Woodstock version is the best. This song live is way better than the studio version. Yes, it’s repetitive, but the live version has so much energy and emotion that it’s impossible not to love.

3) A Quick One, While He’s Away- I just love this song. It’s long, yes, but well worth it. The last section of the “opera” with chants of “You are forgiven” make the song.

2) Young Man Blues, Live at the Isle of Wight- This song is The Who at their best. A perfect fusion of their blues roots and hard rock energy. Their hardest, fastest song with arguably Townshend’s top solo work.

1) Magic Bus- By far my favorite Who song. Once I heard the Live at Leeds version, it might have become my favorite song of all-time.

Just Missed the Cut…

I’m One, Love Reign O’er Me, However Much I Booze, The Quiet One, Going Mobile, Pure and Easy, Whiskey Man, Armenia City in the Sky, I Can See For Miles and many more.

Top Albums

1) Live at Isle of Wight- Their best live performance. People often take Leeds, but I prefer this live concert because the energy is much higher.

2) Who’s Next- This album was a plan B for them. Every song is great.

3) Quadrophenia- The best album from a technical stand point. The production and quality is their best by far.

4) A Quick One- Very strange and simple album, but it works.

5) Tommy- The studio album is just alright. But when played live it’s amazing.

6) The Who By Numbers- Their most underrated and overlooked piece of work.

7) The Who Sell Out- The band’s first foray into a concept album.

8) My Generation- A low ranking but it easily could have been 4 or 5 for me.

9) Who Are You- Lowest rank in the Moon era and it still produced some all-time classics.

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The New York Yankees Dire Situation

As most baseball fans are well aware of, the New York Yankees have had quasi-mandate of reaching a $189mil or below payroll for the 2014. The reason being that they will be under the luxury cap and their tax rate will reset. If they do not meet that threshold the team will face a tax rate of 50% for every dollar they are over $189million. 50% seems pretty absurd and without looking at other factors, it seems fiscally sound of New York to cut down to a “low” $189mil payroll if it means avoiding a 50% tax rate.

Meanwhile, the current roster in the Bronx isn’t looking too pretty. Their current lineup looks like:

C- Austin Romine

1b- Mark Teixeira

2b- David Adams

3b- Eduardo Nunez

SS- Derek Jeter

LF- Alfonso Soriano

CF- Brett Gardner

RF- Ichiro Suzuiki

DH- Vernon Wells

And a staff of CC, Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Ivan Nova, and one of Vidal Nuno, David Huff, and Brett Marshall.

According to RLYW that would be a 63-99 team. Yikes.

Obviously bringing back Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson and signing Tanaka from Japan would up that projected win total. But would that bring them above the $189mil threshold? The Yankees already have $89.025 mil tied in 2014 contracts. If you bring Robbie back at $30mil a year that goes up to about $119mil. Throw in a Qualifying Offer for Granderson and Kuroda and that jumps to about $147mil. Those three additions would probably add about 11 wins to the Yankees projected win total- so we’re looking at about a 74 win team now. So with another $40mil they need to find about 16 more wins to be a Wild Card contender. They would also need to cover 9 players in arbitration, which could potentially add up to at least $20mil without adding any additional wins to their projected win total. Granted they could gain $26mil if Alex Rodriguez is suspended, but as a GM you can’t go into the off-season assuming or planning on a suspension. Moreover, even if he is suspended the team would still have a projected $40-$50mil to add about 16 wins. That is a good share of money, but I’m not sure it’s enough to another 16 wins- especially when you look at the F.A. market. Essentially, things are looking very bleak in the borough.

So what should the Yankees do? Meet and the payroll limit and reset their tax rate at the expense of a winning roster or screw the tax rate and grow the payroll above $200mil.

Vince Gennaro of Diamond Dollars has an answer.

Without access to Yankee financial information, it is difficult to project the financial implications of being non-competitive vs. competitive. I have always maintained that the Yankees have more to lose (than any other team in baseball), by failing to be a perennial playoff team. Their entire business model, including their pricing structure is built around being among the best teams in baseball and having more than a fair share of the games biggest stars on their roster. Along with their storied legacy, being the the best team in baseball (or at least in the discussion) is their identity. Given my research and analysis devoted to understanding the relationship between on-field performance and revenues, as well as my experience assessing the motivations and perspectives of fans, I would estimate that a two or three-year run of winning a respectable 85 games per year could cost the Yankees between $50 and $100 million in revenue per season. Add in the impact of the decline in market value of their assets–the franchise, their stake in the YES Network, etc.–and the financial penalty for failing to maintain excellence gets real big, quickly.

Vince argues that being a mediocre team for the next few seasons will hurt the Yankees more financially than a large luxury tax. This makes sense for a couple of reasons. First, unless the Yankees plan to stay under $189mil for some time then they will be paying an exuberant amount of luxury taxes in the near future anyway. Secondly, as mentioned the Yankees business is based on their winning legacy. With YES the Yankees have a Regional Sports Network (RSN). Instead of being paid a fixed rate per season for TV rights, the Yankees make money through YES based on TV ratings. If you’re a good team and get great TV ratings you can make a fortune with a RSN. YES Network is currently valued at $3bil which is more than the actual Yankees franchise is valued. But if the Yankees become a mediocre team than TV ratings will fall and YES will lose value which would cost the Yankees more than a luxury tax. In fact, TV ratings were down 30% in 2013 from 2012. Attendance is also on the downward swing and luxury suites aren’t selling which is killing the team as well.

What is the best solution to the above problems? Winning. How can the Yankees win in the near future? Spend money. While it is a must to develop a strong farm system to compliment a well-paid ML level team (ie Boston) to keep a team continually competitive, you can add wins to your team by acquiring quality players in the free agent market if you can afford it. The Yankees can afford it. In the game today the free agent market isn’t what it used to be. Although there are couple free agents this year- Robinson Cano, Brian McCann, and Shin-soo Choo come to mind- most star players are extended by their parent clubs, who buyout free agency years. To offset this a team like New York can be aggressive in the international market. Players such as Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, and Yu Darvish have been bought relatively cheap in this market.

If the Yankees want to protect their brand, remain financially strong, and field a competitive baseball team I believe there is only one option the team can take in 2014- screw the tax threshold and shell out the dollars to field a 90+ win team. As Al Davis once said, “Just win, baby”.

In Part II and III I will look at what a possible Robinson Cano contract should look like and what my off-season plans for New York would look like.

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Matt Stairs HOF’er

Here is a post Beer Leaguer put up earlier today. It details Matt Stairs- his career, his time in Philadelphia, and his Hall of Fame chances. Citing Bill James:

Look at it. Somebody decided he was a second baseman, he tears through the minor leagues, gets to Montreal, the Expos take one look at him and say, ‘He’s no second baseman, get real.’ He bounces around, goes to Japan, doesn’t really get to play until he’s almost 30, then hits 38 homers, slips into a part-time role and hits 15-20 homers every year for 10 years in about 250 at-bats a season. … You put him in the right park, right position early in his career … he’s going to hit a LOT of bombs.

Moreover, James also dug up this:

Stairs’s career numbers are essentially the same as Reggie Jackson’s (.262, .356, .490). All of his numbers trump those of Roger Maris. Other players with comparable numbers include Bobby Bonds, Frank Howard, Dwight Evans, Dale Murphy and Greg Luzinski. Nobody confuses those ballplayers with the ordinary.

This was first the time I heard he was a former second basemen. It’s pretty interesting to look at his career path and see that if he took a different route to Montreal (played outfield instead of second) he could have earned a full-time role early in his career.

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Don Matttingly’s Black Hole in Center field

I have been wondering this all season but does anyone know why Andre Ethier and Skip Schumaker start in center field for the LA Dodgers?

First, Andre Ethier is a bad defender. He’s never posted a positive defensive season according to advanced fielding metrics. UZR in particular does not like him and he has had a couple seasons where the glove alone has cost the team two wins. The astounding part? THIS WAS IN RIGHT FIELD!!! So Don Mattingly wants to take a poor, aging corner outfielder and move them to center- makes sense (sarcasm).

When Ethier isn’t in center field, Skip Schumaker is. Awesome baseball name aside, Skip Schumaker is a 33 year old who until this season has logged more innings at second than in the outfield. Moreover, Schumaker, much like Ethier, has never been a good defender. Essentially, Mattingly has platooned a bad defensive right fielder and a below average fielding second baseman in center field. Surely there must be a reason to this madness. No one in their right mind would do something like this unless it was a last resort.

Well, guess again. Playing the corner outfield spots for LA are Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig. Carl Crawford is a gold glove caliber fielder who should have been moved from left to center many years ago. Yasiel Puig is a Cuban phenom who can cover ground and has a rocket for an arm.

My only guess as to why neither is playing center field is because neither has “experience” in that position. But Ethier and Schumaker do not either. It makes much more sense to put your gold glove caliber fielders in that slot, and hide Ethier or Schumaker in left or right.

In fact, this may have been a reason why LA lost Game 1 of the NLCS. On Carlos Beltran’s game winning double Ethier quite couldn’t make a leaping grab at the fence for it. Now, it was a tough play and Beltran smoked the ball. But had Crawford or Puig been in center field they very well could have got the spot where the ball was landing faster than and more efficiently than Ethier, which would have allowed for the ball to possibly be caught.

 

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Mike Matheny cost the Cardinals NLDS Game 3?

It’s the bottom of the eighth. The Cardinals just tied the game in the top of the eighth with a home run, off of a pitcher who last allowed a home run on April 14. The Pirates are sending up their 3-4-5 hitters: Andrew McCutchen, Justin Morneau, and Marlon Byrd.

Think about that situation. Who would you most want pitching in that situation?

In real time, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny allowed Carlos Martinez to face all three batters. The result? Double, fielders choice, walk. Two runners on, one out. It was at this time Matheny finally went to the bullpen and brought in Siegrest to face Pedro Alvarez.

Now, I don’t want to put Martinez down. He was good out of the pen this year and is a promising arm. But with this was a giant situation in the game. You give up and a run and you’re just three outs from losing. You go to your best relief pitcher in this situation. On the bench was Trevor Rosenthal who had a 1.91 FIP in over 70 innings. Rosenthal by and far has been the Cards best relief this season. When it comes to the three true outcomes, he is a master of them all- lots of strikeouts, few walks and home runs. Moreover, in a tight situation like that, Rosenthal seems to be the better option for those playing the “experience card”. Rosenthal is a rookie who had pLI of under 1 this year, whereas Rosenthal’s stood at 1.56. He has been used in more high pressure situations and has come through before.

So, did Mike Matheny’s bullpen management cost the Cardinals game three? We’ll never know for sure, but he certainly didn’t help their chances to win game three.

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‘Cutch for MVP

Last night the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds to win their first playoff game since I was a year old. Francisco Liriano pitched a great game and Russell Martin nailed two homers. But without Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates do not even get the chance to make the postseason.

Andrew McCutchen has been an MVP caliber the past couple seasons, but he elevated his game in 2013. His fWAR and bWAR are both 8.2, which leads the National League on fangraphs and is second to Carlos Gomez on baseball-reference. How did he get there?

1) Continuing to rake at the plate. People think of McCutchen as a good average hitter, but what’s a good average hitter if they don’t get on base? McCutchen truly is a special hitter because he can get on base. His .404 OBP was the second .400+ OBP of his career. He slugged over .500 again and had a 155 wRC+ (aka he was 55% better than average!). His BB rate is in double figures at 11.6% and he brought his K rate down to 15%, well below the league average. So we have a guy who can hit, be selective and get on base, and doesn’t strike out too much.

2) Defense. Although we are only going of a one year sample size, defensive metrics say his defense is much improved from 2012. His UZR climbed from -8.8 to 6.9. DRS saw him go from -5 to 7. So both figures agree that his defense- mainly his range- improved in 2013.

3) Base running. Yes, McCutchen has always posted good base running values. But even something as simple as his SB% has improved. He went from 63% to 73%. While 73% isn’t great, it’s still sufficient in most base stealing situations.

So we have a guy who can hit, who can field, and can run. That sounds like the whole package to me. And when he puts the whole package together at the same time, we get someone who can put up an 8.2 WAR- a figure that two different WAR frameworks can agree upon.

Why not anyone else?

While WAR is not the be all-end all, it’s a significant aspect of my decision when you consider that McCutchen accumulated a win or two more than most of the serious MVP contenders. Matt Carpenter posted a great year- but he had a lower OBP, SLG, etc. Joey Votto had another great year and outhit McCutchen in certain categories. But he played first base which hurts his value a little bit.

In the end McCutchen was the most valuable player to his team. I think that MVPs can come from last place teams if they had a player that produced more value to that team, than a winning team. In this case, ‘Cutch played a 90+ win team. But without him, this team doesn’t win 90 games. It may not even finish .500. I think it’s a safe argument that McCutchen’s 8.2 wins was worth a lot more in Pittsburgh than Carpenter’s 7 in St. Louis.

The Pirates are finally playing in October. Fans, you oughta be thanking your MVP.

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Ichiro collects 4000th career hit

Ichiro is a Hall of Fame player and it was cool to see him collect professional hit number 4000 in a Yankee uniform- in the Bronx no less. Now, he did collect 1000+ of the hits in Japan, so this is more of a Warren Moon with 70000 passing yards type deal. But it’s still amazing Ichiro has almost 3000 MLB hits when his MLB debut was at age 27.

One thing I do want to point though- postseason stats should count! No one ever thinks about adding one’s postseasons stats to their career numbers (unless they are amazing, ie Mariano Rivera, and people suddenly think it is okay to do so). The argument against it is that not everyone gets to be Derek Jeter making the playoffs every year (which would increase his odds of reaching 3000-4000 hits). But that’s life! You can’t take those hits away. If anything, the postseason is more important and could even be weighted a little bit because you are facing top tier competition in higher pressure situations.  Also, even if it does increase your chances of hitting more homers, hit or striking out more batters, it raises your IP and PA. That will be taken into account. You may add 10 homers to your career, but your HR rate could possibly take a dip.

My two cents anyway.

 

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