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    Published on: October 5, 2009

    In an extraordinary 4,800-word page one story yesterday, the New York Times offered a scathing look at the nation’s ground beef production processes and the seeming inability to rid the nation’s ground beef supply of the E. coli strain that sickens tens of thousands of people each year.

    The story is framed by the story of Stephanie Smith, a young Minnesota dance instructor who unwittingly ate a contaminated hamburger. At first, she “thought she had a stomach virus … Then her diarrhea turned bloody. Her kidneys shut down. Seizures knocked her unconscious. The convulsions grew so relentless that doctors had to put her in a coma for nine weeks. When she emerged, she could no longer walk. The affliction had ravaged her nervous system and left her paralyzed.” While the Times concedes that Smith’s reaction is extreme, it “shows why eating ground beef is still a gamble. Neither the system meant to make the meat safe, nor the meat itself, is what consumers have been led to believe.

    “Ground beef is usually not simply a chunk of meat run through a grinder. Instead, records and interviews show, a single portion of hamburger meat is often an amalgam of various grades of meat from different parts of cows and even from different slaughterhouses. These cuts of meat are particularly vulnerable to E. coli contamination, food experts and officials say. Despite this, there is no federal requirement for grinders to test their ingredients for the pathogen.

    “The frozen hamburgers that the Smiths ate, which were made by the food giant Cargill, were labeled ‘American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.’ Yet confidential grinding logs and other Cargill records show that the hamburgers were made from a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps that were ground together at a plant in Wisconsin. The ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria.

    “Using a combination of sources — a practice followed by most large producers of fresh and packaged hamburger — allowed Cargill to spend about 25 percent less than it would have for cuts of whole meat.”

    The story needs to be read in full, and a link is provided below; it is almost impossible to convey the seriousness of the situation described by the Times in digest form. However, here are some excerpts from the story…each of which seems more alarming that the one before it:

    • “Cargill, like most meat companies, relies on its suppliers to check for the bacteria and does its own testing only after the ingredients are ground together. The United States Department of Agriculture, which allows grinders to devise their own safety plans, has encouraged them to test ingredients first as a way of increasing the chance of finding contamination.

    “Unwritten agreements between some companies appear to stand in the way of ingredient testing. Many big slaughterhouses will sell only to grinders who agree not to test their shipments for E. coli, according to officials at two large grinding companies. Slaughterhouses fear that one grinder’s discovery of E. coli will set off a recall of ingredients they sold to others.”

    • “Food scientists have registered increasing concern about the virulence of this pathogen since only a few stray cells can make someone sick, and they warn that federal guidance to cook meat thoroughly and to wash up afterward is not sufficient. A test by The Times found that the safe handling instructions are not enough to prevent the bacteria from spreading in the kitchen.”

    • “The meat industry treats much of its practices and the ingredients in ground beef as trade secrets. While the Department of Agriculture has inspectors posted in plants and has access to production records, it also guards those secrets. Federal records released by the department through the Freedom of Information Act blacked out details of Cargill’s grinding operation that could be learned only through copies of the documents obtained from other sources. Those documents illustrate the restrained approach to enforcement by a department whose missions include ensuring meat safety and promoting agriculture markets.”

    • “The surge in outbreaks since 2007 has led to finger-pointing within the industry. Dennis R. Johnson, a lobbyist for the largest meat processors, has said that not all slaughterhouses are looking hard enough for contamination. He told USDA officials last fall that those with aggressive testing programs typically find E. coli in as much as 1 percent to 2 percent of their trimmings, yet some slaughterhouses implicated in outbreaks had failed to find any.

    “At the same time, the meat processing industry has resisted taking the onus on itself. An Agriculture Department survey of more than 2,000 plants taken after the Cargill outbreak showed that half of the grinders did not test their finished ground beef for E. coli; only 6 percent said they tested incoming ingredients at least four times a year.”

    • “The retail giant Costco is one of the few big producers that tests trimmings for E. coli before grinding, a practice it adopted after a New York woman was sickened in 1998 by its hamburger meat, prompting a recall.

    “Craig Wilson, Costco’s food safety director, said the company decided it could not rely on its suppliers alone … Costco said it had found E. coli in foreign and domestic beef trimmings and pressured suppliers to fix the problem. But even Costco, with its huge buying power, said it had met resistance from some big slaughterhouses. ‘Tyson will not supply us,’ Mr. Wilson said. ‘They don’t want us to test’.”

    • “The meat processing industry has resisted taking the onus on itself. An Agriculture Department survey of more than 2,000 plants taken after the Cargill outbreak showed that half of the grinders did not test their finished ground beef for E. coli; only 6 percent said they tested incoming ingredients at least four times a year.

    “In October 2007, the agency issued a notice recommending that processors conduct at least a few tests a year to verify the testing done by slaughterhouses. But after resistance from the industry, the department allowed suppliers to run the verification checks on their own operations … In an October 2008 letter to the department, the American Association of Meat Processors said the proposed guideline departed from USDA's strategy of allowing companies to devise their own safety programs, ‘thus returning to more of the agency’s ‘command and control’ mind-set.’

    “Dr. Kenneth Petersen, an assistant administrator with the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, said that the department could mandate testing, but that it needed to consider the impact on companies as well as consumers. ‘I have to look at the entire industry, not just what is best for public health,’ Dr. Petersen said.”

    The entire story can be read here:
    KC's View:
    It is almost impossible to know where to begin … except to say one cannot read this piece without having considerably less enthusiasm for hamburgers than before. Before long, Oprah Winfrey no doubt will be saying (again) that she’ll never eat another hamburger.

    The problem is that there are just so many failures here. It seems clear that the beef industry has failed to live up to the public trust by doing everything and anything it can to assure that the meat it produces is safe. And the government has allowed the industry to dictate the terms by which safety is determined, thus allowing enormous holes in the system to be formed. (It is appalling that the assistant administrator isn’t making public health as his sole priority.)

    There is a failure among consumers, who seem not to take this problem very seriously and don't do everything possible to eliminate the problem in their own kitchens (though, to be fair, the article makes clear that there are limits to what consumers can do, and that even sufficient cooking doesn’t solve the whole problem).

    It also seems clear from the article that the beef industry and the government have decided among them that transparency is to be avoided at all costs…and if so, then they deserve whatever they get.

    While reading the story, I could not help but think about irradiation – the process that, to my understanding, basically eliminates E. coli. But for a lousy name, perhaps irradiation would be used throughout the industry today, and this public health problem would be far less serious.

    This situation is outrageous. In its own way, it seems as bad as the transgressions at the Peanut Corp. of America, where management consciously sent out contaminated peanut butter because to do otherwise would be to take a financial hit.

    There ought to be one, and only one, priority for the industry and the government: public safety.

    That’s the bottom line. And besides, without consumers who trust the people who make and sell food, there will be no bottom line. And that’s bad for business.

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    Interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend called “The Conscience of a Capitalist,” looking at Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. While the piece begins with a discussion of his recent Journal op-ed piece about health care – which created some controversy because he was dismissive of the Obama administration’s priorities, a position that outraged liberals who thought the founder of their favorite grocery store was more in tune with their political leanings – it also explores some of Mackey’s opinions on other issues.

    Regarding his health care essay, Mackey says, "I honestly don't know why the article became such a lightning rod. I think a lot of people who got angry haven't read what I actually wrote. There was a lot of emotional reaction—fear and anger. I just wanted to get people to think about whether there was a better way to reform the system … President Obama called for constructive suggestions for health-care reform. I took him at his word … It just seems to me there are some fundamental reforms that we've adopted at Whole Foods that would make health care much more affordable for the uninsured … I regret the controversy that it caused for Whole Foods, but I don't regret writing it, because I think what I said is true and it needed to be said. I wasn't seeing anyone else saying it."

    According to the story, “Mr. Mackey says that combining ‘our high deductible plan (patients pay for the first $2,500 of medical expenses) with personal wellness accounts or health savings accounts works extremely well for us.’ He estimates the plan's premiums plus other costs at $2,100 per employee, and about $7,000 for a family. This is about half what other companies typically pay. ‘And,’ he is quick to add, ‘we do cover pre-existing conditions after one year of service.’

    “Whole Foods also puts several hundred dollars into a health savings account for each worker. This money can be used to cover routine medical expenses, like drug purchases or antismoking programs. If that money is not used in a year, the workers can save the money to pay for expenses in later years.

    The primary focus, Mackey says, is not just to make the system more affordable, but also make the people it in more accountable for their own health., something that he believes many of the current proposals ignore. "The assumption … is that people don't care about their own health, and that somebody else has to—a nanny or somebody has to take care of me because people are too stupid to make these decisions themselves. That's not been our experience. We find our team members [employees], not surprisingly, seem to care a whole lot about their health."

    While some liberals may find this to be anathema to their own positions, Macke also makes the case to the Journal about something he calls “conscious capitalism..” He describes it this way:

    “It means that business has the potential to have a deeper purpose. I mean, Whole Foods has a deeper purpose. Most of the companies I most admire in the world I think have a deeper purpose … I've met a lot of successful entrepreneurs. They all started their businesses not to maximize shareholder value or money but because they were pursuing a dream."

    He goes on: "I think that business has a noble purpose. It's not that there's anything wrong with making money. It's one of the important things that business contributes to society. But it's not the sole reason that businesses exist … just like every other profession, business serves society. They produce goods and services that make people's lives better. Doctors heal the sick. Teachers educate people. Architects design buildings. Lawyers promote justice. Whole Foods puts food on people's tables and we improve people's health … And we provide jobs. And we provide capital through profits that spur improvements in the world. And we're good citizens in our communities, and we take our citizenship very seriously at Whole Foods."
    KC's View:
    The discussion about whether Mackey should have written the piece for the Journal is an old one, and I don't want to reanimate it here. There are good arguments on either side, and since the company’s stock price is up over the past month, let’s assume for the moment that he didn’t do any catastrophic damage to Whole Food’s fortunes. It isn’t the only measurement, of course, and there is still some grumbling out there about boycotts…but Whole Foods and Mackey seem to have survived the controversy.

    There’s a lot that Mackey says about health care that makes a lot of sense, though I think it could be fairly argued that maybe Whole Foods’ employees are more motivated than most people to be accountable for their own physical well-being. That said, I think that people should have skin in the game – your insurance should be lower if you take better care of yourself. Of course, there should be exceptions, and insurance companies should be forced to cover pre-existing conditions and prevented from throwing people out of their plans when they get sick.

    I suspect that a lot of American citizens are like me at this point – they are confused and frustrated by all the debate and argument, and suspect that when it all is done, things are going to be a bigger mess than before the debate began. And yet, most of also feel that while our health care system is a good one, our insurance system is lousy…and that something needs to be done about that to make sure that people who want to be covered are covered, and that people aren’t being bankrupted by health care costs.

    To be honest, I have no idea how to get there. But my sense is that with all the debate going on in Washington and elsewhere, we’re not really getting closer to a solution that is going to solve the real problems.

    As for “conscious capitalism,” I agree with Mackey that the companies and businesspeople I tend to admire are the ones who seem to have a vision or a dream…not the ones who pursue the buck for the sake of a buck. Those also tend to be the companies that have bred innovation into their cultures. There is much to be admired there.

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    Time Inc. reportedly is creating a consortium of magazine publishers, including Conde Nast and Hearst, to develop a digital newsstand that will deliver content from their various magazines to e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and charge for it in a variety of formulations. Newspapers could also be part of this consortium, according to some reports.

    Such a digital newsstand would looks to solve a number of problems for publishers that have seen their revenues plummet as more and more people get their information from the Internet, and as advertisers look to shift their marketing dollars to media perceived as being more relevant. By charging for content – something that most magazines and newspapers have found can be a challenge in an environment where people expect information to be free – and by marshalling their titles in the same way that Apple did with music, movies and television programs in its iTunes store – the publishers hope to put themselves sin charge of their own destiny…and avoid having a third party (like Apple) come in and dictate a business model to them.

    According to a Reuters story on the subject, “A formal announcement of the venture could come within a month, and the service is expected to launch sometime next year, the source said, adding that many financial details still must be worked out.”
    KC's View:
    So in other words, if you are thinking about building a new periodicals section in your store, or expanding the one you have, it might make sense to think again…because it is possible that a lot of this business could be going away. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow…but soon. And it won’t be coming back.

    It annoys a bunch of you when I say this, but it is essentially the same process that eventually will make the physical video rental business obsolete – in cases where the product can be digitized and downloaded, it will be…and the physical product will be an anachronism and, eventually, a memory. (Note that the Wall Street Journal has a story saying that it is cutting back on its DVD sales displays. At least one of the reasons for this is that DVDs are going to go away.)

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    BrandWeek has an interview with drugstore chain Duane Reade’s acting chief marketing officer, Joe Jackman, who talks about the company’s launch of a new line of private brand packaged food products under the name of DR Delish. The new product introduction is part of the company’s broader, 18-month effort to rebrand itself in the minds of New York consumers, emphasizing the company’s local roots and connection to various neighborhoods.


    • “We’ve been reaching out to the vendor community and finding there is just a terrific interest in working with us, partly because we serve the needs of New Yorkers on a day to day basis and also, New York is an amazing place to launch new ideas and so, we’ve been busy working on products that satisfy those needs that consumers told us [they’re concerned about], which are healthier, tastier products, and ones that are interesting and offer great value.”

    • “We think the name says it all and so, this is a new brand that we just launched this past Saturday and today, it’s 25 items. By the holidays, it will be many, many more. Our focus was really on snacks and beverages and making them healthier. In some cases, [that included] things like gluten-free, no trans fat, reduced calories, natural ingredients - the areas or things we really focused on in our sampling with various customers and also ones that work inside our own business … We are building a private brand. We really wanted to stand out and be known as something that is outstanding by focusing on products in categories you can’t find in other places.”
    KC's View:
    Two things stand out in this interview.

    One, the notion that retailers these days cannot succeed by only offering the same items that the competition in selling – you’ve got to have products and services that differentiate you in the eyes of the shopper.

    Two, the way the Duane Reade is defining itself. It is interesting that as they look to expand their role in shoppers’ lives, they actually seem to be getting more focused about the items they offer, trying to assure whenever possible (at least with this private brand strategy) that they are in synch with the notion of being a drug store, a place that is focused on health. I recognize that this is an idea to which the company probably cannot show 100 percent fealty…but I like the idea of focus and expansion being part of the same strategy.

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    • The Financial Times reports that Tesco’s first significant advertising campaign for its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets in California “is likely to rekindle speculation that Tesco is gearing up to start expanding the lossmaking US chain again, after its assault on northern California was put on hold.

    “Tesco has continued to invest in sites in northern California, while it has also completed work on the structure of a distribution depot in an industrial park in Stockton that it will use to service new northern California stores when they open.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    The New York Times yesterday had an interview with Susan Lyne, currently the CEO of Gilt Groupe, an online luxury retailer, and formerly the president/CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and, before that, the president of ABC Entertainment.

    In it, she talks about one of her precepts of leadership: Office hours.

    “(It) was really triggered by a conversation I had with a young Silicon Valley executive, Marissa Mayer, who mentioned that she did office hours every week. She was a professor before she came to Google, and she kept office hours going, and she said it was a really useful way to kind of access the engineers’ real ideas. Not the ideas that come out of a meeting, but, ‘What are you excited about?’ And it sounded like an interesting concept to me. I do it now — I try to do it two hours a week, where anyone from our company can book half an hour with me.

    “It’s turned out to be a fantastic way to find out what’s bubbling under the surface and what’s not coming across to people. And a surprising number of people will book time with me who are significantly down the food chain. In some cases it’s because they want to have a little face time with me so that they can get noticed. But there’s always something that’s on their mind.

    “And when you are running a company it’s very hard to get below a certain level, maybe one level below your direct reports. It does give me a way to get to know people a little better that I pass in the hallway or I see in the Monday all-hands meeting. It’s also a great early-warning system for something that may be either misunderstood or a challenge within a department.”
    KC's View:
    I just thought this was a great idea, and worth passing along. Any leader can do it…and it may be one of those things that can help an executive make the leap from being a manager to be a real leader.

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    According to Sallie James, an agricultural trade policy analyst with the Cato Institute, the best way to get poor people to eat a more nutritious diet is to put Walmart in charge.

    That’s what she tells National Public Radio, at least. In an interview discussing why agricultural subsidies seem not to be making it economically feasible to give poor people access to healthier foods, she says:

    “What I'm suggesting is, it's not the best use of money. There is absolutely very little wrong with encouraging people to eat healthily. But what the problem is here, is poor people having access to fresh fruits and vegetables." Which is where Walmart comes in.

    "You allow Walmart to come into urban areas and provide cheaper fresh produce to people," James says. "The reality is they have a very good distribution network. They can get fresh produce into rural and exurban areas very well … I'm sure they'd love to provide produce to poor people, but often activists prevent that from happening."
    KC's View:
    Interesting notion. I’m not sure to what extent Walmart has made providing the elements of a healthy diet to urban neighborhoods a centerpiece of its campaigns to get into cities like New York and Chicago.

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    • Village Super Market reports that its fourth quarter profit was down three percent to $6.7 million, from $6.9 million during the same period a year ago, because of a $708,000 litigation charge. Q4 sales were up four percent to $310.9 million , on same-store sales that were up 4.3 percent.

    For the fiscal year just completed, earnings were up 21 percent to $27.3 million, and sales were up eight percent to $1.21 billion.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    I love it when I get email from MNB users who even want to comment on stories that haven't run on the site. For example, one MNB user wrote:

    In the newest Forbes 400 Wealthiest issue, received in the mail today, the following is said about Ron Burkle:

    "$3.2 bil, supermarkets, investments, Beverly Hills, 56. Grocer's son timing market impeccably. Nine months ago his Yucaipa funds paid $100 million for 6% stake in gourmet food chain Whole Foods, shares up 180% since. Joined union local as box boy at age 13. Formed investment firm Yucaipa 1986. Made fortune buying & selling supermarket chains: Fred Meyer, Jurgensen's, Ralphs. Hired Bill Clinton as advisor 2001; Clinton left last year to stump for wife Hilary. Recently acquired Icelandic cold storage & shipping company Eimskip."

    My projection, watch what is happening at A&P /Pathmark and Whole Foods for repeat of the past.

    It isn’t hard to imagine that he’s going to parlay his position in those two chains into a lot of profit…one way or the other.

    MNB reported last week that has reached a $150,000 settlement in a lawsuit filed by 17-year-old Justin Gawronski, who objected to Amazon’s decision to delete electronic copies of two books that it had been selling for its Kindle e-reader without actually having the rights. The deletions were made without the permission of the Kindle owners, and the move created outrage about the e-retailer’s ability to invade their privacy; others said it was akin to Barnes & Noble sneaking into people’s houses in the middle of the night to take back books that were the subject of copyright questions. Gawronski sued because he lost his electronic homework notes on the Orwell books along with the texts when Amazon deleted them.

    I commented:

    While I find Amazon’s behavior in this case to be outrageous, and it says positive things about the plaintiff that he is donating the money to charity, I do worry that he’s also learned another lesson – that litigiousness pays.

    MNB user Sandra Hannan disagreed:

    Congratulations to Justin Gawronski for using a very adult method of highlighting a growing problem of ‘electronic thieving’. Amazon got off easy, if all they have to pay is $150K for:

    1) Violating the original material copyright by distributing “1984” and “Animal Farm”.
    2) Stealing back the material which consumers believed they had purchased in a legal transaction.

    The ease of ‘sharing’ in our e-society has exacerbated intellectual property copyright problems. If our largest and most respected companies do not have an ethical conscience about protecting copyrights in this electronic age, how can I expect my daughter to believe me when I tell her transferring Lady Gaga’s newest hit to her friend’s iPod is illegal? And how can I expect her not to do it when ‘all her friends do it’ (with their parent’s knowledge no less).

    If Pepsi somehow was able to duplicate ‘Coke’ and sold it in a red can labeled ‘Coke’ would you blame Coke for suing? If yes, then you can honestly “worry that he’s also learned another lesson – that litigiousness pays” ; otherwise you should congratulate the kid for making Amazon change their policies, and hopefully be more responsible before distributing something in the future.

    I get your point, and am sympathetic. But I still think that litigiousness is a major problem in our society, and I wish that there were another way for a 15-year-old kid to resolve his issues.

    We noted last week that with its newest commercial promoting its Via instant coffee, Starbucks has managed to upset some conservatives.

    The reason? In portraying a number of groups – ranging from nurses to civil War re-enactors - that cannot tell the difference between Via and fresh brewed coffee, the commercial shows a town hall meeting and portrays one man yelling, irately, “I can't taste the difference!” Some conservative blogs reportedly are expressing outrage that Starbucks seems to be mocking the people who were speaking out – sometimes angrily – about health care reform at town hall sessions around the country this summer.

    My comment:

    It generally has been my experience that if you can’t laugh at yourself, you probably can't laugh any anything. And if you don't have a sense of humor…well, you probably aren’t worth spending a lot of time with. That goes for people on both sides of the aisle.

    One MNB user responded:

    I agree with you that we need to all laugh at ourselves. But surely you must admit there is some bias with the media in casting tax protesters and government healthcare protesters as "angry mobs" yet gay marriage and climate and anti war protesters over the last eight years are viewed as patriots. They are all patriots exercising their rights to debate the issues that are important to them. Starbucks would have never, never, never had a good laugh at the expense of any liberal protest group.

    But another MNB user wrote:

    Seems to me the Starbucks ad complainers should switch to decaf.

    In OffBeat on Friday, I wrote that not only are men apparently feeling the brunt of the recession, but there also are studies suggesting that they are earning fewer college degrees than women. And, I wrote:

    Now, I’m not entirely surprised by this, since it always has been my contention that women are smarter than men and better able to adapt. If we’re talking survival of the fittest, I’m generally willing to bet on women.

    I do find it amusing that the Tribune quotes Christina Hoff Sommers, described as an “anti-feminist scholar,” as saying that this trend could lead to “a lot of strong women and a lot of disaffected men," prone to crime and unable to form stable families. Because while men may not be as smart as women, that doesn’t mean that we will descend into depravity and chaos if we live in a female-dominated society.

    I also find it amusing that some people think that we are close to actually becoming a female-dominated society. There may be more women in the workplace and more women completed college, but that doesn’t mean that there is a sudden and profound power shift taking place. Far from it. And suggesting that one is taking place is probably a way for men to convince themselves that they are victims. Which is utter nonsense.

    And by the way…I have one daughter. I hope she’s a feminist. We’ve raised her that way. (It seems to be working. She even gets annoyed when I refer to something as a “chick flick.”)

    And I hope my two sons are feminists, too. Because that will only mean that they respect strong women, enjoy relationships with strong women, and don’t engage in old-world beliefs about the superiority of one gender over another.

    MNB user Cale Evans wrote:

    I’m struggling to reconcile two comments from you that appeared just 3 paragraphs away from each other:

    “it always has been my contention that women are smarter than men and better able to adapt. If we’re talking survival of the fittest, I’m generally willing to bet on women.”

    “.. and don’t engage in old-world beliefs about the superiority of one gender over another.”

    It would seem that you subscribe to an old-world belief that you imply would be detestable for your sons to hold.

    Good point. I was being inconsistent. Still, it strikes me as common sense for my sons to work under the premise that women are smarter than us.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    Historically, female dominated societies were peaceful. Might be a nice global change…

    Also interesting that an “anti-feminist scholar” is being quoted in the Tribune. Shouldn't she be at home baking cookies or something? Without the feminist movement, she would not be a scholar and her voice would never be heard.

    Finally, we had a piece on Friday about how Ralphs seems to winning the Southern California supermarket wars, which led one MNB user to write:

    The most recent edict to Albertsons-SoCal from the corporate headquarters at Supervalu is 75% pass through of all promotional allowances, no exceptions. Prices wall to wall jumped up while advertising ‘1000’s of prices reduced!” from banners hanging across the store fronts.

    I now shop at Stater Bros.

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 5, 2009

    In Week Four of the National Football League season:

    Detroit 24
    Chicago 48

    Tennessee 17
    Jacksonville 37

    Baltimore 21
    New England 27

    Cincinnati 23
    Cleveland 20

    Seattle 17
    Indianapolis 34

    NY Giants 27
    Kansas City 16

    Tampa Bay 13
    Washington 16

    Buffalo 10
    Miami 38


    NY Jets 10
    New Orleans 24

    St. Louis 0
    San Francisco 35

    San Diego 28
    Pittsburgh 38

    And, in Major League Baseball, the regular season is over and all the divisional winners are set…except for one.

    National League East: Philadelphia Phillies
    National League Central: St. Louis Cardinals
    National League West: Los Angeles Dodgers
    National League Wild Card: Colorado Rockies

    American League East: New York Yankees
    American League Central: Minnesota Twins or Detroit Tigers, TBD on Tuesday night
    American League West: Los Angeles Angels
    American League Wild Card: Boston Red Sox
    KC's View:
    I hesitate to do this, because my record is generally pretty awful. But…

    If I were going to bet, it would be on the Yankees facing the Cardinals in the World Series. But I have this crazy feeling that it is going to be the Angels vs. the Cardinals.

    BTW…Michael Sansolo had a good line from the “timing is everything” department…he shot me an email yesterday noting that the New York Mets had swept the final series of the season for the first time in three years…and if they’d done so in 2008, 2007 or 2006, they would have found themselves in the playoffs.