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    Published on: October 4, 2012

    This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

    Hi, this is FaceTime with the Content Guy. I'm Kevin Coupe.

    Some of what I'm about to tell you may fall into the category of T.M.I. - "Too Much Information." But I'm going to take the chance, because I think it makes a larger point.

    I've often talked about the value of Subscribe and Save, which is the automatic replenishment system for consumers, allowing people who are interested to place a regular order for products they use frequently. The products show up on time, there usually are significant discounts attached because it is a guaranteed order, and people like me never have to get phone calls from their wives wondering how come we're out of laundry detergent.

    I use this for a number of items, and I'm almost surprised that the list seems to be growing bigger. In addition to the various items I have in the rotation that we use at home, I do hearing aid batteries for my mother in law. I do packaged foods for my son, the starving writer/actor who lives in Chicago. And just the other day, I added dog food to the list, because we kept getting low when I was out of town and it seemed to be the smart way to make sure the dogs don't go hungry.

    I also get my coffee beans from Starbucks via subscription - once a month, the order shows up. Always on time, never a risk of running out. Again, I don't want to get that call from Mrs. Content Guy...

    Here's where we get to the too much information part. The other day, a big envelope showed up at home. I opened it, and found a couple of packages of underwear in my size. When I checked the invoice, I remembered that a year ago, when I ordered some underwear online from Jockey, they gave me the option of making it an annual order at a discount, and I took them up on it. And Voila! One year later, fresh underwear.

    I just think this is so smart - the whole notion of locking in the customer by establishing a persistent need and then offering to fill it. I certainly never thought about the idea that once a year I'd go out to buy underwear ... I'm willing to bet money that most guys wouldn't. It just seems so civilized, and I think I'd be willing to do it for socks and handkerchiefs and all sorts of other personal items that probably ought to be tossed out on a regular basis but aren't, because that would require going to the store and replacing them, and that would be too much trouble.

    There's a lesson here for all retailers. You don't have to wait for the customer to come to you. You don't have to wait for the customer to tell you what the problem is, so you can provide a solution.

    No, sometimes you can offer the solution before the shopper even knows there is a problem ... but do it in such an ingenious way that you create both a question and an answer at the same time.

    You are in a cutthroat business. Everybody is looking for a share of stomach. And it is important to be as aggressive as possible in claiming your share.

    That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to know what is on your mind.

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    by Kevin Coupe

    Fast Company has a story about how Starbucks has opened a new store in Colorado that is, shall we say, a little bit different from its traditional units:

    There are no leather chairs or free power outlets. In fact, there’s no space for the customer at all. Starbucks has reimagined the coffee hut as a “modern modular,” LEED-certified drive-thru and walk-up shop. The building was constructed in a factory and delivered from a truck, but its facade is clad in gorgeous old Wyoming snow fencing. As diminutive as the shop may be, its designer wants drivers to pass by and ask “What is that?” only to conclude that, oh, “it’s art.”

    The store is part of an ongoing effort by the company to create locally relevant, environmentally conscious stores ... and to keep breaking the mold, even as it was opening new stores fast and furiously.

    This was a (challenge that was) posed to Starbucks’s 14 architectural offices around the world. You see, Starbucks doesn’t hire out their building design. They conceptualize all stores from within. And what resulted was the greenlighting of a series of coffee shops that are absolutely stunning, highly individualized, sustainably idyllic flagships that easily challenge Apple’s best stores in terms of pure chic.

    And there was a sort of broad philosophical goal, as expressed by Anthony Perez, a senior concept design manager with Starbucks:

    “Our buildings need to be lanterns, beacons of light in some ways ... We’re responding to a palette of darkness. For a good part of the year in most of our markets, most of our business in a drive thru is done first thing in the morning. Instead of having just a few glowing signs and a light in the hallway, is there way to do this to make it a lot more interesting?"

    Too often in retailing, boxes are boxes. And for good reason. There are just too many of them being built, and when it comes to choosing between art and commerce, there usually isn't time or money or even interest in art. Maybe I found this to be an Eye-Opening piece because when I fantasize about how my work life might have been different, my imagination often wanders to the field of architecture. I'm fascinated by the idea that one can design homes and buildings and yes, even stores and coffee shops that can change the way people look at the world and even inspire them a little bit.

    Unfortunately, I have no talent for math or art or any of the other disciplines that are necessary for one to be an architect. But the documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry just opened my eyes to the process, the creativity, and the innovation of it all.

    This story may not be for everyone ... but if the snippets I've given you here interest you at all, then check out the whole thing here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    Lisa Sedlar, CEO of Portland, Oregon-based New Seasons Markets, will leave the company at the end of the month, saying she wants to launch a new chain of convenience stores focused on local and healthier food, or, as the Oregonian puts it, "locally cured salami instead of Slurpees and gourmet cheese instead of the liquid variety."

    Sedlar tells the paper that the move fulfills a "lifelong dream," adding, "These kinds of stores usually survive on sales from cigarettes and 40-ouncers (of beer) ... I remember thinking how great it would be if they could be convenient and have good meat and produce."

    New Seasons reportedly is investing in Sedlar's new company.

    Sedlar has been running New Seasons since the retirement of co-founder Brian Rohter in 2010; she joined the company as president in 2005.

    New Seasons, which is an ESOP (with employees owning stock in the company), is majority-owned by Endeavour Capital, which also has a financial stake in California-based Bristol Farms and Seattle-based Metropolitan Markets. The company has said that it will conduct an outside search for a replacement; reportedly, neither COO Pat Brown nor CAO Michelle Lantow are candidates for the job.
    KC's View:
    Always have been a big fan of New Seasons and Lisa Sedlar, and I hope this separation is as amicable as the comments on both sides would suggest. I think it will be interesting to see who gets chosen to succeed her; since Endeavour is building a significant west coast presence with interesting and ambitious retail, it could tell us a lot about its long-term plans and goals.

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    In the UK, the Telegraph reports that Tesco has halted the opening of any new Fresh & Easy stores in the US, a move that "is intended to allow Tesco to focus on making the existing stores profitable and restricting further investment into the US."

    “We are clear that Fresh & Easy needs to demonstrate it can be a positive return for shareholders,” CEO Philip Clarke said. “This is a clear message to the market. I hope they like what we have chosen to do.”

    The move means that Fresh & Easy will end 2012 with 200 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada, rather than the 230 originally projected. Tesco says that it wants Fresh & Easy to be in the black by 2014, a year later than the company had been predicting.
    KC's View:
    I continue to believe that Tesco would like Fresh & Easy to be a sustainable concern. But I also believe that if someone wants to write a check of sufficient value, Tesco's leadership would take about 30 seconds to decide to take the offer.

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    The Wall Street Journal reports that Coinstar plans to use its Redbox kiosks to sell event tickets with just a $1 fee added.

    According to the story, "The initiative doesn't mean shoppers will be able to pick up front-row Madonna tickets along with a quart of milk at the supermarket. Instead, Redbox is likely to offer tickets that might not sell otherwise, such as nosebleed seats for concerts that aren't sold out."

    The story goes on: "Redbox is starting with a limited number of events, all in a single market, Philadelphia, where it is selling seats for a Nov. 28 Carrie Underwood show at the Wells Fargo Center arena. Redbox executives declined to say how many of the venue's 19,500 seats they would be selling ... The company also is selling tickets for Villanova University football games and Nascar races at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa."

    According to the piece, "The ticket industry has grappled for years with the question of what to do with tickets that haven't sold by the time an event starts. Giving them away or selling them for a discount is one obvious way to get some return on an otherwise unsold and wasted ticket. But event promoters are wary that training customers to wait for last-minute discounts could undermine the value of their tickets."

    This is just one of two Coinstar initiatives in the news. At the same time, Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that the company "is turning its formula on the coffee market, installing dispensers to pump out cheap, fresh-brewed mochas and lattes at the corner store. The bright red Rubi box, occupying 9 square feet and standing 81 inches high, grinds arabica beans from Starbucks Corp..'s Seattle’s Best brand on the spot and brews a fresh 12-or 16-ounce cup of java through a press in 1 minute. The company is testing 12 drinks and will settle on seven, including hot chocolate, priced at $1 to $2 each."

    And, Bloomberg writes, "Coinstar is trying to break into the $28.5 billion out-of- home coffee market by offering convenience and a low price: features that made Redbox the largest U.S. DVD rental service and drove Blockbuster Inc. into bankruptcy two years ago. The goal is to expand the premium market by serving coffee where it isn’t now, including drug stores and big-box retailers."
    KC's View:
    You have to love the way Coinstar comes to market - identifying opportunities, trying new things, and creating business models that have the potential for disrupting what other companies are doing.

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    MarketWatch reports that Amazon Studios, which has been optioning original film screenplays and television series concepts with an eye of putting them into production and then offering them as exclusive digital entertainment, now has optioned an original novel, "Seed" by Ania Ahlborn, which it intends to turn into a movie.

    Amazon reportedly decided to option the book - described as "a Southern gothic suspense take about a man with a demon on his back" - after it saw how well it was selling on its website, and saw the potential for extending its appeal.
    KC's View:
    The point here is not that Amazon is making movies. (Though there are a couple of screenplays that I need to dust off and submit...) The point here is that more and more, Amazon wants to control as much of its supply chain as it can - offering both a distribution channel and differentiated and exclusive content whenever it can. Very smart.

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    • The American Banker reports that Walmart, which "traditionally been a low-cost provider of prepaid cards," has decided to begin "giving its customers the ability to put cash into cards backed by Green Dot, InComm's Vanilla Reload Network and First Data's Money Network.

    "At the same time, the retail giant is simplifying the way prepaid card users load money onto those prepaid cards by allowing customers to hand over cash at the register rather than just at specialized areas of the store called Wal-Mart Money Centers."

    Walmart will make a little money on the deal. The Banker notes that "Wal-Mart is leaving room to still be the lowest cost provider at its own stores. Its own Wal-Mart money card has a reload fee of $3. The fee the store chain will charge customers that place cash on other cards will be $3.74 or less, according to a Wal-Mart spokeswoman."

    • In Florida, the Naples News reports that Tony Rogers, Walmart's senior vice president for marketing, told an annual News Industry Summit there that the retailer is engaged in an ongoing effort to find ways to be more local.

    "We think there's an opportunity to take our message local, but we need to find innovative ways to do that so that you don't sacrifice the scale of the national buy," he told the group. As part of that effort, Rogers said that the company needs to move beyond the newspaper circulars that have long been its stock in trade. "The idea really is to reach the customers where they are so if our customers get most of their information from a mobile phone, I need to figure out how to be on their mobile phone," Rogers said.
    KC's View:
    Newspaper circulars are dying. That segment of the ad business is, IMHO, well on its way to oblivion. No question that Walmart ... and every other retailer ... has to aggressively find alternatives, and mobile is definitely the way to go.

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    Advertising Age reports that Target is engaged in an "unconventional marketing campaign" that essentially is a "celebrity-driven branded-content film that also happens to be shoppable."

    "Falling for You" is described as a "three-part romantic comedy starring Kristen Bell, Zach Abel and Nia Long. The plotline revolves around a pair of Target team members, played by Bell and Abel, who are competing to create the retailer's next huge fall-marketing campaign event ... It will feature 110 goods across the retailer's home, beauty and fashion categories, and viewers will be able to flag and share the items as they appear in the film, and later, purchase them directly from Target's online store."

    The program is available for viewing here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    ...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

    • Published reports say that Unilever is shopping around its Skippy peanut butter brand. A sale could net between $300 million and $400 million.

    The company is said to be selling off food assets so it can concentrate on the HBC segment.

    • The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) yesterday called on California Governor Jerry Brown "to delay the implementation of proposed 'Safer Consumer Products Regulations,' also known as 'green chemistry' regulations, until a robust economic analysis is conducted to determine the economic impact pact of these regulations on California businesses."

    GMA said that "these regulations affect nearly every product sold in the state of California, including a potentially wide array of food products packaging and nonfood consumer products.  They are open-ended and virtually unlimited in scope and they do not specify the range of products that will be regulated by the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

    The Wall Street Journal reports that McDonald's has filed a trademark filing that suggests the fast feeder plans to sell bagged ground and whole bean. This is addition to a filing earlier this year that indicated McDonald's could start selling branded sandwiches, oatmeal and other food products in venues that are not covered by golden arches.

    McDonald's may just want to protect its trademarks. But my feelings is that if McDonald's tries to sell anything through supermarkets, no store should carry its stuff. This is about a hardball battle for share of stomach, and nobody should do anything to help McDonald's bottom line.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    Yesterday, in our piece about the hiring of former Tesco exec Richard Brasher by South Africa's Pick n Pay to be its new CEO.

    However, because an incompetent editor hit the wrong key on his laptop, the end of the story's final sentence was left out. (The incompetent editor would be me.) I got a bunch of emails about this, mostly from people who were curious how it ended.

    And so, here is the story, in its entirety (I hope):

    Richard Brasher, who held a series of top executive positions at Tesco and helped to lead the company to its position as the third-ranked global retailer, has been named CEO of Pick n Pay in South Africa, effective February 2013.

    Brasher stepped down from Tesco last March.

    Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman, son of the company's legendary founder, Raymond Ackerman, said that the company was "extremely fortunate" to have landed Brasher, who is expected to bring the company vast experience and insight when it comes to online retailing, loyalty marketing, and private label - all traditionally areas of great strength for Tesco.

    The South African retailer, which has been under pressure of late in part because of Walmart's entry into the market, lost its CEO last February when its then-leader, Nick Badminton, stepped down after five years "to spend some quality time with my family and my bicycle."

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    We had a story yesterday about how Toys R Us announced that it will match advertised prices from bricks-and-mortar competition, as well as the prices on its own website. It will not, however, match prices offered by Amazon and other online retailers.

    I commented:

    If Toys R Us won't match prices against Amazon, and won't match prices on the really popular stuff, what the hell is the point? Toys R Us clearly wants to compete in a world where people don't have access to the internet, and don;t have access to all the kinds of price transparency that online retailers routinely make available. Unfortunately, that world no longer exists.

    There are a thousand good reasons not to go to Toys R Us during the holidays. Luckily, my kids are old enough that I don't even have to consider it. But this just cements it.

    Talk about marketing myopia. Management ought to be taken out and flogged.

    One MNB user pointed out:

    Kevin, while I think Toys R Us is on death watch, this is big for them ... FYI, Walmart nor Target matches Amazon either…

    That doesn't make them right.

    MNB user Tom Robbins wrote:

    Add to the list of disadvantages, their store are poorly stocked and horribly dirty. Add to that, my grandchildren enjoy picking out "suggestions" for me on line. Flogging might be too kind for the management.

    MNB user Kevin McCaffery wrote:

    Wait. So if you catch Toys R Us selling an item for less on there own web site they will do you the favor of matching the price? One would think that they would have checked that out for you and saved you the time and energy…I see more vacant buildings in our future if this is the game they are playing..

    And another MNB user wrote:

    I just find it hard to believe that Toys R Us doesn’t seem to think Amazon is a direct competitor.   Besides the non-price match policy, Toys R Us also has extremely poor return policies, especially when you purchase from their on-line site.  All I can say, I am extremely thankful for companies like Amazon, that actually make shopping a pleasurable experience.  I’d love to look in a crystal ball and see what companies like Toys R Us will look like in 5, 10 years.

    You don't have to wait. Just check the most recent P&L statements filed by Borders. They may be pretty similar...

    On another subject, one MNB user wrote:

    On the continuing saga of Supervalu...I, for one, would welcome the day when the assets are sold and the what's left of its shell is put out of its misery. If for no other reason than we wouldn't have to listen to the never-ending discussion of (perceived) past successes, current mismanagement, and all of the steps leading to its demise. The fact is that 95% of all new businesses fail, and about 2/3 have a lifespan of less than 40 years. Supervalu - and especially Albertson's - hasn't been relevant for decades, a fact that many other analysts in the popular press have recently acknowledged after painful visits. The idea that Supervalu, of all companies, would have strategic assets is almost comical. I do, though, feel sorry for the employees...

    To be honest, I hope that somehow Supervalu survives and even thrives - either under current ownership or some other entity. For one thing, I know people there, and I like them. I'd love the company to make a comeback, because they deserve it. For another thing, it'd be a great story ... and I love a great story.

    We also continue to get email about the subject of gender discrimination, which some people think exists and some people think is just a fictional construct created by women unwilling to work hard, be patient and not be troublemakers. It is a fascinating and ongoing conversation.

    One MNB user wrote:

    The notion of men making more than women or being promoted at higher rates than women not being proof of gender discrimination is false. In United States employment law, the doctrine of disparate impact holds that employment practices may be considered discriminatory and illegal if they have a disproportionate “adverse impact” on members of a protected class. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines adverse impact as a “substantially different rate of selection in hiring, promotion, or other employment decision which works to the disadvantage of members of a race, sex, or ethnic group.”

    Smoking guns in gender discrimination cases rarely exist.  There aren’t memos or e-mails outlining a policy of paying women less or not promoting women.  The proof is in the results.  Are women being paid less for the same work?  Are men being promoted in higher percentages? As much as someone may think they haven’t seen or experienced gender discrimination, if the answer to these questions is, “yes,” then they have.  The fact that people don’t realize they are doing it is a large part of the problem.  Ignorance of the law is not a legitimate defense.

    These cases are not about redistribution of wealth or victimization.  This is not tax policy or welfare reform.  It is about statistical evidence of discrimination. There is a reason these are tried in courts of law and not a boardroom (where, on AVERAGE, senior executives are likely to be made up of 71.9% men with the board of directors likely being 87.7% men, but I’m sure that’s just coincidence).

    Another MNB user wrote:

    I think you hit the nail on the head.  Just because I’ve never personally witnessed gender discrimination, or race discrimination in the work place, doesn’t mean it never happens.  While I don’t like our litigious society either and have no desire for petty lawsuits, there is nothing petty about gender or race discrimination in the workplace, and sometimes, the legal system is the only means victims have to make their voices heard.  If  you are qualified, you deserve the same chance as anyone else, regardless of gender, and if you are a woman and your company pays you less for the same job because you are woman, shame on them, they deserve to be sued.

    In the day, you could trust George Carlin to be outrageous, you could also expect him to skewer whatever he found was wrong.  I’ll never forget a particular rant about American govt. and how this country is built on BS, and as an example he used the Declaration of Independence, where it says that all are created equal, yeah, except for blacks, Hispanics, Indians and women (I’m cleaning it up a bit.)  That the framers of the Constitution  had the idea that only white landowners like themselves should have the right to vote, and people that is embarrassingly and stunningly full of $^&%.

    You could always depend on Carlin to strip away the varnish and put it in a nutshell.

    MNB user Jenefer Angell wrote:

    I would agree that there are probably many situations where discrimination is subtle and not intentional – and yet even if done unawares, it’s still inappropriate, and our flawed legal system is one way to raise awareness about those subtleties that may improve the lot of women in the future. But because it’s so hard to prove, I don’t expect the Costco case to be much more successful than the Walmart case for these women, even if it’s true.

    From another reader:

    I have tried to stay out of this, but today’s comment sent me over the edge.  It started out on the right path…most gender bias is not intentional…then derailed into an absurd argument that maybe it really is okay.  I agree that gender bias is unintentional.  I happen to believe that men choose other men because there is an intuitive comfort level when a group of men are together.  The same is true of women.

    I was recently the only woman in a diversity training with 20 middle-aged white men.  They disagreed with my assertion that they are more comfortable with men.  I asked them if they thought it was comfortable for me to be in that room, total silence.  Then I asked them how often they wanted to be the only man in the room at a baby or bridal shower, I saw a few light bulbs go on.  The next question I asked them was: Other than at work, how often were there NO women at a gathering they attended?  The last question was…how many of you have to ask your significant others for permission to have a “guys night” or all male event?  Lots of light bulbs went on.

    Obviously some of my questions were based on stereotypes, but that isn’t the point.  The point is that other than at work, most of us live gender-diverse lives day in and day out so why is it that most food industry businesses are dominated by men?

    When we work with people who challenge our comfort level, we produce greater results because group-think is less likely to occur.  It is the diversity of opinion and thinking that leads people to find great solutions.  So it really isn’t okay that corporate America is filled with leaders that are the same man with a different face.  I am not the victim, our businesses are the victims.

    The problem that some readers seem to have is with another reader who suggested that if discrimination is not intentional, then it really isn't discrimination.

    Another reader chimed in:

    I have to say that your last reader in the Your Views section of your blog on 10/2 has a rather myopic view of the world.  Though I have seen a limited number of scenarios that indicated gender bias in my working life I can say that I saw many instances of it in my mother’s career.  For decades she worked in a highly male dominated industry and was not only passed on for promotions in favor of less qualified males, the last three companies she worked at in this industry didn’t even have a female in their top 5 positions!

    Also, for this readers sake: equal taxation of the wealthy is neither redistribution or Socialism.  It’s fairness.  Plain and simple.

    And still another MNB user offered:

    As I was reading this guy's comments the first thing that went through my mind was Congressman Todd "It's about freedom" Akin must be an MNB reader.

    Assuming it wasn't the gentleman from Missouri, the next thing that occurred to me was, based on the overall tone of his comments, this fellow wouldn't have recognized "actual" ("legitimate"?) gender discrimination if it did happen right in front of him.

    From another reader:

    Every now and then, a comment from a reader just shocks me for its tone-deaf worldview.

    Ok, now I understand, if the bias is unconscious or deeply ingrained in the system.. well that is just the way it is. Women, minorities, LGBT people …  stop all this wining and move on.  The convoluted logic of this argument certainly provides a window into the core issue that cases such as this attempt to address.

    Well, if you liked the "if it isn't intentional it isn't discrimination" email, you're gonna love this one, from another reader:
    The creation of protected classes and the promulgation of perceived bias and discrimination has unintended negative consequences......employers are scared and hesitant to work with these groupings of people.  I'm a firm believer in that all people are created equal but.......the nice thing about hiring heterosexual, Christian white males is that no matter how you treat them, they can't turn around and sue you.

    Well, actually they can. But they don't. Because you've turned them into the ultimate "protected class" - not in the way that the courts have defined it, but in reality.

    Save me from people who use statements like "I'm a firm believer in that all people are created equal but..." The way I see it, there's only one way to make that statement: "I'm a firm believer in that all people are created equal." Period.

    You've essentially created, or seem to want to create, a pretty little bubble where heterosexual, Christian white males can reign supreme without fear of having their world view challenged, and where the only real fear is of letting people in who don't fit into their world view. It is a bubble where diversity is the enemy, and where we only have to hang out with people who look and think like us. The world as it actually exists must be a scary place for you, though it must be reassuring for some heterosexual, Christian white males to get together with other heterosexual, Christian white males and complain about how the "other people" are ruining this country...

    You poor bastard.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 4, 2012

    The Major League Baseball regular season ended yesterday, and we now know several things that we did not know before...

    • The New York Yankees won the American League East, the Detroit Tigers won the American League Central, and the Oakland Athletics won the American League West, with the Baltimore Orioles and the Texas Rangers getting the two American League Wild Card slots. The Orioles and the Rangers will meet in a one-game playoff on Friday to see which team will play against the Yankees in the AL Divisional Series; the Tigers will play the Rangers in their AL Divisional Series.

    • The Washington Nationals won the National League East, the Cincinnati Reds won the National League Central, and the San Francisco Giants won the National League West, with the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals earning Wild Card berths that will result in them playing in one game on Friday to see which one will face the Nationals; the Braves and the Cardinals will also face off in the NL Divisional Series.

    • Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers became the first player since 1967 to win baseball's Triple Crown, as he led the American League in batting average, runs batted in, and home runs. The last player to do it - Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox.
    KC's View:
    Three quick points here.

    • It is worth noting that Texas was in first place in the American League Central for most of the season, and that Oakland was in first place for exactly one day. Yesterday. The last day of the season. "Moneyball" enthusiasts everywhere are rejoicing.

    •The Yankees payroll was just shy of $198 million for the 2012 season, compared to the $55.4 million spent by the Athletics.

    • And, as for the Tigers win and the Cabrera achievement, I want to send a big shout-out to my friends at Westborn Market there, who must be deliriously happy this morning.