Seven Pickles


Infographic: 2013 Interleague Schedule

When the Astros got re-aligned into the American League West it was inevitable that interleague play was going to expand to accommodate two 15-team leagues. The newly released 2013 schedule shows just how expanded it is. With the exception of a few Mondays and Thursdays, there is at least one interleague game every day. Every team will travel for ten games and host ten games. The "regional" rivalries were kept intact and will all be played as home-at-home series between May 27 and May 30. There's even a scheduled doubleheader thrown in there.


Infographic: St. Louis Cardinals Home/Away Grid, 2009-2013

Here's a comparison of the St. Louis Cardinals schedules from 2009 through 2012 plus the freshly released 2013 schedule. There are a couple interesting tidbits during this timespan:

  • The Cardinals haven't played a game in New York in April, May, or September.
  • They haven't played a game in San Francisco in June, July, August, or September.
  • They have only played ten games in Western Division stadiums in June and July, but 25 games in those stadiums in April.
  • If your birthday wish was to go to a game at Busch Stadium, you're out of luck if you were born on April 1, May 9, May 28, June 11, July 11 through July 14 (but you could have gone to the All-Star game in 2009), August 31 or September 16. No home games have been scheduled for these days
  • But if your birthday is on August 14, you're really lucky. That's the only date where the Cardinals have been at home for all five years.

Infographic: Time Between Concerts [UPDATED]


I thought the ten year span between Man or Astro-Man? concerts was impressive enough to warrant making a graphic, so it only makes sense to update it when the Foo Fighters took over the top spot after ending a 12-year drought. Coincidentally, it was probably their last show together for quite awhile.


Infographic: Pygmalion vs. Midpoint

Over three days in late September, two music festivals will run simultaneously in cities less than four hours apart. Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, hosts the Pygmalion Music Festival, which is in its either year, while Cincinnati, Ohio, continues an eleven year run of the Midpoint Music Festival.

I'm not aware of any professional connections between the two festivals, so its surprising that the festivals will share a remarkable twenty-two headlining bands, lead by Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors, and Dinosaur Jr. The infographic shows how these 22 bands are scheduled to travel between the two festivals as well as their dates on the Tuesday and Wednesday before September 27 and the Sunday and Monday after the 29th. They will cover 23 other cities in the Midwest, South, the East Coast, and Canada.

Some of the more interesting bits from the map:

  • All the bands that perform at Midpoint on Friday night will perform at Pygmalion on Saturday night.
  • Grizzly Bear has two tour partners during the week - Unknown Mortal Orchestra for everything before Pygmalion and Lower Dens for shows after.
  • Unknown Mortal Orchestra then picks up a date in Milwaukee with fellow festival band Dirty Projectors.
  • Lower Dens and Night Beds meet up on the Friday for a one-off date in Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Night Beds then shares a bill with Julia Holter and Hundred Waters in Chicago.
  • Julia Holter and Hundred Waters are the only two acts that tour together the entire week and beyond.
  • At the time the graphic was created Best Coast, Cloud Nothings and Zeus will only perform at the two festivals during that weeks (and more than several days before or after).

Disclaimers: The show dates were pulled from numerous sources, but try as I might, may not be accurate or complete. Cities are generally spaced to scale, but the paths are nowhere near scale for length or optimum routing. Shared bands indicate bands touring together.


Infographic: Craig Kimbrel’s Curious August

Or, how to kill a fantasy baseball teamIt's unusual when one of the best closers in baseball only picks up two saves in a month. Here's what it looks like when it happens.


Infographic: Festival Maps (combined)

Here we have a "map" of the main stages for twelve of the biggest American music festivals all overlaid and lined up based on the festival's main gate. Clearly some festivals are more compact than others but when you're with thousands of other festival goers that may not be a good thing. The sizes of the stages aren't to scale and not every stage is shown. The location of the stages is based on the latest map produced by the festival.


Infographic: The MLB Metro System (An Amtrak Mashup)

This is a re-plotting of all the cities that are home to Major League Baseball teams. Each MLB city is a metro station. The distance between stations has been scaled against Amtrak's current mileage between cities and made completely straight, unless there is trackage that multiple Amtrak routes run on (e.g. the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited run on the same trackage between Los Angeles and San Antonio before splitting off to Dallas and Houston). Every Amtrak route that runs between cities is represented. Other routes are not detailed. If multiple routes exist between cities, they are denoted by a split line (e.g. Chicago to Milwaukee is serviced by both the Empire Builder and Hiawatha service), or dashed markings. Cities that are not home to a MLB team aren't stations, but if I could add one it would be New Orleans. The route would be from Atlanta to New Orleans (current Crescent) then to Houston (current Sunset Limited), with a branch from Chicago to New Orleans (current City of New Orleans). This hypothetical is correctly scaled on the map (braggy, I know...).


Reconsidering Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Decade Two in Review

Sometimes it's easy to pinpoint when you started to lose faith in a band. In the case of Clap Yours Hands Say Yeah, it was at their performance at Bonnaroo 2006. At that time, their self-titled and much lauded 2005 album was (and still is) one of my personal favorites. I had already seen them live at a small-ish venue in Madison. That show was pretty good. So, maybe it was the big stage, or maybe it was the heat, but they just weren't very good on that June day. I can't even remember exactly why they weren't good, but I do recall the unanimous sentiment in my group that we should have skipped the few songs we did stay for in favor of Elvis Costello.

And sometimes it's easy to pinpoint when you almost completely lost faith in a band...


The Ever-Expanding Catalog of Stephin Merritt

Decade Two in Review

At the conclusion of 2011, Stephin Merrit has the equivalent of 21 LPs, 5 EPs and a generous handful of other songs, scores and soundtracks on his resume. The early 2010 release Realism was Merritt's tenth album with The Magnetic Fields and his 2011 compilation Obscurities brought together rare and unreleased tracks from The Magnetic Fields, The 6ths, The Gothic Archies and solo endeavors. The sheer breadth of material that Merritt has amassed in just over twenty years is truly impressive.

Merritt's catalog has a unique characteristic - it's nearly devoid of singles or "famous" songs. I'd imagine creating a traditional "greatest hits" album would be a difficult endeavor. This is by no means a criticism of the materials quality. Instead, it shows a belief in the good of the the album. Very few bands extend a concept like "no-synths" over the course of three songs, let alone three albums. Another result of having no hits is that there are no nagging expectations for your concert performance. The Magnetic Fields can choose from hundreds of songs when putting together a setlist and there is no pressure to put on those few songs-that-everyone-EXPECTS-to-hear. Those songs don't exist on paper.

And no band puts together an original, eclectic, and career-spanning setlist like The Magnetic Fields. Case in point - below are the two setlists from the shows I've attended. The shows, less than two years apart, featured 27 or 28 songs split between two sets and an encore. There was only one song, "The Nun's Litany", that was played at both shows. I can't think of another band who could do this and still leave their audience fulfilled.

A Venn diagram showing the overlap of songs between two Magnetic FIelds setlists

On March 6th, 2012, Stephin Merritt will add even more to the catalog when The Magnetic Fields release their eleventh LP, Love at the Bottom of the Sea, on Merge Records.


[LISTEN] The Magnetic Fields - "Beach-a-Boop-Boop" (from Obscurities)
[LISTEN] The Magnetic Fields - "You Must Be Out of Your Mind" (from Realism)


An Introduction to 2010 and 2011 In Review

Decade Two in Review

I didn't write a 2010 Review and that's a shame because there was quite a bit of good stuff to write about. I'll remedy that by wrapping 2010 and 2011 together in a big "D2 in Review" series of posts. D2 meaning decade two, meaning the second decade of the 21st century, meaning no one has come up with a sensible name for this decade. But I'm not writing this introduction just to tell you this.

I want to talk about SOPA.