– Ben Martens



cubs2016For the first time since the end of World War 2, the Cubs are going to the World Series. I watched a ton of Cubs games going up and attended quite a few too. I remember watching games on TV at my parents house, at college, and floating on a sailboat on a sunny day on Lake Michigan (that one was radio, not TV.) I played a lot of baseball growing up and Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson and Mark Grace were my heroes. And going to the games was even better. You can hate baseball or the Cubs and still have fun at a game at Wrigley Field. It’s an awesome experience. I will always remember standing in the Cubby Bear bar and singing “Go Cubs Go” before a game.

Now? I’m a terrible Cubs “fan.” I haven’t watched a game in years and I couldn’t even name one player on their team if not for the videos I’ve seen during the playoffs. In fact, I’m a terrible baseball fan in general. I go to a Mariners game or two every year, but I don’t follow baseball at all during the season. It’s just too much to fit into my life and it got squeezed out. 162 games and 30 teams. That’s a lot to follow. Too much.

So am I excited that the Cubs are going to the World Series? YES! It spent so many years dreaming about that happening. But I feel like a total fraud cheering for them because I know I’m not even going to watch the World Series. You might get me to watch a game where they have a chance to win it all though. I would love to see the curse of the goat finally end.

What’s that? You don’t know about the curse of the goat? That linked article gives you all the details but basically Billy Sianis was at Game 4 of the 1945 World Series with his goat. Apparently that was a thing in 1945. Anyway, he got kicked out because his goat was unruly and he put a curse on the Cubs saying “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” And win they haven’t. They haven’t event made it to the World Series since then. They’ve been very close like in 2003 when things were going well until the curse struck and Steve Bartman and his headphones destroyed their chances and became a pariah in Chicago forever.

So go Cubs go. I’ll cheer for you quietly from Seattle.

Reframing The NFL Player Protest

policenflVarious NFL players have been protesting police brutality against minorities and it’s getting a lot of press. It seems reasonable that we should take an objective look at the situation and determine if and where it needs adjusting. That’s something we should always be willing to do.

If they would rephrase it slightly, I’d be more on board. Instead of just investigating situations where cops are acting incorrectly, let’s also look how we can keep cops safe. Cops should be able to do their jobs without getting shot and minorities should be able to live their lives without getting harassed (or worse.) Focusing on one side or the other is going to escalate the violence, not reduce it. Maybe it really is a case where only one side is to blame, but that seems pretty unlikely to me. Let’s take a holistic approach to the problem and figure out what really needs to change so we can fix this situation. Even one more body bag is too much regardless of who is inside it.

Hall of Famer

player_campbell06Congratulations are in store for Andy Campbell who was recently inducted into his college’s hall of fame! He holds the career record for hits and runs, but if you look at the career leaders page, you’ll see his name in the top 10 for all of the offensive stats except sacrifices.

It made me wonder who was in the Purdue Hall of Fame so I checked it out and discovered that Travis Dorsch was inducted this year. He was the kicker on our football team while I was there and we had a German class together. I will always remember him for one thing… My Junior year was the year that Brees led Purdue to the Rose Bowl. There was one game that season that ended with Dorsch walking off the field over to the front of the student section and flipping us all off for giving him so much flak about his critical misses in previous games. Classy. Around that same time, someone made a huge chalk sign in the Engineering mall that said “Dorsch is German for wide right.”

I was initially surprised to not see Ryan Newman in the Purdue Hall of Fame, but I guess it’s because racing wasn’t an intercollegiate sport. He was an up and coming ARCA and Busch series racer while I was there and I remember him being on campus at least once with his race car.

But anyway, back to the main point, kudos to Andy! I hope that the induction ceremony is a lot of fun!

Baseball Ticket Pricing

mariners-logoAndy, Tim and I went to a Mariners game this week. It was nice to have a guy’s night out. The end of the game was fantastic. Down by one run in the bottom of the night with a man on second, two outs and a 1-2 count, Martin hit a walk-off home run to win it. Too bad the stadium was almost empty. Part of our conversation was around why the Mariners don’t lower their ticket prices enough to fill the stadium.

Many clubs are doing some kind of dynamic pricing, but it mostly seems like a way to charge more money for in-demand games. That makes sense if you’re regularly selling out your stadium. The law of supply and demand says that you should increase prices if demand outpaces supply. But why not follow that same logic when the reverse is true?

I couldn’t find any satisfactory reason for why teams wouldn’t charge the amount that would fill the stadium for each game. In this world of big data, they should be able to set that price per game very accurately based on day of the week, opponent, number of wins in the season, weather, etc. How would they not benefit from having the stadium full even if they were giving away some tickets for free? The incremental cost of having another fan in the stadium is almost nothing, but there’s a good change they’ll end up buying a $9 Coors Light.

The only sticky point I can think of is that you have season ticket holders that prepay a set price for their seats. To get around that you can either provide them additional value (discounted merchandise, free parking, etc) that makes it worth their while to pay more for the seats than the person next to them or you can give them vouchers at the end of the year for discounts on next year’s season tickets.

Fill the stadium Mariners! I bet you can even find some data that shows a team plays better when the stadium is full so maybe it’s an easy way to get a few more wins each season.

There has to be some legal/contract reason why they can’t do this because there’s no way that the current system is generating the maximum amount of revenue.

P.S. This isn’t directly related to the topic, but I did run across an interesting paper about ticket pricing per team.

Seahawks Draft Picks

The 2016 NFL draft is over and the Seahawks have made their picks. Which of these names will hit it big?

Round Pick # Overall Name Position College
1 31 31 Germain Ifedi Offensive Tackle Texas A&M
2 18 49 Jarran Reed Defensive Tackle Alabama
3 27 90 C. J. Prosise Running Back Notre Dame
3 32 94 Nick Vannett Tight End Ohio State
3 35 97 Rees Odhiambo Guard Boise State
5 8 147 Quinton Jefferson Defensive Tackle Maryland
5 34 171 Alex Collins Running Back Arkansas
6 40 215 Joey Hunt Center TCU
7 22 243 Kenny Lawler Wide Receiver California
7 26 247 Zac Brooks Running Back Clemson

Iseahawks_im_in don’t know much about any of these players, but the Seahawks have a history of some pretty excellent performances in the draft. Here are some examples:

2015 Round 3: Tyler Lockett
2014 Round 2: Justin Britt
2014 Round 4: Kevin Norwood
2014 Round 4: Kevin Pierre-Louis
2013 Round 5: Luke Wilson
2012 Round 1: Bruce Irvin
2012 Round 2: Bobby Wagner
2012 Round 3: Russell Wilson
2012 Round 6: Jeremy Lane
2012 Round 7: J.R. Sweezy
2011 Round 5: Richard Sherman
2010 Round 1: Russell Okung
2010 Round 1: Earl Thomas
2010 Round 2: Golden Tate
2010 Round 5: Kam Chancellor

2010 and 2012 were pretty incredible draft years. The Seahawks generally seem to play it smart by avoiding the early first round picks. They regularly trade away their first round picks for multiple later picks. If you’ve read Scorecasting, you know that not only is it not as great as it seems to get one of the first half dozen picks of the draft, you should AVOID having one of those picks. You are forced to pay this random person a ton of money and more often than not, they don’t live up to the hype.

It sounds like the Seahawks are focusing a lot on their offensive line which is a no-brainer. We’ll see what next season brings!

Get Your Seahawks Tickets

seahawksticketsI’ve been in the Seattle area for almost 10 years now and I still haven’t been to a Seahawks game. It’s a combination of me being cheap and the tickets being nearly impossible to aquire firsthand. I don’t love buying tickets secondhand, but if I’m ever going to see a game, that’s probably what I’ll have to do.

How hard is it to get a ticket straight from the Seahawks? An article in the Seattle Times mentioned that there will be a total of 5800 single game tickets available for sale in the coming months. I’ve tried to snag those before and it’s nearly impossible. They sell out in minutes. Do you want season tickets? I hope you’re ready to wait. There are 70,000 people in line for the 61,500 season tickets and 99.6% of last year’s season ticket holders renewed.

Lockette’s Injury

locketteinjurySeahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette took a serious hit in a game against the Cowboys last November. If you really want to watch it, there are plenty of videos of it on YouTube. In a recent talk to paramedics and fire fighters in Redmond, he talked about how close he came to dying right there on the field. Apparently his neck was seriously injured and any wrong move by the team that helped him could have ended his life. You can read more about his story on

Goodbye Lynch

lynchretirementMarhsawn Lynch has been a staple of the Seahawks since arriving in 2010. I loved his style of running. He’d smash you in the mouth, plow you over, and leave you behind unless you brought two or three other buddies along with you. And sometimes even that didn’t stop him. His “Beast Quake” run is a great example of this:

But now it looks like Lynch’s run (hardy har har) in Seattle might be coming to an end. He’s 30 years old and he already talked about retirement last year. I think that given his popularity, Seattle will happily give him the option to retire. Otherwise he’ll get traded away or just cut and the Sehawks will have about $6.5 million worth of extra room in their salary cap. That could go a long way toward beefing up the pourous offensive line. They could even ask for $5 million in signing bonus back from Lynch if he retires, but I bet they won’t.

Why the sudden change? When Lynch got hurt this year, Thomas Rawls came on board and stunned us. He looked like a younger, fresher Lynch. People went from worrying about Lynch being out for so many games to not caring if he came back.

And when Lynch finally was ready to come back, he didn’t win many friends with his apparent bad attitude. Everyone said he was ready to play. He had three full practices. Then on Friday afternoon he decided he ruled himself out and didn’t even travel with the team. Huh? Not only was it a late surprise, but because he practiced all week, the backups didn’t have as many reps with the offense. When Lynch returned in the game against the Panthers, he didn’t do much of anything and spent quite a bit of time on the sidelines.

It’s like he flipped a switch this season from “nothing can stop me” to a petulant child. And since he has this ridiculous thing where he doesn’t talk to the media, we’ll probably never know the truth.

Back channel rumors have it that he doesn’t have much respect for Carrol in practice and you know how much Pete puts up with stuff like that.

I’ll be shocked if Lynch is wearing a Seahawks jersey next year. And unless I actually hear his side of the story and it’s convincing, then I’m not sure I care. I appreciate all he did in Seattle, but his attitude seems pathetic.

2015 PNW WELS Softball Tournament

Every year, many of the WELS churches in our area get together for an all-day softball tournament. Our church has participated sporadically but this year we combined with Divine Peace in Renton to scrape together enough people for a team… barely. We had no practices and some of our team members didn’t arrive until we were taking the field for the first game. Nobody know what positions they were going to play and Pastor Herrmann ended up being the pitcher basically because he was the last person on the field, not because he had ever done it before. Amazingly, we played pretty well! We were winning the first game until our opponents had a big rally that we couldn’t stop and they won in the last inning. That team went on to lose in the championship. We won the second game and then lost the third which knocked us out of the tournament.

All in all, I’m surprised at how well we did, especially considering that some of the other bigger churches have teams that play together in regular leagues. And oh yeah, we only had 9 people instead of 10! It was also fun to play against ChrisH who is the principal over in Bremerton now. The last time we played on a field together was high school!


NFL PreSeason

preseason-football-rabid-fans-nfl-sports-ecards-someecardsYay! The NFL Preseason is over! It frustrates me every year. People get so worked up about the games and who wins and loses. It doesn’t matter. It’s glorified practice and a way to trim down the rosters. I’d love to see the preseason completely removed or at least cut down to a single game. There’s no point in it except for the NFL to make money (which is why it will continue forever or until the players go on strike because of it.)

However, every time I get frustrated about the preseason, I remember that one time when Dad took me to see a preseason NBA game between the Bulls and the Supersonics. They were playing in town at Notre Dame and I actually got to see Michael Jordan and Shawn Kemp playing each other on the same court. It was a highlight of my childhood.

So in that sense, I guess the preseason is good. Ticket prices are a little lower (though they’re still $75/game for the cheap Seahawks tickets) and maybe it gives a different set of fans the opportunity to see some of their heroes play, if only for a few minutes of the game.