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Sports

Cubs

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!