Today I saw a random tweet that said “NBA Efficiency Rating Inventor Kills Self, Explains Via Website”. I was intrigued (and bored) enough to click the URL and I got a shock. Martin Manley committed suicide.
I realize that 99.99% of my audience has no idea who Martin Manley was, or why I would care about his passing. At the time I became familiar with him, Martin was writing the Upon Further Review blog on the Kansas City Star website. The blog tried to be different from most of the sports blogs out there, which is not easy to do. Most sports blogs are typically comprised of the same types of posts: (“Athlete/Team is the greatest or doing something nobody has done before”, “Team/Conference A is better than Team/Conference B”, “Why does Athlete/Team suck so much?”, along with miscellaneous rants about the BCS and other sporting injustices).
In that sense, UFR was a typical sports blog, because those were the types of things Martin Manley wrote about. But there was one key difference, which his tagline (“analytical commentary and insight”) proudly proclaimed. If Martin said Alex Gordon is doing something nobody has done before, the Big XII was better than the Big 10, the Chiefs suck, or the “BcS” was an injustice – you knew he was going to back it up with fact, raw numbers that he collected and analyzed himself, and a table that showed his work. You may not like his opinions or how he used the data, but the numbers rarely lied.
I read UFR rather faithfully for a couple of years, and I’m proud to say that I’ve incorporated some of his traits here. In my Husker writings, I try to incorporate statistical information to beef up a point – it’s one thing to say NU’s punt return game sucked in 2012, it’s another to show that in almost eight full games they return yardage was less than that of one return immediately prior to that slump. Most of the numbers and stats I use are things that I collect. It can be a laborious pain in the ass sometimes, but it is worth it to know that you’re not just another keyboard pumping hyperbole into cyberspace.
Martin Manley gave me one of my first breaks as a writer. In 2012, he was gracious enough to use my piece on Blowing Up the College Football conferences as a guest post on UFR. It was damn cool to be able go to the website of the Kansas City Star – known for having some great writing talent – and see a link to content I created. I’ll always be grateful for that.
A few months later, Martin left the Star and they shut down Upon Further Review. Martin then started his own blog, Sports in Review, where he did a lot of the same things he did on UFR. I’m sad to say that Sports in Review slipped out of the rotation of sites I regularly read, and I hadn’t visited in months. Upon learning of Martin’s death, I went to his blog, and found the following in a post dated August 15:
“The reason for my departure is 100% within my ability to control. You see, earlier today, I committed suicide. I created a web-site to deal with the many questions a person would rightfully have. It’s called martinmanleylifeanddeath.com. It went live today. In my opinion, there is no question which you could conceivably ask that I have left unanswered on that site. My goal with this post is closure for SIR.”
As of this writing, the new website is offline (I receive a 503 – Service Unavailable error when I click on it). From what I have read, Martin pre-paid the site fees for five years, so I am hopeful that it returns at some point in the future. As macabre as it may sound, I am intrigued to read his rationale for his suicide – which took place on his 60th birthday, outside of a police station in a Kansas City suburb. From what I have read, the site is has a ton of content – some rationale, some not*, and almost all of it in past tense.
*Apparently, within his website, he referenced having buried a small fortune of gold coins in an arboretum near his home – complete with GPS coordinates. This was proven to be a hoax, and police had to ask people to refrain from digging up the park.
I’m curious to understand the why, when, and how he came to this decision. Depending on how one interprets this excerpt from an October 2012 post on closing the comment section, he had been planning this for a while:
“As to not having time, I’ll get into that in more detail at a later date, but for now, all I can say is I appreciate the contributions which have been made in the past and I hope the blog continues to provide a source of information and/or entertainment.”
Mainly, I want to see how Martin Manley, a man who defended every controversial opinion with numbers and fact, defends this. I don’t expect to agree with him, but I expect his rationale to be well thought out.
And that, will be vintage Martin.
May he rest in peace.