Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Changed Tune

For some reason or reasons that I hope were more nuanced than general jadedness, contrarianism, and curmudgeonry, I was previously not all that excited about the ongoing HBO 24/7 series following the Caps and Pens, despite it featuring my current favorite team and my former favorite/current most detested team, respectively. Well, tonight after watching episode two of four, I will admit: this series is unbearably entertaining. Maybe it was getting to see real hockey players after playing in my own men's league game (0 goals, 2 assists, +2, 3 shots, general tentative and mediocre play in a heartbreaking 6-5 loss in a "must win" game that all but skunked our playoff hopes), or the aid of some late night beers (Stone IPA, 6.3%) and whiskeys (Makers, rocks), but I was more or less paradisiacally enthralled watching the episode.

Quick thoughts:
  • Bruce Boudreau is a dummy. Good guy, experienced hockey guy, friendly guy, great junior player, not a self-serving, real politicking actor, etc. All of that notwithstanding, he's hopelessly inarticulate and just not very intelligent, and it comes through almost every time he opens his mouth, whether talking to the camera, the players, or the GM. I don't think those are traits that necessarily preclude someone from being a good hockey coach, but they probably don't help. Luckily he did not appear with his face slathered in BBQ sauce this time.
  • I have completely turned around on Crosby this year. He's been so damn good and effective on the ice that even I can no longer disclaim or discount him as a player. But, shockingly, his personality has shown through in this series as well. His recounting of how he and Malkin determined who would be the last one in the line-up of players walking from locker room to the ice - Crosby had always been last on ice his whole career, ditto for Malkin, when Malkin arrived Crosby was like, "uh, how should we settle this, rock, paper, scissors?" And Malkin told him, with Crosby pulling off a perfectly fine Russian accent, that he'd played three years in the RSL, compared to Crosby's one in the NHL - was so interesting and endearing, to both players, and I found it so, for lack of a better word, neat that Crosby, who had already accomplished so much at that point and who was the recognized golden boy of the NHL, not to mention the type of fairly strict superstionist to whom I imagine a routine like that means something, would defer there and laugh at the silliness of it, well, maybe I'm an idiot, but after 5 years of actively and bitterly rooting against him, I think I can finally stop doing that. Which is probably just a means of self-preservation because rooting against him appears to be a losing proposition.
  • Matt Hendricks, with black eye, blood swollen pupil, and stitches, kinda reminded me of Skeletor a bit. I knew nothing about Hendricks going into this season - there are a handful of NHL players that I could say that about - but he's been a delightful surprise. Very versatile and useful player, and based on this show, he seems like a decent and fun guy. Why there's a shot of Hendricks with his foot rapped in a bag filled with blood I cannot even imagine.
  • Caps celebrating their one win to break the losing streak as if winning the Stanely Cup was a bit lame, though I guess I understand it. That team is going to go insane if they ever actually win anything.
  • I thought it was kind of interesting that the Caps trainer appeared to be a bit dismissive with Ovechkin after OV complained of hamstring soreness. For all of my complaints about OV this year (he's looked awful and I think it has to do with a lack of Crosby-like commitment off the ice), I certainly do not get the feeling that he's a very high maintenance player. So when the franchise player, who has been struggling and who plays a ton of minutes, complains of a physical problem, I'd expect the trainer to be excessively diligent and thorough and cautious and using everything but leaches to fix him up. Instead, the trainer told him that you don't use your hamstrings when you skate (which struck me as odd but I guess is true) and suggested that the hamstring was sore from OV squatting the prior day. When OV asked why it was just on one side, the trainer basically just said, "maybe you favor one side. Do you favor one side? ... Just go get a message." The whole thing was weird.

It's a fascinating show and it's intensified my longing to be on more of a real and competitive hockey team. If anyone knows of any strange community where they value some combination of receiving low quality legal advice and watching even lower quality hockey, please advise.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Crime" and "Punishment" [FN1]

Semi-frequent commentator, political savant, and all around good guy Mark B., wait that's too obvious, let's call him M. Bell, has taken issue with IOZ's latest excoriation of Matt Yglesias, this time for Yglesias' statement that "[s]omewhat punitive post-arrest pre-trial measures are a kind of necessary evil, but the prolonged confinement of Manning under cruel conditions go beyond the necessary into straightforward evil." IOZ doesn't bother wading into the muck of the idea that "punitive [FN2] pre-trial," let alone pre-conviction, measures are a "kind of necessary evil," and notes simply that "[i]t is never necessary to do evil. It is always a choice." Yglesias either completely misunderstands a basic tenet of our criminal jurisprudence - specifically, that any pre-conviction limitations on the rights of the accused are not properly understood as "punishment" for misconduct, for by definition there has not been any misconduct so identified and adjudicated as such just yet, but rather they're more appropriately considered as a function of the criminal justice process [FN3] - or he is advocating for some kind of Panopticonally illiberal regime where things like evidence and trials and juries are not needed to punish people for crimes.

Regardless, Mark's and other commentators' point seems to be that "Yglesias is just arguing that Manning should receive the same kind of pre-trial detention that awaits other people facing charges." The position, it seems, is essentially that Manning shouldn't receive different treatment just because we may or may not support the particular potentially criminal act. I agree with this. In fact, I can't imagine anyone not agreeing with this.

IOZ clarifies his position a bit in a subsequent post:
The question "what is to be done with Private Manning," posed to me as if it presents an imponderable moral and practical conundrum that I have never considered, is irrelevant. It is, to use a phrase one of my regular commenter-critics recently reminded me of while criticizing me in comments, not even wrong. I do not care about the state's dilemma in dealing with Private Manning. I don't care about the state's dilemmas at all. The state will dispose of Private Manning as it sees fit. My interest is in the attitudes people take toward that state. Those who begin with the question of what the government should do with its enemies, even if their conclusion is some banal exhortation somehow to treat them humanely and fairly as it helps itself to their lives, are on the wrong side.
I don't think he explains himself or the idea very well, but the point is an important one. First, though it may be banal, the idea of bringing to justice those who commit criminal acts in a fair and humane way and only after the customary evaluation of evidence is rare enough to escape attention of many, our own Government as repeat, prime offender [FN4], and so is worth emphasis. Second, I think IOZ is making a different point, though. He's saying that because, perhaps generally but certainly specifically in this case, the State is illegitimate, because the State is driven by the narrow interests of unaccountable, private tyrannies (corporations) who endeavor to increase their own power and those of the State, because, as John Dewey put it, the State is "the shadow cast by business over society," because the State ultimately does what it wants, we the public should be less concerned with how the State chooses to punish the people who have brought to light its machinations and motivations and more concerned with the machinations and motivations themselves. Does the State have a right to prosecute those who have violated the terms of a confidentiality agreement it has entered into with? Absolutely. Does the State routinely violate international law and do a whole host of terrible things? Yes. While focus on these separate issues is not mutually exclusive, I am certainly more interested in one of these phenomena than the other.

Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are heroes who have shed light on a variety of State abuses and its fundamental role, function, and modus operandi. You can be sure that the State will punish them, brutally and accordingly.

FN1 - Alternate title - The Empire Strikes Back

FN2 - I won't even bother including reference to the totally useless and fairly comical modifier "somewhat" here. Light treason, anyone?

FN3 - This is all sort of related to the basic idea of "innocent before proven guilty."

FN4 - For example, the US made no real attempt to bring to justice the perpetrators behind the 9/11 attacks. Rather, their response was to bomb the fuck out of Afghanistan knowing it would kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians directly and create a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions that would kill many more. Conversely, after being the victim of CIA funded and sponsored attacks, Nicaragua did not set off bombs in Washington but rather appealed to the World Court for determination that the US was committing acts of terrorism, should stop such acts, and pay reparations for such acts. Of course, the US simply ignored the Court's order and intensified the violence.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

If George McPhee Isn't Looking Up Craig MacTavish's Number Right Now, He's Probably Breaching a Fiduciary Duty or Two

I was at this game and the highlights don't do justice as to how atrocious it was.

And re this incident from the previous night:

Don't ever do it again. It was a selfish penalty. Liles hit him a couple of times but this is hockey not Tiddlywinks. You've got to suck that up and can't do what he did. I think at that point in time we had 8-0 in shots on goal, we had everything going our way and then you've got to kill a penalty for five minutes.
- Boudreau

Kind of odd that a coach in the midst of a 5-game (soon to become 6) game losing streak, despite the most complete - in terms of both experience (age and youth) and functionality (scorers and grinders) - and stacked - in terms of elite offensive level talent (OV, Semin, Backs, Green) - NHL roster would call out and vilify the team's most consistently productive player, a player who leads them, by a far margin, in EV and PP scoring efficiency, and who plays an important and effective role on the PK as well, for basically defending himself, after a career in which it's become painfully clear that NHL refs have no interest in doing so. What a joke. And the team responded as they should: with no desire in saving the job of a hokey, "golly, gee" faux-charismatic bench boss who's better suited to leading the Wheeling Nailers to the Kelly Cup than matching wits against the Babcocks and Vigneaults of this world. I used to be of the opinion that common sense and decency mandated that he be given this year to go at least as far as 3 rounds before being axed, but I don't think GMGM has any choice but to start spinning the rolodex (scrolling through the BBM list) to see who else knows enough about the Caps (and not the silly MSM narrative - high octane offensive w/o the defense or goaltending or grit) to start ASAP. It's going to take some time to undo all the coddling OV's received and all the bad habits - both on the ice and off - he's picked up. And the new guy has to know enough to play 8-19-28 together for an extended period.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Who'd You Rather?

These two players are on the same team and these are their stats through the first 28 games of the season. Player A scores at a higher rate at even strength (getting less ice time, 13.4 vs. 16 min/60) and on the PP (getting much less ice time, 3.1 to 4.7 min/60). Player A makes up some of that time playing shorthanded (he is fifth in ice time for forwards on a team that is in the top-10 in penalty killing) whereas Player B does not play shorthanded. There is a higher discrepancy in shots directed at the opposition's net vs. their team's net (CORSI) when Player A is on the ice rather than Player B. Player A gets twice as many takeaways (tied for the league lead) and fewer giveaways. Player B gets more shots and about 10 times as many hits (although it's pretty clear that hits have very little if any utility in a hockey game).

Are there any compelling arguments that Player A, this season, isn't a more effective player than Player B? Any guesses who the players are?