Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hockey As Political Allegory

Sean Quinn at FiveThirtyEight tells the Democrats to suck it up:

Once upon a time, I applied an NFL-replay mentality to hockey playoffs, holding on to outrages over missed calls, blatantly unfair officiating, double standards, and outright getting-away-with-stuff (which always led to an early spring exit for my beloved Blues). I wanted – and unreasonably expected – bad behavior to be proportionally punished.

And then several years ago I had an epiphany about the hockey playoffs – nobody is coming to save you. Initiators win, reactors lose. Expect adversity, because it's built in. The fourth-line, no-scoring-talent, pest agitators (or as we now call them, “energy guys”) have a specific job. Skate in, take a cheap shot, make it after the whistle. Make it against the rules. Stir something up. Put a wet glove in the other guy's face and rub it. Get the outrage flowing. Get the opponent not thinking about the game, get them thinking about your shenanigans. And what happens? The “victimized” team loses its composure, hitting back. The guy who hits second is always the guy who goes to the penalty box...

Sarah Palin is a person who by her own admission found out about the Iraq surge – the centerpiece of the McCain judgment argument – from television. Apologies to conservatives, but technically, objectively, inarguably, this alone makes her unqualified to be President. But we don’t live in that technical or objective world. Political campaigns – as distinct from policy and governance – are the NHL playoffs. It’s only about who survives the war of attrition to the finish line first. Is Brett Hull’s skate still in Dominik Hasek’s crease and was that same situation disallowed in every previous instance throughout that season? Yes, but so what? Dallas had a parade.
He then invokes the sacred names of Red Wings Kris Draper and Steve Yzerman to show that you don't just need guys who mix it up, you need scoring talent who can win in the clutch. In football, we'd call this the Joe Montana/Ronnie Lott dichotomy, where you need one guy who naturally envisions himself winning and another guy who will run from one corner of the field to the other to knock down a pass because he absolutely refuses to lose.

I'd also note, re: the Wings, that Detroit had a whole line of those guys, Draper, McCarty, Tomas Holmstrom, plus Joey Kocur, who (besides Kocur) were also great at faceoffs and scrapping in the crease and the corners. Also, the thing about Steve Yzerman, unlike the other great goal scorers of his era, is that when guys like Claude Lemieux got in his shit he would drop his gloves and work those Canadian fists of his, all 5'11" of him. Yzerman wasn't Gretzky or Mario -- he didn't need his tough guys to have his back. Just to take it to them the next time they came on the ice.

No comments: