Thursday, June 30, 2011

the ballad of John-Michael Liles (part 2)

the ballad of John-Michael Liles, Avs GM Greg Sherman and General Life Asshole Chris Collision duet

Years ago, when I was playing a lot of NHL/NBA games, I thought it was a little silly that a player could customize in-game players, but not in-game coaches: after all, the (video)game itself casts the controller-holder as essentially a GM/coach figure, controlling all the players. It just seemed like a weird misplacement of identification.

Which is to say: everybody who likes pro sports is probably pretty clear that they absolutely cannot compete in any meaningful way with the players*, but they mostly tend to believe that they could coach or run a team adequately, and certainly better than whichever gang of idiots seems to be in charge of their favored squad.

*(Ignoring here professional idiots like Bill Simmons, who seems to believe he could beat WNBA players at basketball.
Confidential to professional idiot Bill Simmons on this point: no way, no day, chump.)

Taking myself as a case study, I believe I understand two things better than the people who make personnel decisions in professional sports.
  1. Time passes and the passage of time almost never makes a player better.
  2. Never fall in love with the most productive players on a bad team.
The first rule there has some somewhat subtle applications. A given player A is likely to be worse in year N+1 than they were in year N, so if you can trade player A for slightly-worse player B and gain any advantage in so doing, that trade is likely to be to your advantage. Another view of this rule is that if you can trade a player A for a player B who is (i) 85% as good and (ii) 3+ years younger, you should do so (modulo financial considerations: for the purpose of that example, I assumed A & B made about the same; for the purpose of the first, I assumed player B was significantly cheaper than player A.)

The second rule is much easier. It says simply "if the guy's so fucking good, how come his team sucked?".

The answer is usually "Well, it's a team game. He's good, but needed support. On our (better) team, he'll be even better and he'll help us win even more.". But--this is my central claim--that's fucking bullshit.

I'm writing this in my normal conditions of privation. Therefore, I'm not going to do the actual research. I'm just going to posit this as an axiom:
Guys who put up big numbers on bad teams almost never go on to put up big numbers on good teams.

Kovalchuk. Ballard. Probably Vokoun next year. Every Toronto Maple Leaf ever.

That means not only do you not trade for a guy who was a big wheel on a shit team, if you're that shit team, you don't want to commit to building around the guy. What's to build around? --If he were any good, you'd be good already, not building!

This brings us to J-M Liles, who was just traded to Toronto for essentially absolutely fucking nothing. A second-round pick. Well--let's assess: is a second-round pick likely to be an NHL player? Sure. Not a safe bet, but a good bet. Is that second-round pick likely to be a 40-point defenseman? Don't bet on it.

And rumours swirl around Paul Stastny: current stooge face of management Joe Sakic (hallowed be his name) declined to name him as a major building block for the future; he's definitely overpaid; he's incredibly competent but far from a marketing dreamboat; his dad's a fucking clown; he's had two bad years in a row.

But he's also a top-10 NHL center. He was an All-Star last year, and that was not a mistake. If 40-point NHL D-men are worth a second-round pick, what's an All-Star center worth? Apparently not much: he's likely to be moved, and the return is likely to be a first-round draft pick of the 10-to-15 variety and maybe a depth forward.

Not to be too strident, but not all that many 10-to-15 first-round picks turn into All-Star centers.

Savvy readers will have noted a subtle change in orientation over the course of this post: early on, I was all like "don't double down on good players on bad teams" and now I'm all "trading our most productive D-man for a second-round pick was bad business and trading our best all-around center is likely to be bad business too, dawg".

I don't have a super-strong defense for this apparent inconsistency. I understand if a reader* might say "your position is apparently the good player on another guy's team sucks eggs; the good player on your team must never be sold off for unproven commodities.".

*(Forgive me this assy affectation. I know full fucking well even the other contributors to this blog don't read this, much less anybody else. Sometimes, I have to pretend otherwise to (a) justify the time I spend on this crap to myself and supplementarily (b) keep myself from slinging my belt over the shower curtain rod.)

Maybe it's consistent in that like a mediocre goalie, I'm just playing the odds: most guys don't get significantly better over time; young guys are all things being equal better at playing and cheaper than old guys; rare commodities like All-Star centers and D-men who put up 40 points are rare and not to be traded for common commodities like second-round picks (30 per year)...

Enough. I am no GM, I know this. It's a fool who falls in love with big numbers on shit teams, and I know this too. But if I can't fall in love with somebody on a bad team, then who am I supposed to root for?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the ballad of John-Michael Liles (part i)

The Avs are a nightmare. They are a team committed to nonsense. The most recent nonsense that has come to light involves the way they are interested in negotiating contracts: as is well-known, they alienated and insulted 2009-10's singular hero Craig Anderson by making one offer and refusing to negotiate. This ended well: they traded him for Brian Elliott, who has shown zero signs that he is an NHL-caliber goaltender, and watched Anderson go on to play outstanding hockey for a team not much better than the Avs. More recently, they have been playing a rousing game of "dangle in the wind, asshole" with a free agent who was intensely productive for the Avs before he got hurt. Their announced reason for this "oh, we're dealing with the draft right now."

The core problem with going about things in this way is reasonably transparent: it's a category error.

By that I mean simply that while professional sports is a Real Big Deal, with unfathomable quantities of money moving around, any given franchise is actually no more than a medium-sized business; furthermore, the actual labor force for an NHL squad is well under three dozen men.*

*(Sure, there's lots more putative revenue-generators: merch guys, ticket sellers, parking lot builders, TV-right-negotiation law-talkers, blah blah woof woof, but--all of these revenue-generators are meaningless without the people who play the games. If you don't believe me, start your own shadow franchise and see how many of your beautifully-designed jerseys you sell.)

In essence, then, professional hockey is a collection of medium-sized businesses. The Avs have mistaken themselves: they believe that they are an actual institution, something like say a governmental or military bureaucracy, with top-down rules that apply to everybody equally, rules like

  1. we don't negotiate contracts: we make offers that are fair and if you mislike our offer, you are free to pl(a)y your trade elsewhere
  2. we only negotiate contracts at specific times of the year

These aren't unreasonable rules per se. Contextually, however, they are intended to apply to a small and psychically (emotionally/mentally) group of people about whom few generalizations can be made, save for

  • Any of them you want on your team are gonna be competitive like motherfuckers
  • This competitive drive:
    (a) is more emotional than rational
    (b) manifests itself crucially in what Thorstein Veblen identified as invidious comparisons
    describing a comparison of persons with a view to rating and grading them in respect of relative worth or value ... and so defining the relative degrees of complacency with which they may legitimately be contemplated by themselves and by others. An invidious comparison is a process of valuation of persons in respect of worth.

Not to belabor the point, but comparing the bulleted list with the numbered list yields the following scenario: a small group of incredibly competitive men staring at the way each of them is treated and knowing--absolutely knowing--that they deserve to be treated better than any of those other guys; a smaller group of men saying "we are going to treat you all exactly the same because...well...them's the rules.".

In a pride-based business like being a hockey player, it's hard to see why anybody would want to deal with a self-defined institution so deeply devoted to ignoring and denying precisely the things most important to identity and importance (an institution like the goddamned fucking idiot Colorado Avalanche). To issue a pointless and likely inadequate rule:

the only guy in hockey management who can pull off treating everybody the exact same is the coach, because that's how the sport (nominally) works: the rules of the game apply to everybody exactly the same; everybody practices or they don't play; everybody backchecks; hit the open man; blah fucking blah.
All other members of management must devote themselves to the proposition that everybody in labor be made to feel that they are special, specially unique, better and more important in their own way than anybody else anywhere. Because the rules of life are bent and broken for such special men.

All of which is a long and dull way of advancing the argument that if your business depends on people then you'd do well to understand them and do everything you can to put them in a position to succeed.

I claim that the Colorado Avalanche as an organEYEzation does not understand this argument.

On Twitter, the redoubtable radio voice of the Avs has of late been doing yeoman duty defending the franchise, beating the rebuild drum, saying again and again that the team is run by smart men, that the process is going well, in specific that the next big priority is finding a goaltender.

But that's a mix of exactly wrong and simply missing the point.

Even if smart people are in charge, and I surely do hope they are, they're in charge of a small demesne: their smartness has little bearing on matters like

  • Whether or not the resources they crave exist in the marketplace
  • Whether or not the resources that do exist are accessible to them

Which means: no matter how fucking smart Sacco + Sakic + Sherman + Whoever McGillicuddy may combine to be, (a) that doesn't mean there's a good goalie on the market or (b) that a good goalie who might be on the market will have any interest in negotiating with a team that (1) explicitly doesn't negotiate except on their terms (for which, see above) and (2) has hockey personnel who are fucking terrible at playing hockey (for which, scoreboard).

They don't negotiate contracts, so they alienated a guy who is, when his head is right, a Vezina candidate, capable of playing as well as any goalie in hockey. They're desperately weak on the wings, but they were focused on the draft, so they refuse to negotiate with a winger who put up 20 points in 21 games with them last year: All-Star numbers on a team short on All-Stars like Wall Street is short of ethicists.

Now they're ready to play the game of negotiation. But they've at least arguably fucked over two proud men in a very small community of proud men. Who's to say anybody wants to negotiate with them? Who's to say anybody wants to work for the Avs? There's one goalie on the open market who's worth a fuck, and that's Tomas Vokoun. He's a Czech, like Fleishmann, who just got fucked; he's a goalie, like Anderson, who just got fucked. Somebody explain to me why he's supposed to want to take a job with that company.

Tommorow: love ain't nothing but a score in tennis OR the ballad of John-Michael Liles (as sung by Avs GM Greg Sherman)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Needless to say, Landeskog is a highly impressive guy for his age. He’s well spoken, funny and looks like a Ken doll.

It just seems like this kid has it. I mean, what’s not to like? He has a great resume, his junior coach absolutely raves about him, scouts love him, he looks like a model, he’s well spoken, polite...he seems too good to be true.

Anybody who's read (any of) Moneyball is likely to be terrified: this guy Gabriel Landeskog sure looks like a great hockey player, but nobody's talking about how he's good at hockey. And while the numbers certainly say he's been good at playing hockey so far, it's obvious that he's much more physically developed than the guys he's playing against: a 6-2 207 guy playing against 18-year-olds should dominate them. Promoting him to play against seasoned and huge specimens like oh say every single NHL player is asking him to do a qualitatively different job.

The Avs brain trust does not have my trust. I think they're short-sighted. I think they're playing a game they don't understand. I think they just used the second pick in the draft to select a guy whose ceiling is being Ethan Moreau.

In case that reference isn't clear, Ethan Moreau is a bulky (6-2, 220) winger who "oozed leadership" to the tune of being captain of the Houston Edmonton Oilers--one of the most up-their-own-ass franchises with respect to captaincy the league has ever seen...and has never scored so many as 21 goals nor 33 points in any season of his 16-year NHL career. He was just cut by the juggernaut that is the Columbus Blue Jackets (34-35-13 last year, last in their division).

Monday, June 27, 2011

Lindros for the Hall of Fame

Well, he gets my vote, but apparently Bogdan von Pylon disagrees.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

get your goddamned band off of my goddamned wagon

The moral of the Stanley Cup story, to me, was the Canucks were vastly overrated.
Oh boy. Here it comes. (Regular Peter King readers will be glad that at least this time he didn't bury the lede...)

Vancouver was 12-10 in its last 22 playoff gamesHe gets, right, that if they'd gone 13-9 over their last 22...they would have won the Stanley Fucking Cup?
.... Outscored 64-49 in those 22 games.
Those 22 games, the majority of which they won.
Outscored 17-7 in the final four games of the first round against Chicago. The Bruins outscored them by 15 goals in a seven-game series. How does a team with the league's highest-paid goalie, Luongo, allow 21 goals in the Bruins' four wins in the series?
Uhm...their defensive corps gets riddled by injury? Their second-best defensive center plays injured and their best defensive center comes back from a seriously terrifying eye injury? That goalie puts up two goddamed shutouts in 7 games?
After the first 10 minutes of the first game of the finals, I just never saw the free-skating, fast, crisp-passing team I'd been hearing about throughout the playoffs. And the Sedins. I'm not going to call them names, but they came up smaller than LeBron when it counted in this series. In the final five games of the finals, when the game was on the line (the score within a two-goal margin), here was the Sedin twins' stat line: zero goals, zero assists, zero points.
Okay, sure, they sucked in this bizarrely baroque and byzantine scenario. But the Sedins, Luongo, and the rest of the Canucks were one goddamned game away from winning it all. (For two consecutive games, actually.) Describing their goalie as bad or their best forwards as underwhelming seems somehow to fail to capture that essential fact.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ryan Smyth: I'd rather lose in the cold than win in L.A.

Apparently winning lots of games and living in SoCal doesn't work for Ryan Smyth. He'd rather blow up the Oilers' salary structure and trawl the bottom of the standings for a while longer. Lunatic.

biting satire

All hail Bogdan von Pylon. Source material from Down Goes Brown.

Monday, June 20, 2011

as heard on Puck Daddy Radio

(Whenever I can, I spend an hour a day listening to Puck Daddy Radio. Sometimes, I even answer their Question of the Day. Today, host Rob Pizzo read the following and followed it up with "and Chris Collision can kiss my ass".)

Today's question, the not-leading-at-all "What aspect of Nicklas Lidstrom (stats, intangibles, etc.) impresses you the most?".

By far the most impressive thing about Nick Lidstrom's game is his incredible aura of saintliness. He's completely immune to criticism or accusations that his game isn't what it once was, unlike every other 40-year-old defenceman in the history of the game. Reagan was the Teflon president, because no criticism ever stuck to him: Lidstrom is the Teflon Dman, the only player of my lifetime who is a more obvious candidate for canonization than for the Hall of Fame.

I bet Lidstrom could skate on water that *wasn't even frozen*. His slap shot heals the sick and his outlet passes sometimes take flight as Lidstrom's angelic brethren descend from the heavens to honor their glorious leader. We are all literally blessed to receive another year-long reason for guys like Pizzo & Wysh to explain over and over again that plus/minus is a poor way to judge a defenceman's skill.

Unless he actually posts a decent plus/minus this year. In which case they won't say a word about how misleading it is.*

All Hail Saint Lidstrom!

--Collision, who thinks Lidstrom is simultaneously great and overrated

*Note: this was written before Pizzo & Wysh opened the show with gushing about how Lidstrom's career plus/minus was like plus a million. Which apparently matters, even though 10 minutes later his minus rating for last year didn't matter.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

le sigh: Grantland on hockey is garbage

Oh, and I'd had such high hopes for Grantland. I mean, the rambly, insight-free Katie Baker writing about hockey--how could that possibly go wrong?

Well, it starts going wrong with calling the explicitly-identified audience for your writing "idiot".

Dear Hockey Idiot: Here Are Answers to All Your Questions About Game 7. You're Welcome.

While that's a half-okay blog move--hey, idiots, thanks for reading--from the classed-up joint named after El Deano de NorteAmericano DesportesEscribo, I would have expected (and as a reader, I'm going ahead and demanding) something really hard to think of and difficult to pull off, something like:

Since there's nothing as wonderful as playoff hockey, and nothing as agonizing as a playoff elimination game, and since a game 7 being played for the Stanley Cup is nearly painfully intense, we here at Grantland want to prepare you for a terrific experience.

But no. Katie Baker, standing here metonymically for Grantland, needs to establish that she's smart, we're dumb, she knows, we don't, she's big, we're little.

Then we get nearly an entire paragraph into her piece, we get our first jarring formatting glitch:

On a darker note, both teams have seen a player go down in terrifying fashion & # 8 2 1 2 ; Boston's Nathan Horton was concussed in Game 3,

Good to see this prestige project is getting the same shitty proofreading and quality control the mothership is known for.

The rest is standard Baker-mush. A couple canny links establish her bona fides (again), and she basks in the reflected glow of Down Goes Brown and Greg Wyshynski, while stirring in a not-exhausted-at-all question/answer format and worthless comments like "keep an eye out for Marchand and Seguin". Uhm. How is the supposed audience supposed to keep an eye out for players they're identified as having never seen? Throw a jersey number out if you actually want to be helpful--otherwise, delete this section, because all it does is waste my fucking time.

Then we've got some Grantlandian lexical play that's undercut in the very same sentence by an infelicitous usage:

it's a toss-up whether skilled and despised (skilledespised?) agitators such as Alexandre Burrows and Maxim Lapierre will be featured or swept under the rug, though their valuable play is likely to earn them some mentions.

Valuable play?

D+, Baker. People seem to like your work, so I am going to assume you're capable of more.

--Collision, still waiting to get hired

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

the Ivy Leage is for chumps

Seriously: fuck Princeton. As a hockey writer, Anaheim Duck and Princeton alum George Parros is a pretty good hockey player--and as a hockey player, he's one of those goons who makes your Georges Laraque guys look like legit power forwards. All italics mine, because I didn't have the heart time to go through and explicitly mock every one of his clichés.

Hello Times readers! What a Game 6 on Monday night, a 5-2 Boston Bruins victory over the visiting Vancouver Canucks.

Is he going to write in this weird, atavistic hack voice the whole time?
The first period was certainly action packed
Yup. He sure is. *reaches for Scotch baster*
and unfortunately for the Canucks, it was the same old story at the TD Garden.
Which story? The one where they kicked the shit out of the entire league all season? *checks list of media-approved narratives* Oh, I guess the story you mean is the one where Vancouver's Kryptonite is high-pitched Massholes.
I actually thought Vancouver had a dominant start (first shift, I guess would be more accurate)
Dude? Thomas Pynchon gets self-correcting parentheticals. William Gaddis gets self-correcting parentheticals. Marcel Proust gets self-correcting parentheticals. George Parros doesn't. And a dominant shift = a dominant start? Guess you didn't take a lot of Saul Kripke's logic classes at Princeton. (Clear the Crease: more analytic philosophy joaks than any other hockey blog or your money back, homie!)
until the Canucks’ Mason Raymond went down in a heap at the hands of Johnny Boychuk and missed the remainder of the game. It appeared like his spine was crunched up as he crashed into the boards - never a good way to start a match.
Ah, it's insights like this that make player commentary such an indispensable resource. Without reading this, I would hardly have concluded that apparent spine trauma, followed by a guy requiring help to move and being unable to continue competing, is somehow a sub-optimal component of a competition.
I think Raymond’s absence ruined the bench chemistry for Vancouver Coach Alain Vigneault. I know it often does the same to our bench with an odd number of forwards, and trust me, I know a thing or two about bench chemistry.
Is this supposed to be a joke? Like "hey, guys, I know what it's like to spend most of a game on the bench" (because I'm bad at hockey playing)? Or is he actually bragging about how much he knows about chemistry?
All of a sudden the lines get screwy and that leads to too many men on the ice calls.
A-ha! That explains the...checks the box penalty called for too many men on the ice that night. I knew something had to account for that!
Things went haywire for Vancouver in a hurry. It was a tough pill for Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo to swallow, I am sure.

The Bruins played a great second period as well. It can be challenging to cling to a four-goal lead;
I mean, sure. But at least you've got those four goals to fall back on: no matter how easy it is to play when you're four in the hole, you're unlikely to come back. Is that stupidly, insultingly obvious? Yes, but at least I'm not presenting it as some kind of significant insight. Also: who "clings" to a four-goal lead? Do football teams "cling" to four-touchdown leads?
playing too safe will lead to more defensive zone play and more goals against.
Remember this, kids: according to George Parros, playing defensively leads to getting scored on. Looking forward to his coaching career already!
But Boston stayed true to its system and kept applying pressure.

An unimpressive power play for the Canucks hasn't helped their cause throughout the Stanley Cup Final. But things finally clicked early in the third period and it’s always a momentum swinger to score early or late in a period. Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin finally got on the stat sheet, which by all accounts was overdue for a player of his caliber. It was simply just bound to happen.

Speaking of high-caliber players, I have to give some love to Boston’s Mark Recchi. He has been playing so well for a Bruins squad that has obviously benefitted from his leadership and solid play. I have to believe he is like a Teemu Selanne for their team in many respects.
Sure, except for the respects involving scoring and skating well. Which I guess leaves advanced age and superlative ability to consume liquor.

*thinks about it*

Confidential to Mark Recchi: will you be my friend?
I was very excited about the outcome of Game 6 because who doesn't love a Game 7?
That sentence was written by an Ivy League graduate. I point this out because if I didn't, you'd probably mistake it for a Grade 4 "what I did on Wednesday night" report. Oh, and you know who doesn't love a Game 7? The team that could have won the series in Game 6 and didn't. Also that team's fans. Also anybody who left their car in downtown Vancouver the other night.
There's nothing like it in the world. No other sport has this much emotion wrapped into one game than a Stanley Cup Final Game 7.
Not so much a series of lexical clichés there, but a sentiment that is kind of tiring and that turned out to be false: Game 7 was an adequate series-ender, but neither team seemed notably emotional--Kesler might be an exception, because he played a monstrous game, looking fast and physical and committed.
Everyone hold on tight and watch the drama unfold in Vancouver Wednesday night!

Over and out.


The idea that a GM gets a B for a season when his team was the second-worst team in the league and were positioned to go into the next season without an NHL-caliber goaltender on the roster is preposterous nonsense.

Except for Iraq, Afghanistan, and a banking crisis, I give Bush II's presidency a B.

Except for how the Stones' set got cut short, I had a B time at Altamont.

Except for the premature ejaculation and all the crying, and the getting beat up by her dad, I give the night I lost my virginity a B.

Except for the bad scripts, awful timing, and complete lack of screen chemistry, I thought Ishtar and Hudson Hawk were pretty good--B for both!

--Collision, who actually in real life gives Chinese Democracy an A-

Monday, June 13, 2011

are the Canucks the Bruins?

No, I'm not suggesting the Canucks are playing with against themselves.

(Alain Vignault pulling Luongo yet again.)

It's just that this season reminds me strongly of 2008-9, when the Bruins dominated a shit-ton of the individual-type awards (Norris, Vezina, Jack Adams) and then got upset in the playoffs.

As I write this, it's the first intermission of game 6, Bruins up 4-0, and I don't think anybody would bet against Vancouver to take the series. But if they don't pull it out (see illustration above), look for them to have a horrible rash of injuries all next season and then dominate the league in 2012-13.


*"it" = drunken speculation. Iced Earth rules; In Solitude drools. We love you all.

--Collision, whose agent won't return his calls anymore

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

SI shills for Canucks, blogger unimpressed

Rome may have been a bit out of his depth alongside Kevin Bieksa, taking two penalties in Game 2 and mistiming his hit against Horton in Game 3.

Yes, yes, two penalties because he was "out of his depth", followed by a "mistimed" hit. I think that's how everybody would describe the way the man plays.

Particularly Nathan Horton.

Shame that Raffi Torres sometimes "mistimes" his hits. Why, frequently, his timing is so bad that the opposing player is facing the wrong direction entirely! And I think we all feel bad that Ryan Kesler occasionally "mistimes" his humorous quips about fucking other players' wives. I mean, timing is such an important component of telling a joke.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Avery, the rain and I

I had the opportunity to talk with Bethlehem Shoals as he wrote this superb piece about GBLT athletes in specific and the overlaps of sport and commerce in general. I learned a lot thinking out loud with him, and I learned a lot reading his final version.
At least in America, politics are polarizing. The right, religious or otherwise, and to a lesser degree, the left, make for important consumer blocks. Say a Nash or Avery is admired for his stance, aiding his brand. Shouldn’t there be other fans out there just clamoring for a player who, however subtly, stands with his values? To be even more cynical about it, maybe Todd Reynolds isn’t an incompetent jerk, or an irresponsible one, but a clever strategist. It may be a risky maneuver, but Reynolds serving as mouthpiece makes it less so.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

no time for this today, but

As regards the following:
Anyone who feels real moral outrage when reading the Sports section has almost certainly skipped the News and Metro sections. The murderers given a single paragraph on 2C, The Hague-bound war criminals on 1A, would leave the most self-righteous reader too demoralized to moralize on, say, the Miami Heat. A man taking his talents to South Beach is, in the context of a single day's newspaper, a comical diversion, a performance-art piece of slapstick self-absorption.

I would just like to say: Bullshit.

Okay, maybe I'll try to say a little more.

The particularly pernicious falsehood in the paragraph above is the seemingly innocuous grounding of everything in the newspaper. One of the reasons sports is an acceptable venue for morality* is that it's a simple and easily verified set of activities, activities that are then heavily mediated and commented upon. And in the sports section, this mediation and commentary is often so intensely vapid, racist, power-worshipping, and generally craven bullying from Cowherds cowards that a reasonable person whose sense of proportion is fully intact is entirely justified in taking an hour away from worrying about rapist cops in NYC to fret over NPR's most recent segment on why LeBron James should still be criticized for moving from Cleveland to Miami.

*Besides, of course, the non-trivial point that every facet of human activity has a moral dimension. Or, to put it a slightly different way, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing righteously.