Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Is It True That You No Longer Beat Your Wife?

"The boys in the Oilogosphere spent much of the Ryan Smyth homecoming on Tuesday night rehashing the Kevin-Lowe-shoulda-signed-him-at-the-deadline argument.

Those whose attachment to Smyth is primarily an emotional one are beyond rational argument. But I respect their emotions."
-John Mackinnon

A couple of things:

1) The fact that MSM "blogs" like Mackinnon's don't link to non-MSM blogs speaks volumes about that industry. In his defence, I doubt Mackinnon has much say in the matter. He reads our blogs, as his usage of the term "Oilogosphere" indicates. My guess is that it's Edmonton Journal policy not to link to non-Journal sites. But whether it's Journal policy or his own refusal to link, it's another fine example of how elitist, protective, insecure and out of touch most traditional media outlets are with consumers.

In their book Wikinomics, Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams talk about the rise of "The Web 2.0", and an emerging, powerful economy they coin "Wikinomics." The consumers in this new economy share certain values, including speed, freedom, openness, innovation, mobility, authenticity, and playfulness. They want their products, and the delivery of those products, to reflect those norms. The response from some industries has been to adapt to the consumer, and the result has been phenomenal success. Other industries, in particular the entertainment and media industries, have decided they'd rather punch at the wind, even going as far as labeling consumers criminals and taking them to court. The result has been...well, we all know the result.

As Tyler noted in his post on blogs and the media, with blogs "there’s an accountability to the consumer that’s lacking in other forms of media." It's partly why blogs are becoming more and more popular. Here's a fine example of it. I just linked to a story by a writer at a newspaper, and I'll take direct heat for whatever I say in my comments section. Yet I doubt there will be a return reference for me, because that would be an acknowledgment that someone other than a professional writer working at a newspaper has a valid opinion. And most "blogs" on MSM sites put up unnecessary hurdles and barriers that make commenting a nuisance (as a non-exact but related example, CTVglobemedia asks readers to agree to Terms and Condition before they can have access to RSS feeds from any of their sites). It's much easier for media corporations and journalists to ignore bloggers and their blogs (or if they are really progressive, belittle or lamely imitate them) than it is for them to adapt, restructure, and embrace change. Which explains why those corporations, and their newspapers, will all be extinct in ten years.

2) Suggesting that those throughout the Oilogosphere who opposed the Ryan Smyth trade are being more emotional than rational is absolutely ludicrous. I'm sure Mackinnon is referencing (without actually linking to them or writing their names), posts that appeared yesterday on this site, Covered in Oil, Lowetide, and BDHS. Looking at only those posts, he's right. Most of us spent yesterday talking about what Ryan Smyth meant to us as fans of the game, and it was therefore full of emotion. It makes sense, considering it was Smyth's first time back to Edmonton (Mackinnon didn't criticize the Oilers for running the pre-game tribute video, or Oilers fans for giving Smyth an emotional standing ovation). But it is wrong to claim that the Oilogosphere has spent the days since February 27th, 2007 oozing emotion and nothing else. There are too many posts to link to, but anybody who reads the Oilogosphere regularly is fully aware of the myriad of rational arguments about the Ryan Smyth trade made by those who opposed it. To give but one example, Tyler Dellow provides an argument on the true value of Smyth that is far more rational and compelling than anything I've ever read in the sports section of any newspaper. There goes Mackinnon's argument that Smyth was "not a franchise player and certainly not an elite player at any time during his NHL career."

In fact, if we want to point out a lack of rational arguments, let's look at Mackinnon's post. He freely admits that Lowe's argument about not knowing that the salary cap was going to go up was "lame," yet spends no more time on it. He states that the Oilers options would have been limited in the future if they had paid Smyth $5.5 million for five years, then ignores the fact that Sheldon Souray (also aged 30) is making $5.4 million a year for the next five years. The argument that Souray is more valuable to the team than Smyth, and therefore deserving of that money? Non-existent. Mackinnon does make one argument, and I'll be blunt: it makes no sense.

"One factoid to ponder: If the Oilers had signed Smyth, it is entirely possible they don't plummet like a stone, losing all but two of their final 18 games. That tailspin left the Oilers picking sixth overall in the draft, a position they turned into Sam Gagner, their 18-year-old rookie sensation."

Even though Mackinnon notes that the outcome is one "no one could have planned, or forecast," it's his main argument for why the Ryan Smyth trade was a good decision. Because the Oilers were able to get Gagner with the sixth overall pick, because he had a fantastic tournament against the Russians, because he has played (exceedingly) well in the first eight games of his NHL career--because we know all of this now, eight full months after the Ryan Smyth trade was made--we are supposed to be in favor of the deal. In fact, Mackinnon wants us to decide, "Smytty or Gagner?"

This argument is either a red herring, a loaded question, or both. Others can correct me. I like comments. What I do know is that this argument doesn't wash. Why? Well, because there is no guarantee that the Ryan Smyth trade leads to, or "triggers" any of these things, just as there is no possible way that the Oilers could have known any of these things before they made the deal with the Islanders. They may have hoped that the entire defensive core would get injured, they may have hoped that the team would go in the tank, they may have hoped that they could get Gagner, and they may have hoped once they got him that he made the leap immediately, but there is no chance in hell they knew for sure. And any or all of those things could have happened with Smyth still on the roster. It's impossible to prove otherwise. It's unfair to say, "Smytty or Gagner?" In fact, it's irrational. You can't frame the merits of the Ryan Smyth trade within that context. Seeing as Mackinnon decided to discuss the Oilogosphere's irrationality today, I thought I'd take a moment to point out his.


Great stuff Andy.

Personally, I supported the Ryan Smith trade last year on the only rational argument that has ever existed for that trade: that he wasn't worth the money he was asking. Sadly, any truth to this argument was blown out of the water the moment we gave that kind of money to Souray and signed Penner to a huge salary. If we value those two that much, surely we should have valued Ryan Smyth more (and we could have afforded to pay Smyth more).

Since the value for money argument disappeared, I haven't seen anything to point to the trade making sense.

Heh, I think you actually missed his point. He's trying to argue that hindsight isn't 20/20. You are! And you're right... when he looks back on the situation, he sees everything "clearly." He says that it's the inevitable result, and for the better. Only in hindsight are people able to see that things were for the better. He's falling into that trap, assuming that somehow he could have seen ahead of time what he now sees.

Anyways, semantics aside, I think you have a plenty good point. People like this peruse the blogs to get the point they want, without considering the material prior to or after the situation. Sure yesterday everyone in the Oilogosphere was pretty down and emotional; He probably went searching for "Smyth Crying" or something akin to that and pulled out the excerpts he wanted. Credibility? Zero, in my mind. Don't critique a person's position until you've developed just where they stand in general.

Ah, and your points on the Wikinomics are cool! I have the book. The concept fascinates me. And I think that we're constantly seeing a "war between sides." There are the traditional markets, which have the majority of the revenue, and the more populous but less directly influential customers who are now establishing their own voices. Policies like the ones you mention are clearly an attempt by companies to keep their position atop the field. But then, don't blame them too heavily -- if Wikinomics is correct, those companies that don't conform will fall heavily. No point in getting mad at someone who is engineering their own defeat!

He's trying to argue that hindsight isn't 20/20. You are!

Cleaned it up. Should make more sense.

Nice job Andy. I wonder if you would care to go that one final step and ponder out loud why it is he says things like this. Of course his response would be that its his opinion. But since its the same traditional/stodgy media entity that signs his paycheque and owns the team, is this a not so hidden defense of the team and its managerial decision making process?

I'm really tired of the media polarization in this town. Its time that somebody takes them to task for their complete lack of objectivity. Funny, you'd think somebody out there might have a different point of view. But it seems nobody in mainstream media is really prepared to ask the hard questions and take the Oilers to task for just about anything. I mean, where else would you get away with an arena advisory task force composed of the very people who want same arena to go ahead. And NOBODY says anything about it!

Rookie sensation? Gagner is not looking that great at all! He is a non-factor and will be a good 3rd liner in 3 years... You Edmonton fans are hilarious :)

If MacKinnon doesn't have access to players and coaches and the imprimatur of the MSM/owner, is his blog even competitive within the Oilogosphere? Even with all his advantages, he's trailing and falling further behind.

By MacKinnon's logic, Edmonton also should have traded Hemsky away so they had a shot at Patrick Kane. Well we're at it, we probably better ship Hemsky and Horcoff off before next season to have a shot at Tavares. Because clearly, the best way to build a good team is to intentionally tank. The really sickening thing is that if Lowe had traded for a quality defenceman at the start of last season, we might have been in contention at the deadline and Smyth wouldn't have been dealt.

Anudder thing: the “Ryan Smyth is not an elite/franchise player” argument essentially rests on the assumption that Smyth was not, as they say, a “difference maker.” Which is a valid enough subjective opinion (albeit one that has very little statistical evidence to support it, as the numbers guys have shown). But when you add the “Smyth or Ganger” dichotomy, you’re basically saying Ryan Smyth’s absence caused the team to tank it’s way to a high draft pick, which is a concession that his presence made a not-insignificant difference to the team’s performance. You can’t have it both ways, but a lot of people (including, apparently, John MacKinnon) think they can.

He states that the Oilers options would have been limited in the future if they had paid Smyth $5.5 million for five years, then ignores the fact that Sheldon Souray (also aged 30) is making $5.4 million a year for the next five years. The argument that Souray is more valuable to the team than Smyth, and therefore deserving of that money? Non-existent.

To be fair to Mackinnon (strictly an academic exercise since his post is mouthbreathing crap, but bear with me), the quality of the Smyth trade has nothing to do with the quality of the Souray signing. It's quite possible for Lowe to be a genius by not handcuffing his franchise by re-signing Smyth, then getting hit on the head and handcuffing his franchise by signing Souray.

To put it another way, "Smyth or Gagner?" is every bit as false a question as "Smyth or Souray?" The only issue that really matters is "Smyth or O'Marra, Nilsson, a draft pick, and some budget room?"

Didn't MC79 do some ES pointscoring/60 minutes stats that had Smyth and Iginla basically even? Or has my memory slipped?

Didn't MC79 do some ES pointscoring/60 minutes stats that had Smyth and Iginla basically even? Or has my memory slipped?

it's linked in the very same article you're commenting on.

it's linked in the very same article you're commenting on.

Ohh.. never mind, then.

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