Smacketology: Day 3 – The Sweet 16 and the Rise of Bubbles

David T. Cole/Grantland Illustration Smacketology 16

Perhaps unsurprisingly, because of the vagaries of the selection criteria for the Field of 32, an accidental tapping of some kind of seeding-related Zeitgeist, or some factor as unknowable as where McNulty and Bunk might choose to place their penises at the conclusion of any given bender, there were a mere three upsets in the initial 16 Smacketology matchups. Omar slaughtered Ziggy, Stringer outmaneuvered Herc, Prop Joe stashed Frank Sobotka’s body in a can full of poorly pimped Russian hookers. Such is life in The Game. The coin-flip in a pair of 4/5 games came up tails, with Cutty advancing at Chris Partlow’s expense in the West, and Freamon overtaking Wee-Bey in the East. Good guys win. That’s not necessarily a narrative paradigm The Wire embraces, but there you have it.

The lone shocker of Round 1, then, came in Hamsterdam’s 2/7 game. Against all odds (or, at the very least, against the odds laid out by Grantland’s Blue Ribbon Panel of Shouty, Finger-Waving, Slim Charles-Excluding Soup Monkeys), resourceful scrap merchant Bubbles triumphed over shit-talker extraordinaire Clay Davis. To better understand what happened, let’s rewind to review the tale of the tape:


Bubbles’s victory was a resounding one, to boot: 9,723 to 4,099. As bracket-makers, though such unexpected results tend to excite us (most of us, anyway; one Rafe Bartholomew spent most of the afternoon refreshing the Facebook poll, hugging himself tightly as his whispered Sheeeeeeitt at a dispassionate computer screen), we still like to understand what happened. Did we, in our collective delight in Clay’s all-time-great catchphrase, throw far too many three-point rankings in the mix? Did we overlook Bubs’s workmanlike junk collecting in favor of flashier characters? Given the results, it’s hard not to answer “yes” to both. Seriously, though: Davis has a great fucking catchphrase. There’s an insufferable beer commercial in there somewhere.

Now is not the time to look back, but instead to gaze forward to today’s Sweet 16, when things finally start to get interesting.

Grantland Bracket (Day Three)

What surprises does the round hold? The West Baltimore region’s no. 2 Michael vs. no. 3 Snoop throwdown is sure to be a tight one; at least one usually mild-mannered editor has brought in her own pneumatic nail gun with which to nervously pockmark the office wall while monitoring our in-house Wire GameCast. In the other most intriguing 2/3 contest, Marlo meets Bodie; when cold and warm hearts collide (we’re now picturing the combatants ripping open their chests and hurling their blood-pumps at one another, pretty sweet), which triumphs? The mind says Marlo, but the gut is all in on Bodie.

And then there’s the Sweet 16’s real Main Event, down in Hamsterdam: McNulty, the simultaneously under/overrated no. 3 (a no. 1 in the Tremendous Rebuttal Bracket, he jumped from a 4 to a 3 in a last-ditch attempt to juke his stats back to respectability) vs. the lovable scrapper causing some serious damage from the 7 slot. I predict Jimmy in a walk (fine, a shitfaced stagger), but there might be enough residual pro- sentiment for our lovable underdog to keep the Bubberella story alive for one more round. But before we pit our heroes in mortal combat, let’s let them take a nice ride to Leave It To Beaverland. Enjoy them both while you can.


Round 1, Day 2 Results:

*East Baltimore Region*
#1 Stringer Bell (15,665) defeats #8 Thomas “Herc” Hauk (375)
#2 Marlo Stanfield (11,850) defeats #7 Kim Greggs (3,134)
#3 “Bodie” Broadus (13,771) defeats #6 William Rawls (1,109)
#5 Lester Freamon (11,877) defeats #4 “Wee-Bey” Brice (3,060) **UPSET!**

*Hamsterdam Region*
#1 Bunk Moreland (9,614) defeats #8 Brother Mouzone (1,814)
#7 “Bubbles” (9,723) defeats #2 Clay Davis (4,099) **UPSET!**
#3 Jimmy McNulty (8,305) defeats #6 Cedric Daniels (912)
#4 Wallace (8,454) defeats #5 Maurice Levy (4,778)

Filed Under: HBO, Smacketology, The Wire

Mark Lisanti is an editor at Grantland.

Archive @ marklisanti