The Mike Schur Rebuttal Bracket and Some Smacketology FAQetology

We’ve already recapped Day 1 of Smacketology for you earlier this morning, but let’s take another opportunity to address our reader feedback. Say what you will about the seedings, the individual matchups, the apparent and crazy-making oversights in our Field of 32, but our Wire bracket has certainly gotten you talking. (If by “talking,” you mean “cyber-ululating with grief about outrageous miscarriages of tournament justice” and “@-replied death threats to everyone associated with Grantland in any discoverable capacity.”) This was, of course, to be expected. The Wire‘s universe contained literally millions of characters (the show was nothing if not sprawling in its unparalleled dramatic scope), so narrowing that down to a mere thirty-and-two contestants was an impossible task, akin to keeping McNulty off the sauce, getting Bunk away from cigars, or separating Landsman from a suspiciously battered copy of Irish Lasses. We get it. The stats were juked.

And while we do our best to drown out the criticism by plugging our ears and humming that LMFAO song with skull-rattling intensity, when the hue and cry comes from inside our own house, we have to take a fearless and searching moral inventory of how we’ve hurt people. So, in the spirit of openness, we’ll now present a Rebuttal Bracket by Grantland contributor and Parks and Recreation showrunner Michael Schur — which arrived in our inbox seemingly seconds after our Smacketology brackets went live, under the rubric “Suck It” — and then we’ll answer some frequently asked questions (FAQetology!) about the methodology that produced such, ahem, controversial results.

1. McNulty
2. Avon Barksdale
3. Daniels
4. Kima Greggs
5. Chris Partlow
6. Prezbo
7. Herc
8. Rawls
9. Mayor Royce
10. Rhonda Pearlman
11. Valchek
12. Orlando
13. Norman
14. Walon
15. Scott Templeton
16. Fitzhugh

1. Stringer
2. Michael
3. Marlo
4. Bunny Colvin
5. Bodie
6. The Greek
7. Burrell
8. Beadie
9. Frank Sobotka
10. Gus
11. Stinkum
12. Brianna Barksdale
13. Namond Brice
14. Shardene
15. Kenard
16. Nerese Campbell

1. Omar
2. Bubbs
3. Snoop
4. Cutty
5. Wallace
6. Carver
7. Carcetti
8. Levy
9. Slim Charles
10. Sydnor
11. Dukie
12. Poot
13. Butchie
14. Donette
15. Landsman
16. Donut the car thief

1. Bunk
2. Prop Joe
3. D’Angelo Barksdale
4. Lester Freamon
5. Clay Davis
6. Wee-Bey
7. Brother Mouzone
8. Randy
9. Cheese
10. Vondas
11. Odell Watkins
12. The Deacon
13. Serge
14. Detective Crutchfield
15. Ziggy
16. Terry D’Agostino

A high-quality, thought-provoking and comprehensive effort, indeed. Better than ours? Perhaps! (Probably!) But: (a) By not narrowing the field beyond 64, mob-inciting “omissions” were a small to nonexistent factor, and (b) this is the work of a single, great mind, rather than the collective effort of a dozen merely average ones. That’s largely beside the point; we’re not here to rebut the Rebuttal Bracket, and a fine one it is. (Really, we’re a little embarrassed about ours by comparison. He made his in about five minutes, off the top of his head, while we hired a designer.) This does, however, raise the types of important questions that have been posed to us repeatedly, via Facebook, Twitter, and expletive-laden phone calls to our mothers over the past 24 hours. So let’s answer them!

How did you brain-damaged macaques put together this thing, anyway? Did you just write some names on slips of paper, smear them in filth, and fling them against the sides of your cages, transcribing the results of whatever feces-streaked entries stuck?

Come on, it was a little more involved than that. Our bracket-building process is a combination of the best aspects of a fantasy baseball auction, drunken brunch-planning, and the frenzied, improvised bookmaking systems employed at all major blood sports. First, all available staffers were assembled in the Grantland conference room (note: Grantland does not have its own conference room), where Master of Ceremonies Bill Simmons stood beside an easel, Sharpie in hand, ready to transcribe the results in real time. The name of a character would be “nominated” (i.e., screamed out at a level that could be heard over the din of a dozen writers and editors all playing a high-volume game of “The Wire word association”), and then votes would be tallied: one, two or three points per Grantlander per character, with each participant allowed a four-point “MegaVote” for each of his or her two favorite choices.

MegaVote? The hell you say?
Yes, four points per MegaVote. It’s like a three-point vote, plus one, for a total of [opens Calculator app] four points.

So then what happens?
A “score” is recorded next to each character’s name on the easel. The characters with the highest “scores” received the highest “seeds” in the tournament.

An easel? What the hell kind of operation is this? Don’t you have computers?
We don’t know, the conference room has an easel with a giant pad of tear-away paper on it. Write a letter to ESPN Facilities if you need more information.

And then you made the brackets?
Yes! Well, no. Then we e-mailed some people who weren’t there with us for the live voting, and added their scores to the mix. And then Simmons went to the White House just so he could get the President’s opinion. This was too grave a matter of national import not to involve the highest power in the land. He picked Omar, but you probably know that by now.

How the hell is McNulty a 3-seed?
Some Grantland folks have strange, strong opinions on things. McNulty’s one of them, apparently. What the fuck did he do?

Maurice Levy is a 5-seed, but Bubbles is a 7 and Serge somehow made the tournament?!?! WHAT?
After an initial round of voting, Levy received five additional “crooked lawyer” points and Bubbles was penalized 10 “this guy’s career should have taken off after the show, what happened?” points. We have no idea what happened with Serge. It’s like one of those famous psychological experiments in groupthink that always result in marginal TV characters getting inexplicably high ratings in online single-elimination tournaments.

OK, but where is [name of overlooked character]?
You mean Carver? Or Poot? Or Beadie? Or Namond? Or The Greek? Any character not appearing in the Field of 32 missed the cut by *this much*, or was the loser of an offline “play-in bracket” won by Ziggy, the lowest overall seed in the tournament, and who was subsequently shotgunned to death by Omar in the first round. (Final vote: 18,215 to 193.)

Fine, but what happened to Slim Charles? Surely Slim Charles was in the mix.
The minutes of the nominations session are sketchy at points, smeared to illegibility by the spittle-flecked intensity of The Process, but here’s what transpired based upon the salvageable part of our notes:

[Illegible staffer name]: Hey, what about Slim Charles?
[Illegible staffer name 2]: Yeah! Slim Charles! Three points!
Reality Czar David Jacoby: Guys, I feel like Slim Charles’ nickname is insensitive to thin people. I move to strike him from the tournament immediately. I feel very strongly about this.
[Angry group of staffers]: Three points! Four points! Three points, three points! [chaotic din] Five hundred points!
[Slim Charles’ name is recorded on the easel. Reality Czar David Jacoby rises from his seat, tears Slim’s name off the easel, and eats the scrap of paper.]
Reality Czar David Jacoby: A man must have a code.

That’s exactly how it went down, as best as we can determine.

If you had to do The Process over, would you do anything differently?
There’s no way we would have allowed Clam Chowder to win it all. Its storyline completely fell apart in Season 5.

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Filed Under: Parks and Recreation, Smacketology, The Wire

Mark Lisanti is an editor at Grantland.

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