Today Bill Simmons’ Grantland ran an article that was, essentially, filler. There was no point, completely arbitrary, and should be read in a whiny, high-pitched, pretentious voice.
It canvassed eight staff writers and asked them whether or not March Madness was properly rated. The responses are here.
Chuck Klosterman, on how the selection committee has become TOO good at its job (and why this is a problem?):
With unlimited media, nothing remains unknown; the committee makes fewer mistakes, and the seedings have become staggeringly reliable. Which was always the goal. The only problem is that the realization of that goal erodes the inherent unpredictability that everyone craves. The surgery was successful, but the patient died.
You know what Chuck? I think I agree with you. Everyone should put all the number one seeds into the Final Four and call it a day. Wait, that’s retarded. I believe it was LAST YEAR that a team that was in one of the useless play-in games (VCU) made it ALL THE WAY to the Final Four. That wasn’t surprising in the least. And how about the fact that, in the history of the tournament, all four number one seeds have made it to the Final Four in the same year only ONCE. I don’t think Klosterman knows what the difference between predictability and unpredictability is.
Or how about this gem from Michael Kruse:
But the whole fill-out-the-brackets thing? TOTALLY OVERRATED. I don’t do it. I won’t do it. Because I want to be able to watch Montana beat Wisconsin or Harvard beat Vanderbilt or South Dakota State beat Baylor, and enjoy that unabashedly, without worrying about whether I “picked” them or not. You “had” Montana? You “had” South Dakota State? No. You didn’t HAVE anything. You don’t deserve to claim even the most peripheral form of ownership. Because it matters to the kids on those teams and their coaches in a way that it doesn’t and shouldn’t and could never matter to you. And because they don’t deserve to be depersonalized into pieces to be so cavalierly “picked” or not “picked” in some annual national gambling exercise. And because they also don’t deserve to be called “bracket busters” if they win. It’s insulting and selfish. The point isn’t that they’ve ruined your chances to win some dumb pool. The point is that they’ve done something unexpected, exhilarating, and empowering, for themselves and the people who know them, love them, and have invested in them. Your “pick” does not count as an investment. You say this gives you a reason to watch and to care? “Picks” make you care about the thing you’ve set up to give you a reason to care about the thing … NOT the thing itself. The thing is the thing. Your brackets are not. At stake in games over the next three weeks: goals, dreams, jobs, futures. That’s not enough for you? An interest based on brackets is an inauthentic interest. I want my interest (or disinterest) to be real.
Who is he arguing with? I can just picture Mr. Kruse here in person using “finger quotes” every time he says “picks” in order to emphasize his “point”. His outrage is almost palatable. It’s so visceral. I’m amazed there aren’t any exclamation points in it. First off, as someone who does fill out a bracket every year, I do find it pleasurable when the teams I pick advance. However, when the 12 seed I picked to upset the five seed doesn’t come through, I don’t spend the next 48 hours plotting a complicated kidnap/murder/suicide scenario to get back at those bastards.
Apparently Mr. Kruse has no idea that one can fill out a bracket just for fun, upload it onto the Internet at no cost to him (unless he wants to count his Internet Service Provider), and enjoy the tournament on his terms. Cheer for who he wants, be happy when his teams come through, and be ambivalent when they don’t (like a god damn normal person).
And, finally, Jay Caspian Kang:
Nobody really cares about the Final Four or the championship anymore — really, who watched that Butler vs. Duke game? Does anyone even remember that Duke won a national championship a couple years ago? Or even that UConn won last year? At this point, the basketball’s so bad that you’re just hoping for a 15-seed to upend a hated no. 2.
This is all kinds of douchey. His example of a terrible championship game is the “Gordon-Hayward-halfcourt-heave-that-almost-banked-in-and-would-have-been-the-greatest-ending-in-sports-history” championship game (not even mentioning the lowly mid-major over the college basketball Mecca angle)?
What? Watching that again out of context is just as exciting as watching it live was. If he wants a terrible championship game, last year when Butler shot 18% from the floor (12-64!) and got smashed by UConn is a MUCH better example. It’s not even like I had to do research for that, THOSE WERE THE LAST TWO CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES.
It makes me sad when something as contrived as this finds its way onto the front page of a nationally recognized sports website. Especially when you can tell that the writers are just grasping at straws, and defending those straws.
Happy Tuesday. Enjoy the play-in games (if you’re in to those kinds of things).