There is nothing better than March Madness. But like all great things, March Madness gets exploited in the name of some stupid shit. And the ubiquity of various pop culture brackets every March is one of the most annoying trends.
This year’s bracket du jour is Grandland’s “tournament” of characters from The Wire. On paper, I should love this, as it combines two of my favorite things: March Madness and The Wire. And while I’m always in favor of conversations about the greatest television show of all-time, I was only mildly pleased by Grandland’s bracket—and not just because of the huge flaws made by the committee.
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Joe Posnanski doesn’t like the Division Series—in fact, he ranks Division Series games as the seventh most exciting games in a baseball season, behind “Cool mid-season matchups between great starting pitchers” AND “Important pennant race games in August.” He makes a pretty compelling argument, but he falls back on one piece of conventional wisdom that I don’t think is quite true: that the Division Series is a crapshoot.
People say this all the time: The Division Series is too short. It’s a crapshoot. Great teams get upset all the time by mediocre teams that snuck into the playoffs. One great starting pitcher can exert too much influence. But is this really true? Let’s quote Posnanski himself:
“You know how people always say that in baseball the playoffs are a crapshoot? Well, there’s a reason they say that: It’s because the playoffs are a crapshoot. Since 1998 — an arbitrary cutoff point, yes, but I’ll give you the whole set of numbers in a minute — since 1998, teams with better regular season records are 42-42 in series against teams with worse records. You can’t get much more crapshooty than that. Continue reading »