March Maddening: And Then There Were Eight, Way More Than Enough

We’ve been calling this round of our silly tournament the #HatefulEightful, which is probably a bit harsh. All Mike and I have been doing since the Round of 64 is trying to discover, playfully, which local Seattle sports anti-hero is the most annoying. There’s never been true hate at work — not a lot of it — honestly. Just some mild sports loathing.

We don’t despise Aaron Curry or Steve Sarkisian, right? Not really. Not really really… right? All the former did was disappoint as a top 5 pick. All the latter did was act the part of an immature jackass — while, incidentally, rescuing the Huskies from embarrassment and restoring them to relevance.

However, annoyance is a funny thing, even a fun thing. A fun thing to highlight, a funny thing to reflect on. Seattle fans complained about Ichiro for a decade-plus. Many were frustrated at how he didn’t fit in, about how he spoke through a translator (THE GALL! THE GALL OF WANTING TO USE ONE’S FIRST LANGUAGE WHEN PRESENTING ONESELF TO MILLIONS), even how he eschewed sure walks for the gamble of trying to earn a base knock instead.

People didn’t like that Shaun Alexander smiled so much — what the actual fuck — or that he refused to risk injury for the extra yard that would turn 3rd and 6 into 3rd and 5. Hell, people didn’t like that Matt Hasselbeck said out loud that he wanted the ball and was going to score. (Maybe they just didn’t like how he failed to deliver on the bravado.)

If you want to hate, there are millionaires and billionaires that threatened or succeeded in removing entire teams from the area. In 2019, or in any other year of this decade, I can’t take my boys, who love basketball, to an NBA game. (Not without driving to Portland so they can see players they’ve never connected with.) I never will get to take them on that anticipation-filled car ride to the Key and that ride back, reminiscing and criticizing and oohing and aahing all over again. Not in their formative years, at least, not when I’m their dad in the sense that I want to be. Fuck every selfish, duplicitous, incompetent piece of shit who took that experience away from them, from me, and from thousands upon thousands of families.

So the March Maddening bracket’s about gently mocking a few of the biggest doofuses who cost local teams a win, a season, or a title. None of which matter all that much.

Maybe without Tom Cable, the Seahawks have two Lombardis in the case instead of one. But at least we have the Seahawks in town! Maybe without the Erik Bedard deal, the M’s aren’t staring at 17 consecutive playoff-free seasons. But at least they’re present and relevant! For now. And maybe without Tyrone Willingham, UW never has to endure a winless season. But the university was never going to shutter the football program. Wrong century. Give it a few decades.

I’ll save the real hate for real villains — like Ken Behring and Jeff Smulyan, who tried to pack joy up in a moving van and whisk it across the country. I’ll save it for people like Clay Bennett and Howard Schultz, who went one step further and fucked us all over.

The rest of it is all for fun. Speaking of!

Hateful Eightful Preview

We’ve got four really good matchups for you today.

1 Aaron Curry vs. 11 Steve Sarkisian

The delightful Cinderella story of our fortnight, Sark is aiming for his third straight upset. He took out Steve Hutchinson (6), Vin Baker (3) and Scott Spiezio (2) in succession. He’s met the smallest amount of combined seeds so far, and won by 30+ points every time.

Will voters turn on Curry, or were they never fully in his camp? He won his previous contests by 14 and 28 against easier competition than Sarkisian. One top seed fell last round. Another could today.

Prediction: Curry 53, Sarkisian 47.

1 Tyrone Willingham vs. 2 Chone Figgins

Who the hell knows? A close game looks like it’s in the cards because it’s a matchup of contrasting styles, like a classic post-up team against a run-n-gun three-guard lineup. Football against baseball, coach against player — the ingredients are there for a down-to-the-wire finish. Honestly, I think the winner here coasts to the title game. And there are more Mariner fans than Husky fans voting. Are there, though? That’s the working theory, but what if there aren’t?

Prediction: Figgins 55, Willingham 45.

1 Tom Cable vs. 3 Jerramy Stevens

After seeing Cable destroy Zduriencik, it’ll be good for the tourney to see him face off against not another failed Mariners GM. So, thanks Jerramy Stevens, for making good choices, as usual.

Hate to say this but it’s not going to be close. The Seahawks tight end isn’t from the right era. He had a nice run, but it’s Tom Frickin’ Cable.

Prediction: Cable 72, Stevens 28

4 Blair Walsh vs. 3 Erik Bedard

It’s possible Walsh is coasting on recency bias; it’s possible Bedard has had the easiest route to the Eightful — defeating Chris Petersen, Carl Everett, A-Rod. This matchup will depend on whether football Twitter or baseball Twitter turns out. We’ve been close to overtime several times already, with games tied at 50 in the final hour, only to see them finish 51-49 and 52-48. Let’s have overtime in this one. That would be exciting.

Prediction: 50-50, Bedard wins in OT

Prediction Recap

Now some self-congratulations: I got 6 out of 8 predictions right for Round 3.

Guessed Curry 59, Montero 41. It was Curry 64-36. Grade: A-

Guessed Sarkisian 62, Montero 38. It was Sark 63-37. Grade: A+

Guessed Willingham 59, Cirillo 41. It was Willingham 73-27. Grade: B-

Guessed Figgins 54, Harvin 46. It was Figgins 60-40. Grade: A-

Guessed Cable 68, Zduriencik 32. It was Cable 67-33. Grade: A+ again

Finally went a little cold, though.

Guessed Bavasi 57, Stevens 43. It was Stevens 54-46. Grade: D

Guessed Walsh 60, Silva 40. It was Walsh 68-32. Grade A- because upset

Guessed Rodriguez 52, Bedard 48. It was Bedard 52-48. Grade: C+, close but wrong

Updated Odds

You know I’m gonna say it: for entertainment purposes only.

1 Tom Cable — was 5-1, then 5-1 — now 5-2

1 Tyrone Willingham — was 7-1, then 6-1 — now 4-1

2 Chone Figgins — was 10-1, then 8-1 — now 5-1

1 Aaron Curry — was 8-1, then 10-1 — now 7-1

4 Blair Walsh — was 16-1, then 12-1 — now 9-1

3 Erik Bedard — was n/a, then 16-1 — now 9-1

3 Jerramy Stevens — was n/a, then 24-1 — now 16-1

11 Steve Sarkisian — was 40-1, then 30-1 — now 20-1

Don’t discount anyone. We know that top seed Cable has been a Sherman tank, rolling over everything in his path. We know he’s the favorite. But he can be beat. Everyone can be beat.

They’re all annoying, right?