Grantland's The Wire Character Tournament Bracket: how to win the first round at your office

It’s that time of year again. The nerdy, geek-addled The Wire-addict in your office has begun passing out brackets for this year’s Grantland Smacktetology The Wire Character Tournament. But no need to feel unsure of yourself when deciding your winners, because that’s what I’m here for. Let’s break down each match-up. Together.

NOTE: There be SPOILERS ahead.

the wire

WEST BALTIMORE REGION

1. OMAR LITTLE v. 8. ZIGGY SOBOTKA

WINNER: Omar

Analysis: An easy victory for Omar, and this is coming from a vocal minority that really likes Ziggy. Still, when you have the President backing you up, Omar should have no worries about getting past the #8 seed. If it’s any consolation, though, Omar owns zero ducks to Ziggy’s one.

4. CHRIS PARTLOW v. 5. DENNIS “CUTTY” WISE

WINNER: Chris

Analysis: At first glance, this might seem like an even matchup, but Chris clearly earns the higher seed. We know what we’re getting from Cutty: a nice guy, doing his best to make up for his gangbanging past. But I STILL want to know about Chris’ backstory. What’s with his relatively suburban family? Tell me, David Simon! Tell me!

3. SNOOP PEARSON v. 6. D’Angelo Barksdale

WINNER: D’Angelo

Analysis: And there’s your first upset ladies and gentlemen. Snoop is one of the scariest female villains on television, but D’Angelo was the center of The Wire in its first season. His death in Season Two resonated long after he was gone. Snoop’s death was equally as tragic, but D’Angelo’s meant more to the series.

2. MICHAEL LEE v. 7. “Cheese” Wagstaff

WINNER: Michael

Analysis: You have to give Method Man credit for being a better actor than I would have thought when he first showed up in Season Two, but really, why is Cheese even in this tournament? If anything, I’d rather have his son Randy (it’s never explicitly stated that Randy is Cheese’ offspring, but Simon hinted at it) make the cut over his pop. I’m not sure about Michael as a #2-seed, but this is an easy victory.

HAMSTERDAM REGION

1. BUNK MORELAND v. 8. BROTHER MOUZONE

WINNER: The Bunk

Analysis: Bunk might be better suited as a #2-seed than a one, but I love the Bunk so I can deal. But I’m glad to see if Brother Mouzone had to make the tournament at all, he’s only an 8. Brother Mouzone might be the most overrated character on The Wire. The Wire is at its best when it’s effortlessly realistic and begins to lose some of its luster with the less believable plots and characters (i.e. McNulty’s serial killer or Hamsterdam... yeah, I said it). Mouzone fits fully within that unbelievable character spectrum.

4. WALLACE v. 5. MAURICE LEVY

WINNER: Wallace

Analysis: I kind of wish Wallace hadn’t made the tournament just so I can see the barrage of Twitter comments asking “Where’s Wallace, String??!?!” But Wallace’s naiveté and depressing but perfect exit from The Wire gives him the edge over the smarmy Levy. Plus, Wallace went on to win a Texas state high school football championship. Double points.

3. JIMMY McNULTY v. 6. CEDRIC DANIELS

WINNER: McNulty

Analysis: And this is where I get mad. How is James Francis McNulty not a clear #1-seed in this tournament? And if you can somehow convince me that there are four other worthier choices, you have the nerve to tell me there are four MORE? This is a joke seeding and the committee should be ashamed of themselves. The worst part might be that the great Cedric Daniels is left to be obliterated when he’s a great character himself. If The Wire is, at its core, about the failure of systems, this is the most meta example of that ever. Ever.

2. CLAY DAVIS v. 7. BUBBLES

WINNER: Bubs

Analysis: Upset number two. Clay Davis gets a lot of mileage out of saying “shit” with a lot of i’s in the middle of it, but outside of his catchphrase is he really that great? Bubs, meanwhile, has had maybe the harshest, most redeeming arc on the whole show. I get great satisfaction out of Bubs enjoying a meal with his family. I don’t care nearly as much about Clay Davis’ conclusion.

THE PORTS REGION

1. AVON BARKSDALE v. 8. ROLAND PRYZBYLEWSKI

WINNER: Avon

Analysis: This is the spot where McNulty should be sitting number one. Avon is great, but he’s not #1-seed great. But is he better than Prez? I’ll say yes, but it’s closer than any one-eight matchup should be. Outside of Bubbles, has any character had more up and down arcs than Prez? He’s a great character who deserves more respect than the number next to his name. But he still can’t beat Avon.

4. TOMMY CARCETTI v. 5. DUQUAN “DUKIE” WEEMS

WINNER: The Mayor

Analysis: Easy win for Carcetti because it has Dukie playing much higher than his means. Dukie’s story is tragic, but it’s hard to say it’s even among the ten most tragic in the whole series. Truth be told, I’d rather see Randy or Namond here than Dukie. Or Kenard. Wait, no, not Kenard. I hate Kenard.

3. BUNNY COLVIN v. 6. “SERGE” MALATOV

WINNER: Bunny

Analysis: Wait, what? Bunny wins, obviously, but let’s talk about Serge’s inclusion in the first place. What the hell is going on with that? Am I in a parallel universe where anyone even vaguely remembers that character? He had one semi-funny scene when he rats out his superiors, but, um WHERE ARE HIS SUPERIORS? Does someone honestly think Serge deserves to be here more than The Greek or Vondas? Or if you wanted to include another organization muscle, why not Slim Charles? SERGE?!?! It’s almost like the tournament committee aren’t taking these arbitrary rankings seriously?

2. “PROP” JOE STEWART v. 7. FRANK SOBOTKA

WINNER:  Frank

Analysis: Oh yes. I went there. Is obviously key to a lot of the logistics of the series, but he is in no way more interesting than Frank Sobotka. I know a lot of people who severely underrate season two, but Frank’s downfall is among the greatest arcs in television history. Frank isn’t just a first round upset kind-of-guy, though. He may make a move in the semis too. Stay tuned.

EAST BALTIMORE REGION

1. STRINGER BELL v. 8. THOMAS “HERC” HAUK

WINNER: Stringer

Analysis: Stringer is great. Herc is obnoxious. End of analysis.

4. WEE-BEY BRICE v. 5. LESTER FREEMAN

WINNER: Lester

Analysis: Not sure why Wee-Bey is worthy of a four seed, though I’ll give the committee the benefit of the doubt that they were really moved by the loyal Barksdale enforcer giving Bunny Colvin the permission to adopt Namond and get his son out of “the life.” Still, he should in no way be the favorite verses Lester who’s basically Shaft for the new millennium. Seriously, listen to the lyrics for the “Theme from Shaft” and just replace Shaft’s name with “Lester.” It fits. Almost too well.

3. “BOADIE” BROADUS v. 6. WILLIAM RAWLS

WINNER: Boadie

Analysis: No major arguments with Bodie’s seeding, but I wouldn’t have been personally offended if he was even a two-seed. Rawls is a great asshole, but like Ervin Burrell once said, he played his hand too quickly.

2. MARLO STANFIELD v. 7. KIMA GREGGS

WINNER: Marlo

Analysis: It’s a sad state of affairs that only two female characters make the tournament and none even make it out of the second round, but I can’t justify Kima over Marlo. There’s a lot of matchups she could upset the competition, but this just isn’t one of them.

By Mike Proper

About the author

I work hard.  And I play hard.  

Actually, I don't work that hard.

Also I Tweet. Twitter.com/MikeProper

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3 Comments
On: Monday, March 5, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

Fascinating stuff, Mike! 

And: you beat me to the WHERE'S WALLACE??? 

On: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Marlo S said:

I just wanted to say that I think you need to have your ass kicked for this breakdown.

It is just awful, if I had it read to me, I would assume that a girl wrote this.

I wish I could erase this from the internet, so you don't mis inform anymore new fans of the show with your blabbering. I really hope you didn't quit your day job.

You suck.

On: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

"Marlo" -- would have been wonderful if you had deemed to explain why you did not like Mike's well researched and presented piece. 

Except to say, that is, that you assumed it was written by a girl. 

Enjoy today's edition of the Rush Limbaugh program, my friend. You'll enjoy getting mis informed there. 

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