Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, Sweet Sixteen, Round Two

#8 Kansas State Wildcats vs. #13 Montana Grizzlies

Even if we go with the most vicious possible definition of “wildcat”, it’s a bit of a stretch to think it’s going to be able to withstand an assault from a Grizzly Bear. Particularly when it’s a grizzly bear who’s apparently the Fonz.

This is a bear riding a motorcycle while wearing a bandana. WELCOME TO MONTANA.

The wildcat might be quick, but it doesn’t appear to have a motorcycle, which is a problem in this bracket. It also doesn’t have anything to do with the Who’s More Grizzled, and therefore is going to lose.


And now Garth Brooks has shown up on my blog. 

Montana advances.

#3 Florida State Seminoles vs. #10 West Virginia Mountaineers.

It’s the Happy-Go-Lucky Politically Complicated Incredibly Uncomfortable matchup!

Presumably the Seminoles never had much to do with the Mountaineers of West Virginia, so there’s no real historical precedent we can look to; presumably the Mountaineers would have the advantage in the mountains, while the Seminoles would take it if the climate’s actually enjoyable.

Interestingly, both the Mountaineer and Chief Osceola are portrayed as actual people in costume rather than terrifying foam rubber monstrosities. Osceola, incidentally, was a historical Seminole leader who responded to being locked up in Fort King by starting the Second Seminole War. If you’ve actually started a war in Florida, you get a bid to the Murphspot Mascot Elite Eight.  

Florida State advances

#1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #12 California Golden Bears

This is tough. On one hand, we’ve either got a giant anthropomorphic ram or general North Carolinians (or North Carolinian Generals, like Hugh Shelton) versus a legendary bear that wound up on a flag. Somehow, throughout this, I’d been thinking of the California Golden Bear in the abstract as a several hundred pound killing machine.

Cal’s got a mascot, though, and his name is Oski.

He’s a red hat and UK passport away from being Paddington Bear. 

Really? This is what’s gotten to the Sweet Sixteen under my watch? He’s got happy eyes. He’s wearing a cardigan. He doesn’t give of so much a ferocious vibe as he does a Delightful Resident of the Neighborhood of Make Believe. He and Bob Dog probably play backgammon on the weekends. But this is a fight to the death, and there’s no room for ridiculous smiles.  

North Carolina advances.  

#6 San Diego State Aztecs vs. #15 Detroit Titans.

It probably says something deeply disturbing about me that when I hear the word “Aztec”, my mind goes to the ancient Central Mexican civilization only after stopping by one of the more ridiculous superhero movies ever to appear on Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Pumaman.

To be fair, Vadinho was a great belt salesman
I don’t know than I can hold that against the Aztecs, who had nothing to do with it (though it should be noted that the star of the movie was in one movie after that, and has since become a medical malpractice lawyer in New York, which I'll attribute to some sort of Wrath of Quetzalcoatl). And again, we’re at a point where we’ve got a culture from the 14th century going up against a bunch of deities. I don’t see this working out well for the Aztecs or Donald Pleasance.  

Detroit advances.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, Sweet Sixteen, Part One

#16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #5 Wichita State Shockers

We’ve already established that Big Red is the personification of Joy, and in a battle to the death, he’s probably got control of the high ground by virtue of his name. If we go with the position that the Prequels exist and weren’t some fever dream we all experienced in the early 00s, Obi-Wan would have us believe this is a crucial determining factor.

Big Red does not stand for versions that insert Hayden Christensen into Return of the Jedi. Blasphemy.

On the other hand, though, Big Red is reasonable and understands the importance of agriculture to the nation’s food supply, and would want to resolve this peacefully. Also, I can’t think of how to make a muppet and a living bundle of wheat fight each other. And so, for the peace of the nation and the good of the bracket, and for the first time in Murphspot Mascot Bracket history, Big Red stands down to allow WuShock a chance at the championship.

Wichita State advances.

#3 Baylor Bears vs. #10 Xavier Musketeers

I have no idea how to deal with a bear in the wild. I presume I’d scream and then die. But if you had to, and I strongly advise against doing anything that could put you in a situation where that’s a possibility, I’d imagine a long-range weapon like a musket would probably come in handy. Of course, if we’re sticking to period weaponry, the Musketeer’s probably got a smooth bore weapon, so they’re not terribly accurate. And, of course, they’re not terribly quick to reload.

Xavier Nady's got nothing to do with this, but hey! It's Xavier Nady! Who is evidently Xavier Nady VI. Xavier could have had a team on the court composed entirely of Xavier Nadys who preceded this one.

So D’Artagnan’s basically got one shot at taking the bear down before it rips his damn head off. But this is someone who’s trained at this for years, and I’ve got to assume that “protecting the King” included “from bear attacks”, as rare as that might be in Paris.

Xavier advances

#1 Michigan State Spartans vs. #5 New Mexico Lobos

The Spartans, I think, are probably primarily focused on military action against other nations and city-states, and perhaps not so practiced at wild packs of animals. So that might give the Lobos a fighting chance here. Wolves, particularly, seem like they’d tear through you if they got the chance.

And, apropos of nothing, here’s something from …And Out Come the Wolves. Because I can.

On the other hand, the Lobos are basically large, ferocious dogs, and if you can’t work up a defense against that with a sword and shield, you’re probably not going to do well in battle. Add spears to the equation and the Spartans have a reach advantage. I wanted to find a way to give this to New Mexico, mostly so that I could justify the Rancid video, but I don’t see how they come out on top here.

Michigan State advances.

#14 Iona Gaels vs. #10 Virginia Cavaliers

I’ve been giving Killian a lot of credit for his serial-killer smile, but in all likelihood that’s just healthy dentistry. I don’t know that he’s swallowing his vanquished foes whole. Probably, but it’s not certain.


In any case he’s not specified to be part of any formal military unit, while the Cavaliers were. I suspected this would be a somewhat political conflict, but if we take the Cavaliers to be Royalist supporters of Charles I, it turns out that they’d have wound up loosely allied with the Gaelic Irish following the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Still, I’m going to have to go with the actual military unit here.

Virginia advances.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, Midwest, Round Two

#1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #9 Alabama Crimson Tide

 The problem with being an abstract mascot is that you’re going to have some difficulty defining yourself enough to be useful in a mascot bracket. Sure, the Crimson Tide have Al the Elephant, but focusing on the “Tide” part of “Crimson Tide”, we’ve got a mascot where you’ll be able to just wait for six hours and it’ll go away on its own. I even checked the Crimson Tide IMDB page to try to find a justification here. On one hand, the sub was the USS Alabama, hence the name, but a quick (by which I mean needlessly extensive and far too much work for a joke) check of the cast shows no one who’s actually a North Carolina native who could act as a source for intel in the all important mascot battle.

Things I’d forgotten: James Gandolfini was in this. 

As far as whether North Carolinians are going to be able to hold off a tide; they’ve got lighthouses. I’ve seen them. They’re tall and occasionally no longer used but demonstrate that, if nothing else, they’ll be able to tell when the tide is doing things; mostly so they can ignore it and go back to working on the Andy Griffith Colossus.  

North Carolina advances.  

#12 California Golden Bears vs. #4 Michigan Wolverines

I get the ferocity, the tendency to bring down larger animals, and the 1860s era Adamantium-fused Canadians with a healing factor. I get all that. But what it comes down to is that even if the Wolverines are the largest member of the weasel family, they’re still a member of the weasel family.

Indisputable fact: The best alternate name for wolverines: “Quickhatch”. Also a pretty great name for a jam band, or an affiliate of the A-Team.

The Golden Bear, according to mythology, is a 1,500 pound bear. That’s a small car. Or a huge pumpkin from Maryland.

I’m going to assume that even if the wolverine can kill animals larger than itself, there’s a limit.  

California advances  

#6 San Diego State Aztecs vs. #14 Belmont Bruins

This is always the case, isn’t it? A few years ago we wound up very Tiger-heavy, and this year it’s getting to be a bit much with the bears. Brown bears, in this instance, who as far as I can tell mostly hang out in Western Canada and Alaska on this continent, which doesn’t really overlap with the area of Central Mexico historically controlled by the Aztec Empire. I’m not sure who this benefits.

On one hand, I guess you could say the Aztecs would never have fought a brown bear specifically (though I think the strategy for fighting one type of bear transfers across bear breeds). On the other hand, I’m pretty sure a brown bear would stand there dumbfounded, trying to figure out what an atlatl is until such time as it’s got a spear in the face.

Turns out you can hunt deer with these in Alabama. I don’t know whether that will be relevant for anyone reading this, but I figured I’d include it on the off chance that it was. If I have atlatl wielding readers, that's either awesome or frightening. 

San Diego State advances.  

#10 Purdue Boilermakers vs. #15 Detroit Titans

Good on Purdue for diversifying. They’ve got, as a mascot, a train, the guy who makes trains, a shot and a beer, and a jazz band that I used to go see at the Wightman Building in Squirrel Hill.

Purdue Pete seems perennially surprised. 

At least a few of those appeal to me specifically, which is a good way to get bumped up in the mascot bracket. The problem with making your mascot a train is that it’s prone to breakdowns and derailments, and of course if you actually want to have a chance at hurting another mascot, you’ve got to hope it wanders across your path. Titans, being deities, can probably handle knocking the train the hell over, rendering it harmless. As long as the train isn’t named Zeus.  

Detroit advances.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, East, Round Two

#16 UNC Asheville Bulldogs vs. #8 Kansas State Wildcats

Ah, the most adorable of Mascot Battles. Bulldogs are, I guess, occasionally more ferocious than some other breeds, but they seem very compact, which will probably affect their ability to compete in a battle against anything that has any sort of reach whatsoever.

On the other hand, they seemed to occasionally piss Frasier off, so they’ve got that going for them. 

The wildcats aren’t a Cheers spinoff, though, and can charitably be interpreted to be an actual large cat with prey and claws and stealth and things. It could be a serval!

I assume the tiny head helps with land speed? I guess? 

In any case, I can’t really make a case for the bulldog pulling this out.  

Kansas State advances.  

#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs. #13 Montana Grizzlies

The Commodores, sure, have military training, but Montana’s landlocked, which negates any ship-based artillery. Moreover, Commodores aren’t going to have the full strength of the men they’d theoretically command; this is one on one. And I’m trying to be gentle here, but the Commodore isn’t the youngest mascot. He’s been around, and apparently has some sort of spinal disorder.

I’m not looking forward to the point in the aging process where my skin gathers around my wrists. 

The Grizzlies are 700 pound monsters, and even though the Commodore probably has a sidearm and a (potentially ceremonial) sword, I’m going to give this to the Grizzlies on the grounds that they’d swat the Commodore’s head the rest of the way off while he’s trying to load his traditional musket.  

Montana advances.  

#11 Texas Longhorns vs. #3 Florida State Seminoles

 Listen, cows are great. I like cows. They’re stalwart, and it’s probably tough to fistfight one, if only because I think punching a cow is probably pretty ineffective.

What do you want? Moo. Are we good now? Great.

On the other hand, part of why I enjoy cows as much as I do is that they’re delicious, which certainly doesn’t bode well for them in a fight to the death. The Seminoles, in addition to being one of the few symbols sanctioned by the tribe for which they’re named, are on horseback and have a variety of weapons, most prominently a giant spear. So on one hand, we’ve got livestock, and on the other, a tribe that kept livestock.

Florida State advances.  

#10 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #2 Ohio State Buckeyes

West Virginia’s basically gone with Grizzly Adams as a mascot.

Never trust a man wearing that much fringe. Or a raccoon.

Meanwhile, and I don’t say this to denigrate Ohio State, but they’re a slightly poisonous nut. Sure, an anthropomorphic nut named Brutus, but an anthropomorphic nut nonetheless. I don’t know much about Mountaineering (hell, I can barely keep myself alive in modern civilization, surrounded by things designed to make sure I don’t accidentally wander into life threatening situations), but I’m pretty sure that early on in Mountaineering 101 is “Don’t eat the poison”.  

West Virginia advances.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, South, Round Two

#1 Michigan State Spartans vs. #9 Saint Louis Billikens

 As much as this is meant to be about mascots tearing each other limb from limb, and as much as I enjoy awarding a mascot for having apparently been designed for that purpose (as with the Jayhawk having shoes to kick his opponents), I've got to say I'm pretty impressed by Saint Louis' ability to disregard that entirely and go with a toy fad from the 1900s.

On the other hand, I could see this thing following you around until you're insane.

You could probably come up with some convoluted way in which the Luck of the Billiken is somehow going to overcome the guys with swords and spears and a deathwish, but for some reason I imagine the luck in question being more of the "Got a great parking spot" variety than the "comes out victorious despite being unarmed and a toy" variety. I could be wrong. I'd like to be wrong, but I don't think I am.  

Michigan State advances  

#5 New Mexico Lobos vs. #4 Louisville Cardinals

I know. They're wolves. But it strikes me as much more amusing if we're going to see this as a matchup between an anthropomorphic seed-eating bird with anger issues (possibly related to the fact that it only eats seeds) and the band Los Lobos.

Evidently, the son of the lead singer is the drummer for Social Distortion, and in the Murphspot Mascot Bracket, you get an advantage for being able to contact Mike Ness quickly. They're going up against a bird whose primary characteristics are "bright red" and "isn't known for attacking anything." I don't even think we'd need to invoke the wolves. I think you could probably take that down with a spirited rendition of "La Bamba".

New Mexico advances  

#6 Murray State Racers vs. #14 Iona Gaels

Murray State's pretty impressive in terms of having a mascot that gets people to cheer for a sport by competing in a different sport. If this were a bracket in which we were determining which mascot was most capable of running one and a quarter miles, Racer One would probably have a much better shot. The sad truth is that I don’t really know that racing horses are known for their fighting capability. The Gaels probably were, and Killian the Gael in particular just has a lot of teeth. That’s not really a smile that suggests determined yet sportsmanlike competition.

It’s more on the “YOU’LL NEVER FIND THE BODIES” end of the spectrum.

And the Racer is probably acclimated to humans, and if he’s too trusting, this is going to end badly for him.  

Iona advances  

#10 Virginia Cavaliers vs. #15 Norfolk State Spartans

The thing with Spartans is that they peaked a while ago, when all they had to worry about were the Athenians, but wound up being overtaken by the Romans when the Romans decided they wanted to overtake everything.

The Cavaliers, on the other hand, specifically hung around Charles II and definitely had swords, but probably also had some firearms and were typified by Prince Rupert of the Rhine, who seems pretty accomplished.

On the other hand, his name is Rupert, which calls to mind Rupert Murdoch, Rupert Everett and, oddly, the Ruprecht scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

So while the Spartans might have the upper hand in close-quarters combat, the Cavaliers have better range weapons and will do well here.

 Virginia advances

Friday, March 23, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Bracket, Round Two, West

#16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #9 Connecticut Huskies

I think I might have built Big Red up too much. He's somehow become, within the confines of the bracket, this bizarre amalgam of Elmo, the Kool-Aid man and an unspeakable Lovecraftian horror sent to drive the world into madness and despair.

That thigh-pocket? THAT'S WHERE HE KEEPS SOULS. 

Of course, it should go without saying that Big Red loves all animals large and small and would elect to not fight the Huskies unless it were absolutely necessary. It is, of course, and given that this competition isn't based on who can drag a sled through the Yukon most efficiently, I think Big Red's probably got the upper hand. I'm not going to say he'd definitely unhinge his giant floppy head and swallow the Huskies whole, but that's precisely what he'd do.

 Western Kentucky advances.

#5 Wichita State Shockers vs. #13 New Mexico State Aggies

I feel like Pistol Pete of the New Mexico State Aggies has gotten away from his agricultural roots. The much maligned Lasso Larry had a lasso, which at least alludes to him taking care of livestock and while pistols are great, I don’t know that they necessarily mean he’s taking care of business at the farm.

 He even missed this year’s International Irrigation Conference. What the hell, Pete. 

The Shockers, on the other hand, are fielding this Wheat Golem.

Now, I’ve never fought a field of wheat brought to life by whatever dark magic’s being employed in Wichita, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that bullets would go right through this guy without having much effect. Actually, that would make a good take on the zombie genre. An ever advancing horde of Wheat Elementals constantly closing in with no hope of being stopped, until the hero discovers that they’re only vulnerable to scythes to the head, but by that point most of his party’s been turned into wheat and what the hell am I writing?

Wichita State advances

#6 UNLV Rebels vs. #3 Baylor Bears

Hey Reb’s still got me traumatized, but damn if the man can’t grow a moustache.

Those eyes, though. Portals to the netherworld.

He doesn’t appear to have any weapons, though, and “Rebels” in this context refers to UNLV coming into its own apart from University of Nevada, Reno. That’s really the only way this could make sense, as Nevada was never part of the Confederacy. They were admitted to the Union in 1864, sure, and it turns out that UNLV did have a mascot in a Confederate uniform for a while as part of a convoluted attack on Reno, whose mascot wore a Union uniform, but people complained and it didn’t make sense, so we’ve got Hey Reb.

The thing, though, is that the Baylor Bear isn’t (as far as I can tell) from Reno, and without weapons, Hey Reb’s going to have a hell of a time fighting off a bear.

Baylor advances.

#10 Xavier Musketeers vs. #15 Lehigh Mountain Hawks

I don’t want to get into a debate about the relative merits of the Royal Household Guard of Louis XIII versus other military units. There was a time in my life where that would have been appropriate, but that’s long past and also I have no idea what I’m talking about in that regard.

Not that that’s stopped me so far.

As much as I like the Mountain Hawks, the problem here is that they’re really only going to be able to dive in and attack from above and, honestly I think the Musketeer’s wide-brimmed hat is going to impede the efficacy of that. Also, he’s got a feather.

The man lives to shoot birds out of the sky. 

 Sorry, Lehigh.

Xavier advances

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, Midwest, Round One, Part Two

#6 San Diego State Aztecs vs. #11 North Carolina State Wolfpack

At first glance, this seems to be a classic matchup pitting man against beast and could actually be a sporting match, as the Aztec mascot’s got a shield and spear, as opposed to, say, a Howitzer.

And North Carolina State specifies that it’s a wolfpack, and if this is going to be an entire pack fighting one Aztec Warrior, it’ll be a struggle. On the other hand, the mascots for North Carolina State are Mr. and Mrs. Wuf.

This is where we’re starting.

They apparently get married on occasion by the Wake Forest Demon Deacon who appears to hold standing in North Carolina to serve as a wedding officiant and who sadly isn’t in the bracket this year (I’ll assume he’s riding across the American Southwest and writing a memoir). I’m not going to hold that against them, but I am going to hold that little hat against Mr. Wuf.

Listen, I get it. You’re a mascot, you’ve been around for a while and your wardrobe was picked out in the 30’s, but this is severely limiting my ability to pick NC State.

The Aztec Warrior headgear, on the other hand, is awesome.

Maybe this is the Murphspot Hat Bracket after all.  

San Diego State advances.

#3 Georgetown Hoyas vs. #14 Belmont Bruins

I should go back through my brackets and see if I’ve ever advanced Georgetown through the first round. They’re named after their cheer (“Hoya Saxa”) which is Greek and Latin and irrelevant in a Mascot Bracket. They’ve got Jack the Bulldog, who is a bulldog.

The Bruins have the advantage of being brown bears, who historically have done very well in Murphspot Mascot Brackets. And Ray Bourque.

This isn’t even a competition. Jack’s adorable and all, but he’s also, what, 60 pounds on the high end? And he doesn’t have ridiculous claws?


Belmont advances

#7 Saint Mary’s Gaels vs. #10 Purdue Boilermakers

Oh, man am I sad it’s taken this long to get to Gael Force One.  

Look at this

That’s a ten foot tall knight who’s apparently made of mylar. That’s just great. Not terribly effective on the battlefield, but a fantastic use of inflatables technology. Actually, Gael Force One (who seems to be named by splitting the difference between Gaels, gale force winds and Air Force One) might have been useful for demoralizing an enemy, so long as they don’t have the ability to shoot projectiles at it.

Purdue, on the other hand, is a train, which (in the limited number of Westerns I’ve actually watched) seems to be pretty hard to actually stop. Presuming Gael Force One has to stay on the tracks (or if the Purdue Boilermaker is some manner of magical train that can travel without rails, which I guess is really just a truck and hence not very magical), this is going to end with a collision and a blow up knight bouncing ninety feet into the air.

And that is how you get a parade started.  

Purdue advances.  

#2 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #15 Detroit Titans

And we’re at the all-mythical matchup. Jayhawks were Abolitionists who associated themselves with John Jay, which has somehow come to be personified in Big Jay, a giant blue bird with shoes.

Actually, the shoes were added by the guy who was designing the mascot specifically so that it could kick opponents, which is pretty awesome and hints that they knew, a century in advance, that some guy in Chicago would be writing a series of posts about mascots actually fighting each other.

The Titans, on the other hand, are presumably huge deities who preceded the Olympians. The Titans’ mascot does nothing to dissuade this.

His expression only works if his head is tilted back, and he’s constantly saying “Well, well, well, what do we have here?”

As noble as the cause of the Jayhawks is, they’re not Zeus and so they’re likely going to have some issues with the sword-and-shield wielding God of Foam Rubber.  

Detroit advances.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, Midwest, Round One, Part One

#1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #16 Vermont Catamounts

Ca-tamounts. Catamounts. Catamounts. I’m still not sure I’m getting it. I’m never sure where to go with the Tar Heels. If I’m honest, it’s a local nickname, so this turns into “North Carolinians against mountain cats”. I suppose then it really comes down to which North Carolinians are sent in to fight off the catamounts. Presumably military figures would be the best, but honestly it’s more fun if it’s, let’s say, Zach Galifianakis, Edward R. Murrow and, let’s say, Vince McMahon. I think the belt counts as being lightly armored.

Alternately, it turns out Thelonious Monk was a North Carolinian, which is awesome. If this were the Murphspot Hat Bracket, that'd decide it.

If we stick with the mascot, on the other hand, the mascot is a Dorset sheep named Rameses; I’m pretty sure mountain cats can kill those. When it comes down to it, Thelonious Monk probably unduly biases me towards thinking of the Tar Heels as Denizens of North Carolina, who I presume would be able to fight off mountain cats, what with their guns and jazz piano and whatnot.

North Carolina advances.

 #8 Creighton Bluejays vs. #9 Alabama Crimson Tide

Bluejays are very, very rarely frightening.

Bautista notwithstanding.

It’s blue, which is sort of a jaunty color for a bird, I guess, and it eats nuts and acorns and sings little songs. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide sounds like the end of The Shining. Even if we stick with a strict mascot-vs.-mascot definition of this bracket, Alabama’s got Big Al the Elephant, and I’m having a lot of trouble coming up with a way in which a songbird takes down any manner of elephant. Really, the best thing to note about this matchup is that Wikipedia’s got a List of Historical Elephants, which I shouldn’t be surprised by but amuses me nonetheless. And I now know the name of Charlemagne’s elephant. So that’s nice.

Alabama advances.

#5 Temple Owls vs. #12 California Golden Bears

Owls are somewhat frightening.


Anything that can turn its head around 270 degrees is going to be offputting to me, but even moreso if they’re prone to making loud, screeching noises that, if you know what they are, are merely infuriating. An d they’re associated with either wisdom or death, depending on which civilization you talk to.

Temple seems to have gone with a more flat-headed cherry-colored owl named Hooter.

Its brow-ridge-things do make it seem angry. I’ll give it that. I’m presuming that Hooter is a melodica aficionado, because that makes sense.

Still, this is a small bird of prey that usually pits itself against mice and rabbits. Bears are somewhat larger. And, if we’re taking some liberties with it, the Golden Bear could arguably be Jack Nicklaus. Sure, he’s 72 these days, but I’m guessing the guy can still swing a club well enough to knock an owl out of the sky. Or can propel a ball to do that for him. Or can license an arcade game that winds up in the back room of a bowling alley, which has a taxidermied owl somewhere on premises.

The point is, California advances.

 #4 Michigan Wolverines vs. # 13 Ohio Bobcats

In one corner, we’ve got (if we’re being boring)the largest of the weasels going up against a fairly large relative of the lynx. They’re both pretty fierce, and apparently both can take down and eat prey larger than they are if you let them. Bobcats have been reported to eat deer, but Wolverines will take down an elk without even bothering to feel bad.

The Elk has no idea what’s coming, because elk are notoriously bad at planning for the future. You should see their retirement accounts. Dreadful.

More interestingly, we’ve got a 150 year old Albertan mutant with a healing factor and an aftermarket adamantium skeleton going up against beloved(?) actor and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who was in some of the police academy movies, I guess.

I don’t see this going well for Bobcat.

Michigan advances

Monday, March 19, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, East, Round One, Part Two

#6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. #11 Texas Longhorns

I don’t think there’s a mascot in this bracket that has a higher Badass Name to Actual Badassery ratio. Bearcats sound like they should be some sort of terrifying amalgam of horrors, like a tiger with bear arms,or a bear with a lion’s head, or something with laser eyes that can only be described by its shaking, horrified survivors.

Instead, it’s this thing.

Binturongs, I suppose. 

People keep them as pets. I mean, granted, it’s fighting a cow here, so it might have the advantage of being somewhat quicker and more willing to do something other than stand in a field, but the Longhorns definitely have range on their side, and I honestly don’t trust the Fighting Binturongs to just impale themselves on the Longhorns’ horns in the process of trying to actually do something that resembles fighting.  

Texas advances  

#3 Florida State Seminoles vs. #14 St. Bonaventure Bonnies

My mascot lies over the ocean, evidently. And it’s the Bona Wolf.

And is that guy at music festivals. Put some pants on. No one is enjoying this.

Actually, the history of the St. Bonaventure mascot’s more interesting than I’d have guessed. The mascot was originally the St. Bonaventure Brown Indian, who last appeared in 1992 what with the controversy about whether that’s ok or not. That was followed by the Bona Fanatic, who was unpopular enough that he was actually assaulted. So now we’re on the Bona Wolf, which St. Bonaventure would like you to know is relevant as they’re Franciscan, and St. Francis of Assisi once tamed a wolf. Sadly, that’s going to work against the Wolf here. If it were still wild, it might have stood a fighting chance against the Seminoles, but I’m going to trust that the Seminoles are able to kill and dismantle a tamed wolf with relative ease. They’ve got axes.

Florida State advances

#7 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. #10 West Virginia Mountaineers

I don’t see this being a good fight to the death. I see this being a mid-1970’s TV series that’s destined to be shoved into syndication after Little House on the Prairie.

Michael Landon went to USC, evidently, so he’s not terribly concerned with the outcome here.

In any case, while bulldogs may be tenacious, I really can’t see the Bulldog doing any actual damage to the Mountaineer. Maybe if the Mountaineer has some specialized footwear that the Bulldog can chew up that can indirectly lead to a fatal accident, but I think that vastly more likely is that if attacked by a rabid bulldog (to make it more threatening), the Mountaineer is going to take care of business and get back to making a table out of a tree, or something.

West Virginia advances.

 #2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #15 Loyola (MD) Greyhounds

I don’t want this to be a bracket in which I just hate on dogs. I like dogs. Some of my best friends are dogs. Really, I’m not anti-dog, but most of what I know about Greyhounds is that they’re fast and pretty good at chasing a mechanical rabbit, and that maybe we should stop making them do that.

This wouldn’t seem to be an issue, as the Buckeyes are either a tree or seeds from that tree.

Valiant effort to work that into a wearable suit, but I think the cap might be a bit much. 

The only way that the Buckeyes are going to be able to pull ahead here is by being poisonous which, luckily, they are. And dogs, in my experience, will eat any damn thing without checking to see if it’s going to give them digestion problems, so bizarrely Ohio State succeeds where Syracuse failed.  

Ohio State advances.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket: East, Round One, Part One

#1 Syracuse Orange vs. #16 UNC Asheville Bulldogs

This is usually about the point where the Murphspot Mascot Bracket leaves reality behind forever, choosing instead to wander through the park at two in the morning shouting at the trees. But honestly, what am I supposed to do here? The Orange? The mascot's even literally an orange.

You're not giving me a lot to work with here, Syracuse.

When they were the Orangemen, I could at least make some connection to Protestant Fraternal Organizations which would have made things interesting in the event that they ever wound up playing Notre Dame. Their only hope against a bulldog is going to be to poison it, but as this slideshow of dogs looking sad near food points out, oranges get along with dogs' digestive systems just fine. Also, the University of Georgia came up with this pumpkin, which they’re calling the Orange Bulldog. That’s irrelevant, but will probably be a strong contender for the Murphspot Pumpkin Bracket.

 #8 Kansas State Wildcats vs. #9 Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Well, this is embarrassing. We’re already at another set of Golden Eagles and I’ve just used up my admittedly weak Golden Eagle humor, which consisted entirely of confusing it with a television show from the mid-nineties. Happily, I can go a decade earlier with the references here, as Kansas State has elected to go with the Thundercats logo.

So on one hand, we’ve got a fairly intimidating bird of prey as far as birds of prey go, and on the other, we’ve got a mascot that I presume is wielding the Sword of Omens. So this whole exercise seems pretty straightforward.  

Kansas State advances.

#5 Vanderbilt Commodores vs.#12 Harvard Crimson If you had asked me to name a Commodore, I wouldn’t have been able to. Part of that is because the US Navy no longer uses it as a rank, but it’s not like I know a large number of people who are in the Navy, so even if it were, I’m not sure that’d help. What I do know is that despite my Obligation from Birth as a Pittsburgher to oppose all things Cleveland, this is pretty solid.

And named for Oliver Hazard Perry, whose middle name was Hazard because he was just. that. metal.

So Vanderbilt’s up in the “strained association with a solid IPA category”. The Crimson’s mascot is John Harvard, and apparently looks like this, which I assume would have looked out of place even in the early 1600s.

They probably could have gone with something other than “visibly ill John Harvard”.

The closest I could find quickly in the beer category to compete is Peak Organic’s King Crimson, which seems to have middling reviews, but does allow me to post a video of King Crimson playing 21st Century Schizoid Man.

That’s not enough, I think, to win over the Commodore.

Vanderbilt advances.

#4 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #13 Montana Grizzlies

I am not going to make a honey badger joke. That would be hacky.

Badgers are pretty fierce, and Wikipedia claims that they can fight off bears, which would make for a pretty awesome nature documentary, though it’s sparse on details about whether that’s one on one, which is relevant for this bracket.

Grizzly bears, on the other hand, are 700 lbs of anger and association with picnic baskets and Werner Herzog. I presume Montana Grizzly Bears are also ruggedly individualist.
I’m going to have to go with sheer size and rage and go with the Grizzlies.

Montana advances.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket, West, Round One, Part Two

#6 Murray State Racers vs. #11 Colorado State Rams

Both schools here have an actual, living mascot, which I think makes me a little uncomfortable about speculating about which one would win in a fight to the death.

Not so uncomfortable that I won’t proceed, though.

Murray State’s got Racer One, a disappointingly generically named Thoroughbred who makes me think we’re playing an arcade game from the early 90s. Cruis’n USA, maybe. Racer One apparently runs around the field following a touchdown, which isn’t relevant here, but is more interesting than sitting in stable all day getting fat off of the flesh of other mascots.

Colorado State’s got CAM the Ram, a bighorn sheep with an initialism for a name and some ridiculously curved horns.

Note: Sheep pupils are rectangular and I may or may not have an irrational fear of them.

So, yes, CAM would likely be able to cause some damage by headbutting Racer One, but he’s still a sheep, while Racer One’s filled with adrenaline from getting HBO to stop production on Luck. Plus, Racer One’s presumably got metal on his hooves, which seems like it’d hurt.

Murray State advances

#3 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. #14 Iona Gaels

I’m sorry. I’ve been doing this for years, and every time I get to Marquette, all I can see is this.

I know. They were the Screaming Eagles. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

It’s a little ridiculous, as Golden Eagles exist and seem to be able to fend for themselves pretty well without assistance from Jerry Van Dyke and Bill Fagerbakke, while Screaming Eagles are, I’m pretty sure, what you see when you have some sort of horrible drug interaction.

Falconry appears to have been practiced more widely among the Saxons than the Gaels, so Iona’s not going to be able to rely on simply being able to control the Golden Eagles, and I’m unfamiliar with any origin story that makes Hawkman a Gael (Ancient Egyptian prince or Space Policeman from Thanagar, sure, but never Gaelic). They did have weapons, though, while the eagle is going to have to try to rip apart its big creepy head.

I don’t see that happening, especially with all those damned teeth.

Iona advances

#7 Florida Gators vs. #10 Virginia Cavaliers

Cavman seems skeptical.

I assume he’s trying to figure out whether the right side of his hat is meant to evoke a feather or some sort of ridiculous fur trim.

Alligators are intimidating in that “reptiles shouldn’t be that large or keen on eating people” sort of way, and they’re at least somewhat more appropriate in Florida, where I understand they exist, than as the mascot for my alma mater, where they don’t.

On the other hand, the Cavalier explicitly has a sword, which gives him some range over the Gator and, I think, is enough for a victory.

Virginia advances

#2 Missouri Tigers vs. #15 Norfolk State Spartans

If nothing else, this is a better matchup than the Spartan/Blackbird match earlier this round. There aren’t tigers in Laconia as far as I know, so it’s possible that the Spartans wouldn’t quite know what to do with a tiger.

On the other hand, Tru, the Missouri Mascot looks like this:

I don’t know what it is, but that looks like the most vulnerable tiger I’ve ever seen. I think maybe the stripe above his eyes? Like he’s pleading for approval. And I’d like to give it to him, but this bracket is about survival and fighting prowess and utter nonsense, so I’ll assume the Spartan’s well trained enough to pull this off.

I’m sorry, Tru. It’s ok. I’ll get you some ice cream. Maybe next year.

Norfolk State advances

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fifth Annual Murphspot Mascot Bracket - West, Round One, Part One

Quick note: The remaining first round sets will be split to avoid ludicrously long posts. And so I can sleep.

#1 Michigan State Spartans vs. #16 LIU Blackbirds
I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can hear “Spartan” and not have Gerard Butler be the only thing that comes to mind. I think that’s probably the romantic comedies at work; my Peloponnesian history isn’t what it should be, so I don’t know exactly how ancient Spartans would have responded to The Bounty Hunter, but I have to assume it wouldn’t have been pretty.

Spartan McNulty is displeased.

The Blackbirds, on the other hand, probably aren’t going to fare well against a guy with a sword wearing a cuirass. They’re fine as something for Paul McCartney to sing about, and seem to be pretty good at pestering Jon Snow for corn, but against an actual military unit, I’m afraid that the birds aren’t going to fare well.

Yes, I’m sorry. It’s ok. You can be even more dour now.

Michigan State advances.

#8 Memphis Tigers vs. #9 Saint Louis Billikens

So that’s a Billiken, then. I was really worried that I was missing something really basic about what in the world this is supposed to be, but Introduction to Charm Doll Fads of the Early 1900s That Appeared In the Dreams of an Art Teacher wasn’t required for my major, so it’s an area in which I know I’m deficient. It’s evidently a good luck… thing, which is good as something tells me that if the Billiken deems it, things can go south in a hurry. Then suddenly the Brady Bunch has to go back to St. Louis to return the Billiken because Bobby can’t leave well enough alone and it turns into a weird parable about how we have to care for and preserve St. Louis.

The Tigers are Tigers, I guess, but for some reason I assume the Billiken’s got anti-Tiger powers. Which would actually explain the 2006 World Series, so let’s run with that.

Saint Louis advances.

#5 New Mexico Lobos vs. #12 Long Beach State 49ers

We could sit here and debate the positives and the negatives of the California Gold Rush, but we won’t, because I don’t feel like reading enough about it to have a strong opinion one way or the other. I am relatively certain that Long Beach wasn’t involved in any actual gold rushing.

The Lobos, on the other hand have, presumably, Lobo.

This is what Glenn Danzig sees when he looks in the mirror.

I’m not sure what the 49ers have in the way of weaponry (Gold pans? Sieves? Maybe a pickaxe?), but I’m pretty sure that whatever it is, it won’t quite match up to the 1990s distilled into a single ridiculous character.

New Mexico advances.

#4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #13 Davidson Wildcats

I’ve already dealt with both Cardinals and Wildcats, and neither is terribly threatening. The Louisville Cardinal (somewhat disappointingly just named “Cardinal Bird”) has teeth, which is starting to make me think I’m wrong and that cardinals have teeth. I don’t think they do, but it’s such a consistent feature that it’s unsettling.

I don’t feel cheer from Cardinal Bird. I feel like I’ve wronged him.

The Wildcats, on the other hand, have this big grey thing with whiskers and detached cheeks? Or something? Gills? It does have little tufts of hair coming out of the tops of its ears, which makes me think they’re going for some kind of lynx, but frankly, I’m just sort of confused.

Deciding between the two entirely on which one I wouldn’t want to have cut off in traffic, I’ll have to give this to Cardinal Bird. He’s got a lot of anger, and I think that probably is the deciding factor in this.

Louisville advances.