Monday, April 08, 2013

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Final Four and Championship

#9 Missouri Tigers vs. #11 Belmont Bruins

I've been harping on Truman's over-earnest demeanor brow this entire time, and yet we're in the Final Four and he's still here.

Maybe I just like the idea of a mascot being named after a President who happened to be from the state, though not one who attended the University (as Harry Truman didn't have a college degree; I assume everything he needed to know, he learned in the hobo camps he slept in.)

I really do not want to know what one learns in hobo camps. I'm ok.

I am a little disappointed that they didn't restrict themselves to alumni, if only because we'd have a chance at the University of Missouri Fightin' Berengers.

I could have gone with Platoon Tom Berenger, but Major League Tom Berenger seems more fitting.

In the end, though, Bruiser just seems more determined, in addition to the fact that he's probably got a few hundred pounds on Truman and razor sharp claws.

Belmont advances.

#16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #5 UNLV Rebels

Hey Reb! gets points for being the only mascot in the bracket whose proper name includes punctuation. It makes him seem more dynamic, which builds on the whole "soul-consuming eyes" and "fire conjured from his fingertips" mythos that we've previously established.

He's also got a big ridiculous statue on the UNLV campus.

I'm not entirely sure how Hey Reb! sees things. Maybe he's like a Ringwraith, but with a hat instead of a ring and Las Vegas instead of the Realm of the Unseen

So he's durable. And yet, at the core, he's a frontiersman. He's looking to get to the top of the next hill to see what's on the other side.

Big Red's already on the top of the hill, with his Shin Guards of Madness and Surprisingly Slender Ankles. He's also three years older than Hey Reb! (Hey Reb! in 1982 in order to replace controversial Confederate symbology with a frontiersman, while Big Red was designed in 1979 in order to make life better.)

I don't know how this would go down, as the minds of mere mortals would be shattered upon actually watching this battle.

But in the end, only one can win.

Western Kentucky advances.

#11 Belmont Bruins vs. #16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

And now we come to the unstoppable force against the immovable object. Or, I guess, the immovable object against a bear. I've always been pretty big on making up the rules as I go along for this thing, so while some other brackets would have eliminated Big Red long ago for not being something that can fight to the death, he's finally made it to the Final.

I appreciate Bruiser's physicality. It's built into his name, and he seems more than willing to tear something limb from limb. But in the end, I really don't think it's enough to withstand the overwhelming and probably pathological Joy represented by a mascot who doesn't seem to mind all that much that the primary directive for his design was to make his head look like a hill, because the college is on a hill and hills are nice.

It's his year.

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket Champion



Post Bracket Comment

I've been writing this bracket for six years, watching it get progressively longer and more ridiculous and never quite sure who's reading it. I enjoy it, and I hope that it makes at least a few of you laugh.It was sort of a goofy, though nowhere near original idea in 2008 (when the Xavier Musketeers won over the Cal State Fullerton Titans by virtue of having actually existed), and looking back on those entries, they were really, really short compared to what I've got going now, and I'm not sure which is better.

I'm never quite sure whether I should keep doing this each March/April, but then someone winds up asking me about it and I decide to go ahead again, so I hope this was to your liking. Mostly, I just wanted to thank whoever's reading this for reading. I'll hopefully continue updating with non-mascot bracket related personal blogging (which I've gotten away from in recent years), but I won't post that all over social media.

Also, my sister and her husband have a dog who looks like the Billiken, and now I'm kind of frightened of him.

The stuff of nightmares

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Elite Eight

#9 Missouri Tigers vs. #6 Memphis Tigers

The most disappointing moment in writing this bracket to date has been discovering that "Tiger Battle" isn't a prog-rock band that already exists. We are, as a culture, missing out on some amazing album covers.

But this isn't about that. This is about Truman and Pouncer and who would win in a fight to the death.

And while they're both tigers, there's not much of a challenge here. Truman looks overly earnest, sure, but he could at least earnestly disembowel his opponents. Pouncer, on the other hand, looks like something named "Pouncer". He's overly adorable, which I think harms him in situations where he's going to have to fight to the death.

I should mention that Memphis does have a live tiger who would presumably tear the student out of Truman, while Missouri does not though apparently some students are trying to make that happen. I still don't think that makes up for how aggressively adorable Pouncer is. He seems like he'd be way more concerned about belly rubs than fighting for his life.

To underscore this, it turns out there's also a Beanie Baby named Pouncer. You do not get into the Final Four if you're a Beanie Baby. That's a new rule.

Missouri advances.

#13 La Salle Explorers vs. #11 Belmont Bruins

Bruiser the Bruin is sort of ahead of the curve as far as mascots modeled after ferocious animals while still remaining moderately kid-friendly in that he's not feasting on entrails on game day. He's got an actively violent name (though, honestly, if I'm being attacked by a bear, bruising is not very high on my list of Injuries I'm Concerned About).

He's also got at least a bit of an intimidating visage. It's the brow; he looks like he might actually be pissed off enough to do something to his opponent.

The Explorer probably has some manner of weaponry (probably even firearms, given the uniform), but he's also spending most of his time trying to stay alive long enough to make it over the mountain range without the entire party developing cholera or breaking the wagon axle or sinking the damned wagon into the river.

You know what? Missouri's very nice. Let's just stay in Missouri.

And if Sid Meier's Civilization has taught me anything, it's that your scouts are probably going to wind up getting attacked by whatever half-trained military your opponents feel like throwing out there. Sure, you subsequently wipe them from the face of the earth, but the scout isn't helping with that.

Belmont advances.

#16Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #7San Diego State Aztecs

This is the furthest Big Red has made it in the Mascot Bracket, partly because until now he'd been fine with being more of a benevolent entity who chose to allow the other mascots to take a shot at the championship. So in most other years, things would be looking up for the Aztecs.

The Aztec has a variety of weapons, a shield and presumably a puma medallion that scares the hell out of Donald Pleasance.

Short Note: Donald Pleasance now controls your mind. Sorry.

Maybe it's that Big Red is channeling his Italian TV Knock-Off Gabibbo, which gives him not only his standard "minor deity of destruction and despair" abilities, but also those of a wacky naval officer with an improbable mustache. Or maybe it's the strategic advantage of being on a hilltop.

Or maybe he's just been too nice for too long. In any case, the Aztecs aren't able to mount a defense against Big Red's giant head and shin guards.

Western Kentucky advances.

#5 UNLV Rebels vs. #15 Pacific Tigers

Power Cat has had a pretty good run. It's the first time the University of the Pacific has been represented in the Murphspot Mascot bracket, and the fact that he's named like an alternate universe Justice Society member has been helpful.

They already let Ted Grant hang around. They seem like they're fine with cats.

While his grizzled appearance has helped him through the last few rounds, he's simply out grizzled here. Hey Reb has gotten to the point where he's abandoned all self-preservation instincts like "fear" and "not being a crazy person who lives in the desert and shoots fireworks from you fingers" and comparatively, Power Cat just looks a little older, a little sadder and a little more like he'd like nothing more than a ball of yarn, a rocking chair and a nice view of the lake.

It's ok. You've done well. There's a great early-bird special you should really check out.

UNLV advances

Saturday, April 06, 2013

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Sweet Sixteen - South/East

#16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #4 Michigan Wolverines

Wolverines have a reputation for ferocity, but I'm not sure how well just being ferocious is going to hold up against the screaming terror that is Big Red.

He's also got time for the occasional bit of solemn contemplation.

Part of the issue is that while they've got a team name, Michigan doesn't actually have a mascot. There's that wolverine from the 1920s who kept trying to kill his handlers (though, to be fair to the wolverine, we only really have the handlers' account of the whole thing), but even if we presume some sort of temporal anomaly that allows the Jazz Age wolverine to compete against Big Red, he'll be dazed by the advances in technology, commercial flight and the noted absence of Jelly Roll Morton.

Wolverine Blues, indeed.

I'm sure the wolverine would put up a fight, but Big Red abandoned fear when he donned the WKU lettering. I"m guessing he just swings his giant head open and tosses the wolverine in.

Western Kentucky advances.

#6 UCLA Bruins vs. #7 San Diego State Aztecs

I've been pretty emphatic in my belief that bears are basically monsters, and Joe Bruin is no different. He's three-quarters of a ton of claws and fury in light blue shorts, and I can't decide whether the shorts make him less intimidating (because it's a bear wearing shorts) or more intimidating (because he clearly doesn't care).

Fun fact: Brown bears are serially monogamous and are constantly doing this sort of nonsense.

Luckily for the Aztec, bears aren't really pack animals, because if they were humans would never have stuck around long enough to come up with college basketball. As the Aztec mascot exists as part of a standing army, he's got the ability to strategize and figure out how to take down a bear before it rips his head off. Atlatls, maybe, which I've read can be quite accurate. Most YouTube videos I've found regarding atlatls seem to throw that into question, but then again most of them are made by guys in Rockford who throw darts at stuff for fun.

Who am I kidding? I sort of want an atlatl now.

I'll assume the San Diego State Aztec is pretty good at things.

San Diego State advances.

#8 North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. #5 UNLV Rebels

Mr. and Mrs. Wuf are at least nominally part of a Wolfpack, but I also get the feeling they spend most of their time looking for yard sales and spoiling their grandkids. It's the sweaters and souvenir hats, I think.

If this were a competition about building models of tall ships, Mr. Wuf would win hands down.

On the other side of things, we've got Hey Reb, who will devour your soul in an unspeakably terrifying ceremony.

He just wants a hug! And to siphon all of your good memories!

Hey Reb also has a slightly less "buttoned-down surburbanite" vibe to him. More of a "lives in the middle of the desert and spends most of his time focused on his mustache, occasionally staggering into town to scream something about the Lizard Overlords Who Control Us All" sort of thing.

If this were the Murphspot Mascot Hat Bracket, Hey Reb would win convincingly. And why not.

UNLV advances.

#11 Bucknell Bison vs. #15 Pacific Tigers

I like Bucky the Bison. He's the size of a sedan, can move about as fast (if the sedan's in a residential neighborhood) and he seems genuinely pleased by the whole situation.

A little surprised, sure, but happy. Like he just found out he's going to a theme park.

Power Cat, on the other hand, has quickly become a grizzled veteran of the Mascot Bracket by virtue of the fact that he's been apparently designed to be grizzled.

The issue here is that I set out in the Rules at the beginning of this iteration of the bracket that Precedent Counts. As Power Cat has already taken care of the Colorado Buffalo, I'll have to apply the same result here, which leads me to regrettably take the Bison out of consideration. Which is a shame, because he had such a promising career as the head of a crime syndicate.

Pacific advances.

Friday, April 05, 2013

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - Sweet Sixteen - Midwest/West

#9 Missouri Tigers vs. #5 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Truman looks like he wants nothing more than to make others happy.

It's admirable, if not entirely suitable for the ruthless confines of the mascot bracket. He's matched up with Pistol Pete from Oklahoma State this round, who looks like a bowlegged version of Kurt Russell in Tombstone.

I'm pretty pro-mustache within reason, and I'm willing to buy that the bow-legged thing isn't much of an issue because he's primarly going to be doing this from the back of a horse, but there's the small matter of Pistol Pete being terrifying.

I get big-headed mascots; they're easier to see from a distance, they're recognizable and it's a lot easier to tell whether you've got a vigilante mascot in the form of someone who has decided to take cheer and merriment into their own hands and run around dressed up as a Fightin' Astrophysicist or whatever the hell. But if you're going to do a big-headed mascot, it's imperative that he doesn't make grown men cry.

Pistol Pete looks a little like he's melting. I mean, I imagine it gets pretty warm in Stillwater, but if that's the case, you probably shouldn't make your hat out of polyethylene. His eyes are deep set enough that it feels an awful lot like Pistol Pete has a mask on like he's about to either rob a bank or appear in a "Silence of the Lambs" sequel.

I'm also not sure whether his six-shooters are going to be capable of taking down a tiger. I have no idea what sort of firearm one uses to kill a tiger, because I've resigned myself to the idea that if it's me and a tiger, the tiger is going to win.

And so it happens here as well.

Missouri advances.

#6 Memphis Tigers vs. #7 Cincinnati Bearcats

This is turning out to be pretty tiger-heavy. The further this mascot bracket goes on, the more it becomes just things I'm personally pretty sure could kill me.

That's not to disparage binturongs. I'm pretty sure a binturong could kill me. It probably wouldn't even have to try all that hard; I certainly don't have a prehensile tail or a sweet set-up at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Beyond that, the Bearcat mascot (somewhat uninspiringly named "The Bearcat") has a weirdly Dali-esque moustache. So he's probably got the leg up on surrealism. But he's still mostly going to hang out in trees, smell like popcorn and eat plantains.

Memphis, on the other hand, has their mascot leaping over an M-shaped enclosure to apparently strangle his prey.

As I said, this is turning into what frightens me personally. And a tiger who could potentially have the self-restraint to strangle its prey before tearing it to pieces is pretty high up there. In the end, we are all just little red laser pointer dots in the eyes of Pouncer.

Memphis advances.

#16 Southern Jaguars vs. #13 La Salle Explorers

I'm sure there's some sort of endangered species narrative here. LaCumba's no pushover, as he's made it to the Mascot Sweet sixteen, but it probably says something that he's in a cage, which I assume is the result of some bumbling explorer making his way into his habitat, sawing down a bunch of LaCumba's cover and throwing a net over him.

The Explorer is sort of enigmatic, in the sense that I can't seem to find a name for him or a list of the grooming products he uses on that magnificent moustache. He looks like Sam Elliott if he were a Union officer.

An actual Sam Elliott Mascot would win this thing every year. 

Has Sam Elliott ever played a Union officer? Of course he has. 

I don't know about the Explorer leading cavalry against the Jaguars, but the Explorer never just explores. He explores, then reports back and shows up again with a team with bulldozers and plans for a strip mall.

La Salle advances.

#11 Belmont Bruins vs. #15 Iona Gaels

Killian has enjoyed a good run, primarily because I'm trying to keep him happy so that he doesn't show up, smiling and silent, in the alleyway behind my apartment building when I'm going to take the garbage out.

He's got a look on his face that suggests he liked A Clockwork Orange a little too intensely, and that's largely why he's here. But I'm not really sure whether a being named "Bruiser the Bruin" is going to be intimidated. Killian's got a rough wooden walking stick/shillelagh, but if you try to hit a bear with a piece of wood, it's probably not going to end well for you.

It turns out things are pretty good if you're a Bruin. You've got the advantage of being a 1500 pound killing machine, you get to hibernate for months on end if you feel like it and, if you are very, very patient, Jaromir Jagr will show up to help you out.

The man has now played for a full 20% of the NHL. 

As much as I've got a visceral reaction against the words "Jagr" and "Bruin" appearing in the same post, some things have to be set aside for the sake of the Mascot Bracket.

Belmont advances.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

2013 Murphspot Mascot Bracket - East - Round of 32

#16 James Madison Dukes vs. #8 North Carolina State Wolfpack

The Dukes had a good run, and made it through two matchups more than most of the other bulldog mascots. I guess that demonstrates that even if you're a fairly squat dog who makes some unorthodox fashion choices, you're going to get pretty far on your lands, titles and incomes.

In the end, though, Duke is still a bulldog and even though Mr. and Mrs Wuf are named that and wearing ridiculous headwear, they're still a pack of wolves, who will bite you in half while you sit there and mock their hats.

Honestly, though, look at this thing.

Duke may be able to raise troops if given enough notice, but who's fighting that battle? Other working dogs? Maybe a few mastiffs and Bernese mountain dogs, but mostly terriers? Who pays fealty to Duke? And how soon will it be Sunday so I can get back to watching Game of Thrones?

This doesn't relate, really. The post just needed some more of Ser Dontos.

I feel like whatever's raised, the Wolfpack has this round.

North Carolina State advances.

#5 UNLV Rebels vs. #13 Montana Grizzlies

I've been pretty bear-mascot-positive in this bracket so far, and Monte's got a lot going for him that would make me lean in his direction as well. He's cartoonish enough that children probably aren't going to cry, but not to the point that he's likely to put on a sweatervest and start telling you stories in exchange for jamming a cassette into his back.

"Take that, Teddy Ruxpin." -he wrote as he lost control of the Mascot Bracket.

What Monte has going for him is his ability to make an entrance. For some reason, Monte showing up to games on horseback is more impressive to me than mascots that are expected to be able to ride a horse. If bears have started to domesticate their own horses, we're only a few years away from bears with advanced weapons systems.

Plus, he's responsible for this picture.

I've never been to Montana, but I imagine it's just this all day, every day.

So it would seem Hey Reb has his work cut out for him. I tried to figure out if Hey Reb has access to firearms (which you'd think he probably would), but he's not depicted with guns for the most part, which I understand. What I didn't count on were Hey Reb's finger-guns.

Hey Reb has been preemptively banned from small clubs and concert venues with low-hanging ceilings.

Bear on a Motorcycle is pretty intimidating, but Hey Reb appears to be some sort of Nevadan Pyromancer. We've run into a matchup between Mounted Bears and Mustachioed Fire Mages in Big Pseudo-Confederate-era Hats.

I'm sorry, Monte. The bike is great, but fire from your fingertips wins every time.

UNLV advances.

#11 Bucknell Bison vs. #3 Marquette Golden Eagles

I mean no disrespect to the noble Golden Eagle, but at this level of competition, I'm somewhat skeptical of the whole "diving and clawing and biting and then soaring away" as a modus operandi. Then again, Golden Eagles are really, really good at that.

They evidently mostly stick to hares and squirrels, but will take down a young deer if you leave it alone. Which means that if you've got a young deer in your care and you leave it alone with some golden eagles while you go finish up dinner, you're either somewhat neglectful or kind of a jerk.

Bucky the Bison has a vulnerability in that he's got unreasonably large eyes, but I think there's a tendency to underrate the bison. Bison are the size of a decent sedan and can move at a pretty good "driving through a neighborhood" clip of 35 miles per hour.

And that is now all I'm going to think about when I'm upset at traffic. "Yes, this is bad, but at least there isn't a bison charging down the street at the speed limit." Everything else will be comparatively good.

This is tough because, if they really felt like it, they wouldn't actually have to interact. The bison can go about bisoning and the eagle can go around eating otters or something and never really get around to actually fighting, so just out of pure impact force, I'm going to have to go with Bucky.

Bucknell advances.

#10 Colorado Buffaloes vs. #15 Pacific Tigers

Ralphie is more on the "Saturday Morning Cartoon" end of the mascot spectrum, which is to say that he looks like he'd believe basically anything you told him.

I feel like most episodes would revolve around Ralphie getting in trouble after falling in with the cool wildlife who convinced him to vandalize the community swimming pool, followed by his redemption and a tacked on plea to not drop out of school.

Power Cat, on the other hand, seems like the oldest looking mascot in the bracket. Not in the sense that he's not been recently updated, but that for some reason they made him look like an anthropomorphic tiger who's in his mid-fifties. On one hand, he may have lost a step against the rambunctious youngster represented by Ralphie. On the other, he's got experience and wisdom and is named Power Cat.

I'm having trouble putting into words how awesome that is. I want to get another cat just so that I can name it Power Cat and have it run around fighting crime and throwing mooks out of abandoned warehouses into the Cat Dome, which is honestly probably just a glorified litter box.

Pacific advances.