Presenting The Grantland Staff Bracket (Round One)

I wish I could claim this idea as my own, but it is indeed borrowed from SI’s Richard Deitsch via Twitter.  It was created solely in jest to poke fun at Grantland’s affinity for making up brackets and polls.  I used a combination of the staff’s quality of writing, quantity of production for ONLY, and my own personal bias in creating the seeds (thus a guy like Wright Thompson gets dinged because he has produced maybe five pieces for Grantland while writing extensively for ESPN).  Admittedly I could have used additional help in creating it.  I was more in a rush to be the first to devise and publish Deitsch’s great idea.

Please scroll below the actual bracket to take part in the first round of voting.  We’ll update the brackets Wednesday morning with the winners of the first round and continue until we get a champion.

Presenting the 2012 Grantland Staff Bracket: 

1 bill simmons               chuck klosterman 1
16 mark titus               carles 16
8 david shoemaker               chris ryan  8
9 jonah keri               robert mays 9
5 brian phillips               shane ryan 5
12 patrice evans               michael kruse 12
4 jay caspian kang               jonathan abrams 4
13 mark lisanti               rany jazayerli 13
6 rembert browne               rafe bartholomew 6
11 michael weinreb               louisa thomas 11
3 bill barnwell               molly lambert 3
14 jonah lehrer               colson whitehead 14


mark harris

hua hsu

              wesley morris

alex pappademas



2 charles p pierce               katie baker 2
15 david jacoby               wright thompson 15

1. Bill Simmons vs 16. Mark Titus

Bill Simmons
Mark Titus

8. David Shoemaker vs 9. Jonah Keri

David Shoemaker
Jonah Keri

5. Brian Phillips vs. 12. Patrice Evans

Brian Phillips
Patrice Evans

4. Jay Caspian Kang vs. 13. Mark Lisanti

Jay Caspian Kang
Mark Lisanti

6. Rembert Browne vs. 11. Michael Weinreb

Rembert Browne
Michael Weinreb

3. Bill Barnwell vs. 14. Jonah Lehrer

Bill Barnwell
Jonah Lehrer

7. Hua Hsu vs. 10. Mark Harris

Hua Hsu
Mark Harris

2. Charles Pierce vs 15. David Jacoby

Charlies Pierce
David Jacoby

1. Chuck Klosterman vs. 16. Carles

Chuck Klosterman

8. Chris Ryan vs. 9. Robert Mays

Chris Ryan
Robert Mays

5. Shane Ryan vs. 12. Michael Kruse

Shane Ryan
Michael Kruse

4. Jonathan Abrams vs. 13. Rany Jazayerli

Jonathan Abrams
Rany Jazayerli

6. Rafe Bartholomew vs. 11. Louisa Thomas

Rafe Bartholomew
Louisa Thomas

3. Molly Lambert vs. 14. Colson Whitehead

Molly Lambert
Colson Whitehead

7. Wesley Morris vs. 10. Alex Pappademas

Wesley Morris
Alex Pappademas

2. Katie Baker vs. 15. Wright Thompson

Katie Baker
Wright Thompson


Great Sports Writing: “Lawdy, Lawdy, He’s Great”

We’ll continue the celebration of the Champ’s birthday with his famous Sports Illustrated piece written shortly after the Thrilla in Manila.  It was the third and final match between Ali and Joe Frazier, perhaps the two greatest heavyweight champions of all-time.  The piece does a wonderful job capturing the raw brutality of the match, going into painful details of just how much agony was inflicted on that evening.  On a more metaphysical side, the writer, Mark Kram, does an excellent job capturing the souls of the two fighters, nailing perfectly what exactly drove the two men to complete such a brutal affair.  Unlike a lot of the pieces I normally link to, this is a relatively short read and many consider it to be the best piece ever written for Sports Illustrated.  From SI:

A hint of shift came in the fourth. Frazier seemed to be picking up the beat, his threshing-blade punches started to come into range as he snorted and rolled closer. “Stay mean with him, champ!” Ali’s corner screamed. Ali still had his man in his sights, and whipped at his head furiously. But at the end of the round, sensing a change and annoyed, he glared at Frazier and said, “You dumb chump, you!” Ali fought the whole fifth round in his own corner. Frazier worked his body, the whack of his gloves on Ali’s kidneys sounding like heavy thunder. “Get out of the goddamn corner,” shouted Angelo Dundee, Ali’s trainer. “Stop playin’,” squawked Herbert Muhammad, wringing his hands and wiping the mineral water nervously from his mouth. Did they know what was ahead?

Came the sixth, and here it was, that one special moment that you always look for when Joe Frazier is in a fight. Most of his fights have shown this: you can go so far into that desolate and dark place where the heart of Frazier pounds, you can waste his perimeters, you can see his head hanging in the public square, may even believe that you have him, but then suddenly you learn that you have not. Once more the pattern emerged as Frazier loosed all of the fury, all that has made him a brilliant heavyweight. He was in close now, fighting off Ali’s chest, the place where he has to be. His old calling card — that sudden evil, his left hook — was working the head of Ali. Two hooks ripped with slaughterhouse finality at Ali’s jaw, causing Imelda Marcos to look down at her feet, and the President to wince as if a knife had been stuck in his back. Ali’s legs seemed to search for the floor. He was in serious trouble, and he knew that he was in no-man’s-land.

Whatever else might one day be said about Muhammad Ali, it should never be said that he is without courage, that he cannot take a punch. He took those shots by Frazier, and then came out for the seventh, saying to him, “Old Joe Frazier, why I thought you were washed up.” Joe replied, “Somebody told you all wrong, pretty boy.”

Great Stuff.

[Sports Illustrated]