A couple of weeks ago, in honor of the impending March Madness, I decided to do a bracket with my rankings of Pittsburgh’s sports broadcasters, and then pit them head-to-head until I came up with a winner. I thought it would be fun, and maybe people would have some good-natured arguments over a list that was clearly plucked out of thin air and filled with my opinions for the sake of entertainment.
A quick recap: Steelers and Panthers play-by-play man Bill Hillgrove won by beating Pirates announcer Greg Brown. But the one move that made everyone lose their collective minds was Brown, my three-seed, upsetting Penguins’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange in the second round.
The result: People hate me. My bracket created a mini social-media firestorm from civil differences of opinion (“Mike Lange takes the cake”), to the personal (“A COMPLETE MORON WOULD PICK GREG BROWN OVER MIKE LANGE”).
Some people didn’t like the list: “I made this bracket the winner of my worst brackets of all time.”
And then some people were really irate and couldn’t believe that I was allowed to perpetrate this fraud on the American public: “Is this a joke? Mike Lange losing in any situation is laughable. … Take this garb down.” “What a disgrace that mike lange lost. Disgrace.” And then there was my favorite: “Gotta be rigged somehow.”
I thought it was crucial to my reputation to address some of these claims, and I can do it rather succinctly: Of course, it was rigged! I didn’t have a committee, nor did a computer generate the rankings. I didn’t bring these guys into my office and make them perform. I sat down at my desk as I always do, below my autographed photo of Henry Winkler, and I made the shit up! We even put a blank bracket online so you could make up your own.
I did put thought into each seed and matchup, but it was all based on my own likes and opinions. For example, I’m a huge baseball fan, always have been. And while I support the Penguins, I’m just not a big hockey guy. Add that to the fact that for the sake of drama, you have to have a huge early-round upset in any bracket, and I chose that moment.
I always knew Pittsburghers took their sports seriously, but I didn’t know they were just as passionate about the guys behind the mics.