Friday, April 4, 2014

March Mascot Melee™: The Elite Eight Part One

Don't be confused by his appearance or his name (Stuff the Magic Dragon) - the Orlando Magic mascot is wielding a power that humans know not.
By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin)

Florida, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Wisconsin punched their tickets to the "real" Final Four in Dallas this past weekend. This morning, four mascots will join them in our own Final Four, only ours will take place in Kamchatka, which, as everyone knows, is the Thunderdome capital of the World.

I'll tackle the first two matchups, the final duels in the NHL and NBA brackets, and Joe will follow it up later today with the finals of the NFL and MLB brackets. Here's what the bracket looks like entering the Elite Eight:

Click to enlarge
NHL Bracket Final:

1. New Jersey Devils vs. 3. Carolina Hurricanes

This is truly a clash of biblical proportions. The Devil, as described in the Christian holy book, is the ultimate evil known to all of mankind. Hurricanes, meanwhile, are seen as acts of God. A modern scientist might examine the story of Noah and the Ark and deduce that it is a legend based on a large-scale Hurricane.

That gives the matchup an interesting twist. If we take it to be the Devil versus simply a large weather system, I don't see any way wind and rain is going to take down the prince of darkness. But if we're treating Hurricanes as weapons wielded by God himself... man, that makes it a tough call.

If we're going to follow the letter of the law, however, there really aren't any religious connotations to draw from for the Carolina Hurricanes. The team is named as such because North Carolina is smack dab in the middle of the eastern seaboard, a prime target for high-powered Atlantic weather systems. So without God himself raining down upon Satan, the embodiment of evil, I think the Hurricanes fall short.

Winner: Devils

NBA Bracket Final:

1. Washington Wizards vs. 2. Orlando Magic

In a sense, this matchup was inevitable. Magic is an unknowable force, but one that has the potential to be infinitely strong. Rockets and Kings and Suns and Heat never stood a chance.

This truly is the "Chicken vs. Egg" duel of the tournament, even more so than Devils vs. Flames or Devils vs. Lightning from the NHL bracket. Is Magic the more powerful entity, because it is abstract and potentially limitless, or is the Wizard more powerful, because he's the one wielding the potentially limitless power?

In most literature, wizards only use magic for good, until some wizard comes along using it for evil, and then the good wizards band together, rise up, and topple the evil-doer. Their struggle of good versus evil is well-tread territory in magic lore. But there's an interesting inference there. It's always good on one side and bad on the other - rarely, if ever, do you see a story of a wizard truly capable of harnessing both "good" magic and "bad" magic simultaneously. That makes it seem like there is SO MUCH magic to know that is impossible to master everything.

On top of that, magic is almost always depicted as a subject to be studied, a craft that must be perfected in order to be wielded properly. This seems to support the idea that it's impossible to know *everything* there is to know about magic, in the same way that it's impossible for me or you to know *everything* about history or economics or microbiology.

Assuming both of those things to be truly, it would see that Magic would have a huge upper hand. Being the abstract entity, it wouldn't be limited by the scope of human potential. It would be able to conjure threats that were previously unfathomable to the Wizard. The Wizard would have used Magic to get this far, but at this point, his weapon would betray him.

Winner: Magic

With the Devils and Magic advancing to the Final Four, here's what the bracket looks like now:

Click to enlarge

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