The Wire Character Bracket Day 6

Here at the WaiverWire, we have several writers who are into just more than the sporting world. That’s why when the website Grantland (and this bracket is the idea of those who run that website, not ours) released a 32-person bracket of characters from the television series The Wire, we felt obligated to fill out the bracket ourselves. Each day until completion, three of our writers (Mike Aurigemma, Greg Kaplan, and Vinny Ginardi), along with guest blogger Michael Cresci (CresciReviews, check it out) will give an in depth look at each match up. In the event of a tie, we will use and outside viewer to break the score. Here is the bracket and today’s match ups:

For Day One results, click here.

For Day Two results, click here.

For Day Three results, click here.

For Day Four results, click here.

For Day Five results, click here.

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#1 Avon Barksdale vs. #4 Tommy Carcetti

Avon Barksdale's relationship with Stringer Bell is one of the show's best story lines. Will they meet up in the Final Four, or did one get eliminated today?

MC: Another character I suspect I enjoy more than the average fan is Tommy Carcetti.  It’s not that I don’t think he’s popular but I just love him.  Something about the way he talks always made me happy and even when he betrayed the principles on which he ran you felt like he was genuinely forced to make tough decisions.  The one exception would be when he turned down the governor’s money screwing over both the schools and the police.  This was tough to swallow but a poignant reminder that ego and pride power much of The Wire’s complex urban ecosystem.

All of that isn’t enough to overcome Avon.  His relationship with Stringer is easily one of the best things in the entire series.  The constant battle of business versus street is a big factor in season 3’s big event.  I love Avon’s famous finger wag and the toughness he displays but casually shrugging off large prison sentences.  Both of these guys are a big part of the series but Avon is a towering figure who won’t be beaten here.

The Pick: Avon

MA:  I have to say that it looks like Avon got a pretty easy ride to the final four in my opinion.  There is no one here that I can see knocking him out and Carcetti is definitely not the guy to do it.  Carcetti does not have a really strong role in the show and the show would not have lost much if you take his character out.  He may not even be the most powerful politician on the show as that title could go to Clay Davis.

When you are talking about Avon if you take him out of the show it would have a completely different feel to it and not in a good way either.  The amount of swag that he had throughout the seasons was insane and rivals Cam Newton’s swag.  He was an extremely influential character and always made his presence felt in the episodes he was in.

The Pick: Avon Barksdale

VG: I picked against Carcetti in round one, but I do like him as a character. He just seems incredibly believable as a politician. He wants to change the city. He really does. But when he finally earns a position where he can change the city, he realizes it’s not as easy it seems. Also, I just started Game of Thrones, and it was great to see him there.

Avon is one of my favorite characters in the entire series. He runs West Baltimore, but you think of him as a person first and a kingpin second because his character is so deep. Not to mention that his slowly deteriorating relationship with Stringer was incredibly compelling.

The Pick: Avon

GK: I know this is forecasting a lot in advance, but I don’t see anyone remaining in the field that could possibly pull and upset and stop us from having the epic Avon vs. Stringer debate. The potential is too juicy.

So, saving my main bullets for that discussion, I will talk mostly about Carcetti, who is unfortunately going home early. Carcetti was the kind of politician you want to believe runs in your district. He truly wanted good things to happen for the City of Baltimore because he was a citizen of that city. He wanted the best and worked for the best. While he preached that he wouldn’t get caught up in the political machine (and he didn’t at first, pulling strange tricks on city workers to get hydrants fixed and busted cars off the street), his own success became his undoing. His leadership group understood that Carcetti could become Governor, so they forced him to tweak his credo in order to be more appealing for statewide voters.

I still thought there was more to Carcetti’s story that writers didn’t delve into, like his infidelity. But, he was a complete character and even made me want to believe in politics again. But, then I moved to Georgia and had to watch these Republican Primary debates for the news. Needless to say, I’m as disenfranchised as ever. Newt Gingrich…I get chills just hearing the name…

The Pick: Avon 

THE WINNER: Avon Barksdale (4-0)

#3 Bunny Colvin vs. # 2 Prop Joe

Will Prop Joe advance to the next round?

MC:   This is the hardest pick I’ve had to make yet.  At the time of writing this sentence I still don’t know who I’m going to pick.

On one hand Prop Joe represents the kind of player that Stringer aspired to be.  It always impressed me that Joe commanded so much respect without ever resorting to conspicuous violence or extortion.  He brought his own unique style to running crime in east Baltimore and did it with a certain unmatched style.   His habit of dutifully fixing clocks and practicing a trade because he enjoys it always endeared him to me.

On the other hand Bunny has two strong seasons and is otherwise a background character.  But oh are those two seasons something.  As I said in my first post about Bunny he convinced me that drug legalization is sound public policy and he also managed to evolve even more as a character with his eventual role in the schools.  The more I think about it Bunny’s two stories are so unique and yet so similar.  He wants to try fixing things in ways that haven’t yet been tried and finds constant resistance.  His persistence and gravitas, plus his relationship with Namond, give him the edge in this battle.  Tough tough pick, though.

The Pick: Bunny Colvin

MA:  This is a pretty easy match-up for me really as I already went on my rant about “Prop” Joe in the first round.  I really think that he was all talk and had more bark than bite to his personality.  He acted like he was untouchable because he would try to threaten anyone, but I just did not get the feel that he actually meant what he was saying.  Who knows maybe I read him wrong, but I think he snuck by because there was no one really competing with him

Bunny Colvin was definitely an awesome character and is someone who could easily get overlooked by many people.  I am glad that he is still here because he deserves it for having such a strong persona on the show.  He was a great cop and then became a mentor/teacher for so many kids who were struggling in school.  I do think that he has not been tested really so far in this bracket, but that should be coming next round against Avon.

The Pick: Bunny Colvin

VG: Wow, what a tough match up.

Prop Joe is a good, somewhat deep, but always consistent character. From his first appearance onscreen (I believe at the West/East basketball game), we knew that Joe held a position of authority and wasn’t a guy to mess with. Even if I didn’t feel as much as personal connection as I did to other characters, he was betrayed by his nephew Cheese, which struck me on some level.

Bunny Colvin is all over the place in his two seasons as a central character. In season three, we see someone who tried to invoke change in an extremely radical way. Although he essentially legalized drug, it enforced the idea that in order for changes in effects to take place, changes in the causes need to occur. In season four, we see Colvin emerge as a mentor to several troubled students, most notable Namond Bryce, whom he eventually adopts. Seeing Namond at the debate at the end of season five, and the proud face of Colvin in the crowd, is one of the series’ happiest moments.

The Pick: Bunny Colvin

Bunny Colvin is one of The Wire's most underrated characters.

GK: You know, this match-up is close to me, but isn’t really exciting. Neither character really revs my engine. Don’t get me wrong, I think both play a significant role in the greater whole that was The Wire, but neither really get me out of bed with excitement or passion.

I’m going with Bunny in this match-up because he did something radical in the show that few other characters would even consider. The “Hampsterdam Experiment” was so controversial, yet successful in nature that it begs the question if something along those lines could actually work in society today. Its such an intriguing debate that would cause people to get out of their seats and in each others faces with an opinion one way or the other that you could put it on pay-per-view and make a decent penny from it. Its one of those questions where there is no in between. You either agree that it could work or hate the idea because you’re legalizing drugs.

I think Boston said it best in Round 1. While I appreciate the fatherly mentality of Prop Joe throughout all 5 seasons of the show, I don’t think his toughness or swag really stands out to any point where I’m like “I don’t want to mess with Prop Joe’s people”. His big muscle at any time was either Cheese (his nephew) or Slim Charles (Avon’s muscle when he’s in jail). There weren’t people that made me fear Joe, and I think that’s why Marlo got it in his head that he was easy to kill off with no consequence. You can’t be a nice guy in the drug game, it’ll get you killed. And it did.

The Pick: Bunny

THE WINNER: Bunny Colvin (4-0)

#1 Stringer Bell vs. #5 Lester Freamon

MC: Well that “hardest pick I’ve had to make” title just changed hands pretty quickly.  I love Lester Cool’s cool.  His fierce intelligence always made him a stand out character but Stringer is another of those larger than like The Wire figures. I love his first introduction when it almost seems like he’s a lawyer sitting in on the case.  His burning desire to become a legitimate business man was always a mix of admirable, tragic and unique.

The Pick: Stringer Bell    

Another sweep for Stringer.


MA:  I am drooling over the match-ups in this region right now.  Even the first round has some amazing pairings and it just keeps getting better.  Stringer is an extremely important character and it is a work of art to watch his character develop.  I do think that Stringers one weakness of only being half-committed to being a gangster and the other half to a legit business man could be what knocks him out of this.  It is what finally caught up to him in the show as he did not always think about making a statement and at times wanted to avoid conflict.  I also cannot let it go that he took D’angelo’s girl from him when he was in prison.  It did show a little bit of disloyalty and disrespect in my opinion.

He does have a tough match-up in Lester Freamon as well who I could easily see knocking him off in this round.  Lester was a great character and someone who really knew how to do actual cop work.  He was able to take Prez under his wing and show him the ropes to detective work too.  He wanted to get the job done the right way like McNulty, but he went about it in a different way as he did not cause that many waves.  Also he was probably the smoothest character on the show and it worked well on the ladies as well.  I may be a little biased in this situation because I was such a huge fan of Stringer so that may be clouding my judgment, but he was just so important to the show I cannot see him getting knocked out now.

The Pick: Stringer Bell

VG: As I mentioned last round, I love Lester Freamon for his brilliance and leadership throughout the series.

But he can’t beat Stringer Bell.

Stringer is one of the more intriguing characters on the show. By the end, he wanted out of The Game, but not in the same way that Wallace or others did. He just felt that he had won it, and it was time to move on to bigger and better things. That being said, it was awesome to watch him use business tactics to run a drug hierarchy, and as mentioned earlier, his relationship with Avon was one of the series’ most interesting storylines.

The Pick: Stringer Bell

GK: I feel really bad for Lester that he has to go up against Stringer. In my mind, Lester was neck and neck with Bunk throughout the show for one of my favorite cops in the movie. However, part of me feels Lester jumped the shark in Season 5 when he was fully on board with McNulty for the whole fake serial killer thing. I really believe Lester would’ve fought harder against those principles a bit more than he did.

As for Stringer, what didn’t he do well on the show? He was a thug businessman that tried to legitimize the game. Fascinating concept. I’ll be waiting for his match-up with Avon in the Final Four before I go any futher…

The Pick: Stringer

 THE WINNER: Stringer Bell (4-0)

#3 Bodie vs. #2 Marlo

MC: For some reason I decided that my picks would be about who was more important rather than who I liked more.  Some bias has leaked in (I use it sort of like a tie breaker) but my bias isn’t going to be enough to power Bodie past Marlo.  I want it to but Marlo is just too important for the last 2.5 seasons.

I want to write on this at length but it just bothers me too much.  Marlo is so so evil and soulless and hateable.  But it’s that same despicable lack of emotion and empathy that let him shoot to the top.  Bodie was a great soldier who knew his role and stuck to his principles but his journey ends here.

The Pick: Marlo

MA:  Well if you thought I might have been biased in that last match-up I am definitely going to be here.  As far as just character goes it has to be Marlo because of his demeanor throughout the show.  He really did not care who was in his way and he was not interested in making any alliances.  He just wanted to control the town and handle his business.  Also as much as Stringer was trying to get out of being a gangster and become legit there was just no way Marlo would have been able to do it.  He was too street and there was no doubt that he knew he was a gangster.  He did not want to be anything else for anyone and you ave to admire that about him.

With all of this being said, I told you I was going to be biased in this decision.  Marlo is definitely a more important character, but I just cannot get over how loyal Bodie was.  He was a soldier to the very last second and his personality grew on me from the first time I saw him in the show.  He easily became my favorite character and was always willing to do whatever was necessary.  I have been hoping and praying to see him in some new shows or movies, but the only thing I saw him in recently was a FedEx commercial.  I still loved every second of it just because he was in it so although Marlo was probably a better character I just cannot pick against Bodie.

The Pick: Bodie

None of us really like Marlo, but he's moving on.

VG: Similarly to what Cresci said, if this was a character who I preferred bracket, I would absolutely pick Bodie. He’s a much easier person to like, and although he isn’t a good person, we can see that is just a product of growing up on the corner. His characteristics (loyalty, passion, and somewhat higher intelligence than most) make use think that if he was in a different situation, he could be an upstanding citizen.

That’s nothing we could ever see from Marlo. He was made for The Game. In fact, he pretty much changed the rules of The Game. Before he came along, there was a general understanding and respect of those involved. But on Marlo arrived, all of that disappeared. He started killing people for little or no reason at all. At least when Stringer or Avon ordered a death, it was deserved or made some sort of sense. Avon is just immoral. He was one of the few characters who it was impossible to like. Seriously, do you know anyone who was rooting for him in the Omar-Marlo battle in season five?

But that what makes his character so interesting.

The Pick: Marlo

GK: Well, who won this match-up in the show? Marlo. Bodie was one of the few street level lieutenants that had a real problem with how Marlo conducted his business. While Bodie understood better than most that there aren’t real friendships in the game because if you do someone over, then you deserve to get got. But, he also understood that you shouldn’t kill people for the sake of killing people. You killed because there was a reason to kill, not to establish your name. There aren’t many moral dilemmas in the drug game, but this presented one to Bodie, and he felt the need to go to McNulty with the information regarding Marlo.

But, Marlo wasn’t having any of that. He did what he had to do to keep his name out of the wire. Marlo was an interesting businessman as far as the game went. He was frustrating to watch the cops chase, because, well, he didn’t do much of anything. He was the voice over a chaotic force. But, he was damn good at what he did, taking the streets away from everybody else by undercutting the higher powers. With a little help from Avon. I’m interested to see the Elite 8 battle he’ll have with Stringer.

 The Pick: Marlo

THE WINNER: Marlo Stanfield (3-1)