Off Season, Off Topic: Gif Tournament III – Part 2: How the West Was Won

Welcome to the longest, greatest multi-part title I’ve ever made. In my last post, I introduced you to the GIF Tournament III. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, the first post got you intrigued enough to head over to sbnation and take a look at some of the contenders competing for the title. Today, I’ll take an in-depth look at the West Region, home to some real contenders, but also a few duds. Let’s start with the first round.

Round 1

(1) Tommy Hunter vs (16) Carlos Gomez

The Matchup: This is a classic 1 vs 16 mismatch. However, that speaks more to the weakness of Carlos Gomez than to the strength of Tommy Hunter, who I believe to be a bit overseeded. First of all, let’s look at Tommy Hunter. The idea is solid, and the execution very good, but this one is made by the camera man. We see the outfielder tracking back and then all of a sudden, the reveal. Totally springs it on you. Good, quality GIF, but there are a few things that hold it back from truly being a 1 seed. First of all, it’s not a hilarious type of funny, which is alright except that it’s such an attention-seeking sort of move that it’s lack of hilarity doesn’t make it subtle humor, it just cheapens it a little. He plans this out knowing exactly what’s going to happen and he gets the result he wants. Still, kudos for not flinching. Thirdly, with so many extra characters appearing in the GIF, they really don’t add anything extra to the shot. If you want an example of what I’m looking for, here’s one of my favorite GIFs of all time, Yankee Enthusiasts. Just watch everyone in the shot there. They’re all adding something. The fathers teaching their sons how to be real yankees fans, the guy on the left that doesn’t know what to do with his hands, so he somehow just ends up forcing a high five on his girlfriend, and of course, the big guy behind the action saying to know one in particular, “F*** you, f*** you”. This is the gold standard for GIF depth and I would probably put Tommy Hunter at the other end of the spectrum. And finally, it feels like a ripoff of former GIF Tournament contestant, Dan Majerle, former NBA all-star. Still, Tommy Hunter looks like a heavyweight when compared to the 16 seed Carlos Gomez. This GIF probably shouldn’t even be in the tournament. It’s so tiny, so late in the GIF, completely not the focus of the camera man, and not even that funny. If you want to see a quality GIF of an outfielder falling down, check out Shane Victorino.

My Pick: I think it’s obvious that this one goes to Tommy Hunter.

The Result: Chalk. Tommy Hunter wins, but with just 54% of the vote. The commenters seem to think they’re in on some secret joke here with the Carlos Gomez GIF. Dude fell down in the outfield. And it was hard to see. And it wasn’t funny anyway. Whatever. I’m glad this didn’t advance.

(8) Joe Morgan vs (9) Kentucky Fan

The Matchup: Let’s start with Joe Morgan. I went into this expecting to love it because Joe Morgan the baseball broadcaster is a ridiculous moron and I would enjoy laughing at him. It would be like the baseball equivalent of a Jon Gruden GIF. I was disappointed to learn that the Joe Morgan in this GIF is actually an NFL player for the Saints. Womp womp. So getting over that disappointment was tough. But this GIF is actually pretty awesome. The two hits combine perfectly to throw him off balance and subsequently back on balance and it makes him look like a ninja master. I don’t think Bruce Lee could have pulled off this move. It’s both hilarious and impressive. On to Kentucky Fan. This is a really short GIF. It’s short, sweet, and to the point. It’s a fat guy falling on his face while trying a high five. Boom, trapdoor. But because it’s so short, it completely eliminates any chance of depth the GIF has. The very last frame of the GIF gives us a little sneak peak at the aftermath, with a look of horror on the face of the woman in the bottom left. It has potential for more, especially since it’s a bunch of middle-aged people high fiving. You know there’s going to be some awkward hand grasp high fives that old people do because shaking hands is just too ingrained for them not to grab hold when their hand meets another. But alas, this GIF is very intentionally about nothing but the dude falling. That’s fine. It’s funny. It’s certainly better than Carlos Gomez. But it had some stiff competition in this matchup.

My Pick: This was close when I first saw them both. They’re both funny and both grab your attention. But Kentucky fan has little replay value and Joe Morgan follows up the funny with just being flat out impressive. Joe Morgan it is.

The Result: Another moderately close one, with Joe Morgan winning with 54% of the vote. This margin is probably appropriate for the matchup.

(5) Clint Dempsey vs (12) Reggie Bush

The Matchup: Clint Dempsey has quickly become a star among GIFs. “Deuceface” is making appearances in sports crowds as a giant posterboard head. I knew it would be big as soon as I saw it live. It’s hilarious, with some strange context that we’ll never know, in the middle of a soccer pitch against Jamaica. And I’m not letting the fact that he just joined my favorite team, Tottenham, influence me here. Reggie Bush, on the other hand is simply impressive. Three guys on one juke is pretty good, but I think even Reggie Bush would admit he’s done better. I’m not a huge fan of GIFs that are just a usual ESPN Top 10 level of impressive and not much else and this one doesn’t have anything extra special to sauce it up. Seems a little too run of the mill to have a chance in this matchup.

My Pick:  One word (I think?): Deuceface.

The Result: Dempsey wins with a cool 66% of the vote. No contest and rightfully so.

(4) Courtney Kirkland/Kris Humphries vs (13) Ref Hit in Face

The Matchup: Immediately upon seeing the Courtney Kirkland block, it became one of my tournament favorites. It just raises so many questions. I realize it’s some kind of stoppage of play and you need to convey that to the shooter, but is it really worse to let him shoot than to sprint to the line, jump up, and reject him while coming very close to his face? You just know this ref lays in his bed at night and dreams of playing in the NBA. Sadly, his stature leaves him stuck with ref duty. I really want to know if he talked trash to the shooter after the block. Anyway, this one is underseeded. Ref Hit in Face is just a little too run of the mill for my tastes. It fits in with the early 90s Bob Saget America’s Funniest Home Videos, but wouldn’t even win that. Maybe a little more zoom on the ref’s face, a funnier expression, and this one might have separated itself from the pack.

My Pick: I think it’s obvious. The block is one of my tournament favorites. It should win in a landslide.

The Result: Courtney Kirkland wins in a walk with 74% of the vote. Not even close.

(6) Ace Sanders vs (11) Willie the Wildcat

The Matchup: Alright, NOW we have an impressive GIF. Reggie Bush, eat your heart out. This is a punt return. Everyone knows he has the ball. Everyone knows where he’s going. And this isn’t one of those one cut and go types of returns. And it isn’t like he got to the corner and turned it upfield. No, he went straight through every single guy on that kick coverage team and he made it look easy. This could easily belong in a Barry Sanders or Marshawn Lynch highlight reel. This GIF is so impressive, it made me look this guy up to see where the Lions would have to draft him. And the opponent? Willie the Wildcat…I don’t even get it. I mean, what is he even doing? Is that a dance? Why is he just wearing a cat head? How did he not realize there was a kid there? HE JUST LOOKED. I guess that all makes it kind of funny, but still, it’s just kind of weird.

My Pick: The kick returner the Lions have been waiting for. By a mile. AND he has a cool name.

The Result: Wow. Ace Sanders by the skin of his teeth. He won 501-495. That’s just a 6 vote difference. In related news, 495 people shouldn’t be allowed near a computer.

(3) Damn It, Astros vs (14) Phillip Rivers

The Matchup: Oh man, I love this matchup. Damn It, Astros and Phillip Rivers are GIF fixtures in so many different incarnations. They’re among the most failtastic sports figures. So let’s take a look at these ones in particular. Damn It, Astros is awesome, although not their best work. But this one is still pretty great. How is this even possible? I mean, this is a routine thing. You probably touch first on like 75% of your plate appearances. How do you get it this wrong? And it wasn’t even a close play. It wasn’t like he had to stretch to beat the throw. The ball got there well ahead of him. Greatness in concept and execution. And Phillip Rivers. What an underseed at 14. This is just ridiculous. This should be a top 5 seed. I guess it depends on your interpretation of Phillip Rivers’ actions. SBNation seemed to think he was telling the offensive lineman to throw it. The commenters thought he was telling the lineman to bat it down. I think he was actually trying to bat it down himself. You can see as soon as he recognizes that it was tipped up in the air, he cocks his arm back so he can swat it down. He then watches it down into the lineman’s arms and still goes for the swat, despite being 2 feet away and about a second too late. And then, for good measure, as the lineman is going to the ground, he gives it a follow-up swat, just to finish that ball off. Amazing level of stupidity and awkwardness makes this hilariously funny to me. This matchup is REALLY close for me.

My Pick: I think I’m going to have to go with Damn It, Astros because it’s both hilarious and seemingly physically impossible.

The Result: Wow. A blowout win. 78% of people went with Damn It, Astros. My confidence in the voting public has been shaken.

(7) Salute! vs (10) Lakersbro

The Matchup: Ha! These matchups just keep getting better and better. Salute! just really appeals to the part of me that still laughs when someone farts and snickers when people say Uranus. I mean, it’s not just the arm motion, but the look on his face, his open mouth, him licking his lips, that fact that he’s just barely peering out from under that hat, his little mustache. It looks like the worst attempt ever to look like you’re doing something else when everyone else can tell what you’re really doing. Moving on to Lakersbro. As instantly as I started snickering at Salute!, that’s how weary I was of Lakersbro. It was presented as the spiritual successor to Yankee Enthusiasts. And as I mentioned above, I hold that GIF in the highest regard. This one lacks the depth of Yankee Enthusiasts, but also the local flavor. Yankee Enthusiasts is a perfect microcosm of New York. Lakersbro is pulled more from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure than from any sort of LA culture. So like I said, I was hesitant. But as I’ve watched it more, I’ve gained an appreciation for it. The arm motions, the heap flip when the glasses come off, the backwards hat. This dude came to play. He might not have known it when he entered the arena, but this man was made for GIF stardom. Now I’ve already questioned the depth. And while it’s not Yankees Enthusiasts good, it’s not Tommy Hunter bad. Check out the woman in the bottom right. Her jaw is dropped and she has no idea what to do with her face. And purple shirt. Why is he massaging his junk while celebrating? Solid, if unspectacular supporting cast.

My Pick: I have to be honest. I voted for Salute!. But as I’ve revisited the matchup, I’ve grown to believe Lakersbro is the better GIF.

The Result: Lakersbro wins with 68% of the vote. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by this result. After all, both have near flawless execution, but Lakersbro is more of a connoisseur’s GIF rather than the one that plays to your childish side.

(2) Chiefs Special Teams vs (15) Carlos Boozer

The Matchup: I don’t love the Chiefs GIF. It’s kind of funny. I tend to think it’s actually a good idea. I’ve seen the fake before, where they just do a single misdirection. Seeing that first fake has to throw the receiving team into a fit that they’re in the wrong position, sending them scrambling to the other side of the field, just to be faked again. Of course, it’s the Chiefs. They’re too bad to have the audacity to think they could pull this off. If it were the Patriots, it would have worked and we’d still be talking about it. All of that said, it’s mildly funny with the sped up, yakety sax pace. Still, not worthy of a 2 seed. Oh, Carlos Boozer. This instantly became perhaps my favorite GIF of the West Region. To say it’s underseeded is an understatement. I love the cinematography, first of all. You start with the slow zoom from profile and then switch to a front view to follow along with the action. And the topic, I mean, what is it? I start out assuming he’s incredulous. He stays still, staring at something (or someone), mouth agape. But then, he slowly starts up walking again, like he’s resuming his normal action. But the mouth is still open. And then his eyes start looking around, like he’s searching for help. Did it get stuck that way? And then a camera flash goes off. Like someone wants to document “The Night Carlos Boozer Got Stuck That Way Forever.”  And then the GIF ends, without his mouth ever closing. It forced me to look up whether or not his mouth got stuck that way (Google News reveals nothing). If he keeps it up for much longer, he’ll have bugs fly in there. This is the antithesis of Chiefs Special Teams. Its beauty is that it’s long, it’s real time, and you have no idea what it’s about. For my money, you could swap these seeds and I would ask no questions of it.

My Pick: Isn’t it obvious? Boozer by a landslide. Perhaps by a greater margin than any before it.

The Result: WHAT. The Chiefs won. Come on. The Chiefs never win. Why would you give them the satisfaction here. It’s like people forget that the Chiefs used to be good. If this were truly a move that could not possibly work, even in concept, by a team that cannot possibly execute it, then maaaaaybe. But Boozer has so much more to offer. It has a long life ahead of it. 53% of voters on this one suck.

Round 2 – Sweet 16

(1) Tommy Hunter vs (8) Joe Morgan

Analysis/My Pick: I think Joe Morgan just edges this one. Hilarious and cool and Tommy Hunter is just trying too hard.

The Result: Tommy Hunter wins with 54% of the vote. I think this is justifiable, but Tommy Hunter won’t move much further because it’s planned.

(5) Clint Dempsey vs (4) Courtney Kirkland/Kris Humphries

Analysis/My Pick: As random and funny as Dempsey is in this one, the free throw rejection is just too rare a specimen to lose in the second round. It’s like a football ref making a tackle or blocking a field goal because there was a false start. Just let it go and don’t count it.

The Result: Courtney Kirkland rejects Dempsey worse than he did to Kris Humphries. 67% of the voters made the right call. In the first point I’ve agreed with from the commentariat, someone pointed out that Deuceface is just as good as a still image. This is an excellent point and as has been proven with the head posters.

(6) Ace Sanders vs (3) Damn It, Astros

Analysis/My Pick: This is a solid round of 16 matchup. Ace Sanders is undeniably impressive and awe inspiring, but so is Damn It, Astros, in a way. Ace Sanders bounces off of defenders, while Damn It, Astros bounces off of bases. But Damn It, Astros adds the comedy element on top, which seals it for me. When in doubt go with funny over impressive. I just realized this GIF reminds me of the movie Flubber. Easy win.

The Result: Damn It, Astros wins comfortably, with 65% of the vote. I’m sad to see Ace Sanders go, but it ran into some tough competition.

(10) Lakersbro vs (2) Chiefs Special Teams

Analysis/My Pick: This feels more like a round 1 matchup. Lakersbro is much better than it’s 10th seed and Chiefs Special Teams didn’t have any business beating Carlos Boozer to get to this point. Lakersbro should destroy this one.

The Result: Lakersbro wins with 73% of the vote. I can’t help but wonder how Boozer would have fared.

Round 3 – Elite Eight

(1) Tommy Hunter vs (4) Courtney Kirkland/Kris Humphries

Analysis/My Pick: Don’t make me laugh. Tommy Hunter isn’t even in the same league as Courtney Kirkland. Tommy, you’ve had your fun. Time for your tournament exit.

The Result: The voting public rectifies their earlier mistake and sends Tommy Hunter packing. Kirkland won with 67% of the vote.

(3) Damn It, Astros vs (10) Lakersbro

Analysis/My Pick: Now we’re getting down to business. This is truly a worthy matchup in the elite 8. We’ve already covered what makes each of these great, but what factors put one over the top? They’re both hilarious, both unexpected, but what I keep coming back to is that Damn It, Astros is a once in a lifetime thing. I’ve seen a lot of baseball in my days, but I’ve never seen anything close to this move. He couldn’t do it again if he tried. He probably blacked out for 5 seconds before and after the incident, so there’s not even a way to figure out what he was thinking during this time. Lakersbro is fun, but it’s not that original. Any one of you could do this if you wanted to. The only difference is getting the camera to capture it. This isn’t some special moment in time that must be savored. It’s just some dude (clearly, he’s a dude) doing probably what he’s been doing his whole life. After much deliberation, my vote goes to Damn It, Astros.

The Result: Lakersbro wins narrowly over Damn It, Astros with 52% of the vote.

Round 4 – Final Four

(4) Courtney Kirkland/Kris Humphries vs (10) Lakersbro

Analysis/My Pick: A 10 seed vs a 4 seed in the final four isn’t exactly how you draw it up, but here we are. Courtney Kirkland hasn’t really faced a tough challenge to this point, while Lakersbro has had to go through many of the tougher competitors in the tournament. My initial reaction is to go with Courtney Kirkland because when are you ever going to see that again? But my heart tells me to go with Lakersbro. The deciding factor here I think is replayability. The best part of Courtney Kirkland is that it’s so unique and I’ve never seen it before. But here’s the thing: to put it in a GIF and have it loop for infinity takes away from that uniqueness factor. The entire point is that you see it over and over for as long as you want. And on that point, Lakersbro is infinitely watchable over and over. That HWAAAAAAAAA face as he whips off his glasses is what GIFs are all about. So in the end, I would send Lakersbro on to the championship.

The Result: Lakersbro with a resounding win: 65% of the vote to become the West Region champion.

In my next post, I’ll take a look at the East Region to determine who will face Lakersbro in the final.

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