MARCH MADNESS: News vs. Booze – Day 6

News-Booze-meriwether-turner-champagne-winecoolerWhile Friday saw lots of votes cast on both sides of the bracket, turnout was especially heavy on the news side, thanks in part to a little friendly campaigning by the contestants and/or their morning show co-hosts.

WAFB’s Kiran Chawla ultimately earned a spot in the Elite Eight by garnering 57.8% of the 1,603 votes cast during a tough, back-and-forth battle against WBRZ’s veteran newsman John Pastorek. On the booze side, bourbon moved on to the second round by decidedly defeating Irish whiskey 69.5% to 30.5%.

We kick off Week 2 with a pair of 3 vs. 14 matchups featuring a guy known better by some as “Street Beat,” a former LSU pitcher, an arguably overrated libation, and a typically mislabeled drink.

NEWS: Greg Meriwether (3) vs. Emily Turner (14)

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It didn’t take long for third-seeded Greg Meriwether to find a niche in the Baton Rouge news market after beginning his career at WAFB in 2001. Within no time, Greg became a highly recognizable face in the capital city, where many people (including perps he reports on) call the Louisville native by the title of his signature news segment “Street Beat.” Thankfully for Greg, Street Beat stuck as a moniker. Otherwise, he’d probably be stuck with another dual-monosyllabic-word nickname: “Chrome Dome.”

Greg faces No. 14 seed and “NBC33 Morning News” anchorwoman Emily Turner. Before starting her tenure at WVLA as a sports reporter in 2007, Emily was a standout pitcher on the LSU Lady Tigers softball team, earning SEC All-Freshman honors en route to helping lead her team to the Women’s College World Series. Usually, the word softball is a negative term in the news business (i.e., “softball questions”), but that’s because, unlike Emily, most reporters aren’t capable of throwing a softball fast enough to indefinitely put you in a coma.

BOOZE: Champagne (3) vs. Wine Cooler (14)

The late author Christopher Hitchens famously said our No. 3 seed is one of the four most overrated things in life, with the other three being lobster, anal sex, and picnics.

Yes, champagne, long associated with the rich and famous, is often served at special occasions such as weddings, New Year’s Eve, and pretentious breakfast events. And while the term Champagne technically is reserved for sparkling wines produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France, for the purposes of this tournament, third-seeded champagne includes all sparkling wines. Suck it, Frenchy.

Similarly, champagne’s fourteenth-seeded opponent may be called wine cooler, but the vast majority of so-called “wine coolers” in the United States contain nary a drop of wine, thanks primarily to the U.S. Congress. Wine coolers, which became popular in the early 1980s, traditionally are made from wine and fruit juice, and often in combination with a carbonated beverage and sugar. But after the excise tax on wine quintupled in 1991, all but a handful of producers dropped the wine from the mix, substituting it with cheaper malt or other spirits, such as vodka or rum.

These drinks, represented by brands like Smirnoff Ice, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and Bacardi Breezer, are referred to as “alcopops” in other countries, but are almost universally still called “wine coolers” here in the states. Perhaps that’s because “alcopop” sounds too similar to “Al Capone,” whose reputation is almost as shady as that of wine coolers.

Ready. Set. VOTE! (Polls close nightly at 10 p.m. CDT.)

 

FYI: If you’re trying to make sense of this experimental info-alcohol competition, here’s an explanation. You can also find all March Madness results/other March Madness posts by using our handy “MARCH MADNESS: News vs. Booze” tag.RedShtick-Top-ColumnStop

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A random collection of overqualified, underachieving smartasses.

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