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Freiman wears his loss to Burns in black and orange

Nate Freiman as Marge Simpson, 2013

Nate Freiman as Marge Simpson, 2013

Billy Burns is a true believer, Nate Freiman a true disbeliever.

That’s at least when the subject of the NCAA basketball tournament is involved. The alma maters of each played Friday morning, and Burns’ Mercer stunned Freiman’s Duke.

And stunned Freiman himself. He not only didn’t believe black-and-orange clad Mercer would beat the Blue Devils, one of the most storied teams in NCAA history, he didn’t believe they’d stay close.

So the two bet their team’s colors, Freiman giving the points. The loser had to wear the other team’s colors during workouts Friday afternoon before the A’s left Phoenix to pay a call on the Giants in Scottsdale.

Noting that the Giants also claim black and orange as their colors, Freiman shrugged, grinned and said “It just adds insult to injury.’’

He did say that as bad as the color swap was, and as bad as the fact that he had to stretch the 5-foot-9 Burns’ gear on his 6-foot-8 body, there was one bright spot.

“At least this isn’t as bad as Marge Simpson,’’ he said. That goes back to Freiman having to wear the full raiment of the Simpson’s matriarch last September when the A’s veterans dressed the rookies up in various costumes as part of an annual hazing ritual.

Burns, meanwhile doesn’t want Mercer to stop with the Duke win.

“I’ve got Mercer winning it all,’’ he said, pulling his bracket out of his locker. “It’s the only bracket I filled out for this. In fact, it’s the only bracket I have ever filled out.’’

So far, so good, so black-and-orange.

John Hickey

Returning to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.