The Biggest Dance (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday February 27, 2007 3:15PM; Updated: Tuesday February 27, 2007 3:15PM
The Bald Guys bracket, though, is my favorite, with Homer Simpson defeating powerhouses Charlie Brown, John Glenn, Pope John Paul and Winston Churchill, only to lose to Gandhi in the finals.
Just like in the real NCAA tourney, these brackets have a handful of surprises. (Jack Kerouac doesn't even make it out of the second round in Hip.) And just like in the real tourney, there are participants whose very presence is infuriating. In this book, the top offender has got to be Bull Durham, which is so out of place in the Chick Flicks bracket that it also appears in the Jock Films tourney. That's like seeing the same college hoops team competing in the NCAA tourney and the Westminster dog show.
The book's sports-related brackets are the most fun to analyze. Most of them are solid and leave little room for rational disagreement. Not so with Baseball Myths, however. Baseball writer Richard Lally must have helped Ogle with her beer research, because he manages to omit the greatest baseball myth of all: Abner Doubleday. Lally tries to excuse his Doubleday offense by explaining that he based his picks on which myth would do the most harm to a team whose management is dumb enough to believe it. That idea would make sense only if he didn't then contradict himself by including other history-based myths that have no affect on actual games, such as "Curt Flood fathered free agency" and "Bruce Sutter popularized the splitter." Mr. Lally, I await your explanation about how a front office that credits the wrong person with popularizing the splitter affects the team's performance.
Not to be outdone by his own false logic, Lally's most egregious errors come from inclusions that are not even myths. "Mark McGwire cheated" is almost certainly true. Worse yet, Lally has "McGwire" advancing to the second round, and his explanation includes these moronic words: "Is it cheating if it ain't illegal?" Hey, I'm happy to point fingers at Major League Baseball for not bothering to ban steroids until a few years ago, but the U.S. government made them illegal before McGwire played his first pro game. Lally's other non-myth: "pitching isn't 75 percent of the game." You can't just take a truism, invert it, and call that a myth. But he has this ridiculous fabrication about pitching making it all the way to the finals while stalwarts like "some pitchers just know how to win" and "base thieves make the best leadoff men" both get knocked out in the second round. "Modern pitchers eat quiche" makes it to the Final Four before finally getting a long-overdue ass-kicking from "chemistry creates winning teams." Needless to say I will not be including Lally in my Baseball Writers bracket.
Of course, half the fun is in disagreeing with the picks, like the one that has sliced bread somehow winning the Invention title. I know it's got a pretty widely used expression going for it, but come on. Would it really be so terrible if we had to slice our own bread? I shouldn't even bother arguing that electric light should have trounced bread in the third round, because really, the entire category is tainted by its inclusion of the Segway.
But one thing I can't argue with is the method. I don't know what I'm having for dinner tonight, but I know exactly how I'm going to decide.
Adam Hofstetter's column appears every Tuesday on SI.com. When he finishes watching Jackie Brown, he'll respond to your e-mails at firstname.lastname@example.org.