Well, this year, I conducted an experiment of a different kind. A selfish experiment, if you will. You see, for years, decades even, I have ranked consistently last, or about as close to last as one can get, in those dreary NCAA tournament office pools. My exploits are legendary, or at least legendary in my self-absorbed cranium. Cat Tracks all but begs me to participate in these things, as does KNST Radio, as does an acquaintance in Alabama, as does Arthur Anderson Accounting. I suppose they need something to buffer those Enron and Baptist Foundation debacles.
And the thing that irks me is the IRS won't allow me to claim any of these losses on my taxes. Yes, when it comes to the NCAA bracket, for me (and since this is about me, I'll use myself in the first person) it's a lose-lose situation. In the words of Metallica, it's sad but true. Do you think Metallica will sue me now, given that I used an I'm certain never-before-uttered catch phrase from one of their songs without their expressed written permission? In my mind, after all, I am as important as Napster.
Digression done. Anyway, this year I made a bold step. I was not everybody's March charity case. For the first time in as long as I can remember (which nowadays is about the preceding paragraph) I did not fill out an NCAA tournament bracket. Incredible, I know, but that's what happened. None, nada, zipparooni, zilch.
So being the center of the universe that I am, I was certain this approach would provide me with lost riches. This would be my great fish story. For decades to come (or at least the succeeding paragraph) I would thread yarns about the perfect Johnny Schu tournament bracket, the greatest prognosticating accomplishment since Cleo. I was setting myself up for glory day status. Do you think Bruce Springstein….never mind.
The only predicting I made, unofficial of course, was for the March 11 NCAA tournament extravaganza issue of Cat Tracks Magazine. Esteemed editor Brad Allis, the very man who couldn't tie his shoes if it weren't for me (which goes a long way toward explaining the flip-flops) asked for the staff's first-round picks. So I said to myself, and to anyone within listening range, being that every syllable I utter is the greatest syllable since the last syllable I uttered, "OK Brad, but this is all you get."
Brad, moved by the profound nature of said verbiage, barely looked up, concerned instead with Female Athlete of the Week.
So I made my picks, knowing full well that since I was not going to officially fill out a bracket, I would run the table. This would be the lottery numbers that came in the week I didn't play. (You see, I am so important I deserve at least two metaphors to describe my non-bracket playing prowess).
And then the first-round games were played.
When you're as important as me, you carry these things out for dramatic effect.
And it didn't matter in the least. In truth, there's a very strong possibility that my greatest bracket ever, the bracket I didn't play, the great fish story of brackets, the lottery of brackets, was the worst bracket in the esteeemed Johnny Schu canon of brackets.
I still shudder at the implications. You mean I'm not the center of the universe? Lo, such a crushing blow to my galaxy-sized ego. It made no difference at all.
Case in point. Pepperdine to the Sweet 16. Uh, yeah, would have nailed that one. Gonzaga to the Sweet 16. Hey, how about that McNeese State pick over Mississippi State. Or that classic Valpo over Kentucky selection. Or riding USC. Western Kentucky over Stanford. Oh, the list, it goes on and on and on and on and on. It's heaven and hell. Do you think Ronnie James Dio and Black Sabbath will…I'm so stunned here.
No difference. No difference at all.
To play or not to play. That is the question. Do you think Shakespeare…ugh, I promise to stop. For me, the question is moot. When you're bad, you're bad, and baby, when it comes to the brackets, I'm as bad as it gets, whether I play them or not. All remains consistent in my world.
But that's not all. To make matters worse, has anybody been paying attention to Doug's picks? Has anybody noticed that Doug is on a roll in this damn thing, and has made some pretty impressive predictions all year long? I kid you not. In the March 18 issue of On the Web in Cat Tracks, the Magazine, esteemed message board poster fgreek made reference to how Arizona advancing to the Sweet 16 was gravy, and that if anyone had predicted that success at the beginning of the year, he wanted documented proof. Well fgreek, while I don't have the documented proof, I do have a steel trap for a mind (yes, the very same mind that forgot what I wrote two paragraphs ago), and Dougie said in his preseason analysis of Arizona men's basketball that the UA would make a run in the Pac-10 and advance to the Sweet 16.
He's also been on a tear in the early rounds of the tournament, and weeks ago felt Gonzaga was overrated.
These are very frustrating times indeed, because Doug is one of those guys who will never let you forget that he made the correct picks. Usually, this isn't such a bad thing, since we make it a point of remembering the bad ones. Take, for instance, this recent conversation with Doug and another Cat Tracks employee who shall remain unidentified but bears a striking resemblance to the dude who allegedly wears flip-flops.
Flip-Flop: "I think Creighton has a shot at knocking off Florida."
Doug: "THERE IS NO WAY FLORIDA WILL LOSE TO CREIGHTON!!!"
Creighton hits last-second shot to win. Phone rings.
Flip-Flop: "Hi Doug, Creighton just beat Florida. Click."
Note the capital letters. Doug, you see, likes to talk in Caps. Now I may be an egomaniac, but I tend to talk in possibilities: "I wouldn't be surprised if…", "It wouldn't shock me if…", "It's certainly possible that…"
Doug, on the other hand, digs those absolutes. Case in point. "THERE IS NO WAY FLORIDA WILL LOSE TO CREIGHTON!!!"
So since his uncanny success in the first week of the Big Dance, Doug has been on a roll. Last Sunday, as I made my weekly appearance into the plush offices of Cat Tracks, the Magazine, Doug was there. I said hi, being the gentlemanly self-centered jerk I am, and Doug responded with, "I HAVEN'T MISSED A GAME YET TODAY!!!" Of course, it was about noon on Sunday, but that didn't stop him.
Doug had an inkling I might write something like this, but he was sort of stuck in a corner.
"YOU DON'T MAKE ENOUGH FOR ME TO FIRE YOU," said Doug, with exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point!!!, in tow.
And so it goes. Another wacky week of tournament madness, where I can't get anything right.
[Editors Note: I can too tie my shoes, just not very well. And I wear sandles, not flip-flops. I tend to trip in flip-flops.]