Every year, for five years, I have written a blog post at least a little bit like this one, and mostly framed it around being wrong. Even without the muscle memory I’ve built up during that period—and it’s considerable, even just typing the word “wrong” feels so fluid and percussive and right, so often and so passionately have I done it—this seems like the right thing to do. It’s the experience I’ve had of basically every bracket pool I’ve ever been in. I’ve been defeated by a trio of toddlers and strangers and strangers’ wives. The last NCAA Tournament pool administrator to pay me any kind of winnings, when I was in eighth grade, is going to turn 40 sometime this year. I did win a NIT pool when I was working at Topps, but there were only five other people in it and I’m not sure anyone but me even filled out their entire bracket.
And if this is the year that I stop getting everything wrong, nothing will change as a result. There is no prize for winning Classical Bracket Buddies, although my standing offer of a photo of me in my Corliss Williamson Arkansas jersey—a prize that none of our past winners has remembered to redeem—still stands. It’s hard to see what that photo would do for me or my self-esteem, though. I barely even want it. For me, being wrong is the fun of it. I have written about this, a lot: I am here for the overage and the emotion, the few days of entirely too much basketball and loosened day-drinking strictures. I have always been here for it. I do not expect to predict any of it especially well, or even acceptably well. I expect to surf the wave a short distance and then get wrecked and spun, get saltwater blasted up my nose, and resurface smiling. I have learned to expect that. I have always liked it.
If you have liked it in the past, or if you would like to get in touch with the deeper aspects of wrongness, or if you would just like to join your friends from this admittedly liminal website’s past, you should do it. The league is here; it is public and all are welcome. The password is “theclassical” without the quotes. The snubs are the snubs, but this is an inclusive time, a moment in common. We are all idiots. We are all witnesses. None of us will ever know better, really. It would be silly, for lack of a better word, to stop now.