I didn’t want to do this. Not at first. Not when the idea of a Sports on Earth famous alumni bracket was being bandied about, and my initial thought — Arizona … Geraldo … Final Four … at least! – was summarily ignored. I mean, Geraldo didn’t even make the field. Some selection committee. How could I possibly trust the integrity of the process?
Then I realized: What integrity?
From March Madness to candy to video game characters, brackets are arbitrary. By which I mean: dumb. Or at least silly. Slot ‘em in, match ‘em up, rinse and repeat. Does the single-game elimination NCAA tournament really determine the best team in college basketball? (UNLV 1991 would like to have a word with you). Am I truly the ultimate arbiter on Snickers bars versus peanut butter cups?
No. And no. But so what? Like blondes — and 1991 UNLV, for that matter — brackets have more fun. So let’s bring this whole thing home:
7 Bob Gibson (Creighton) vs. 9 Brad Pitt (Missouri)
I’d love to give Pitt the nod, primarily because he had the good sense to drop out of journalism school and pursue acting. (On the other hand, Pitt almost completed j-school despite looking like Brad Pitt. So maybe good sense isn’t the right term.)
Thing is, I can’t. Because frankly, I’m scared. This is from Dusty Baker, on Gibson:
“(Hank Aaron told me) ‘Don’t dig in against Bob Gibson, he’ll knock you down. He’d knock down his own grandmother if she dared to challenge him. Don’t stare at him, don’t smile at him, don’t talk to him. He doesn’t like it. If you happen to hit a home run, don’t run too slow, don’t run too fast. If you happen to want to celebrate, get in the tunnel first. And if he hits you, don’t charge the mound, because he’s a Gold Glove boxer.’ I’m like, ‘Damn, what about my 17-game hitting streak?’ That was the night it ended.”
Yeah. Like I’m picking against that guy.
Winner: Bob Gibson.
8 Gene Kelly (Pittsburgh) vs. 14 Barack Obama (Harvard)
Like everyone else who didn’t go to Harvard, I’m a little tired of Harvard grads — and dropouts, too! — winning at just about everything. That said: Obama’s the first African-American president and the first president to venture onto Reddit. Plus, he clearly has a thing for brackets. No contest, really.
Winner: Harvard University, again.
1 Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas) vs. 6 Jackie Robinson (UCLA)
Sorry, Jackie Robinson: You embodied everything America can and should be, and suffered enormously for it. But you never did this, which unbelievably has not spawned a bushel of Internet memes.
Winner: Wilt Chamberlain. And me, for not making a joke involving the number 20,000.
7 Roger Ebert (Illinois) vs. 9 Bill Cosby (Temple)
How did Ebert beat Kurt Vonnegut in the last round? It’s a Cosby Mystery! (See what I did there?) In the interest of righting a wrong — and because pudding pops taste good — the Cos advances.
Winner: Bill Cosby.
7 Bob Gibson (Creighton) vs. 14 Barack Obama (Harvard)
Gibson had one of the most intimidating brushback pitches in baseball history. But Obama has killer drones and the legal means to use them against American citizens.
Winner: Barack Obama. The NSA monitors everything written on the Internet, right?
1 Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas) vs. 9 Bill Cosby (Temple)
When Wilt showed up in college basketball, they outlawed the dunk; when Hollywood released “Ghost Dad,” they didn’t outlaw movie theaters. In retrospect, both decisions are indefensible.
Winner: Wilt Chamberlain
1 Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas) vs. 14 Barack Obama (Harvard)
Most dominant player in basketball history (career averages of more than 30 points and 20 rebounds per game) against the most powerful person on the planet. In any other context, Obama wins in a laugher — only this is March, which means hoops comes first.
Winner: Wilt Chamberlain. But don’t tell Bill Russell.
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The Final Bracket (click for larger version):