When I first found out that The Enlightened Bracketologist was going to be published, I sent frenzied emails to basically everyone I knew who was a sports fan/writer: "HOW DID WE NOT THINK OF THIS?!?!"
I fully admit: I have a bracket fetish. And so if, like me, you think that the NCAA Tournament's bracket structure is the most perfect thing in all of sports, then you will also agree that a book's premise is also damn near perfect:
Applying the "bracket" system to solve any/every argument.
Let me put it this way: It's cool enough that I would buy it in its current hardback edition for display on a coffee table. (At least it's displayed that way on mine.)
The authors scored a coup by writing very little of the book themselves. Even better: They got experts in each bracket's field to supply the seeding and the projection of how the bracket would advance:
Some of my favorites: Roz Chast on "Animation Characters"; Stanley Bing on "Corporate Jargon"; Stefan Fatsis on "Scrabble Words"; Jeff MacGregor on "NASCAR Phrases"; Steven Garvey on "Baby Boy Names" and Michael Solomon on "Jew/Not a Jew."
In terms of sports-specific brackets, they include March Madness Moments (naturally); Baseball Myths, Celebrity Sports Couples, Spotscaster Signature Calls, Golf Swing Thoughts, Innovations in Sports, Magical Sports Numbers, NASCAR Phrases, Sport/Not a Sport and Sports Books -- that's nearly 10 percent of the book, as it should be.
Editors Mark Reiter and Richard Sandomir (who you might know as the New York Times' sports media columnist) obviously had a ton of fun putting this together, and it shows.
If I was more clever (and had better knowledge of HTML), I would have done a meta-bracket of the book's bracket topics, but that's probably the best feature of the book:
As much as an "enlightened" look at some of the great arguments of our time, it can inspire countless more bracket-driven arguments. (Frankly, it sounds like a hell of a party game.)
I can just imagine that Reiter and Sandomir are already at work on a sequel. I just hope they ask me to participate. If not, I'll be sitting at home, doing them in my head anyway.
It's really one of the most fun books I have ever come across, and I highly recommend it.-- D.S.