"A Pilgrimage to the BTS"

We have all suffered thru Christmas credit card bills, we’ve all probably had a cold or the flu since we last gathered. We’ve suffered thru bad weather, year end inventory at work, missed goals, broken New Years resolutions, and cabin fever. As now the earth axis positions us to another new beginning where life slowly seeps back in us all, much like Punxsatawney Phil we peek out from our den to have a look around. We dust ourselves off, wipe the sleep out of our eyes, and allow the uncontrollable rush of adrenaline to enter our souls. Adrenaline caused by “The Big Texas Shootout.”

Suddenly, over night, a cult of over 260 members, become more knowledgeable about college basketball than Digger, Clark, and Dickie V ever thought about being. Without reading a thing all winter, we are still so knowledgeable that we could write about the upcoming tournament in the USA Today. We are called Wizards. Not only are we called Wizards, we are Wizards. For at least until the first Saturday after the NCAA tournament starts, when our brackets become bloodier than Tyler Hansbrough’s face after taking an elbow in the beak; we are all smarter about college basketball teams than anyone in the country. We are so smart; we can pick a winner between two teams without ever seeing either one play a single game. Not only this year but ever. Until that first red mark goes across your bracket, we all believe that this is my year. You haven’t paid that much attention this year; however, as March rolls around, we all miraculously have been inseminated with sudden knowledge unmatched by anyone.

We all flock to this thing called “BTS” like an armadillo to road kill. We return each spring to www.bigtexasshootout.com like a bunch of lemmings following the leader over the cliff. We emerge from our den after the long arduous winter searching for our crack to feed our addiction of achieving “Supreme Ultimate Wizard” status.

We are all led in our “quest for fire” by our Maharishi Commizar Greg. This religion we all are associated with was founded by our Maharishi a celebrated twenty years (now 26 years) ago. For some of us, that is a loss of $200.00. For others, they can show profit on their taxes under line item “gambling winnings”. For the twentith year, we all have another opportunity to not forget to put our tiebreaker points in the appropriate spot. As we will enter our third decade of our homage to the BTS, we can look back and honestly admit that there was a day when we all did not know what a Gonzaga was. Back in time when we all thought Oral Roberts was an evangelist and Holy Cross was hanging in our church. When a second chance pick was another attempt at getting something out of our nose.

We all probably belong to organizations, clubs, leagues, etc. There is none more prestigious than being a member of “The Big Texas Shootout”. We are a family of Wizards. Most of us don’t really know each other. However, we feel like we are linked to each other by our mystic aura we emit by this phenomenon called March Madness. I am not a Shriner or a Mason. However, if I come upon a wreck and there lays injured, a co-worker on one side of the road, and a BTS member on the other side of the road, I can tell you who I will help first. It is the person that the only pie chart we possibly could have looked at together is the chart showing how many have lost at least one of their final four teams. I am there for my brethren because we are of the same order of nobility. Names like John Blutarski, Steely Gammache, Cruzen, Munchintonson, Sonny, Topper, Holzinger, Cackler, HapSap, Heathcote, Reasonover, Gammache, and Macadory. We all strive for a common goal; to print out the standings from the Maharishi, to see if we have been able to make the first page. To click the “Wizards” button on the BTS web page to see if we have done anything impressive enough to get mentioned, only to find that our mention was because we did something stupid. This is the BTS. Not to be confused with the BCS. Unlike the BCS, we do battle to decide our champion amongst all 260 plus. If we were the BCS, we would have had Roy Ward take on Steve Bealmear last month in the Humanitarian Bowl for 150th place.

Once we all get our fees paid, and take the damnation from the Maharishi for screwing up submissions or not paying our levy, we settle in for the first game. Usually this is done on company time as it should be. After all, we have filled out our brackets on company time, on our company I.P. network, making copies on the company copier. The majority of us have given more thought and effort into who we should pick in the popular potential upset game between Winthrop and Notre Dame, than we have in our company’s bottom line this week. So it would be wrong for the first game to kick off on our own time later that evening. After all we are royalty.

When listing things to be thankful for, the BTS is right there with everything else. We do not have to play the normal tired act of an “office pool.” Ours is one in which we are pampered with constant expedient updates. One in which hours of work is done professionally by our Maharishi in an always accurate trusting fashion. It is unexplainable, but I am interested in seeing how the Pumphries are ranked along with the Nash’s. After checking names on the list, I have one of two thoughts as I process where each person ranks. If they are below me in the standings, I am happy that they played again this year and I hope they do better and can start moving up the list. If they are above me in the standings, I mumble some derogatory not very nice phrases about them along with their “lucky lack of knowledge style of picking” and put another red X on my sheet. After the draw is made on that special Sunday in March, the next three days are the longest days of the year. To shorten it even a little bit, the Maharishi even convinced the government to move our clocks forward one hour to shorten it at least a little. We are so bundled up with anticipation that most (raise your hand if this applies) will even watch at least a couple minutes of the “Play-In game” on the Tuesday before it really starts.

So here’s to our 20th anniversary (now 26th anniversary). I can’t wait to see which of you finishes second. The Wizards are getting locked in and allowing Dick Vitale to influence their decisions. Enjoy it all. After that 14th seed upsets that number 3, go ahead and tell us all “Man, I was going to pick that and changed it at the last minute.” Go ahead; it’s ok if you tell other Wizards that your sleeper is such and such and we will pretend that you are really going out on a limb with a number 2 seed being your sleeper. It’s all right since it is our anniversary if you want to put all number 1’s in the final four. Heck yes, live on the edge. Go Crazy!

Long Live BTS!

JP