People ask: how did you come to write not one, but two, books on bracketology?
They also ask: what the heck is bracketology?
Well, my agent, Mark Reiter, carefully reads my sports column in the New York Times. In March 2006, he saw that I used the word "bracketology," which refers to the pseudo-science of the brackets that are famously deployed for the NCAA men's basketball tournament — or March Madness.
Mark suggested that the bracket format, the graphic representation of the round-by-round matchups of the teams in the knockout tournament, could be adapted to pick the winners in tournaments in the worlds of pop culture, business, food, history, politics, words, as well as sports.
And, to add a scholarly, authoritative bent to our enteprise, we hired experts, or at least, interested observers, to bracketize these tournaments and offer analysis.
Our overall thought was this: who needs Top 10 lists when you can bracketize, and along the way, discover how much more fascinating it is to pick winners through the prism of great one-on-one matchups?
So, in 2007, we created The Enlightened Bracketologist, and last month, out came its bigger, better, heavily-illustrated sequel, The Final Four of Everything (and its companion Web site, www.bracketsmackdown.com), with a focus on American subjects.
So what hath bracketology wrought?
What kinds of final-round matchups did it generate in The Final Four of Everything?
Here's a sampling:
Michael Jordan vs. John Glenn in Bald Guys; Dolley Madison vs. Eleanor Roosevelt in First Ladies; Atticus Finch vs. Perry Mason in fictional lawyers; Mark Twain vs. Bob Dylan in pseudonyms; Green Eggs and Ham vs. Go, Dog, Go! for best children's book; and "This Land is Your Land" vs. "American the Beautiful" in what should be our national anthem ("The Star-Spangled Banner" being so difficult to warble).