|Computers certainly can be wrong|
By Brian Murphy
Special to Page 2
Ah, the sweet and easy joy of mocking the BCS.
It should be outlawed for us sportswriters, you know. Mocking the BCS is unimaginative, tired. It's rather like shaking down the skinniest kid on the playground, grabbing hold of his Jockeys, giving him the old "Covered Wagon," tossing his violin sheet music in the boys' room toilet, stealing his hat, and then Frisbee-tossing it among friends while he chases it sadly and fruitlessly.
Uh, not that I ever did anything like that.
(By the way, a brief pause to marvel at the awesome power of the Internet. I could not, for the life of me, remember the name of that damn Russian comic who enjoyed a brief dollop of fame in the 1980s with his signature, accented line, "I love this country." So what do I do? Go to Google, type in the words "Russian comedian I love this country" and -- presto! -- the second link is to www.yakov.com. Not only did I get the correct name to fit into the column, I also learned that Smirnoff is holding down a regular gig in Branson, Mo., and that my memory had failed me. His signature line was, in fact, "What a country," a fact hammered home by the description of Yakov's show, which features the "What a Country Dancers."
I wish I were making this up.
I also wish I were making up the fact that Yakov's Web site features a large sign that reads: "DANGER -- EXPLOSIVE LAUGHTER." Or that he is supported by a comic juggler named Slim Chance. Or that his theatre in Branson on the outside features the giant word YAKOV, with a likeness of his Slavic, bearded mug atop it, larger than life.
The Internet, man. It took me all of 15 seconds to learn all of this distressing news.)
Anyway, about that BCS.
Excepting the good and honest folks in the greater Baton Rouge area -- and bless you all, as I've been to your town, admire it, even saw Mike the Tiger and was duly scared by the beastly feline -- it seems most of America feels the University of Southern California Trojans were hosed.
Or, as Lou Holtz might say, Southern Cal got hosed.
(Holtz, at Notre Dame, was the last guy I heard use this quaint but antiquated moniker. It screams Anthony Davis and J.K. McKay, doesn't it? Holtz clung to it like a life raft in a storm. Go figure. Generational thing, I guess.)
The logic goes like this: USC is No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today polls, as voted on by living, breathing human species.
But the BCS computer says USC is No. 3.
It reminds me of an old Woody Allen bit. The Woodman said he and his wife decided to get a divorce, but learned that in the state of New York in the 1960s, you had to prove adultery to get one.
As Woody said: "Which is kind of funny, because the Bible says, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery.' But ... New York State says you have to. For awhile there, it's a toss-up between God and Rockefeller."
So, human beings say 'SC is No. 1.
But, the BCS says it's not.
It's sort of a toss-up between the human spirit and Hal, the computer from "2001: A Space Odyssey."
It got me to wondering: What if the BCS computer ruled our lives?
What if decisions of import in pop culture and sports were left up to this super-computer from the 21st century? Forthwith, our ingenious column gimmick:
Feed into the computer the following information: The Red Sox will feature a rotation with Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling. The Yankees will counter with Mike Mussina and Javier Vazquez, and bat Gary Sheffield between Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi. The Cubs will feature Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Sammy Sosa and Derrek Lee.
WHO THE BCS COMPUTER TABS AS WORLD SERIES CHAMPS IN 2004: The Milwaukee Brewers.
REASON GIVEN BY HAL, THE BCS COMPUTER: (Given in computer monotone voice, naturally) "The computer has been told to honor the great and fearless spiritual leader of the Brewers, Allen H. Selig. We declare the Brewers champions. Please don't ask Hal any more questions about this."
Feed into the computer the following information: Critics consider the hottest and most relevant bands playing music today as Outkast, Coldplay, Radiohead and The White Stripes.
WHO THE BCS COMPUTER TABS AS ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Clay Aiken.
REASON GIVEN BY HAL, THE BCS COMPUTER, IN COMPUTER MONOTONE VOICE, NATURALLY: "His version of "Unchained Melody" on "American Idol" made my mother tear up, remembering her high school prom in 1965. Please don't ask Hal any more questions about this."
Feed into the computer the following information: The Player of the Year Award, a red-hot contest, is considered a showdown between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh. Woods won five times, Singh won four times and also won the money title.
WHO THE BCS COMPUTER PICKS AS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Phil Mickelson.
REASON GIVEN BY HAL, THE BCS COMPUTER, IN COMPUTER MONOTONE VOICE, NATURALLY: "My mother, the one who loves Clay Aiken, loves Phil's sheepish smile after a birdie putt. Please don't ask Hal any more questions about this."
Feed into the computer the following information: With riveting performances in "Mystic River" and "21 Grams," Sean Penn is laying claim to the title "Finest Actor of His Generation." Tom Hanks' wide range makes him another strong candidate, and while his body of work doesn't come close, Bill Murray is receiving plenty of buzz for the Performance of the Year in "Lost in Translation."
REASON GIVEN BY HAL, THE BCS COMPUTER, IN COMPUTER MONOTONE VOICE, NATURALLY: "Freddy Got Fingered" was a misunderstood classic. Please don't ask Hal any more questions about this."
Feed into the computer the following information: The Patriots are 11-2. The Chiefs are 11-2. The Colts and Titans are formidable, and Philadelphia is the hottest team in the NFC.
WHO THE BCS COMPUTER PICKS AS SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: Detroit Lions.
REASON GIVEN BY HAL, THE BCS COMPUTER, IN COMPUTER MONOTONE VOICE, NATURALLY: "The Lions are owned by the Ford family. Henry Ford invented the assembly line, which made the birthing process very fast and easy for my ancestors. Plus, my mother, the one who likes Clay Aiken's "Unchained Melody" and Phil Mickelson's sheepish smile, loves Steve Mariucci. She thinks he looks cute in Honolulu blue. Please don't ask Hal any more questions about this."
Feed into the computer the following information: TV's most groundbreaking shows include "The Sopranos", "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and BBC America's "The Office," productions that crackle with originality and brilliant scripts.
WHAT THE BCS COMPUTER PICKS AS SHOW OF THE YEAR: "Elimidate."
REASON GIVEN BY HAL THE COMPUTER, IN COMPUTER MONOTONE VOICE, NATURALLY: "I find the show uplifting, and think it speaks well for the intellectual curiosity and decorum so prevalent in much of American youth today. Plus, I like it when one of the girls vying for the man inevitably disrobes or, on rarer and happier occasions, shares a deep and passionate kiss with another girl vying for the man, as per the man's request. Please don't ask Hal any more questions about this, or repeat this to my mother."
Brian Murphy of the San Francisco Chronicle writes every Monday for Page 2.