Column: Bracket busted

Sports Editor Mike Smith’s showing during March Madness has been less than stellar. His picks have been so bad, in fact, he’s starting to wonder about his job security. Photo courtesy of

Sports Editor Mike Smith’s showing during March Madness has been less than stellar. His picks have been so bad, in fact, he’s starting to wonder about his job security. Photo courtesy of

This may be nothing more than wishful thinking, but I’d like to think that, in my time here at the paper, I’ve at least demonstrated flashes of insight into the sports world.

From the sports I grew up knowing and playing, to the sports I’ve come to better appreciate through my work—such as volleyball and lacrosse—I’m generally confident in my ability to hold a conversation with coaches from a wide berth of athletic pursuits about the intricacies of their chosen field.

That is, until I completely obliterated any shred of sports credibility I’ve ever earned in these last two weeks.

A few weeks ago, I let the readers in on my plan to win a billion dollars by filling out the perfect March Madness bracket. It didn’t take long for that dream to fall by the wayside. Now, I’m just holding out hope that Warren Buffet—in his infinite generosity—decides to compensate me for my dumpster-fire of a tournament by at least throwing me a sawbuck for filling out what has to be the worst college basketball bracket in America.

By the end of the first weekend, both Wichita State and Syracuse, my picks to play in the championship game, were done. I picked Mercer over Duke, but lost just about every 6-11, 7-10 and 8-9 match-up on the board. Not a good start, for sure.

If the pain of losing out on a life-changing sum of money—to be fair, not one person’s bracket was perfect this year—wasn’t bad enough, I currently hold the distinction of having the most broken bracket in our Home Town offices.

Beat reporters, graphic designers, sales people; everyone in the building has proven their basketball IQ far outshines that of the resident sports guy—an utterly humiliating situation for me to be in.

I’ve currently predicted less than half the games correctly. I would have been better suited to pick my teams using the tried-and-true eeny-meeney-miney-moe method.

I had Michigan State—currently still alive—losing in the first round because I thought it would rankle my boss, a big Spartans fan. I had Villanova—my team—going to the Final Four. This didn’t work out so well for me, as it turns out. What I should have done this year was enter two brackets, with the second one running completely opposite to my gut picks. This way, I could have at least maintained some shred of dignity in the face of this disaster.

But what happens now?

Will my editors lose faith in my ability to do my job?

Will I come into work next week only to find that Chris Eberhart, our Eastchester reporter, who is currently 18 points ahead of me in the March Madness standings, is now the point man for Bronxville’s lacrosse season? Or to find publisher Howard Sturman—whose bracket was nearly perfect through the first two rounds—is going to try his hand at game reporting?

Hopefully the blowback isn’t too harsh.

Maybe they’ll even allow me to continue on as the sports editor. I’m guessing if the powers that be contemplate moving me to some other area of reporting, they’ll be too terrified of what off-base predictions I might make in other spheres.

“Record snowfall to hit in July?”

“Harrison potential home for new Area 51?”

Maybe there’s still time for me to turn this around. My basketball bracket might be busted, but there are other sports and other contests that might help me prove my worth.

That’s why, as soon as I file this story, I’m going to be printing out the men’s NCAA hockey brackets and passing them out to the rest of the people I work with. If I can win that pool, it could go a long way in restoring my spot as the go-to sports maven here at the office. I just have to be smart with this one, maybe pick a perennial ice hockey favorite to go all the way.

Like Hawaii.

Follow Mike on Twitter,

This entry was posted in Live Mike on by .

About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.