Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Coronation Of Cotter

There is a scene in the 1988 action movie Die Hard where the villain, Hans Gruber, says, "When Alexander the Great saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer."

I have thought about that quote often over the past couple days, for there is no doubt that somewhere out there -- albeit under a thick cream of SPF baby's bottom to protect his albino complexion -- Cotter is at once basking in the brilliant glory of being crowned the 2013 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion and experiencing a certain feeling of loss and nostalgia, as he has now, like Alexander, accomplished more before the age of 30 than most men in history could ever dream.

Yet Cotter's was not an easy victory.

You see, Cotter -- who I'm told has been asking people to address him as "Your Lordship" -- almost didn't even get his picks in this year. With fewer than 24 hours before the deadline, Cotter decided to fly to Las Vegas.

After a layover in Cleveland, he boarded his flight to Sin City. Everything went great -- except for the fact that somewhere over the prairie states Cotter realized he'd left his laptop sitting out in the terminal at the Cleveland airport. Well, in this day and age, leaving a box-shaped electronic device unattended in an airport tends to cause some alarm.

TSA and local law enforcement responded immediately. They assumed Cotter's Facebook account and began a thorough investigation. But, after contacting a few of Cotter's friends and learning intimate details of his life, they apparently realized just who they were dealing with (i.e., they were overcome with pity) and decided to put the laptop on the next flight to Vegas.

Still, Cotter would not get his laptop back before the deadline. This meant he had to painstakingly make his picks on his iPhone. 

In this way, Cotter's triumph reminds me of the 1988 Jean Claude Van Damme masterpiece "Bloodsport," in which Frank Dux, played by Van Damme, wins the Kumite, the secret fighting tournament in Hong Kong. In the final match, Van Damme's wicked opponent throws powder in his eyes. Blinded, Van Damme must rely on training and instinct to prevail.

Likewise, one can just imagine Cotter, jet-lagged and (no doubt) hungover, valiantly entering his picks on his iPhone, barely able to see the teams through the mental haze created by his own whiskey-tinged stench mixing with the dappled desert sunlight creeping through his window shades. 

It's a scenario that would have bested lesser men, men who would have cursed the Heavens for their awful plight. Men who would have rolled over and said, "Next year." 

But not Cotter. No, not Cotter. For where those lesser men would have succumbed to self-pity, Cotter instead heeded the words of Cassius, who in Julius Caesar tells Brutus, "Men at some times are masters of their fates. / The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars / But in ourselves." Thus, like William Wallace inspiring his peasant army at the Battle of Stirling, Cotter summoned his vast reserve of cunning and pure willpower to overcome all obstacles to realize his destiny.

In so doing, Cotter often seemed more Master Splinter than albino gopher, proving Louis Pasteur's maxim (and Steven Seagal's in "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory") that "chance favors the prepared mind." Yes, with the deft skill of an ancient and wizardly master, Cotter out-classed perhaps the most competitive field in Challenge history, winning by an impressive 16 points over the next opponent.

Indeed, only one player had more teams in the Sweet 16, no one had more in the Elite 8, no one had more in the Final Four, and Cotter was the only player to have a Michigan-Louisville final. He secured the Championship when Michigan defeated Syracuse; the win by Louisville in the final only extended his lead and put him 18th All-Time for a single season score.

Ladies and gentlemen, the albino gopher -- or should I say, His Lordship The Albino Gopher -- is now a champion for the ages.

Other Notable Finishes:

  • With his fifth place finish, Brandon Gamble took over the tournament's #1 ranking. Stumper fell to #3, and Cotter took over the #2 spot. 
  • Julie Thompson (nee Kozlowski) beat her husband and her in-laws for the second year in a row.
  • Jason Jackson, Rodney Dawson, and Chris Schumacher each picked up their third top-20 finish. Dawson and Schumacher will get their Five Year Rings next year. You can bet they will make a move for spots in the All-Time Average Place list. 
  • Congrats to Eric Myszka (that means "mouse" in Polish) and Amber Karecki (Future Mouse), who will be competing as a husband and wife pair next year. 
  • Steve Wood, the tournament's runner-up, finished as the top rookie. He also had the top pick percentage at 70%.  
  • Congrats to 9-year veteran Van Miller on his 4th place showing, his first top 10 finish.   

Thanks for playing! See you next March!

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