No lines, no money, no point-shaving…just winners. In 2004, that would be the basis behind the McManus Family-Marshfield’s newest tradition: an annual, 17-week competition for picking prowess (no Spalding jokes, here, please). It wouldn’t be easy. Attaching files to emails proved more difficult that they had imagined. Responding to emails at all wasn’t always reliable (ahem, Ciara). Females with a vastly inferior knowledge of the game were beating the wisest of males. Rappy McStillabachelor, the originator and weekly comptroller, would often abuse his access to others’ picks and “mysteriously” come out on top without anyone else seeing his entries. McStillabachelor would reach the precipice in ’04, but his shady, secretive handling of each player’s scoresheets cloaked his victory in doubt and illegitimacy.
The following year, a savior arrived to pick the league up from its bootstraps and restore honor to the game. The 2005 champion, Intelligenty McAthletic, dominated the field with his rational – yet bold – picking style and survived a late (and comically questionable) push by McStillabachelor to hang on for the crown. It would prove to be a win for the little people (like Erin), who could only dream of reaching such a lofty peak and needed a hero of the populous to prove that it could be done with integrity. Still, McAthletic was left to ponder, “But what do I get?”
When the league was started in the Year of the Big Papi, this question was proposed to the eldest member of the clan, the one who might possibly be able to provide such a prize, whatever that may be. “A free meal,” Baldy McEyebrows suggested. This seemed curious for several reasons. First, no cash? Second, McEyebrows paid for every meal anyway. Third, this seemed to be the default prize for every competition and the lack of creativity was disappointing. But while criticisms abounded, no serious arguments for an alternative reward were heard and everyone took it in stride, acting as though material prizes were below them. So, with nothing on the line other than bragging rights and the occasional, false feeling of “I’m really good at this” (Mom), the McManus Family continued its intramural struggle.
The family expands…and so does the field
At some point in Year Four, the council was summoned and a decision was made: There would be two additions to the field. Due to the realization that they just might have to see these people for the rest of their lives, the original seven allowed entry to a couple of love-stricken newcomers. Kielty McIrefusetowalkinsoftball easily got in by the coaxing tune of his bride-to-be, Runningtights McBookworm. Redhead McTakeadunk, however, had a tougher time breaking into the circle. His allegiance to a football team not quarterbacked by a super-hunk vexed the council terribly. But Nursey McVegan vouched for him, under the premise that he would never, under any circumstance, pick against the team with the hottest quarterback.
Wet behind the ears and eager to impress, the two expansion players approached McEyebrows to show their appreciation by saying, “Aw, hi Mr. McManus! Thank you so much for letting us play!”
Onward and straightward
Now five years old, the annual Picking Tournament (“He was hungry!”) is in full swing and its players maintain their uncomfortable relationships with one another through gritted teeth, as they fight much too competitively for a non-existent prize.