Spongers versus Bulldogs for the title

T. Michael Stone



I don’t care what you did yesterday. If you’re happy with that, you have bigger problems.

Nick Saban


The City of Madison has made yet another top 10 list, but Madison only got enough votes to place 10th.

A panel of experts picked 20 cities for the ballot, and the top 10 Best Historic Small Towns were selected by an online vote.

The title of Best Historic Small Town went to Tarpon Springs, Fla., with eight other cities ranked higher than Madison.


I think we should demand some sort of playoff system similar to one instituted by college football.

If an online poll had been conducted at the conclusion of last year’s football season to decide the national champion, Alabama might have won anyway, but at least the Georgia Bulldogs got the chance to blow it on the field.

I want to see Madison get the same chance on the Best Historic Towns list. Let’s see how far up the ladder we can climb.

We could put together a crack debate team to argue the matter in front of a Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea himself, in Pyongyang. This would also save President Donald Trump a trip he seems unwilling to make.

The debate team would be made up of chamber of commerce folks, city councilmembers and attorneys representing Madison’s Historic District, especially the ones who have been so opposed to the Foster Park rezoning business. A little bonding time on the Korean peninsula might lead to enhanced understanding between these groups.

I would be willing help coach up the team to get them ready for the debate. (Few people are more willing to make rash suggestions than I am, and still fewer are as adept at avoiding responsibility when someone actually takes something I suggest seriously.)

But first we have to draw up a bracket to organize the competition.

With 10 cities involved and Madison at the bottom, our team would take on No. 7 seed Cody, Wyoming, in the first round.

Regardless of what the seeding might suggest, I say Madison polishes off Cody with little difficulty.

How much history could they have out there?

When Madison was founded, a few American Indian tribes populated Cody, and none of them had ever heard of a top 10 list.

That has changed, though. According to census data, 93 percent of the population of Wyoming is now white with only 2.7 percent American Indian.

The situation is not much better anywhere else for the first inhabitants of this country, but this column concerns a list of best historic small towns, whatever that means exactly, and not a list of towns that have treated American Indians the best (that would as least be a new list).

But I digress.

Here’s the historical fact that will lead to a Madison victory in round one.

Cody, Wyoming, was named for “Buffalo Bill” Cody, an itinerant hunter and showman born in 1846.

Madison was named after a U.S. president and founded 37 years before Cody’s namesake was even born.

(Try to imagine Howard Cosell saying, “Down goes Cody. Down goes Cody. Down goes Cody.”)

After whipping Cody, Madison will have to take on No. 2 seed Natchitoches, Louisiana.

Natchitoches will be a much tougher opponent than Cody, but I think we win this one, too.

It is true that Natchitoches has been around longer than Madison, but during its early years it was under French control. That doesn’t really count.

Natchitoches wasn’t founded as an American city until 1819, trailing Madison by 10 years.

And during the Civil War, Natchitoches was set on fire by Union troops who were upset when they failed to capture Shreveport.

Union troops didn’t set fire to anything in Madison.

“Bang,” to borrow a word from Atlanta Hawks announcer Steve Holman. Madison wins on a buzzer-beater.


The bracket gets easier for the third round after third seed Haddonfield, N.J., defeats Dodge City, Kansas.

By the way, my money was on Dodge City, but Haddonfield won in an upset.

Because Haddonfield is the birthplace and stomping ground of Michael Myers of the Halloween films, Madison wins this one in a blowout.

Haddonfield should be content to make a list of cities where you are likely to encounter a knife-wielding psychopath.*

Meanwhile in the other bracket, No. 1 seed Tarpon Springs defeats Williamsburg, Virginia, in the semifinal round to advance to the championship against Madison.

I see this as a slugfest with Madison’s rich southern heritage battling the Greek history of Tarpon Springs. The contest will go into triple overtime to be decided by a tiebreaker of some sort.

To break the, tie Kim Jong-un will compare high school mascots. The Madison contingent will proudly display a snarling Bulldog.

The Florida contingent will unveil a man wearing a complete deep-sea diving outfit.

I’m sorry to say that I believe Kim Jong-un will pick the Sponger.

But No. 2 isn’t bad. The University of Georgia has learned to live with it.


*OK. I’m aware that the Haddonfield in the movie wasn’t the one in New Jersey, but such facts only interrupt the flow of a column. 


And here are some video clips representing the other nine cities that placed in the Best Historic Small Town list


Tarpons Springs:

The 1953 film Beneath the 12-Mile Reef was filmed and takes place in Tarpon Springs, Fla.


Here's how to make a meat pie Natchitoches style. Rather have a cheeseburger myself. 


Haddonfield. OK, this isn't New Jersey. But Michael Myers may have been to New Jersey at some point in all these movies.


Bruce Hornsby is from Williamsburg.

Hound Dog Taylor is from Natchez, Mississippi.


Dodge City conjures images of the old west.


Cody, Wyoming is the birthplace of painter Jackson Pollack. 


Al Gionfriddo was born in Solvang, California and made this famous catch for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. 

Here's an old schooner returning to Bath, Maine.


And here's a little blues to close out this multi-media extravaganza. Elmore James Madison Blues.

Interesting series of words there.

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