Beginning with the 1998 season, when the C.S.S. went into effect, The Dean Martin Clause was rendered impotent (much like Dean himself), at least as far as The Invitational is concerned. Allow us to explain. When Cosmic Carl fell into that big black hole in the sky back in December of ’96, remarkably few entrants were caught in the same timing trap that Dino the Drunk had sprung in ’95. In fact, Russell was the only one, ’cause the other players were either waiting ’til the last second, or were completely clueless about the billions and billions of cancer cells devouring Mr. Sagan’s body. And it wasn’t ignorance that caused poor Russell to send his entry in fully two weeks before the end of the year, thereby missing the boat. No, he just happened to be off with his new bride on a seal-clubbing honeymoon in the Arctic Circle where mailboxes are scarce and hard to find in the snow. So, rather than penalize those smart enough to know who’s checking out, yet stupid enough to get married at the end of the year, we came up with a safety net. A ‘Plan B’, if you will. The Alternate Pick.
< Starting with the ’98 Pool, and continuing right up to this very day, all Atwater entries (Invitational and Jr.) will include an eleventh famous name, which will only come into play in the event that one of your choices is found to be dead between the time you send in your list and the start of the contest. The alternate goes in the #10 (1 point) position, and (if necessary) the other name(s) move(s) up a space to fill in the blank(s). Are you starting to get a sense of how completely insane this game has made us?