Beethoven’s music, Leonard Bernstein lectured, somehow fused two irreconcilables: inevitability and surprise. With that skill set, Beethoven would have made a terrific headline writer. He might even have been slotted on the sports desk.
In which case, he'd have a lot on his mind this week. Butler's reached the Final Four and could go all the way. What if it does? What headline should Beethoven write? The problem is that the inevitable headline, the perfect headline, the headline sure to sell ten thousand T-shirts on and around the Butler campus, will be no surprise. It will occur to everybody else too. In fact, it's been occurring a lot already. For instance, after Saturday's 63-56 win over Kansas State:
“Butler did it” — AP Web site.
“Butler did it” — Albany Times Union.
“Yes, the boys from Butler did it” Toronto Sun, but shrewdly, in the game story, not the head.
“Butler Did It With Defense” — MSNBC.com. And this followed the victory over Syracuse Thursday.
“The Butler Did It” — WHEC.com. So did this.
“The Butler did it: Syracuse loses in the Sweet 16” — Syracuse.com. Ditto.
“The Butler did it: Murray St. ousted” — Salt Lake Tribune. Way back when, after Butler’s second-round victory.
What would Beethoven do? the sports editors of America are asking themselves this week. The inevitable headline will surprise no one; a surprising headline is almost certain to strike readers as a strained stab at originality.
Even Beethoven might be hoping Butler doesn't do it.