By Phil Bausk

So obviously this isn’t a book, and there will never ever be a book written about my sports gambling history, but you get the point. It was when I turned 13 and realized I could beat all of my friends in most video games and individual sports competitions in which I acquired a thirst for more. Winning wasn’t enough, and I needed something else to keep me going. Similar to college athletes who get paid under the table, I knew that I could get money for my talents, even if it wasn’t technically allowed legally or morally (Those who know me can see how the moral issues wouldn’t be much of a problem, call me Cecil Newton).

During my early high school years, I found that I could somewhat control my gambling fortune. Whether it be betting on games of Madden (which paid for a lot of McDonalds), Free Throw contests, or Home Run Derby’s, I was able to limit the amount of luck that could go against me and force a losing hand.

Then one day I stumbled upon something that I had only heard of, and had not yet experienced. When I was 16, I saw an older friend with a very disgruntled look on his face, handing over a $20 bill to a classmate. I ran over to my friend and asked him if he had owed him money for a movie or something. He said he had officially been knocked out of his Fantasy Football playoffs, and had to pay $20 to the eventual winner.

Now I was very familiar with Fantasy sports at the time, but was unaware that other people were running leagues and offering a cash prize for the winner. I spent the next day of school sniffing out the commissioner of the league to ask him a couple of questions. After an awkward conversation in which he was taking a Post-Lunch Twosie, he explained to me the rules he had set up for his league. It was in this dank bathroom that a new chapter of my life was about to begin, a chapter that would lead to nervous eating, being grounded for cursing at the TV, and some of the most excruciating moments of misfortune in my sports related life.

I had started gambling on sports, not just via Fantasy sports, but betting on teams to win games and players to win individual awards.  Whether it be with friends or via the internet (best invention ever), sports betting has driven me to watch games I never thought I would care about in my life. I wouldn’t call it a drug, but I would equate it to the McRib sandwich at Mickey D’s. It isn’t so amazing when you’re eating it, but the more you think about it, the more you want it for every meal of the day. When it feels good eating it, you’re on top of  the world, but there are times it doesn’t go down as well and you spend half of Sunday Night football listening to the game through your bathroom wall. I always knew gambling on sports was a bad idea, especially with my luck, but I felt like I needed to do it. I couldn’t sit through a Mariners-Angels game in 2004, unless I had taken the Angels to win cause they had Bartolo Colon on the mound.

Five dollar bets turned into 10 dollar bets. Those bets became 20 dollar bets. If you can’t figure out where this is going then you obviously need to get a GED or something. My overall gambling career has been relatively successful. I have placed in poker tournaments online and in person, and have won a decent percentage of the sports bets I have made in the past few years. While these moments are pleasurable, they can not take away the sting of some of the most tormenting and unfathomable losses I have taken in the past decade.

2010, Week 12, Fantasy Football: A must-win week to keep my playoff hopes alive, week 12 was the biggest week of the season for my squad, “ChompinChoiceChode23.” Going into the Sunday Night game, I had San Diego Chargers WR Vincent Jackson playing in his first game of the season. 3 plays in and he tweaks a “mysterious” calf injury and sits for t he rest of the game. Up a minuscule 3 points, I was facing off against San Francisco 49ers RB Frank Gore. Gore needed over 30 rushing yards to end my season. Gore started the game and earned those 3 points quickly. He then left the game with a season-ending injury. My theory is that he went into the game injured, knew what he needed to get to beat me, even in the case of a scoring mistake by Yahoo!, and then took himself out. I am shocked he didn’t have  an interview after the game saying something like, “Yeah I just needed to lock down 38 total yards to beat Phil. I really played my heart out there for those 4 minutes and I feel like a true champion.”

June 10th, 2006, NCAA Tournament:There is documented video footage of my emotional roller coaster that was the 2006 NCAA Tournament. I had a very clean bracket and had made a ballsy pick in taking Texas A & M to defeat LSU to go to the Sweet 16.  This was key because a lot of people had LSU advancing as far as the Final Four (which they made an appearance in that season). This loss created a domino effect, as more of my teams started to drop like Santonio Holmes’ towel (Yes, more dick jokes). This video explains everything you need to know about this game and its effect on me. I have linked it twice because it was just that devastating.

2007 Fantasy Football Semifinals: With a team on fire, I was not worried about “BigBenBonesBlacks7” losing in the 2nd round of the playoffs. After a hot start from my team, I figured I was on my way to a finals appearance. One of the biggest reasons I made the playoffs in the first place was Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook. He had a stellar season as was doing his thing against my poor Dallas Cowboys the week of the semifinals. With under two minutes remaining in the game, Westbrook appeared to have an easy Touchdown, but instead, went down intentionally at the one yard line, taking a cupcake Touchdown away from me. With a big lead at the time, I was not worried about the potential repercussions of  this play. As the day went on, I became more and more nervous as the score became closer. After the Monday Night game was ending, so too was my fantasy season, losing by 4 points in the semifinals. I should have realized that Westbrook going down at the one yard line was going to be a slap in my dumb, mushy face. I still have his five fingers outlined across my cheek. In addition, I went on to lose by less than two points in the semifinals the following season.

2006 NBA Finals, Miami Heat defeat the Dallas Mavericks:I would like to say this was the last time I bet on the Dallas Mavericks, but that would be a filthy lie. I took the Mavericks to win the finals over the Heat that season, basically falling head over heels for Dirk Nowitzki and his flowing gold hair and his organized German approach to life. The Mavs went up 2-0 in the series and appeared well on their way to capturing an NBA championship. Game 3 comes along and Nowitzki, who shot 90% from the charity strip that year, missed 1 of 2 pivotal FT’s, resulting in a Miami Heat victory (Did I mention the Heat trailed by 13 in the 4th quarter of that game?). The rest is history as Dwayne Wade (who took about 3,500 Free Throws that series) and the Heat went on to win the title. I am no longer a fan of blonde haired people, though my affinity for Germans still remains strong.

Week 14 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Washington Redskins: This game is what sparked the idea to share my horror with the public. This game was part of a 3 team parlay that I had taken this past Sunday. The Bucs needed to win by 2 points, and then Phil wouldn’t have to worry about paying for his addiction to Peanut Butter M&M’s. With the score 10-9 in favor of Washington, the Bucs got the ball down to the Redskins one yard-line with about 10 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. QB Josh Freeman fumbled and gave the Redskins the ball back. Alright, fine, I can deal with that, it happens. Then with 3:46 remaining, the Bucs scored a TD and completed the 2-pt conversion, giving them a 17-10 lead, and me a drawer full of candy. Led by Donovan Mcnabb (who looks like has has a drawer full of candy in his locker), the Redskins drove the length of the field in under 4 minutes, and scored a TD on 4th down to make it a 17-16 game. So an extra point and the game can go into overtime, where Connor Barth can get me my snacks. Unfortunately for me and the Redskins, the snap for the extra point went through the holder’s hands, and a laughable scramble to cover the ball. Final score, Tampa Bay 17, Washington 16.

If you are ever having a tough time in life and need some guidance, reassurance, or just something to make you feel better about yourself, think about Phillip Bausk, sitting on his couch in his apartment, with a thousand mile stare in his eyes wondering, “I may never eat candy ever again…”

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Comments
  1. dovid says:

    very sweet and funny
    ps i like the dick jokes

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