“Two outs, three balls, and two strikes. A runner on second. We’ve got a one-run game on our hands tonight in Fenway as the Red Sox attempt to shut the door here in the 9th inning,” the Red Sox play-by-play announcer called out as Matt nervously hovered over the television, anxiously awaiting the end of the game. He was restlessly chewing on the collar of his t-shirt, yanking the material upwards so that the shirt completely covered his chin. His anxiety was warranted. He stood to win a lot of money if the Red Sox won this game. Now twenty-three years old, Matt had initially picked up the “hobby” of gambling on baseball as a high school student. As one might expect, the stakes of his bets gradually increased as he aged. Today, however, he stood to win more than he had ever imagined.
Before placing this specific bet, he was up over $500 on his bookie. It was a substantial amount of money to Matt. “I should have just cashed out with $500,” Matt thought to himself, still chomping down on his white shirt, unable to believe that the Red Sox were about to secure his fortune. Only a night earlier, in a highly intoxicated state, Matt decided to place all $500 of his winnings on one bet. Not just any bet, but a sixteen-to-one, four team parlay. This meant that he placed a single bet on four different professional baseball games. In order to win the bet he needed to predict the winner of each game. If even one of his selected teams lost, he would lose the bet and all $500. Matt kicked himself over the bet when he sobered up. He knew it was a long shot. In fact, in sports terms, this gamble called for a statistical miracle.
He had called his bookie twice that day, pleading for him to cancel the bet and return his $500. Of course Jett, his rather stingy bookie, was not having it. Matt was torn up over the fact that he had basically handed away his winnings on an idiotic sixteen-to-one bet, but as the day went on that horrible feeling was replaced by pure excitement. Two of the teams he needed to win played in the early slate of games, and both won in dominating fashion. He needed the Cubs to win their afternoon match-up for the streak to carry on, and to Matt’s amazement they did. The young man couldn’t believe how close he was to winning his bet. A five hundred dollar bet at sixteen-to-one odds meant that Matt stood to win eight thousand dollars if the Red Sox could just close out this game wait a win.
“C’mon Craig!” he shouted at the Red Sox relief pitcher as he wound up to deliver what might be the deciding pitch. He had never even seen this pitcher play before, but the situation was tense enough that he felt like they were on a first name basis. “Craig Kimbrell winds up, kicks, and delivers…but it’s fouled off. The count remains full,” the commentator’s voice blared out of Matt’s television’s dated sound system.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Matt grunted at the foul ball. “Can this game just end already?”
Again the commentator’s voice recited the play-by-play, as if Matt couldn’t see the game with his own two eyes. “Kimbrell winds up and deals. It’s a mean fastball, down in the zone, Johnson swings…And takes a big whiff! Strike three! That’s the game folks! Red Sox take this one 2-1 thanks to some excellent pitching in the 9th inning!”
Matt’s phone slid out of his hand and his body went numb. It didn’t seem real to him. The mistake that had haunted him all day had turned out to be the best decision he had made in his entire life.
“Time to cash out,” he murmured as he reached for his phone to call his bookie. He was sure to be ecstatic about the news.
Follow Matt’s adventure from the beginning