The day started out as delightful as any other: black coffee from my Kuerig, an everything bagel topped with nova and a text to Doctor Milhouse to review the day’s gambling lines.
With a full slate of activity going into the weekend, I really liked the Lightning at home to the Knights. Gasparillan pirates had invaded Tampa Bay. The arena would be rowdy indeed. Whoever scheduled a home game the same day as Tampa’s most alcohol-infused parade celebration best have ramped up security at Amalie for extra clean-up.
I also elected to gamble on two NBA teams that had been playing well: the Miami Heat (home to Toronto) and the Memphis Grizzlies (home to the struggling Wizards). Opting to play it safe and not lay any points, I parlayed the two for a money line wager which would pay out a little better than even money if it hit.
But it all boils down to Luke List.
Luke List was the first miss of the bunch and was it ever a big one. Although sister-site The Wife Hates Sports projected List as a golfer to keep an eye at the Farmers, I opted not to heed that advice. As many of you recall, I have a hate-hate relationship with List, the last time I bet on him not going so well. A tournament in which I had him to finish top ten, he double-bogied the 18th hole of his final round to finish in 11th place. He and I haven’t spoken since.
Among the many texts I received that busy Saturday night behind the bar were from friends who knew I didn’t, and don’t, intentionally bet List because of that double-bogey. This was while he climbed up the leaderboard on his way to a win. He was a 70:1 underdog. But that wasn’t even the most excruciating of the wagers/not wagers placed. There’s plenty more storm a-brewin’. Like I said, rough day at the office.
On a day that Tom Brady retired, allegedly, the Lightning were all set for their home game. As I mentioned earlier, I loved the Bolts although I liked them a lot better before Brady’s retirement rumors covered the city with a dark cloud of uncertainty. Had I known someone was going to leak the Brady news, I might have reigned back the wager. It was too late. I’d bet the Bolts large.
I’d assumed the Bolts would want to make a statement against the Las Vegas Knights, the Pacific Division’s best team. And they did. Until the very end. With pirate after drunken pirate ordering cocktails from yours truly on a busy parade night, it was nearly impossible to pay attention to the game on TV, but I did notice the Lightning were down 1-0, then 2-0. I assumed the wager was a lost cause alongside my rather unfortunate reluctance to play Luke List.
Then the Lightning do what they do. They scored two goals in the third period to send the game into overtime then penalties. My wager had life. Until it didn’t. The Lightning lost in a shootout.
So, to recap, Brady retired, I didn’t bet on List and my Bolts wager crapped the bed out of a wager that suddenly had life.
At least I still had my NBA wager to make up for the money I lost on hockey. These favorites would assuredly hit and make up for my losses on the evening. The Grizzlies game was in the bag, having already beaten Washington. All I needed to break even was for the Heat to take care of their business at home. Finding a moment to gather my thoughts, I clicked my phone over to the Heat game. With seconds left, the Heat were up by two. It looked like I had a winner on my hands.
Up by two with possession of the ball, Miami’s Jimmy Butler missed a lay-up to put the game out of reach. He then committed a foul on the other end putting rookie Scottie Barnes on the line to shoot two. Barnes made them both. The game went into overtime.
Piece of cake, I thought. The Heat were still at home. Overtime was better than a loss. Up by two with 17 seconds left, Miami fouled again, this time Gary Trent, Jr., who calmly stepped to the line to shoot, and make, both free throws. There would be a second overtime.
But wait, this gets better. The Heat at one point were up three in the next overtime session. The wager was as good as won, until a made three-pointer to seal the game was called back thanks to a called time out. The basket didn’t count. Instead, a third overtime.
At this point, you can see where this story is going: a third overtime in which the Heat and my wager was lost.
So, all in a day’s work, I lost Brady to retirement, my Lightning wager in an overtime shootout, my NBA no-brainer thanks to a triple-overtime thriller and I didn’t bet on Luke List thanks to a grudge.
It’s why my friends who don’t wager say “that’s why I don’t wager.”
Hey, at least I had Cincinnati and San Francisco both to cover in the Championship games the following day. Hint: I didn’t.