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Why I Cannot Wager on Sports With Soop, Part 3: The white guy is better than the black guy!

Fifteen years are a long time to avoid one person when it comes to making bets…especially when you like to bet on just about everything. But it isn’t like I never bet with Soop.  We had plenty of gambling going on over these last 15 years…I just avoided sports wagers.  There is one night in Superbowl Sunday where I made out like a bandit.  It was a night where, with the help of some L-C-R and a great night of poker, I went from no cash to a little over $600 when I left…but that is a story for another time.

This story is about a very hot Sunday a couple of weeks back.  Deb and I were invited to attend the Legg Mason Tennis Classic by Soop and Red.  My immediate reaction was to turn down the offer as I hadn’t been back there since the Agassi Debacle of the late 90s.  But when Red informed us that we would be in her suite I changed my mind pretty quickly.  Drinking free and sitting in the air conditioning while at an outdoor sporting event will get me every time.

But Soop would not let the opportunity pass by where he could make fun of me.  He immediately started sending me texts to bring cash so that we could bet.  I politely told him to go fuck himself and that there was no way I was going to bet with him ever again.  EVER.  But he kept calling me a wuss (and other choice names) to try to badger me into betting and I think he knew that if there ever was a time to get me again it would be at this particular venue.  I know he was thinking that there was no way I could pass up trying to get some redemption.

He was right.

It was oppressively hot that day and we were all grateful to have the air-conditioned suite in which we could lounge.  The first match of the day was almost over when we arrived and people started trickling in throughout.  By the time the second set of competitors were making their way to the court the suite was packed and we were on our 3rd or 4th drink.  When I saw them starting to warm up I made up my mind that I was going to bet today.

I would love to say that it was because I took out my phone and quickly looked up the players to find out who was better.  I would love to say that as I watched them warming up I noticed that one of them was clearly the superior athlete.  I would even be happy with telling you that I noticed one of them was hobbling around a bit.  But none of those came into play.  Like the lucky chick from accounting that makes her picks in the weekly Football pool based on the “cuteness” of the uniforms…I went with wardrobe choice as my deciding factor.

You know what I mean because every office in the world has that woman.  No matter how much research you do each week of the football season she would place higher than you at least a few times during the season and usually come away a winner at least once.  And all she did was look at uniforms and decided that she liked the pretty Bengals helmet over the ugly Colts one.  Yep, I used the tried and true method that has been my nemesis for years to try to break my curse.  The guy I picked to win (Mat0sevic) was wearing a white shirt while his opponent (Delic) was wearing a black one.

There was at least some reasoning here though.  The match was starting at 1 in the afternoon and the sun was mercilessly beating down on center court.  i figured that by the second set the guy in the black shirt was going to be about to drop from heat exhaustion.  Who wears a black shirt to run around in the sun for a couple of hours in the middle of July?  That dude was going to melt. I was sure of it.

About an hour later, as we were sitting there watching the first set tie break, I wasn’t so confident.  The whole first set was very evenly matched.  Both guys held serve throughout and no one appeared to have the advantage.  The only thing keeping me going was watching the “black” guy constantly going to the ball girl for the towel to mop up all the sweat that was streaming from him.

I jumped out of my seat and started cheering wildly when my guy made the point that ended the first set.  The sense of relief that I felt when my guy, the “white” guy, pulled out the first set was indescribable.  I did start to talk a little shit to Soop though because I was starting to feel good about this bet.  And it had been a long time since I had a chance to do that.

The second set started off with more of the same.  Both guys held their serves through the first 6 games and the second set was tied at 3.  But then everything changed when my guy broke the server of the “black” guy…finally.  Then he held serve to go up 5-3 and I knew the match was over.

Both players held their serve to finish out the match and my guy won.

MY.  GUY.  WON!!

And just like that…after 15 years 8 months and 7 days…the curse was broken.

So what that it was broken on a shitty bet based on clothing choices.  Broken is broken.  The fear of betting against Soop is gone.

Now, what can we bet on next?

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Why I Cannot Wager on Sports With Soop, Part 2: 8th is not always better than 174th

Now it is the summer of 1997.  A little over a year has gone by since I lost that $100 to Soop and it has slowly started to hurt less and less.  The jokes about my trips to the blood/sperm bank to get the money to cover my losses had slowly started to wane.  I was even able to watch and enjoy the playoffs while the Bulls were busy cleaning up and winning the championship.

So I never saw what happened at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic coming.

Back in those days it was great to have a mother that worked for a lobbying firm.  Free tickets to events were abundant back then.  We took advantage when we could too.  So one day, in the middle of July, when we were offered a bunch of tickets to sit in box seats right on the court at the Legg Mason, we didn’t pass them up.

I guess I will get this out-of-the-way up front:  I couldn’t care less about Tennis.  I don’t know anything about the game and I honestly don’t care to learn.  I mean, I know the basics of the game itself I just don’t keep up on the players and who is who.

It really takes a lot for me to get beyond the ridiculous scoring:  Love, 15, 30, 40, Deuce, Ad, Game.  What?  Why is your first and second scoring point worth 15 while your third is worth 10?  And when you tie at 40 it is called Deuce?  What?  This shit doesn’t make sense and when I start to even try to think about it I get all angry.

Put it this way, I would rather watch soccer.  That is how little I care about tennis.

But I am a sports fan and these were free tickets…so we jumped on them.

And we were kind of excited because André Agassi was going to be playing in one of the matches of the night.

Fuckin’ André Agassi.

So here is what I knew going into that night:  Agassi had won some shit.  He had already won 3 of the 4 Grand Slam tournaments, (he didn’t win at the French Open until 1999) a Gold Medal at the Olympics and  was a previously ranked Number 1 player in the world.  Oh yeah, and earlier that year he got married to Brooke Shields.

So yeah…his life was rough.  Seemed pretty god damn good to me.

So when we got to the Rock Creek Tennis Center to watch the match and I saw that Agassi (who was currently ranked #8 in the world) was going to be playing some guy named Doug Flach.  It was almost laughable that the 8th ranked player in the world would be playing the player ranked #174.  I was ready to watch Agassi do some ass kicking.

Not Soop though.

No, not Soop.  As soon as we got to our seats he started in on me with his reasons that Agassi was going to lose:

“He has been playing all season with a hurt wrist.”

“He doesn’t look ready to play.”

“Brooke is over there and that bitch is killing his career!”

I had to look over to see if he was right and sure enough she was just two boxes over from us…and looking freakin’ fantastic too.  How can someone looking that good be a jinx to anyone?  And who cares about a hurt wrist?  The guy he was playing was ranked 174th.  I could have probably given him a run for his money.  And I suck at tennis.

Seriously, I think the only times I really played tennis was with my old roommate Rob.  And he would never run.  EVER.  He would stand in the center of the court and smoke cigarettes while we played.  If I didn’t hit the ball straight at him that would be the end of that point.  He would just watch as the ball bounced against the fence after halfheartedly sticking his racquet out to give the appearance that he gave a shit.  And because at that point in my life I actually cared about having at least a little fun while playing tennis I would try my hardest to hit the ball straight at him everytime.

But you know what that bastard would do?

Yep, you’re right.  That son of a bitch would hit the ball from corner to corner making me run my fat ass off until I would collapse.  We would head home and I would be drenched in sweat and feeling like my legs were going to fall off and Rob would still be smoking and not in the least bit sweaty.

Come to think of it, that is probably why I don’t like tennis very much.  Anyway….

So we have Brooke on one hand and a hurt wrist on the other.  I am very confident that Agassi can phone this one in.  So Soop tells me to put up or shut up.  He pretended to be a nice guy and was offering me the chance to get my $100 back.

I practically jumped at the chance to make this bet.  Easiest Benjamin I would ever make.

Fuckin’ Andre Agassi.

Everything started out well.  Andre won the first set 6-2 and then broke serve to start the second set 2-0.  This match was flying by and I could not have been more confident.

I was already counting the money.

Fuckin’ Andre Agassi.

I don’t know what happened.  It was like Agassi’s body just stopped working.  He couldn’t do anything right.  He was double faulting all over the place and looked like a man twice his age out there.  Flach was running him ragged through that second set and won it 6-4.

As the third set began I was having the “Oh no not again” feeling creeping into my gut.  I started bitching about Agassi and his stupid limp wrist.  I was cursing that bitch Brooke Shields and giving her the stinkeye (and I think I flipped her the bird a couple of times) from across our boxes.  I just knew that this match was over.

Sure enough, Agassi double faulted 15 times that match and pretty much bent over for Doug Flach.  That no-named bastard had Agassi limping around and crying his way through the third set.  It wasn’t even close.

One hundred and fucking seventy-fourth in the world?

This time the money was so hard to pull out of my pocket to hand over to Soop.  It was as if I was handing over a part of my soul with that cash.  And Soop, like the Devil himself, was happy to collect that sliver of my soul.

How did this happen?  Again?  Little did I know that this was the year that Agassi decided to take up the pipe and start down the wonderful road of crystal meth addiction.  Yay me for betting on a freakin’ meth head.

It was on that day, the 16th day of July in 1997, that I vowed to never bet Soop on another sporting event again. Starting with the Bulls the previous year and culminating with the Agassi farce at the Legg Mason I had just had enough.

And this lasted for 15 years, 8 months and 7 days.

Until the curse was broken last weekend at the Legg Mason Classic.

Stay Tuned for Part 3:  The white guy is better than the black guy!

Fuckin’ Andre Agassi.

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Why I Cannot Wager on Sports With Soop, Part 1: The Bet

15 years, 8 months and 7 days.

That was how long the curse lasted.

And now the curse is finally over…but that is a story for later.

This story begins late on the night of November 24, 1995.  A few of us had just finished watching my beloved Chicago Bulls pull out a squeaker over the Utah Jazz to start their season 10-1.  It was the usual group for those days:  Tommy, Rob, Soop and myself.   We were refreshing our drinks and getting ready to grab our controllers to play a few games of NBA Live on the Sega Genesis when the conversation turned to the rest of the Bulls season.  Soop lazily threw out a comment about the Bulls not losing more than 10 games for the entire season that drew laughter and derision from all of us.

Our little entourage was pretty well versed in sports trivia so we let Soop in on a few items:

  1. No team had ever won 70 games (let alone the 72 they would need…at minimum…to not lose “more than 10”).
  2. The best regular season record ever was 69-13 by the Los Angeles Lakers in ’71-’72
  3. The season is 82 games long and 11 games into the season is probably not the best time to start making outlandish predictions for a history making and record-breaking season.

But Soop was adamant.  So much so that he was willing to lay out $100 to put his money where his mouth was.  At the time we were all pretty dirt poor so $100 was almost like throwing down $1000 today.  We were all pretty shocked at the balls on Soop to want to make this kind of bet on such a longshot.  There was no way I could pass up this easy money.

So I took the bet.  And taking a bet against one of my favorite teams is something that I do not take lightly.  This wager would have to be a sure thing for me to take the bet at all.  I think the only other bet I would take at that early on in a season would be one where the other guy would be taking the Cubs to win it all.  Like I said, sure things only.

I was feeling good two days later when the Bulls lost their very next game.  I remember calling Soop to gloat, rub it in and to make sure he didn’t spend my money.  But my happiness and gloating was very short-lived.

The Bulls didn’t lose their next game for a month.  And then they didn’t lose a single game in January.  Not one freakin’ game in an entire calendar month?  WTF!

On the 4th and 6th of February they lost back to back games to put their record at 41-5.  So I wasn’t sweating it…yet.  I was still confident that over the course of the next 3 months the Bulls would lose at least 6 games.  The season is long.  Players get hurt.   There was no way, especially as Jordan and company got closer to the playoffs that they would keep up the intensity.

There was just no way.

Then April 16th rolled around and the Bulls break the previous record and win their 70th game in Milwaukee.  Looking back on all that night back in November when Soop made his prediction…it didn’t look so funny now.  So with 3 games remaining in the season the Bulls were sitting pretty at 70-9

The 81st game of the season was played on April 20th in the United Center and the Bulls ended up losing 100-99 to the Indiana Pacers.  With a margin of 1 point I was 1 game closer to  winning the bet.  So with one game left in the season the Bulls record was 71-10.  One game left and one loss away from making 100 trophy dollars.

We had actually joked about this final game of the season all year-long.  The last game of the season just happened to be here in DC against the Bullets (Yes, this was before they changed their name to the lameness that is The Wizards).

“How awesome would it be if the season came down to that last game here in DC?” was heard at least a few times during the season of The Bet.  We honestly didn’t think it would ever come down to that last game of the season.  But when it did, I really didn’t have much hope that the Bullets (whose record was 39-42) would help me out.

I couldn’t believe that I had rooted for my team to lose every single time I watched them play.  I felt like such a traitor.  Like Dan Akroyd and Daniel Stern at the end of Celtic Pride. I really did have some pangs of guilt over this bet and how I had rooted against my team all season long.  Especially during a season that I should have ridden high and loved every minute of it.

We couldn’t get tickets to the game because the Cap Centre was completely sold out and none of us could afford the scalper prices.  So we all gathered together to watch that last game of the longest basketball season ever.  The first half of the game was a nail-biting and teeth grinding mess.  The score at halftime was 52-51 and the Bullets had that one point lead.

But that lead didn’t last.

The Bulls outscored the bullets 52-43 for the rest of the game to win 103-93 and end the season 72-10.

I could not have been more bummed to have my favorite team end the season with such a fantastic record.

I could not have been poorer at the time when I had to fork over that $100 to Soop’s greedy little hands.

And looking back on it now, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

The season of “The Bet” was probably my favorite season of any sport throughout my entire life.

And I thought that Soop couldn’t get any luckier….

….but the following summer proved me wrong.

Stay Tuned for Part 2:  8th is not better than 174th

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