By Jason Dambach
Central Pennsylvania’s two baseball franchises, the Altoona Curve and State College Spikes, have coexisted peacefully for nearly 15 years.
Sure, the teams compete for entertainment and corporate sponsorship dollars throughout the region, but there’s always been a congeniality and healthy respect among the ownership groups and front office staffers.
I’d like to think that part of the reason is the friendly, yet fiercely-competitive fantasy football league that past and current front office staff members from two franchises share.
The league started back in 2003 as a 10-team league comprised of only Curve front office employees.
When the Spikes came along in 2006, the league grew into a mega 20-teamer with two conferences (the Altoona Conference and the State College Conference), separate player pools, year-to-year keeper players, and a Week 16 inter-conference championship match loosely dubbed the “Greenberg/Lozinak Cup” for the owners of both franchises.
Those who play in the league love it so much that they have held on to their fantasy teams year after year even though they have moved on to other jobs in other parts of the country.
Every league has a New York Yankees or New England Patriots — the team that everyone loves to hate because of their success.
In Curve/Spikes Fantasy League that team is run by State College General Manager Scott Walker.
He’s the only owner in 18 years to have won more than one league championship. In fact, he’s won three, including the most recent title in 2019.
Scott is not a humble winner. He likes to taunt the rest of the league with three replica Lombardi Trophies on display in his office at Medlar Field, he has gotten high-quality Jostens championship rings made for each of his titles, and he signs off from league emails and texts with the acronym “03x,” which stands for “Only Three-Time Champ.”
So it was no surprise that Walker’s team was one of the four State College Conference teams to make this year’s league playoffs (Side note: My 11-2 regular season championship squad was the favorite before bowing out quietly in the first round).
His Week 14 conference semifinal opponent was former Spikes’ Director of Ticket Sales Brian DeAngelis, now a Senior Vice President for one of America’s most successful Minor League Baseball franchises, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
The matchup was expected to be a tight one throughout and come down to the Monday Night Football game between the Ravens and Browns.
That’s exactly what happened… and then some.
Entering Monday, DeAngelis held a 139-129 advantage with the Ravens’ defense and tight end Mark Andrews yet to play.
Walker countered with Browns’ running back Kareem Hunt, one of fantasy football’s most consistent performers despite his shared role with Nick Chubb in the Cleveland backfield.
Every play made by one of the players involved in the matchup drew comments on the league’s text chain where smack talk and sharp ribbing from fellow league mates is the norm.
When Hunt caught the game-tying, 22-yard touchdown pass with 1:04 left in the game, Walker took roughly a seven point lead. His text simply said “WOWWWWW.”
Despite a few catches from Andrews on the Ravens’ final drive, the winning field goal by Justin Tucker seemed to seal Walker’s victory by a one single point.
But wait… there was still two seconds left on the clock.
Even so, what could really go wrong?
Well, the normally confident Walker sensed something could indeed go wrong… “Nothing over. Could be a pick to end this.”
What transpired in those final two seconds of one of the great Monday Night Football games in recent memory will be remembered in the annals of fantasy football and sports betting for many years.
Certainly, the members of the Curve/Spikes Fantasy Football league will never forget what happened.
After a series of laterals during the game’s final play kept pushing the Browns further and further backwards it became apparent in real time that Walker was on the verge of a historic bad beat.
And sure enough as the Browns took a safety — a four-pointer in the league’s scoring system — a one-point win was replaced by a three-point loss and a historic playoff exit for Walker’s beloved fantasy squad.
“You’ll be hard pressed to find a bat beat worse than this one,” CBSSports.com wrote, since the Ravens were -3 and wound up covering with the safety. It swung millions of dollars at sports books.
I’d love to be able to share the series of texts that followed that epic bad beat, but as you can imagine, most were not suitable to share.
And those that could be shared certainly were not offering support or condolences for the man with giant trophies and championship rings in his office.
NFL Week 15 Fantasy Plays and Fades
(Note: These picks come from the week’s consensus Top 10 rankings at each position)
QB- Ryan Tannehill (TEN vs. DET)
RB- Nick Chubb (CLE at NYG)
WR- Davante Adams (GB vs. CAR)
TE- Mark Andrews (BAL vs. JAC)
DEF- Pittsburgh (at CIN)
QB- Deshaun Watson (HOU at IND)
RB- Mike Davis (CAR at GB)
WR- Calvin Ridley (ATL vs. TB)
TE- Eric Ebron (PIT at CIN)
DEF- Baltimore (vs. JAC)
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