"Intense. Pretty intense," is how Beat the Streak leader Clement Uduk described his pursuit of the game's $5.6 million grand prize on Friday night.
The 25-year-old Portland, Ore., resident's assessment is hard to refute, as he's now 12 picks away from a mind-boggling amount of money. In case you were curious, no larger jackpot has ever been proffered in the history of fantasy sports.
On Friday, Uduk's remarkable run reached the 45-pick plateau behind the bat of the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter, who tripled in his second plate appearance of the evening.
Carpenter was a sound selection, for sure, entering the day with a .315 average on the year and a .391 mark in September. A deeper dive into the stats supports Uduk's decision even more, as the second baseman woke up Friday with a lifetime .400 average against Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett, the starter tasked with the unenviable job of facing the Redbirds' formidable lineup multiple times.
"Matt Carpenter is just the epitome of what St. Louis does when developing players," Uduk told MLB.com on Aug. 31, when he successfully selected the second baseman to boost his BTS run by one.
"Throw out a cliché and Carpenter will probably lace it for a double."
Uduk has been a juggernaut in his own right, but he's been equally as patient, making just 12 picks since his streak sat at 33 on Aug. 1. Not feeling the BTS heat, the 25-year-old took a four-day hiatus just last week to embark on a trek down the Oregon trail.
Make no mistake: The recent break was not a first for Uduk, whose extreme prudence has yet to cause him harm. It's not entirely surprising, as one can't climb this far without some sort of strategy. And though he is looking ahead to a busy September schedule, Uduk is nonetheless enjoying his time in the BTS spotlight.
"Work started [Thursday] at the high school so I had no concept of anything but doing my job," said Uduk, who works as a student advocate.
"[But] it's a great feeling [to succeed in BTS]. I'm dancing after hits and just being a little kid again."
Uduk is a bicoastal baseball fan who cheers for both the Baltimore Orioles and the Giants. BTS is all business, however, and Uduk has leaned heavily on two of the game's greats -- Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera -- during his remarkable run up the BTS ladder.
"Aside from those two specifically, I've been sticking to players that are on hitting streaks or that have solid splits against the starter they are facing," Uduk said. "Additionally, I've been focusing on the top third of the lineup on teams that put up healthy at-bats and move the line along."
With a permanent place in BTS lore coming closer by the day, Uduk has begun to dream of a world with a lot more money.
"The prize would definitely be used toward paying off student loans. That'd be first and foremost in my eyes," the University of Portland alumnus said.
"After that, it's up in the air: investment, travel, philanthropic endeavors ... and fueling my hunger for golfing -- cannot forget about that at all."
Even if Uduk were to fall short of his ultimate goal, he could still come away with the $10,000 consolation set aside for the Streaker who finishes 2013 atop the BTS standings. The top spot at this point belongs to William Bryan, a 30-year-old Atlanta resident who made 47 consecutive correct picks.
Closing in on Bryan is no small feat, as Uduk told MLB.com on Monday afternoon.
"[My BTS success] feels like a dream. … It definitely is not indescribable, yet to pin it to one feeling it is very tough to do," Uduk said.
"When Mr. Bryan made it to 47 behind the bats of his Braves during their lengthy win streak, all I said was, 'Go get it! Please be that guy that wins it.' To be the guy [closing in on the season leader] now is pretty cool."
In Beat the Streak, participants try to establish a virtual "hitting streak" by picking one or two big leaguers per day, with their runs continuing as long as their selections collect at least one hit. In 13-plus seasons of BTS play, no one has matched Joe DiMaggio's magic number of 56, set in 1941. To win the $5.6 million prize, one must top Joe D.'s run by one.
To join the fun, visit mlb.com/bts or download Beat the Streak, presented by Dunkin' Donuts, from the Apple app store or through Google Play. Participation is free.
Before we go: Let's take a moment to congratulate Streaker Jonathan Ip for a job well done. Ip, a 25-year-old billing specialist from Bellevue, Wash. -- saw his BTS run reach the 40-pick plateau before coming to an end on Friday night. Ip is the 10th player to enter Club 40 in 2013.
Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com.