The Classic…of 2018

“It's day one…”

Dateline: Um, focus people

“I’m having a hard time getting my mind around this season, we haven’t finished last season yet with the 2017 Classic, but I’m about to fish a whole new season before the other one is done.”
Skeet Reese
Elite angler and Bassmaster Classic winner

Ok, please go to the upcoming 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic in Houston. I’d appreciate it and so would a whole bunch of other people, it’s going to be great.

Now class…focus.

Myself and some folks, other folks who know more about sports than I do, or care to, have not been able to find any other major sport where the big game, be it the Super Bowl, the World Series, the NBA Finals, the NHL L’e Stanley Cup, NASCAR’s Daytona gig, happen, you know, during the season.

Now there may be stuff like that in golf or tennis, or cricket, but you know what I’m saying here, The Super Bowl isn’t played during a bye week.

We are crowning a champion for last season 1/4 of the way into this season.

That may be good, that may be bad, that’s not what the point is, this is: Reality…well you know what.

All eyes are focused on Houston and the Classic and that is how it should be, but I want to do some easy math for you: 30-some Elites really care about the 2017 Classic because they are fishing in it.

70-some Elites who are not fishing it, not so much.

Here’s why: We have two Elite events before the Classic…every, every Elite angler who takes to Cherokee Lake and Okeechobee in February are fishing for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic.

“It’s like double jeopardy, db,” Shaw Grigsby is telling me this as he drives to the first Southern Open. ”I’m in the 2017 Bassmaster Classic that’s very much in the back of my mind, you bet it is, but if I mess up these first two Elite events before the Classic I may knock myself out of the following Classic which is what we are fishing for presently.”

Didn’t think about that did you?

“…of the rest of my life…”

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the game.”
~Randy Pausch 

I called around some, thought I might be breaking some major news to the Elites who made the 2017 Classic about this, I wasn’t.

In basketball, you focus on the ball in your hand, in football you focus on the down your in, strike three never comes before strike one.

Matt Herren: “I’m focused on the tournament I’m in and know how important these first two Elite events coming up are for next Classic. I’ll tell you this, it’s going to separate the men from the boys.”

Jared Lintner was in his garage getting his boat ready when I called, “Tell you the truth db getting all the stuff ready for Conroe and the Classic when I suddenly remembered that we have two events before that, took everything out and I’m getting ready for those now.”

And those first two events are not throwaway gigs either, first one is during the second week of February in Tennessee where the weather could be cold or not, then we pack up and drive 700 miles to the middle of Florida at Okeechobee where it probably has no chance of snow.

Last Feb. 2016 in where we are going for Elite No. 1 the temps those days had a high of 51 with a low of 23 and it snowed some.

About a week and a half later in Okeechobee last year at this time the high was 77 and the low 45.

Two absolutely different playing fields in the first two weeks for all on the water, 2017 Classic Elite Anglers who look ahead of these first two events could be looking to catch up the entire rest of this season. 

“…it's day one…”

“I don't focus on what I'm up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest.”
~Venus Williams

“It’s unprecedented db, just unprecedented,” my friend KJ (Kelly Jordon) is telling me while I’m watching TV and hoping that Kansas City beats the Patriots in the playoff game.

KJ is my basic no dog in the fight quote, he didn’t make the 2017 Classic as a competitor, he’ll be there working the carpet.

Kelly and I have great philosophical discussion throughout the season and the past nine years so I always dial him up to get his take, most times I use it, sometimes I don’t.

Going to use it here: “If those guys in this upcoming Classic let it become a distraction and forget how difficult our first two events are going to be, not so good db, not so good.”

Then, “We’re going through the eggbeater out here these first couple of events, you’re going to need all your head in it or you’ll be out quick.”

Ugh…KC three and out.

“Ugh what.”

“Nothing, nothing….hey let me throw this out to you, is it an advantage or disadvantage for the Elites in the 2017 Classic.”

“Hmmm…”

“…of the best of my life…”

“The more you hesitate in a game, the more your chance of getting hit. Your focus isn't there. When you hesitate, usually you're in trouble.”
Sidney Crosby
Captain
Pittsburgh Penguins - NHL

Patriots win, I’m back, not happy but I’m back.

“…Hmmm, good question, lets play this out shall we, lets say you are fishing in the 2017 Classic and you have two great tournaments leading up to it, you go into the Classic with a huge amount of momentum especially confidence wise. That’s an interesting spin on it isn’t it."

“Yep, and vice-versa.”

“Precisely, wow, you go in really screwing up the first two events not only are you now facing fishing the Classic on a down beat but you also have kind of put yourself in a hole for this season and the next Classic.”

To be honest here, I know some who could shrug off a bad performance in the first two events which for some are becoming a tune-up for the 2017 Classic, but I also know some who could spiral out of control with two bad regular season gigs and an awful big Kahuna 2017.

To be honest here II: For me personally I’d like the tuneup before the big gig, my old bones would be somewhat back in shape after the several month layoff, certainly my head would be back in the game, there’s no good time to have your equipment go south but if it was going to burp on me I would prefer it did it when I’m not fishing for $300,000 and my name in the rafters.

KJ always gets me thinking.

“…yeah, here I come the future has begun…”

“Games are won by players who focus on the playing field, not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard.”
~Warren Buffett

In baseball you learn to hit the curveball, or you go home.

So too in life.

A major league pitcher once threw a curveball at me as I was “taking batting practice,” once I heard it hit the catcher’s mitt I gently put the bat down and spent the next 15 minutes in the bathroom behind the dugout.

I get this coming out of left field thing, and this 2017 Bassmaster Classic certainly qualifies as that.

I don’t know if will ever happen like this again which in itself makes this one so special.

It would be great if you could come to Houston and hang out at the Expo and the weigh-ins, I promise it will be a hoot, but I write this to also invite you not to short change these first two Elite events coming before the 2017 Classic.

There is pressure every time we say, “One, Two, Three…Go!” and a hundred or so boats take off, this year you’ll get to see how the season is shaking out at the Classic, we will have already started this season, it won’t be about to begin, or have ended, dudes, we will be in the midst of it.

Do this too, watch the game within the game of these first two regular season shindigs, watch closely those anglers who are in the 2017 Classic, watch to see how they handle this “double jeopardy” we’ve tossed their way. 

Will they falter?

Or will they storm into the 2017 Classic?

Knowing them as I do from here with an inside seat to the game, I think this of the Classic 2017.

I think storm.

I think with some knocking and bumping and catching and missing behind them in two events…

…come watch the storm. 

This year, we’ve warmed them up for you.

“…day one.”
Day One
Matthew West

db

“I think a lot of times people may become content with one championship or a little bit of success, but we don't really reflect on what we've done in the past. We focus on the present.”
Derek Jeter
5 Time World Series Champion
World Series MVP
New York Yankees
AKA: Captain Clutch