Some background first: I’ve been lucky enough to been going to Classics since 1991, when I was a long-haired 20-something B.A.S.S. writer. Went to ‘em all except the 2008-2010 Classics because I had to sit out of fishin’ for a bit, but was there last year and this year.
Was also there when Ray was still king, even though he didn’t own the company anymore. Can still see him riding into an arena somewhere on an elephant, completely larger than life, the crowd roaring.
Then saw the ESPN transition where everything got more high-tech and “big sporting event”-like, but also a lot more serious – like the Classic was happening behind a roped off area. Some of the fun was sucked out of it. Maybe partly because BassFan had to take (and throw) a few punches to make its way back then, but for sure that wasn’t the whole deal.
The New Classic
Back to this year’s Classic. It’s only been a few days, but here’s where I come out. (Btw, I’d call this the first real Classic under the new ownership: Last year was a transition year.)
To me, this Classic had the best of both worlds. It had the truly amazing technology and uber-professional feel of ESPN, but the down-home feel of the Helen/Ray-era Classics. Example:
The ESPN bigwigs, whom hardly anyone knew, walked around ESPN Classics with yes-men/women and an air of entitlement that some bigwigs have.
Contrast that to this Classic: Jerry McKinnis and Don Logan walked around like everyone else even though each of them probably has been more successful than any of those ESPN folks.
Bruce Akin, the B.A.S.S. CEO, sported Carhartts every day. And when I saw him walking around alone a few times, I remembered the ESPN-appointed BASS general manager (Dean something?) always with 2-4 people around him trying to bask in his glow or whatever.
Make sense? Hope I’m getting that across. It’s definitely better now. Guess the best way to say it is it just felt right, seemingly for everyone there – exhibitor, media, employee, etc. This bein’ bassin’ I’m sure some folks have different opinions, but that’s where I come out.
Other Classic Stuff
> War Room – Hope those of you that watched had a good time. I was there for the first 2 days and had a blast. Not just doing the on-camera thing, but those folks in there are a well-oiled machine you can’t appreciate until you’re there. I’m not an easy guy to impress, but…wow. Thanks to them, Mike, Tim, Z, Tommy, Dave, Bowman and anyone else I’m forgetting for having me there.
> Btw, if you’re wondering what it’s like to hang out with the on-camera guys, it’s like hanging out with any friend, any basser. I’m sure you get what I mean.
> Btw 2: If you’d like B.A.S.S. to do War Room-like coverage at every Elite event, you better let ‘em know asap. I for one would love to see it.
> Hey, how ’bout BassGold: Showed the Classic should be won in a backwater, probably Pool 5 (secondarily Pool 4), soft plastics in the Tube/Grub/Craw category, and that the winner needed about 17 pounds a day. Nailed it 100%. Reminds me of when I launched BassFan and the world rankings at the ’01 Classic: KVD was ranked #1 and he won that Classic. People were coming up to me, “Hey, that rankings thing really works!” Lol.
> I get the folks who want the Classic aired on TV that day. Pretty sure everyone feels the same – even B.A.S.S., though I can’t speak for them. Few folks asked me, “If we already know who won, why should we watch?” Let me tell you: The footage/video/whatever I saw coming into the War Room is un-freakin-believable. Gives me chills just thinking about it. Seriously. DO NOT miss it. I can’t wait.
> Don’t know about you, but I really dug the Carhartt involvement. I wear Carhartt stuff, maybe you do too – comfortable, durable, looks cool. For sure not dorky.
> Last but not least, Shreveport is a great place to have a Classic. Not too big, not much traffic to speak of (none compared to NJ, lol) and hugely friendly to bassin’. Watched a 30- or 45-minute TV show on the economic impact of the Classic produced by local channel 3. Amazing stuff you’d never see in a big market.
Hope to see you BassParaders at the next one.
Going to see these guys with my son Thursday night at the Garden: