AOY: Simply the best

“Live to win…”

Dateline: Somewhere North of Detroit

It ends here.

In the Detroit River.

Or Lake St. Clair.

Or Lake Huron.

Or Lake Erie.

Somewhere in the waters surrounding us,

it ends.

Somewhere in all the blue around us, the golden boy of 2013 will be crowned.

It ends here.

Somewhere.

The 2013 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year will be crowned.

“…'til the light dies in your eyes…”

I have too many friends in this race to break it down into a numbers game; I’m told that if Edwin Evers ends up in the top 25 when all is said and done here, he will win.

I’m not a numbers guy, so don’t hold me to that, or that I want Edwin to win it. I have no dog in this fight since all these dudes I consider friends.

I just want to make sure you know how important this last shindig is; to most of these anglers, the AOY hardware is the ultimate prize, even though I don’t necessarily agree with them on that fact.

Angler of the Year means that for the ENTIRE year, you were the best, the most consistent, day after day, tournament after tournament, cast after cast.

From Day 1 of the season to this Sunday, you were the man.

Winning the Bassmaster Classic means that from Day 1 to Day 3 you were the best.

Bassmaster Classic=3 competition days of being the best.

AOY=32 competition days of being the best.

Bassmaster Classic=1 body of water

AOY=8 bodies of water

Bassmaster Classic=fishing against 52 other competitors.

AOY=fishing against 98 other best-in-the-world competitors.

I don’t for a moment believe that in many of the championship games I’ve been around, that the best team won all of them. Sometimes, a team gets lucky, a ball bounces in bounds not out, a questionable call is made, the ugly head of “Mo” (momentum) takes over.

In a single game, like the Super Bowl (don’t get me started on my beloved Buffalo Bills and the Wide-Right XXV Super Bowl), one play can stand between the losers and those holding the Lombardi Trophy who may not have been the best team.

“Best of…” series formats I think were invented to thwart the best team on a certain day phenomenon…best 3 out of 4…5 out of 7, that kind of thing.

Game 7, though, to me, is the most exciting game in sports, any sport…both teams even up; they have proved that. Now, now let’s see who the real champion is, what swing of the bat, deep pass, three-point swish will take it all.

Problem is, being consistent just doesn’t make the splash, doesn’t get the press…

but it should.

“…take it all…”

Angler of the Year is an award that recognizes Best Of Craft.

It means that even if all your practice days are cloudy, you still have what it takes to do well on the sunny tournament days.

It means that if the water is drawn down during the tournament, you still have what it takes to do well in shallow, instead of the deep of yesterday.

It means that if on Thursday the bass were on the beds and now, on Saturday, they’re not, you will still be fishing on Sunday.

This is not an 8-game Angler of the Year, this is a 32 GAME DAYS Angler of the Year.

Just a few bad game days, and you won’t be Angler of the Year.

“…just keep fighting…”

In our sport, Angler of the Year is won on the field of play, not by votes.  I can tell you I have been around those who vote for the various MVPs of the different sports out there; and not taking anything from the MVPs, but at the very least, some of the votes can be suspect.

To me, the greatest all-round NFL player that there ever was, maybe the greatest player of all time, Jerry Rice, never, NEVER won the AP’s MVP award (what many consider the ‘official’ NFL MVP award).

The only folks whose votes should count should be the defensive backs who had to cover the dude.

Using a point system is as close as you can come to letting the competitors vote since the points come from how a person fairs against his competition in each event.

It is the AOY dude versus the same 98 competitors in all 32 Game Days.

In 2013, Edwin Evers never finished worse than 30th place; he also came in 1st, won the Alabama River Tournament.  All in all, he had two 25th, one 13th, one 11th and one 6thplace finishes.

This year Edwin made “the cut” in every Elite tournament he fished in (making the cut means making the top 50, getting a check for $10,000, and fishing on Saturday).

Ken Duke would know how many other Elite anglers did that this year, I don’t have a clue, can’t focus enough to figure that out, but my gut tells me…not many, if any.

****Hey Ken buddy just add in the comment section what that answer may be so the folks don’t think I’m just making this stuff up. Thanks, Man.

Bottom line is that whoever wins Angler of the Year this, or any year, has done a hell of a job.

We have run the dude up and down the flag pole, dragged him through rivers and lakes in the worst and best conditions, made him drive thousands of miles, spend dozens and dozens of days pre-fishing, practice from dawn to dusk, and on top of all that, thrown 98 of the best anglers on the planet at him time and again.

And that is exactly why the Elite anglers value the AOY as much as, if not more than, winning the Bassmaster Classic…the Classic is a sprint…the tour is not, not even close.

When it comes to AOY, every cast counts, the first cast of the season…the last cast of the season.

Jerry Rice ran every pass route as if it was the game winning route…even if he knew the ball wasn’t coming to him.

I watched him do just that…in practice.

To win AOY, you can never take a play off.  Never not show up.

If the Sport itself were to award those who play it, I’m sure the award would go to those who had game every minute they were in the game.

Angler of the Year is not just some fancy marketing ploy; Angler of the Year is the award that lets you know,

who got game,

game after game,

cast after cast,

and very soon you’ll know,

who got next.

“…’til you fall.”

“Live To Win”

Paul Stanley

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