KVD vs. db: The moment

Courtesy of Don Barone
Don Barone and Kevin VanDam have agreed to compete in a triathlon of sorts -- billiards, bowling and darts.

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

"Some are reaching, few are there…"

Dateline: The bug, or the windshield…

In my dreams as a child, the rusty metal latch would slide with a squeak across the wood of the gate.

A gate painted green and covered with light brown dirt.

It would slowly creak open, pulled by an unknown hand.

I would spit, adjust my neck, my hat, spit.

Then I would slam the baseball into my leather glove, the one with the bitten rawhide strings, and step forward.

And the crowd would boo.

And the crowd would call me names.

And none of it mattered.

Mattered none because I heard none of it, I just stared ahead, stared ahead and walked slowly towards the batter.  My eyes locked on his eyes, his eyes on mine.

And with every step a calm came over me, I knew that very shortly whatever was about to happen would be good for one of us.

Bad for the other.

And right before walking up the dirt of the mound, I would look down at the ground….and smile.  Then I would look up, and smile at the man holding the bat.

And he would smile back.

For it was the time.

The time we both were here for.

The time we both chased.

The Moment, had arrived.

And I would climb the dirt and take my place on the little strip of white, and shake off every call, until came the call I wanted.

Heat.

Smoke.

And I would smile, and the man with the bat would smile, and I would twirl the ball in my hand, feel the laces sting my fingers, and I would slowly lean back and, with every ounce of power from my head to my toes, I would fling the ball and a rocket string…

…straight down the line, chest high…

….and watch as the man with the bat reared back…

…as Babe Ruth began to swing.

 

"…want to reign from a hero's chair…"

 

I never wanted to be Babe Ruth.

I never wanted to hit the home run in the bottom of the ninth to win the World Series.

I wanted to be the guy who threw…strike one.

Strike Two.

Strike Three.

Bye-bye, Ruthy…see you next season.

I never wanted to be the fancy pants, got all the money, got all the girls, running back.

I wanted to be the working stiff middle linebacker just standing there on the goal line, one second left on the clock, just standing there saying to myself in my helmet…."Please come my way…please come my way…please come my way."

Dare You.

I never wanted to be Michael Jordan letting go the round ball as the clock on top the board hit zero…I wanted to be on the other team, wanted to be the guy in the air with his hand about to go above the rim and swat the ball into the laps of the glitterati sitting in the first row.

I want to win it on your home field.

Be door handle to door handle with Dale Earnhardt Sr. going into the last turn on the last lap.

It is not the win I want so much as the ability to TAKE the victory from you.

And if you are a real competitor, you want nothing but the same thing yourself.

You want, The Moment.

That one split second of time…that one micro-fraction in the universe when YOU….GET….IT.

I believe all sports comes down to the chase for that moment.

The Moment.

The moment that can only be described as Pure Competition.

The moment when it is only YOU vs something, or someone.

The Purity of Sport, moment.

 

"…some are scared to fly so high…"

 

It is why we take to the field.  No matter the field.

But Babe Ruth is gone.

I'm a short fat (getting thinner though) old guy so my days of Middle Linebacking and swatting down basketballs while flying above the paint, are over.

Actually never came, but whatever hope I had for the miracle that would bring them…not so much anymore.

But the fire burns.

The fire burns even hotter.

The Moment, the moment, just give me the moment one last time.  One last time.

Please.

So, I'm thinking, in this sport we have a dude who most out there acknowledge as being one of the best competitors out there in this and in just about any sport.

Kevin VanDam.

KVD.

I don't know if Kevin is the best angler ever, the best angler out there right now, whatever, I don't really care.

But with Kevin I sense this, he wins as much as he does, has as much success as he does, because he may in fact be the best COMPETITOR I have ever been around.

When this dude flips the "Compete Switch" on…IT'S ON…and you better buckle up.

I have that as a direct quote about him.

From his Mom.

MOMKVD.

Let me tell you this, if you are in a church baking contest and a truck wrapped in Bake Goods stuff pulls up to the Bake Off and MOMKVD steps out…you better be baking some mystical magical cookies…because that's what MOMKVD is bringing.

MOMKVD is the one bringing the Competitor gene to the KVD gene pool.

So we have this Hall Of Fame Competitor here on the tour…KVD…and I say this to him, "No offense dude, but I think I can take you."

He is kind of a meek looking guy, talks well, always polite, but still looks like the kid in gym class who was the snapee and not the snapper of the gym towel.

Which tells me one thing.

He is a, The Moment, Junkie.  Ever searching for The Purity of Sport rush.

Like me.

So as we look at each other both of us are thinking the same thing.

You the bug.

Me the windshield.

Epic, The Moment, searchers.

"db…let’s do like a triathlon thing…three events…three events of me kicking your butt."

I look up at him exactly as the car wash dude looks at the bugs he is cleaning off the windshield and say, "You’re on."

So after much negotiation based mainly on my concern over what my CIGNA Medical Insurance will cover and what they won't…we have picked the events:

 

Billiards.

Bowling.

Darts.

 

SVD, Kevin's wife, a good friend of mine, has promised me that she will immediately inform me if a construction crew starts building a bowling alley in the basement of their home, if some British speaking guy with an English Pub T-shirt on carrying a bag of darts knocks on their door, or if anyone named Mr. Brunswick starts to rent out the room above their garage.

Not saying that the massively competitive KVD is going to start doing some sort of clandestine practicing since I somehow forgot to set an "Off Limits" time period before we shook hands, BUT, the dude has way more charge cards than I do so I'm just protecting myself.

So the first db vs KVD challenge is going to be Billiards.

To which he told me last night, "db…I'm going to come at you as hard as I come at any of my competitors."

"Uh huh…but KVDUDE…if I have the chance, I'm taking you out dude.  Bing. Bang.  Boom."

And for a fraction of a second we just stood there and locked eyes.

And I thought one word….swing.

And I'm sure he thought just one word too…pitch.

This drilling down to the core moment in sports is going to be great, great to give everyone an understanding of why the best of the best perform as they do.  And how that transcends the field of play to include the field of life.

And also to give you an idea from me just how exciting it is to be…

…the windshield.

 

"…well this is how we have to try
have no envy and no fear."
No Envy No Fear

Joshua Radin

 

db

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