Open letter to the B.A.S.S. Nation

So.

Fast forward, this morning, fog delay for practice…it’s like 40-something outside on the dock, I climb in a warm B.A.S.S. Tundra, and sort of, you know, try to take a nap…

Knock, Knock, “Hey db”

So much for the light tinted windows.

“Hey man.”

“Did you get my comment.”

We are all bilingual now, English and Facebook.

“No man.”

“I’m Randy Ladner, I wrote that comment on the Nation meeting photo and I commented back to you.”

“Oh.”  I’m face to face with a “friend” I had never met before.

“I said it was okay to use my comment in the story.”

“Okay.”

And my “friend” starts to walk away.  Technically I’m thinking, for the story I’ve got what I need and it’s warm in here and cold out there where an actual verbal comment might be, but all my past Journalism friends are yelling in my head, “Hey Stupid, go talk to him.”

And since I still have lunch with many of those Journalist friends,

I do,

what they say I should do,

in my head.

“…and I'll be your friend…”

“Dude.”

(note to self, in thick fog, never just yell out dude when there are 56 dudes also in thick fog)

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah.”

And so on.

So I catch up to Randy and we walk over to my rental car where my warm reporter’s notebook and warm pen is and I say, “So…I just need, you know, a comment about your comment…”

And yet both of us understood that.

“I commented that basically the Nation Championship, it means everything to us.”

I write the comment of the comment down.

“db, it is the only way the poor man can do it, we all just the working man out here, to us, to be here, it’s a dream come true.”

Turns out Randy lives in Mississippi, works as a Tool Room Attendant for DuPont and belongs to a small B.A.S.S. club back home, “the members they keep calling me, giving me a pep talk, it means so much to my club to be recognized, makes our whole small community feel good.”

And then Randy said, “Thank you and all the B.A.S.S. workers out here for all you do for us.”

“…I'll help you…”

Don Barone
Randy my friend in person friend, it is you and all the other Nation members who should be thanked, dude we would have nowhere to be out here in if it wasn’t for you.

Thank You.

The Nation is not some sort of throwaway revenue thing, the Nation is our pipeline to the future.

THIS TOURNAMENT MATTERS.

Nation dudes, I’m going to tell you something, flat out truth, I’ve been offered the opportunity to at the end of my contract next year, leave this and go back to covering the sports all the world knows about, covering the players all the world knows about.

More money, chance for more hardware on the shelf.

But there’s also this, I spent 15 years interviewing many Multi-Millionaire 20 year old athletes who can’t spell the league they play in if I spotted them the first and last initial, done hundred’s of interviews and never, NEVER once heard this,

“…means everything.”

If you are a sports writer and you are honest with yourself, in your heart you know you have come to the field of play to hear, “…means everything,” and to write those two words.

To write of sports you shouldn’t write about the equipment used, that means so little to what sports is about.

“Means everything,” is the soul of the game.

“Means everything,” is why we do what we do, why you do what you do.

To me, after 15 years of means little, it is an honor to write means everything, make no mistake, in my mind the Nation is the soul of this sport.

And it is to you we lean on.

Thank you.

And to the six who will move on from here to the Bassmaster Classic, I hope you get to raise the hardware, but if not please remember this.

.200

0 HR’s

First MLB year stats of,

The Babe.

All things,

possible,

when it,

“means everything.”

“…carry on.”

Lean On Me

Bill Withers

db

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