Attention Philadelphia Residents:
If you’re waiting in line for a cheesesteak this fall or early next spring and the person in front of you is wearing a dye-sublimated jersey instead of a Flyers jersey, do not be surprised.
If you see a guy running the Rocky steps wearing a hat emblazoned with a tackle company name instead of a Phillies cap, don’t be shocked.
And if the guy booing Santa Claus at the Eagles game (as the locals once legendarily did) has an accent that sounds more like sweet home Alabama than hometown grit, it may be par for the course.
We are among you.
When the 2014 Elite Series schedule was recently released, it contained lots of the usual suspects, big bass factories in towns that have experience hosting big tournaments. Most of them are below the Mason-Dixon line, the sport’s historical breadbasket, but even the last tournament of the year, in Ithaca, N.Y., will play to a Finger Lakes region crowd that is well versed in recent B.A.S.S. history.
I’m sure that Seminole, Toledo Bend, Chickamauga and the rest will produce eye-popping catches, but the one that intrigues me most is stop No. 7, in early August on the Delaware River, hosted by the City of Brotherly Love.
You can call it the “Iaconelli Invitational” if you’d like, because I’m guessing that Ike is one of the few who has already fished any portion of the Delaware, let alone the tournament waters. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the only one who’s been there before. If I learned that five or more had been there, I’d be shocked.
Is it Ike’s tournament to lose?
Maybe … but not exclusively because of the hometown advantage. The reason you should bet on Iaconelli is because he’s a threat to win every tournament he fishes, his recent Elite Series dry spell notwithstanding. However, if you think the rest of the field is going to lay down and play dead, and set their eyes on the second place prize, you are sorely mistaken. The odds say that even though Ike has a head start, someone else is going to win. In order to accomplish that feat, they’ll likely have to make some scouting trips this offseason.