Don’t let this Classic moment pass you by

On May 18, 2004, a friend asked me if I wanted to go to Turner Field in Atlanta to see the Braves play an early-season game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I was working in Columbus, Ga., back then, and it was only a 90-minute drive. But for reasons I can’t recall now, I decided to skip it.

Later that night – as I was doing whatever uneventful thing I had elected to do – I saw a note pop up on bottom of the television screen.

Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson was three outs away from a perfect game.

I watched on television with a sick feeling in my gut as the “Big Unit” finished just the 17th perfect game in Major League Baseball history.

Could’ve been there.

But I missed it.

To be fair, it’s almost impossible to see something like that coming in Major League Baseball. There are 30 teams, and they all play 162 games a year.

Something special can happen on any given night with very little warning – and if you miss it, you can always use the sheer volume of games as an excuse.

But if you miss what’s happening in Houston March 24-26, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

This is going to be a one-time, first-time, big-time thing.

Inside another baseball stadium – Houston’s Minute Maid Park – something special is going to happen when the 47th annual GEICO Bassmaster Classic begins.

I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen.

No one does.

But trust me, it’s going to be special.

The biggest professional bass fishing tournament in the world is coming to the fourth-largest city in the United States, with competition taking place on Lake Conroe – a fishery known for producing giant bass. Better still, it’s taking place at a time of year when giant bass are known for being plenty cooperative.

It’ll feature the Bassmaster Classic Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods inside the 300,000-square foot George R. Brown Convention Center. That’ll make it the largest expo in Classic history.

How could it not be special?

We’ve been building toward this for years, folks.

With an ever-improving lineup on the Bassmaster Elite Series and a number of unique paths to the Classic like the College Bracket and the Team Championship, the Classic field has been shaping itself for history.

Now with the continuing improvement of the unbelievable live coverage taking place during the tournaments, pro bass fishing is ready to bust loose as a super sport.

It’s ready – and as fishing fans, we have the luxury of knowing when and where it’s going to happen.

Fortunately, I haven’t missed every big sports moment I had a chance at through the years.

I was inside Birmingham’s Legion Field on Dec. 5, 1992 when Alabama beat Florida 28-21 in the first SEC Championship football game. Alabama defensive back Antonio Langham returned an interception for a touchdown to seal the win for Alabama in the fourth quarter.

Langham’s pick-six has become known as the “play that changed college football” because it paved the way for every other conference in America to establish its own end-of-season league championship game.

If you threw out a poll on the Internet asking people to click “yes” if they attended that game, you might get over a million responses – even though Legion Field only held 83,091 people that day.

Some folks want to say they were a part of history, even if they really missed it.

But trust me, I’ve been on both sides of the equation – and being there is the only way to fly.

Don’t wait until the final day’s weigh-in of this year’s Classic to start thinking about how great it would have been to witness such a huge moment in pro fishing history.

Don’t put yourself in position to click “yes” on an Internet poll 10 years from now when the honest answer is “no.”

Make your plans for Houston now – and be a part of history.