History through the cracks

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — With all the hoopla surrounding the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, little attention has been paid to the fact that a tournament win today on the Alabama River will put Kevin VanDam in a tie with Roland Martin for the most career BASS wins — 19.

 With just 12 competitors, some might balk at calling a postseason victory a BASS "win," but no one can question the caliber of those competitors and no one can deny that other small field wins have been given full credit. The Bassmaster Classics of the 1970s, for example, seldom had more than 30 anglers.

 One way to measure the relative success of KVD and Martin would be to tally the number of anglers they vanquished in their wins.

 In his 19 wins, Roland Martin was tops in fields totaling 3,816 anglers. The average field in a Martin win was 200.84 competitors.

 If VanDam wins today, he'll have 19 wins in fields totaling 2,429 anglers, for an average of 127.84 — 73 less than Martin.

 But it's not been VanDam's fault. The advent of Top 100, Top 150, Elite 50 and now Elite Series tournaments has meant smaller fields for KVD. And let's not forget that VanDam has three Bassmaster Classic championships in fields numbering just 45, 47 and 51. The Classic eluded Martin, though he desperately wanted a title against any number of competitors.

 Also in VanDam's defense is the fact that he won four different events against fields numbering 329 or greater. Martin never did that. The biggest field he ever defeated was 314.