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Friday, February 26, 2010
Vandammit

By Kevin Short
ESPNOutdoors.com

Since I didn't catch nearly enough fish on Friday or Saturday to even come close to making the Top 25 cut at the 2010 Bassmaster Classic, I felt it was my duty and a wonderful PR opportunity to spend the day at the Classic Expo on Sunday.

Little did I know when I walked through the doors that I would wear out two new Sharpies signing all sorts of stuff and body parts. I'm talking wore them down to the nub signing hats and shirts and posters and cards and arms and baits and cups and anything else that was handed to me. Down to the nub. Never gone through one Sharpie in a day, much less two. Crazy good stuff.

Talk at the Expo was, of course, about the derby. Watching the BassTrakk while doing a Hooked Up segment at 1 p.m., it was pretty obvious that KVD was in the driver's seat and would be hauling another Classic trophy back to Michigan.

The most common question that afternoon, actually the second most common question, I was asked was "Where'd you get those pink Costa's?"

The next frequently asked was "Is VanDam really that good or is he just lucky?" or something to the effect of "Is VanDam really that good or does he get a lot of help?"

Is VanDam really that good? Yes, he's that good.

So good, in fact that he's bordering on best ever, if he's not already there. That's right, I said it. Best.

Ever.

Period.

You can take all the Hank and Roland and Bill and yes, even my personal hero, Clunn, and move them ceremoniously to the side. They were all the best in their day, but I'm not sure that even at their best they could keep up with the Mr. VanDam we see today.

He just makes the rest of us look bad on a semi-regular basis. I'm beginning to get a feel for how the PGA pro's felt for several years when Tiger was shooting lights out and showed up on the course to play. Biggest difference would have to be that we know that KVD will be on the pond every week; whereas the PGA would keep it hush-hush as to which events Tiger would play.

How good is he? You know the man is good when he makes headlines not for catching them, but for not catching them, as he did on Day Three at the River Rumble back in June of last season.

Not sure that KVD posting an egg wasn't a bigger headline than who was leading the tournament that day. That's wrong on several levels, but the Kalamazoo Kid (when's the last time you heard him called that?) has become such a force on the face of the derby scene that a stumble on his part is a shocker. Yes, he's that good.

He's that good and I, for one, am sick and tired of it. Not that I've been able to do a lot to put a dent in his armor. Oh sure, there have been little glimmers of light over the past six seasons, but for the most part, he's kicked my butt from Florida to California.

Sick and tired of it. Oh, and don't think for a minute that I'm alone in that little dinghy, either. I can name about 90 other anglers who are sick and tired of it, too.

Bad thing is the only one of us who has even come close to pushing VanDam the past few years has been Skeet. Iaconelli pushed him a little in 2006 when he took the AOY title, but Skeet has been the biggest threat that we've seen the past few seasons.

Only problem there is I think Skeet has pushed Kevin just enough for Kevin to up his game another notch. Great. Just what we needed. Don't poke the bear.

Barring the unforeseen, we're most likely going to see KVD at this level for another 10 years — or more.

Who knows how long he can stay at the top of his game. He's actually making the sport at the top a little boring. How many different ways can the writers pen "VanDam Wins Again"? "VanDam Wins Again." "VanDam Wins Again." "VanDam Wins Again."

Again, again, again, again ... It's like that dream you have when everything around you is larger than you are and you're trying to run away, but you can't seem to go anywhere. Again, again, again, again ... Will it ever stop?

For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.