Heat could make for interesting FFCBC

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you it’s been absolutely scorching here in Rainy River District over the last couple of weeks.
Heck, it’s been warm here all year long, but especially since the snow melted way back in March.
But as everyone will be trying to find the nearest air-conditioned building over the next little while, Rainy Lake is about to be bombarded with bass boats in preparation for the 18th-annual Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championships, which will take place July 26-28.
When you think about it, conditions are not much different than what took place here a year ago heading into the tournament.
During pre-fishing last July, a lot of the anglers were talking about how they were battling the hot conditions, which included everything from wearing light, breathable clothing to drinking plenty of fluids and taking numerous dips into the lake.
Besides that, the biggest talking point was the number of bass that were being caught during the lead-up to the tournament, with more than a few anglers predicting the three-day total weight mark of 60 pounds finally would be achieved.
Instead, the temperatures dropped to a more, let’s say bearable level during the first two days of the tournament.
That, coupled with wild winds and stormy skies on the Saturday, prevented any new record from being achieved last year.
However, as this year’s event edges closer, talk of monster bags has begun to pick up again, which is something many anglers were discussing during last weekend’s “Castin’ for Cash” tournament at Lake Despair Lodge.
Now, these are anglers talking—and they’ve been known to stretch a tale or two.
But when more than a couple of fishermen are thinking this way heading into this year’s FFCBC, the possibilities of big bass being hauled out of Rainy Lake certainly is there.
And that, coupled with the usual dramatics of a fishing tournament, could make the 2012 edition one to remember.
• • •
A year ago in this space, I wrote a column expressing my surprise at the fact the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates not only were enjoying a winning season, but also were just one game out of the National League Central lead.
But after moving into the lead shortly after the all-star break, reality seemingly set in as the team went into a tailspin during the second half and finished in fourth place with a 72-90 record.
Having not achieved a .500 season or better since 1992, not much was really expected of the Pirates this year, although more than a few people (myself included) thought that another fourth-place finish wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
However, the Pirates have pulled it off once again in the first half of the season. They currently sport a 48-37 record and lead the NL Central by a single game over the Cincinnati Reds.
In fact, the Pirates also are just a game back of the NL East leading (and just as surprising) Washington Nationals from possessing the best record in the senior circuit.
Perhaps it’s the cynical person in me. While I’m loving another shocking Pirates’ performance, I’m just waiting for the other shoe to drop at some point.
If you look at their batting order, the Pirates basically are a one-man show, with all-around talent Andrew McCutchen seemingly carrying the load with a .362 batting average, 18 home runs, and 60 RBIs.
And while the pitching department has been strong so far, I’m having a hard time believing that opposing teams will be scared of James MacDonald and AJ Burnett, despite their good records to date, during the stretch run.
Plus, the Reds and St. Louis Cardinals both have better teams, in my opinion, from top to bottom.
Nevertheless, if the Pirates were to end the season above .500 for the first time in two decades, the fans in Pittsburgh probably would celebrate like they had made the playoffs.
And if anything else happens to top that, it’ll probably be viewed as a wonderful bonus.