Column #159 Fantasy Darts Camp!

June 9, 2004
Column 159
Fantasy Darts Camp!

After showgirls in G-strings, gambling and drinking the night away, when I think of the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) Las Vegas Desert Classic what comes to mind first (well, fourth) is fantasy baseball camp.

On a Saturday afternoon there ain’t a damn thing better then grabbin’ a bag of chips, a couple of beers and dialin’ up a ballgame on the television. That is, if your objective is to be bored out of your frickin’ mind and sleep the day away. Like sex, there ain’t nothin’ about the Great American Pastime that’s exciting except doin’ it!

So about six months ago I researched fantasy baseball camps. I could see myself doin’ it, just like Cosmo Kramer — headin’ south, lacin’ ‘em up, getting’ into a “bru-ha-ha” and, except for the fact that he’s dead, punchin’ Micky Mantle in the ole schnozzola.

Pretty much all the teams have the camps. The New York Yankees call theirs Heroes in Pinstripes. The St. Louis Cardinals call theirs the Legends of Baseball. After finishing the 2003 season with a 43-119 record, the worst since 1962 and the third worst ever, the Detroit Tigers renamed their camp; it’s called the Detroit Tigers.

The camps are pretty much the same. For a few grand, middle-age types from all over America can hop a plane to Florida, pull on a jock strap, put on spikes, don a batting glove and spit in the dirt with former stars and near-stars at an actual major league baseball spring training site.

But one camp is different. It’s a cut above the rest.

Presented by Diamond Dreams, it’s called the Fantasy World Series Camp. This is the camp I checked out. Experience your own “Field of Dreams,” the advertisement read. Feel the “Thrill of Victory” and the “Agony of Defeat.” Get fifty baseball cards with your picture on ‘em!

The camp was gonna be packed with big-name former players: Carl Yastremski, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Stan Musial, Joe Pepitone, Gaylord Perry, Frank Robinson, Tony Oliva, Mookie Wilson. I love Mookie!

You got an authentic major league uniform of your choice, a warm-up jersey with your name and number on it, your own clubhouse locker, a team photo and a video of yourself playing in the World Fantasy Series Championship Game on the final day!

You received all of this and more for the low, low price of $3,995. And, best of all, you could bring a guest to attend social functions or to be a bat boy or bat girl for just an extra $1,495. My wife, Marylou, would have loved to be a bat girl. I know this for certain. You betcha. She’d have popped my head into center field quicker than an old Nolan Ryan fastball. What a deal!

So, I told her I was goin’ to Vegas instead.

Now, some guys take a week each year and head with their buddies and guns and bullets and six-packs (tough guys do everything with a six-pack) to the wilds of Michigan to blow the faces off of baby deer. Other guys venture south with clubs and six-packs to wrestle snakes and alligators while searching for golf balls in small lakes and tall grass. Still others, plunk down the big bucks. They throw a couple of bats, a few tins of Redman and some six-packs in the trunks of their cars and head to baseball fantasy camp. For seven blissful days they hang out with has-beens, scratch their balls and drool tobacco juice on their shoes. Some day I’m gonna do all of this.

Then there are guys who don’t do shit. They stay home. Commonly called “pussies,” this subspecies of the male population, easily identified by the little pink skirts they wear while weed-whacking, doesn’t take a week off with the guys because either, they’re afraid 1) to kill things or 2) their wives will kill them.

Owing to the second reason above, I wore a skirt last year. And let me tell you, right here and right now: nobody but a fool should operate a weed-whacker in a skirt. Those little pieces of grass fly everywhere and they itch when they stick on your butt.

Marylou and I had just moved from Pennsylvania to Florida. Boxes were all over the joint. So, for the first time in years, I passed on my annual Vegas darts sojourn and helped out around the house instead. Pretty much, my dog and I directed the unpacking from the family room couch where we followed the tournament on cable television — all twenty-eight hours worth.

The boxes got unpacked just fine. Now it’s one year later. The tournament is just two weeks away…

The Desert Classic is a lot like baseball fantasy camp, only better. For average darters like me the Desert Classic is nothing short of a week-long fantasy darts camp. For darts aficionados of any skill level it’s got to be at the top of the list of great deals going.

The Desert Classic is a deal. Where else for the price of a plane ticket, hotel room and a measly $150 all-inclusive entry fee can a chucker step to the line against the best in the world — not just the former best like Eric Bristow and John Lowe, but the current top-of- the-crop and damn near every single one of them: John Part, Peter Manley, Phil Taylor, Roland Scholten, Colin Lloyd, Wayne Mardle, Dennis Smith, Kevin Painter, Ronnie Baxter, Andy Jenkins and all the rest?

I’ll tell you where and it’s not at some baseball camp in the Sunshine State. The greats may offer tips on how to slide into second without gettin’ a raspberry and chew tobacco without puking. You may head home with your mug on a few dozen baseball cards. But, seriously, is this wonderful shit really the price of a pre-owned automobile? I’ll bet there ain’t even gum in them packs of baseball cards.

The Desert Classic is real. Where else, in any other sport, if lightening strikes, can those of us who love the sport have the same chance (four of them actually) as anybody else at slippin’ on a World Series ring and heading home with a fat $27,450 paycheck after a week’s good time?

I’ll answer that too and it sure as hell ain’t at some fantasy baseball camp on the beach. In Florida, if lightening strikes — and it does most every afternoon from June through August — it’ll fry your ass. The only big number you’ll ever see is on the bill you receive in the mail. The camps aren’t called “fantasy” camps for nutin’! Unlike the Desert Classic there ain’t a damn thing real about the competition or the opportunity to make a few bucks. You’ll come home with a couple of t-shirts and, if you’re lucky, maybe some Double Bubble.

The Desert Classic is to Heroes in Pinstripes or Legends of Baseball as major league is to bush league. There ain’t no comparison. After hours at baseball camp you might find yourself nursin’ a couple of brews and anteing nickels with some of the good ole boys in jock straps but that’s pure bush league compared to the action in Sin City.

In Vegas you can blow your wad on one spin of the Roulette. Hell, you can empty your wallet just cuttin’ the deck with Paul Lim or John Part. You can damn near drink for free.

And it’s the showgirls who wear the jock straps!

So, be advised. As has become my practice — from the arena to the casinos to the seediest pubs I can find, I’ll be reporting LIVE from Las Vegas on all the action at the third annual Las Vegas Desert Classic. I hope to see you there.

In the event you’re unable to make it, check in daily at www.DartoidsWorld.com. And try to keep the grass clipping out of your panties.

From the Field,

Dartoid

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.

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