Column #HR36 Is “experienced” just another word for OLD?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Column HR36
Is “experienced” just another word for OLD?

There is a constant debate whether sport imitates real life or visa versa. (As if sport isn’t real life.) As in life, one works hard at sport to develop abilities and then reap the benefits. In an 1889 essay Oscar Wilde held forth that “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Anyone who has seen a Picasso or the later years Van Gough’s work will shout “Amen!” A beginner in any sport is always told to practice hard to gain experience.

Is it possible that experience is over rated? At what point does experience become old, tired and used up?

On Sunday, February 7 in the Year of our Lord 2011 (which we all know is 2554 in the Thai calendar) in different venues a perfect example of “experience” versus “OLD” was played out.

In Irving, Texas the Pittsburgh Steelers transformed their Super Bowl experience into “getting old before our eyes.” The younger Green Bay Packers playing with less experience grew up fast to win Super Bowl 45 (which is reportedly XLV) 31-25. The Steelers “all everything” safety Troy Polamalu summed it up with “I was just off a step here or there.” That’s what happens when experience becomes old in sport, as in life. A thousand or so miles away Phil Mickelson playing in the Phoenix Open golf tournament, which is held in Scottsdale, told Sir Nick Faldo “I’ve stopped messing with my swing.” “That makes sense. Mickelson is 40 years old and has hit millions of golf balls to develop his swing. To change would require him hitting another million golf balls. At 40 there isn’t time,” said Sir Nick. Once when in England I was watching the British Open live on the BBC as Faldo was getting ready to putt. His caddy, named Fanny, admonished the crowd, “Shush, Nicky’s getting ready to putt.” From the crowd came the loud cry, “Shut the f*** up you old cow.”

This brings us to the same day, last Sunday, in the Doncaster Dome, the Players Championship Finals and one Philip Douglas Taylor. Taylor had been experiencing a recent slump to put it mildly – no major wins since August when he won the European Championships. While explaining away the results he said, “I’m using new darts. I have to practice more.” Had experience turned too old?

Well, one Gary Mawson, whose IQ barely tops the combined total of a radish and a carrot, said before the World Championships “He’s old and past his prime.” Taylor spanked Mawson 3 sets to nil but then Taylor’s unexplainable miss doubles and triples led to going out 5-2 to Mark Webster. At the German Players Championship, the week prior to the Players Championship finals, Taylor extended his string of “L’s.” It was possible that like the Pittsburgh Steelers Taylor was moving from experienced to old.

Now like Samuel Langhorne Clemens, Philip Douglas Taylor can say “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” He can say that after getting off the “snyder” with a win in the Players Championship Finals. There were times in the Players when like Troy Polamalu he was “just a step off” as he was in the semi finals falling behind to Mervyn King 5 to nil. King was in good form coming off a win in the German Players the previous Saturday. The Sunday German Players winner “Rocket” Ronnie Baxter would fall to “The Pie Man” Andy Smith. Smith converted 6 double opportunities into 6 legs for a 6-2 win. Baxter in an attempt to emulate his pal the Old Dart Coach’s style of dress came out in his usual dart shirt but with multiple colors added. The “Rocket” could become “Rainbow” Ronnie before our very eyes.

A former American player was once asked by the ODC, “What are you thinking about when you play?” “Nothing,” was the reply. He was one of those who when asked “What do you think” about anything should have answered “nothing.” Maybe that’s been Taylor’s problem. Sometimes you just got to “out dumb them.” After disposing of Wes Newton 9-3 in the quarter-finals Taylor changed the barrels on his darts. “How’d that work?” He found himself down 5 nil and 6-1. When the break came he changed back to the “Newton barrels” and immediately tossed a 180 on his first trip to the oche. Yes, another example of “dance with the guy who brung ya moment.” Taylor rallied for a 10-8 win. Why would he change barrels? “The others were new and the grip was a little harsh on my fingers.” Oh yes, that and he was down 6-1. Phil put on the big boy pants and tough it out.

In the reporting of sport there are often references to real world experiences. “Rolling along,” “Storm back,” “missed opportunity,” “when the going gets tough the tough get going” and the oft-heard chant of “take one for the team.” The last was heard a lot in Las Vegas on Sunday during the playing of the Lingerie Bowl football game. The game was between two teams of scantly clad lady’s. Maybe “taking one for the team” there had a different meaning.

Taylor was rolling along with leads of 5-3 and 7-5 over Gary Anderson in the final. Scot Anderson would “storm back” to take an 11-9 lead with only a missed double to make it 12-9. Taylor didn’t “miss the opportunity” when he took the next three to lead 12-11. Taylor did though miss a chance to win 13-11 when given the shot at double 16. Anderson on his 6th try punched out double 19 to tie things up at 12 sending it to the decider. It was vintage Taylor that went 140, 134, 99 and a 128 check. Leg, match, championship. “Thank you very much. It’s my £60,000 check. Drive home safely. How do you like me now? I ain’t dead yet mates.”

TALES OF THE OLD DART COACH

How about we take a deep breath and quit blaming the ADO for things they have no control over? They try the best they can. It’s not their mandate to prepare darters for the PDC.

It would be nice though if the ADO would only give points for men in singles ‘01. Then take it a step further and only recognize wins in singles’ 01 when the semis and the finals are played best of 11. Encourage tournaments to hold two open singles events, both ‘01. The truth is that cricket became popular with Yanks due to the thinking it was better game because you didn’t have to hit a double. Silly Yanks. The rest of the world calls cricket Mickey Mouse and it is. Save the sport. Stamp out cricket. Down with Mickey. And in so doing, to quote Astronaut Neil Armstrong, take “One giant step for mankind and good luck Mr. Gorsky.”

The ODC was whiling away a lazy January afternoon at a Las Vegas dart bar with an American former #1. The “aiming fluid” flowed freely even though the only thing to be aimed was in the room behind the door with three letters on it. As sometimes happens, the language got a little ripe. Not by the ODC, perish the thought, but by the former champion. After one brilliantly delivered group of words the lady bartender came over to caution, “Watch it. Nice people come in here.” The ODC looked around and saw a bunch of AARP types with their snoots in poker machines. “And they would be coming in when?”

“Not actually a brother,” Bill, called the ODC on Sunday to set him straight. With his mind on the edge of gone the ODC needs all the help he can get. “You reported that at the Camellia Classic back in the day I became disabled and living challenged by drinking Peach Brandy. That’s not true. It was Blackberry Brandy that did the damage. Never would that happen with Peach.”

Once he had straightened out the ODC Brother Bill asked “How ya doin’?”

“Good. I check the obituaries every morning and if my name’s not in them then it’s a good day.”

“Yea I check them each day too. I want to see what old women have become available.”

Not actually a brother is one sick puppy.

Does life imitate art?

Yes, in this case both are examples of Van Gough… the later years.

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.

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