Column #HR58 Goblins, Werewolves and CRYBABIES

Friday, October 28, 2011
Column HR58
Goblins, Werewolves and CRYBABIES

It’s the time of the year, as the leaves turn orange and goblins appear, that Toeing the Oche rolls out its annual Halloween column. Whoops, as the Old Dart Coach has just been reminded, “there is no annual Halloween column,” which most would agree poses a completely different approach. So in place of a traditional Halloween column comes this quote from Job 1:21 of the King James Version of the Bible: “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away.” Change a few words and you have the basic story of “real” professional darts: “Naked came darts out of the pub, naked it would remain until television made it healthy: Barry Hearn gave and television can taketh away.”

The above should probably be accompanied with a rather large asterisk: if television gave darts life “betting shops” provide the blood. Betting shops are the life blood that allows £100,000 first place money.

The just completed Championship League Darts was shown on LIVEPDCTV and beamed directly into 30 different betting establishments paying out £175,600 in prize money.

Rule #1: Television is only effective if people turn in to watch.

Rule #2: People only turn in for competition or, in the case of wrestling, for the eternal struggle between “good and evil.” The PDC tries to take a page from the wrestling playbook.

Phil Taylor is both good and evil. He’s good for those that appreciate an once-in-a-lifetime talent but evil to those dolts that are envenom of anyone and everyone else’s accomplishments. Hulk Hogan was good as long as he had evil as a foil. When there was no acceptable evil Hulk turned evil as Hollywood Hogan.

Looking for the evil in darts someone came up with Paul Nicholson who is not so evil as he is mostly silly and stupid acting. He’s the self-proclaimed “Bad Boy” of darts. According to the script Nicholson and Taylor would become “arch enemies.” The Brits are big on arch enemies, not to be confused with your regular run-of-the-mill enemies. The problem is that Taylor is pounding on Nicholson like a sledge hammer on a ten-penny nail. The latest was a 6-1 spanking in the finals of the Championship League Darts where Taylor averaged a whopping 113.71. Oh yes, Taylor was “over the moon” yet again with the win. “It’s a bird… it’s a plane… no, it’s Phil Taylor going over the moon.” He’s been over more moons than the cow in High diddle-diddle.

Over the 8 days of the Champion League Taylor would take home £24,000. The magic of the PDC marriage with TV and betting establishments is that other darters also collected a more than respectable chunk of money. Nicholson: £19,900, Simon Whitlock: £18,750 and Mervyn King: £15,650. Then there’s the Players Championships where money comes from TV with players competing over two days with total purses of over £70,000. At the most recent stop at the Van Der Valk Hotel in Glasbecks, Germany played host. James Wade and Colin Osborne each collected £6,000 for wins.

As they say in California, which is actually Alta Mexico, “Nada pasa en un vacio.”

Que? “Nothing happens in a vacuum.”

The dart players themselves had to make some changes. Egos had to be checked at the door. Self-interest had to take back seat to the group. Everyone understood that a “rising tide raises all ships.” Gone were fixed draws, tempter tantrums and childish behavior, although enough of the latter two were retained for interest. Losing players chalked, players magically appeared on time at the assigned board to play matches drawn by computer with nary a human hand.

Players that toe the oche in ADO events and consider themselves professionals are delusional. Ever see Top 8 players face each other in an opening round? Of course not. Coincidence? Get real. “But how can that be when the ADO rules don’t allow for seeding?” Pure Magic. Players are catered to, getting second and third calls to play. The American darter, with exceptions, is self-centered believing that the world revolves around their being. They believe that “if only” they had the chance they could compete with the players of the PDC. Bushwa.

The preceding rant, and it is a rant, was perpetrated as the ODC again received an email from darter Bill Davis. Unlike puppies and young children Davis never seems to stop whining. He’s still harping on his removal from the 2007 World Cup ADO Team.

He writes, “The facts are simple and they don’t require a dissertation. Buddy (ADO President Bartoletta) removed Ray (Carver who doesn’t whine) and I from the US Team. He interpreted data and made a unilateral decision.” Mr. Davis has a right to his own opinion but not his own facts. ADO President Bartoletta “interpreted” nothing. Bartoletta knew that Davis had qualified via a playoff in Las Vegas to compete in the 2007 PDC World Championships. As part of that qualification was a two year commitment via a contract to the PDC. One of the stipulations in that contract was that the player will appear in no televised event not approved by the PDC. The 2007 World Cup was to have some TV coverage in Europe.

Bartoletta, as any competent executive must do, contacted the PDC for a ruling, probably in an attempt to keep Davis from doing something stupid. Mr. Phelps from Mission Impossible wouldn’t touch that one. The PDC’s Tim Darby responded, “I am writing to inform you that the Board has decided that any player who is contracted to the PDC will not be able to play in the 2007 World Cup.” Case closed except for puppies, babies and Bill Davis. At any point Davis could have told the PDC he was not going to play in the World Championships. Did he take this course of action? NO. “I just wanted to play darts. To this day, I believe we were being punished for wanting to play darts, for real money.” Bushwa.

It’s then incumbent to ask Mr. Davis, “Well, what about your contractual obligation to the PDC?” His answer? “The PDC contract is/was no one else’s business, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the ADO or WDF.” Interesting concept there. Slightly illegal but interesting. Assume for a moment that the ADO had allowed Davis to play in the World Cup, following which the PDC informed Mr. Davis that he was ineligible to play in the world championships. Davis blames the ADO and sues. The fact is that both players were told they could play in the World Cup by the PDC but they would “void the contracts that they signed and would not be allowed to play in the PDC.” Both players “chose to honor the PDC contracts that they signed and not risk the money that they had paid in PDC dues, and the potential earnings that they had coming.” Davis won £3,500 when he went out 3-1 in the first round in 2007. Ray Carver played in 2006 reaching the second round for £5,000 and then collected £4,000 in 2008 for his first round exit. Even to dart players that is real money.

Not too long ago Chris White qualified to represent the ADO in an international WDF event. He was advised he had to choose between continuing to play the PDC and the WDF event. He made the choice to continue playing with the PDC, moved on with nary a whimper, a cry or a whine.

To close this subject, and about time, Stacy Bromberg was removed from the 2011 World Cup team for violating NO existing rule. The decision by ADO President Buddy Bartoletta agreeing to remove her is a disgrace. He failed to stand up for an American player who followed the rules as they were known. Equally to blame are those members of the 2011 ADO American Cup Team who should have stood as one for one of their own.

To cut at least one member of that team a little slack – he had a sponsor obligations which included “world” appearances. The gentleman of honor was caught between the rock and a hard place. So in the words of comedian Bill Ingal, “here’s your card” to a “gentleman of honor.” Not of lot of them given out in darting circles.

ODC TIME

Due to an underwhelming response, further Tales of the ODC will be discontinued until such time as someone gives a rat’s posterior. A former darting star, who plied his craft in England on occasion, commented that “English food is getting better now that they have McDonalds and Kentucky Fried.” In the order of life, now that McDonalds and Kentucky Fried have landed could an UK-based NFL franchise be next?

England, after one NFL game per year, wants a franchise for London. Names suggested include the London Fog, the Tea & Crumpets, The Wankers, The Bridge, The Underground, The Royals and The Werewolves. The latter fits right in as Halloween is just around the corner – a day remembered by the ODC as when his ex-wife crashed her broomstick into a power pole and became a statistic. The movie “An American Werewolf in England” included a darts match as background between “Big” Cliff Lazarenko and Rab Smith. The London Werewolves it is.

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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.
Howie Reed

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