Column #HR62 The curse of the fickle finger… and other stuff!

Thursday, January 5, 2012
Column HR62
The curse of the fickle finger… and other stuff!

Sports fans in the USA (and that’s what counts) are aware of the curse of a Sports Illustrated cover…

Being an athlete and appearing on the cover of SI moves a career in the direction of wearing a nametag when you’re near retirement. “Over 35 years of age with a nametag? You’ve made a bad career choice somewhere along the way.”

It appears that the words from the infantile mind and happy little typing fingers of the ODC are having the same effect on the world of the PDC, in particular one Phil Douglas Taylor. Only days ago the ODC included the following sentences in Toeing the Oche: “The march of the washed up Phil Taylor continues as he showed his backside to the best the PDC had to offer at Wigan. How about that fellows? Since the report of his demise he’s gone through the PDC like a corn through a seagull.”

Whoops.

In the second round of the £1,000,000 Ladbrokes World Championship at London’s Alexandra Palace Phil Taylor crashed and burned in unspectacular fashion. Unspectacular in that he averaged 100.32 which for an average player would be cause for celebration but for “The Power” it was a bad day at the office. On the way to a 4-1 loss to Dave Chisnall, called Chizzy because like Thais every Brit needs a nickname, he managed to hit only 10 of 31 attempts at doubles. That 30% connect mark is even more telling as three of the four sets lost were by scores of 3-2. In the 19 years of the PDC World Championships Taylor had never gone out in the round of 32. There is a first for everything.

ENOUGH ALREADY

It was hoped and prayed that as 2011 slunk into the sunset the use of superlatives would come to an end. Media folk use superlatives like Italians use pasta or an athlete uses “you know.”

Didn’t happen.

2012, which is the year of the Dragon for those of you that still think food from Panda Express is authentic Chinese even when served by either Jose or Maria, started out with words like “unbelievable,” “spectacular,” and the “best ever” flowing from the mouths PDC darts commentators – just like Miller Genuine flowed from the ODC’s chilled glass on New Year’s Eve.

During the play of the World Championships there were 2,000 “unbelievables,” “incredibles,” “best game evers” exclaimed along with a plethora of “I don’t believe its,” and “the most important dart of his lifes” and a good mixture more of useless babble (mostly by John Gwynn) to last the century.

As advice from this space is usually totally ignored – as it should be – still we’ll try one more time…

Dear TV darts talk guys:

Watch the Golf Channel and when you do take a cue from golf announcers. Every shot isn’t the “most important of his life” nor is a player “brave” when he hits the shot he has to hit. Lighten up. Another tip from the Golf Channel is find a Kelly Tillman to handle anchoring chores. ENOUGH with the superlatives already. And, oh yes, please stop the screaming while laughing at your own words which mostly aren’t funny.

THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Those in the colonies that watched the World Championships on the web saw some unbelievable matches, incredible finishes, great comebacks, and a visual explanation of what it means to go off the “boil.” Adrian Lewis won his second world championship along with a hefty check for £200,000. He never trailed Andy Hamilton in taking the title 7-3.

Lewis joins a rather elite group in being only the third person to win back-to-back titles (following an initial world championship). That club also includes Raymond van Barneveld and Eric Bristow.

In winning last year against Gary Anderson, Lewis tossed a 9-darter into the works for good measure. This time around he missed double 12 for the perfect game.

“I’ve put the work in this year and it’s paid off,” said Lewis. “I looked a bit dodgy in the first round against Nigel Heydon and in the semis against James Wade, but this has proven why I’m the best in the world at the minute.”

Hard to argue with Lewis’s assessment… “at the minute.”

In the semi’s against James Wade, Lewis was down 5-1 coming back to win 6-5 in a match that might have come out of the Twilight Zone. With Wade up 2-0 and Lewis whining about a breeze blowing across the stage the match was suspended for 20 minutes. If Lewis had been playing Bristow or Lowe and complained about a “breeze” while getting spanked 2-0 they would have said “What breeze? Play on.”

When they came back from the break Lewis took the next set 3-2 to get off the “snyder.” Wade was rolling along winning 9 of the next 11 legs for a 5-1 lead in the race to 6. At 5-2 up, Wade had a dart at double 18 for the match. He missed. Then Wade went off the “boil” losing the next 10 legs on the trot and the match 6 sets to 5.

Runner-up Andy Hamilton was rewarded for his great run in the World Championships with a check for career-high £100,000 and an invite to this year’s Premier League. He and Kevin Painter will join Taylor, Lewis, Wade, Whitlock and Raymond van Barneveld in the 14-week “Dog and Pony” show of the Premier League. Lewis with back-to-back world titles wins wasn’t named Player of the Year. Taylor held that title so the “finger curse of the ODC” hasn’t kicked in fully yet.

GREATEST MATCH EVER?

It was called the greatest match ever by most everyone that voiced an opinion. It took place in the round of 16 between James Wade and John Part.

The match started out as a yawner for John Part a he lost 3 of the first 4 sets getting skinned 3-0 in those loses while losing 9 of the first 11 legs. When Wade missed the chance to move to 4-1, Part ran off a string of 3 sets on the trot (3-2, 3-2, 3-2) for a 4-3 lead. Wade took the 8th set to level. The deciding set had to be won by 2 clear legs until 5 all, then it’s sudden death for the win. In the deciding set they were tied at 3 when Part broke throw with a 64 finish. Wade returned the compliment by breaking back with a 108 finish. Wade took his 5th leg with back-to-back 180’s and a 12-darter. Part leveled with double tops straight away to send the match to the final leg. Here the players went for the bull to see who shot first. Wade would win the honors the second time around. When Part left a double from 128, Wade hit trible-15 and double tops for the match.

In the latter part of the final set Part couldn’t hit a triple 20 so used triple 19 to stay in the match until the final dart. Part was asked afterwards, “Is this the great match you’ve ever been in?” With his usual laugh Part answered, “It the greatest match I’ve ever lost.”

Back in 2008 Part and Wade engaged in another “classic” quarter finals match. Part won that one and went on from there to win his third world championships.

Great performance by both players?

Best ever?

You be the judge. Check it out on Justin TV.

THE WIT AND WISDOM OF ERIC

When Eric Bristow ruled the world of darts, those covering the sport would use the terms “wit and wisdom” in any regard to Bristow. That one exception would be his then manager “Greasy” Dick Alex who also would explain that Eric could walk on water if called to. That’s what managers do. At the time, the ODC was toiling in the writing fields for a well known darts publication that would genuflect or pull out the prayer carpet at the mere mention of the name Bristow. Eric was a brilliant darts player, arrogant, loud, a bully and if you could understand what the hell he was talking about very funny.

Wit was in play but wisdom surely wasn’t.

Time, as it has want to do, has taken it toll on Eric while leaving its’ mark. Since he fell victim to the dart yips he’s made the transition from darts player to darts commentator par excellence. If that weren’t a big enough burden he has become the conscience of the PDC. That fact belies the reality that those who fell to him in playing days would claim he didn’t have a conscience. He did. It just never got in the way of wining. He used “winning” long before Charlie Sheen.

Bristow was never shy about voicing his opinions, usually in a place that sold adult beverages. His forum now includes Sky TV and the internet via Justin TV. His honesty is refreshingly, honest and outspoken for PDC TV (coverage that is pure vanilla now in the absence of Sid Waddell who still is “riding the pine” as he battles cancer).

Prior to Taylor’s match against Dave Chisnall the subject of how Chisnall would handle the big stage against Taylor came up. To paraphrase Eric, he opined, “The PDC doesn’t really train players for the big stage with the Players events. They play in front of no spectators, they can’t cheer a one-eighty, they can’t celebrate a win as there’s a match going on next to them.” True.

The option would be to open the Players Championship events to the paying public which would require paid staffing, a stage and money that wouldn’t be returned to players.

Why should a player agree to money being spent money rather than payouts? Not going to happen. It’s called self-preservation.

MORE BRISTOW

As Taylor was doing his walk in Bristow was asked how he looked. “Well he doesn’t look good. Kind of edgy.”

“What does that mean?”

“We’ll know after the first three darts.”

The first three darts were triple 20’s.

“He looks fine.”

But of course he wasn’t.

The ODC is judgmental to the point of absurdity when it comes to sport announcers, in particular darts commentator and interviewers. Following Dave Chisnall’s win over Taylor he was asked, “You’ve beat Taylor, now can you win this tournament?” At this point the ODC prayed for a clever answer from the victorious Chisnall. Twas not to be as Chisnall after a slight delay said, “Well yes.”

How about, “No. I’m not really that good, my nerves are gone” or “I have a better chance than Taylor.”

Commentator Wayne Mardle had the best comeback when he was asked, “Who does this win by Chisnall benefit?”

“Well Dave Chisnall for one.” Game shot Wayne.

When Bristow was playing sometimes his mouth would overload his arm but not often. He has been critical of Paul Nicholson who according to the ODC is “much about very little.” Prior to Nicholson’s match with Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts, Nicholson said of Bristow, “He can’t play darts anymore so he shouldn’t criticize dart players.”

Oh really.

Anyone that gets into a mouth match with Eric is going to come out on the short end.

Said Bristow of Nicholson, “What’s he done? He had a go at Taylor and has lost the last two times they played. He got stuffed. When he’s won something then he can talk.” Huybrechts sent Nicholson packing.

After Nicholson lost Eric was asked, “Would you put him in the Premier League?” “No, although the Premier League is more of a show. Wait ‘till he does something.”

AND FINALLY

One superlative that is never used is “discombobulated.” Surely James Wade becomes “discombobulated” but it’s never mentioned. One reasons might be that in order to become “discombobulated” one must first become “combobulated.” Of course there is no such word so “off the boil” remains.

The Master of these spaces recently wrote an open letter to Kim Jong-un upon the death of his father. The letter was a plea to allow “His Mastership” to introduce darts to North Korea. The request probably fell on deaf ears. The ODC wonder’s if he is the only one that noticed that Kim Jong-un became supreme leader when his father Kim Jong-il became Kim Jong-dead.

Rumors abound that the ODC, filled to the brim with aiming fluid on December 31, broke out the old darts, tossing 10 or 15 hitting the board each and every time. So buoyed by his performance was he that he rushed to the computer and blackmailed an old team member to pair with him at the Las Vegas Open. He used photos from an old Christmas party and the threat to release same as a negotiating ploy.

Big doings in Philadelphia this weekend with the annual Rae Chesney Darts Tournament which honors one of the truly good guys. On Friday at the tournament how about stopping by to say HAPPY BRTHDAY to another good guy, Dick McGinnis. He put up with the ODC for many years on the road while having the good sense never to utilize the ODC’s unique darting skills which consisted mainly of saying “Good darts” and “Yes I’ll have another beer.”

Once at dinner in Southern California with the McCarthys, McGinnis was asked by host Gerry, “Would you like some chicken Dick?” “I’d rather have a breast,” he politely answered. On a drive from Las Vegas to Phoenix is the town of Wikieup, Arizona. As he and the ODC reached the city limits McGinnis broke into song singing, “I got my dickieup in Wikieup.” Them were the days.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Hall of Fame darter and great roomie Dick McGinnis!

And remember…

“Stay thirsty my friends.”

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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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