Column #HR90 Is it all lost for Adrian Lewis?

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Column HR90
Is it all lost for Adrian Lewis?

The former football coach at Florida State University, Bobby Bowden, was introduced to an adoring crowd as “St. Bobby.” After taking the microphone he explained, “The difference between a halo and a noose is about six inches.” With that short sentence Coach Bowden summed up the strangely fickle relationship many sports fans have with their sporting heroes.

“Cheers on the way up. Can’t wait for the fall – then boo like crazy when they land on their ass.”

It’s called human nature.

With darts now covered as a sport that principle applies in spades. The vitriol of many against Phil Taylor is unending, most of it unwarranted although Taylor is no Saint. Taylor seems to handle it as well as most. Now Adrian Lewis had best be prepared for those that cheered him to turn on a dime and leave nine cents change.

“I told you so. He’s a mug. A two-shot wonder.”

Unfair to Lewis? Sure, but then life is often unfair.

Adrian Lewis from all appearances is headed from the penthouse to the outhouse quicker than a White Castle slider down the gullet of a darter. A note of caution: King Solomon said, “Looks can be deceiving.”

(Editor’s note: Solomon is “living” proof of that statement as he looked consistently for love. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Some people are slow learners but never give up.)

The old King was spot on about “appearance” as many punters in Pattaya Beach can attest. Too often after chatting up great looking girl at a local beer bar they find original equipment not found on the female of the species.

There’s ample reason for the concern about the Lewis form. In the Premier League he’s a woeful 3-1-7 escaping relegation only because Gary Anderson can’t hit a double and the “rookie jitters” of Wes Newton. During a recent UK Speedy Hire Open he went out first round to Vincent van der Voort, no mug he, 6-4. The next day Lewis got a bye into round two only to lose 6-2 to Ewan Hyslop. Simon Whitlock took day 1 (6-1) over Michael van Gerwen. The “Mercurial One” – that would be van Gerwen – took day 2 with a 6-5 win over Kim Huybrechts.

Is all lost for Lewis? NO. A single pressure dart can turn it all around. The answer probably isn’t more practice. The question, “How do to get to ‘Carnage’ Hall?” is answered with “practice, practice, practice.” That may not be the answer here. For many years Dave Whitcomb was at the top of the list of professional darters. His play was tops while his honesty and sly sense of humor would set him apart from many of the “plastic” darters of today.

He recently expounded on his idea of “how you become a good dart player” – which could also translate into on how to break a slump.

“The idea that practice, practice, practice, somehow makes you into a better player is nonsense, unless you know what the heck you are doing. Example: me potting snooker balls every day for a hundred years will not make me a better snooker player. So the myth that pounding the board without any idea what you are aiming to achieve is pointless. Try it. Play your mate for 3 hours every day for a week. Are you now a better player?”

Then there’s the “play someone better” theory. The ODC utilized that approach to build upon a darting career that went nowhere. He played and lost to the best and along the way most of the worst also. It shattered his fragile ego almost beyond repair. The upside of losing in the first round was that he had more time for “aiming fluid” and “group tightener” to say nothing of reliving the stress of wining, had he done so.

One can guess that like King Solomon Adrian Lewis will keep on going till he gets it right. Getting it right won’t be a change in stroke, stance or weight of darts. As the great baseball philosopher Yogi Berra said, “90% of this game is half mental.” In darts it’s all mental. As a player once said, “Can’t ain’t never done nothing.”

One that has it right now is Michael van Gerwen. Kind of surprised that the PDC hasn’t tagged him with “Magic” or “Mercurial” yet. They do love their nicknames – more than even Chris Berman. Both nicknames would fit like OJ’s gloves on bare skin.

From “who” van Gerwen has become the maybe “power” player of the PDC. That would be a little “p” and not big “P” as in Phil. MVG has come from virtually nowhere. In this case “virtually nowhere” would be the town of Boxtel, Netherlands with 27,511 residents and no “window shopping.” Van Gerwen has jumped into second place in the Order Of Merit with £358,500 edging Lewis out of that runner-up spot.

Power Taylor holds the top spot but then you knew that.

The Players Championship Order of Merit has MVG on top with £36,000 followed by John Part. The likeable Part has had his ups and downs. He fought through the down times and now appears to be on the way back. The mark of a true champion.

The classic definition of “mercurial” is one with a “quality of eloquence… thievishness… a trickster.” MVG’s eloquence comes not from the spoken word but from the rapidity of his darts. He steals games that to all appearances are lost while tricking opponents into thinking they have a chance. The halo is there now but “wash out” in the future.

When on top beware those times when everything is planned to a “T”. The ODC had one of those days recently. He was assisting with this effort when the day turned into a “Giant CF”.

He dictated the following…

“If anyone watched the just concluded Masters golf on TV it had to hit home that the announcer’s treated the event like a religious happening. The Second Coming would be impressed with the coverage. The “pronounces” performed such that you’d have a hard time figuring out whether you were watching a sporting event or waiting for the white smoke to rise above the Vatican. “It’s a ‘flipping’ sporting event – treat it as same.”

He rambled on…

“The BDO and BBC used the same approach with darting events – imploring the audience to sit church-like in silent reverence. When the PDC hooked up with SKY TV that all changed. Gone was the pass-the-collection-plate mentality.

“Let’s get ready to party”.

“Let the good times roll.”

“Welcome amber IQ-raising fluid.”

It’s a party and you’re all welcome. Nowhere has that attitude been more apparent than at the latest stop of the Premier League in Dublin’s O2 in the Emerald Isle.”

The ODC’s plan was to watch the Dublin event and compare the coverage to the Masters.

That’s when the “best laid plans of the ODC” hit the fan. There was no computer coverage on Justin.tv. Plan “B”? None. Bummer.

Dart players get a bum rap for many reasons. For too long the sport has been associated with drinking. In answer it should be noted that 99% of all dart players “drink responsibly.” Yes, they do.

Drinking “responsibly” in dart-talk means “don’t spill it”.

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.

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