Column #HR110 Taylor’s baaack! Taylor’s baaack?

Wednesday, March 24, 2014
Column HR110
Taylor’s baaack!  Taylor’s baaack?

Newspapers, bloggers and  Facebook posters are sometimes wrong. Shocking  yes, but true.  The Old Dart Coach humbly suggests that this is the case in regard to reports of the darting  death of one Philip Douglas Taylor.

In 1896, a London newspaper reported that Samuel Langhorne Clemens lay on his death bed. Clemens, aka Mark Twain,  answered with “The report of my death has been greatly exaggerated.”  So, too, the obits for the greatest dart player of the last 20 years – some would argue ever.  Twain in fact lived more than 14 years after his “reported” demise and one suspects so will Taylor’s darting life continue.

For those that eat, sleep, drink, and live darts it’s difficult to explain to outsiders that the game of darts is quite simply a metaphor for life itself. You start with something – birth – then when you have nothing – death – you win. Naturally it’s an English invention. England started with an Empire, ended up with nothing. Heck America even sent Piers Morgan back.

For those that attended  American public schools a “metaphor” is not the point between “medathree” and “medafive”.

Robb Smyth of the Guardian tosses a nine-darter. He wrote, “When a sportsman reaches a certain age, he forfeits the right to be out of form. Every poor performance is analyzed not in the context of form, but whether he is finished.  Phil Taylor’s career obituary has been tentatively written a number of times in the past decade, and every time he has thrillingly reasserted his status as one of sport’s great champions. But it has never been as serious as this.”

Twain said, “Get your facts first then you can distort them as much as you please.” In Mr. Smyth’s case his facts were accurate at the time. Taylor had lost four of his first five Premier League games and was knocked out of the UK Open by the number 137th ranked player in the world, Aden Kirk.  Taylor’s loss to Kirk should be put in proper prospective. Kirk would defeat  the hottest player on the Tungsten Trail, Peter Wright, 9-5 to reach the round of 32. Kirk’s run ended in a 9-7 loss to Brendan Dolan. Smyth adds to the “dead on arrival” scenario by pointing out that Taylor was “overwhelmed” by  van Gerwen in the Players Championship and struggled against a semi-pro from New Zealand in the first round of the World Championships before losing in the second round to Michael Smith.

Smith writes that “Taylor fell asleep in his chair after Christmas dinner.”  To quote Twain, “Honesty is the best policy… when there’s money in it.” As the ODC shares in the huge payments received for these efforts he has to come clean. He once fell asleep after Christmas dinner. In was in a London borough at 33 Gresham Close after a sumptuous Christmas meal prepared by Ms. Linda Batten now a big time Dr. Lady. Unlike Taylor, the ODC didn’t question his health, his energy levels or his sluggishness. He knew the culprit. To quote Pogo, “He met the enemy and it was him.”  It would be the many pints of lager at the village pub that followed a night filled with large pints of lager at the village pub.

Taylor, according to Smyth, took a different view. He disappeared to a mountain retreat in Portugal for three weeks living almost entirely on juices. His one treat, according to Smyth, was a salad on Sunday afternoon. Kind of sounds like Osama in Tora Bora before he moved and got lit up by Seal Team 6. Living as he was with five wives his last words might have been, “Praise be to Allah.”

Taylor said he was walking 10 to 12 miles per day because he claimed, “I wasn’t very well to be honest.” Upon his return, Taylor was “thrashed” 7-0 by van Gerwen in his first Premier League outing – and he was criticized for his “dramatic weight loss.”  Undaunted, Taylor vowed, “I will put it right. And when I do put it right, I think that’s the time to finish.”

Almost in passing, Smyth mentions that Taylor switched from longtime dart company Unicorn to Target. The entire civilized world and England knows that despite Taylor’s “bushwa” the move was for  money.  There’s a time in every star’s life where he, she, or declines to state gets “found money.” They sometimes forget why. Phil Taylor got $5 million from Target because he’s won more than 200  professional titles, 80 Majors and 16 World Championships. He hits triples and doubles and that sells darts. Mother Teresa he ain’t. Of course, Mother Teresa probably couldn’t sell darts.

Moms tell their daughters preparing for their first date dance, “Stay with the guy/gal that brung ya.”  Taylor made a business decision that might have affected his play. Since Mr. Smyth’s article Taylor has turned things around.

For now.

He got off the Premier League “synder” with a win over Wes Newton with an average of 106.91. Then at a Players event at Crawley, Taylor would lose in the final to Gary Anderson 6-5 as Anderson took out 104 – as he sat on 102. Taylor defeated “arch rival” Michael van Gerwen in the semi despite a 9-darter by the guy from Holland.

On Sunday, Taylor went through the field like a dose of salts. For the day Taylor would average 106.59 with only one average under 100 – and with an astounding 118.42 against Vincent van der Voort. He took out Ian White 6-0 in the final. Oh yes, Taylor missed a 9-darter when a double 18 went astray.

Those that have predicted the demise of Phil Taylor are now taking a deep breath. As Twain said, “Facts are stubborn things but statistics are more pliable.” The fact is that even with the great numbers from his recent Premier League and Crawley – these could be a “one off” performances. Twain tells us that, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on shoes.” On the other hand, those that cover darts will continue to guess about the future while dissecting the past for their own purposes or agendas.

To quote Twain one last time, “Let us be thankful for fools. But for them the rest of us could not succeed.”

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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