Column #HR204 Las Vegas Tales

Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Column HR204
Las Vegas Tales

True! – nervous – very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses – not destroyed – not dulled them.

Those could well have been the thoughts of the North American darters last week as they arrived in Las Vegas for the North American Championships/U.S. Masters. The words were actually published in 1843 from the quill of Edgar Allan Poe. His drug of choice was opium. Darters’ drug of choice is beer.

So observed a very nice lady from New Zealand: “This is my first darts tournament. There’s a lot of beer drinking.” It’s was 9:30 a.m. on the first morning of the tournament.

“Yes, ma’am, we like darts but we love beer!”

THE NORTH AMERICAM CHAMPIONSHIPS

It was a case of Oh Canada! as 6 of the 8 qualifiers called Canada home. The two Yanks were  Ohio’s Dennis “DJ” Sayre and Lt. Willard “Willie J”  Bruguier of Wagner, South Dakota. Stretching a point the USA might claim 3 as Chris “The Great” White, Canadian born, is now based in California – which may soon be a foreign country. After White won the first qualifier the Old Dart Coach anointed him a “Yanks.” He has that power.

INDIAN UPRISING   

Chris White would advance 6-1, Dave Richardson won 6-3 and Dawson Murschell advanced 6-5 as did David Cameron. The semis had a little excitement as “Willie J” Bruguier came from 3-1 down after the break to win 5 straight and eliminate the 21-year-old “barely out of grammar school-looking” Dawson Murschell. The bet is that if he continues to improve someone will call him ‘The Baby Face Assassin.” The name fits.

And the announcer? He sounded like Harry Doyle as played by Bob Uecker in the movie Major League.

“THE INDIAN WINS… THE INDIAN WINS!

In the final Canadian Shawn Brenneman took leads of 3-1 and 4-2 over Willie J before the tide turned. Willie J would tie the match at 4 and go up 5-4 but then, playing his worst game of the week, saw the match level again at 5. Willie J produced a brilliant final leg to take home $10,000 and earn a place in the PDC World Championship in London next December.

Willard, “Willie J” is a Lieutenant in the Reservation Police Department and full blooded member of the Yankton Sioux Nation. Depending on your political view it’s rather refreshing to hear of a Indian taking from the White Man.

THE US DARTS MASTERS

As honesty is next to “something,” it must be noted that the U.S. Darts Masters had only a few exciting moments. Regardless, a packed crowd in the Tropicana and, maybe, a lot of  FOX Sports 1 viewers loved it. Good for them. Their enthusiasm didn’t seem dampened one bit by the late news that Phil Taylor had to cancel because he “felt unwell” in Shanghai. Poor baby. James Wade took his place.

Back to announcer, Harry Doyle…

“Michael van Gerwen falls behind, takes 132 out with bull-bull-double 16 – and wins!”

Of course Michael van Gerwen won the event over  Daryl Gurney 8-6. van Gerwen tossed a 6-0 win over Chris White, a 8-1 win over Canadian Dave Richardson and another 6-0 win over Gerwyn Price.

The fallout from the FOX Sports 1 TV coverage has been mostly negative with good reason. The lead announcer was a useless nob who didn’t know “gee” from “ha.” Some criticism of Darin Young, as the expert, has appeared on social media – which usually isn’t very social. It’s 100% unfounded, undeserved and stupid.

As Young himself has written he was asked just the night before to do the telecast. He also wrote, “The announcer is a poker announcer and a good guy.” He was unprepared, which didn’t help Young at all. The expert commentator can only be as good as the person leading. This guy couldn’t lead a one car funereal. .

He asked questions like…

“Why is Michaela van Gerwen so good?”

Had the ODC been the expert he would have answered, “Because he hits what he aims at, you twit.”

Of course, that answer would  have been followed by the ODC’s quick exit from the commentary box.

Another gem of a question came when van Gerwen had 92 left…

“Will he got for the bull?”

If not already sent to the sin bin the ODC would have answered, “Only if he wants to lose.”

Young, in a Facebook posting, reckons that he was asked because there was no else. Let’s see, there was a guy there that had done darts on ESPN, TNN (Canada), and Malaysian and Thai TV. This gentleman was very visible to one and all.

RICK NEY MEMORIAL FUND

It was a great 5 days for the group that was raising money for the Ney Memorial Find. Thanks to Walt Bottelsen and his donation of 10 sets of limited edition Rick Ney signature darts the group raised more than $3,300. The effort was helped when David Miller tossed in a set of Phil Taylor signature darts and 12 tickets for the Tropicana’s comedy show. The real stars of the week were Russ Lopez and Ron Deanne who sold raffle tickets 8 hours a day for 5 days. Their tireless dedication to the cause should make every darter proud to be part of the Tungsten Throng.

A HAPPY ENDING

Chris White won the first qualifier on Tuesday so was done ’till Thursday and the North American Championship finals. He played about as well as one can. In the round of 16 White took out Jayson Barlow 6-1. In the semifinals he ran into a red hot Dave Richardson, and went down to defeat 6-1. Richardson would lose the North American finals to Willie J, 6-5.

The draw into the US Masters was “blind” as White drew Michael van Gerwen. White would get the “donut” 6-0. Afterwards he was heard to say, “I’d hate to be the only one to get swept.” He wasn’t – as Jayson Barlow would go down 6-0 to Gary Anderson.

White took the defeat with the grace one would expect from a professional. When the ODC suggested that about all White could do was smile. Class.

The losses belie how good White played. For instance, in his loss to van Gerwen he averaged 91.22. The only averages that exceeded that were Dave Richardson (92.01), Gary Anderson (102.48) and Michael van Gerwen (104.86).

Still you had to know that White was just a little disappointed…

White has two special daughters. After everything was over one of them came up to him, looked into his eyes and said…

“You played good, daddy.”

God bless daughters. They make it all worthwhile.

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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