Column #HR205 Las Vegas Tales – par Deux

Monday, July 24, 2017
Column HR205
Las Vegas Tales – par Deux

In the novel The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway wrote  “I am always in love.” For many that attended the Festival of Darts recently at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas no truer words were ever written. Darts is the one true mistress that can be loving, cruel, unfaithful and dominating, but above all cherished.   She – of course it’s a women – treats us with distain one minute before engulfing us in her arms with a cuddle that screams, “I love you.”

It’s sad that in the USA the old steel dart tournament scene is deader than “Kelsey’s reproductive organ.” The  “use by date” gone. Hope may be on the way. The PDC has the opportunity to administer the “magic blue pill” to darts that would, if used by  Kelsey, make him productive in the breeding shed.

The setting was perfect as the Tropicana is the last holdout to the Las Vegas of the 70s and 80s. For five magic days in Vegas the clock was turned back to the “Golden Days of Darts.” Tungsten joined old friends to share tales of past glories as darters became reacquainted after many years. For darters of that generation is was a venture to the past. The English and the darting world had returned  to Las Vegas.

The costumed fans added the maraschino cherry to the festive atmosphere. There was the gentleman from Ireland in full Mexican dress including a sombrero and a bushy, black, drooping mustache. As if Las Vegas needs more Mexicans. The four Turtle Ninjas edged out the four convicts, a Unicorn and the dancing chicken for best costume.

There was a photo of a group of “old timers” that made the rounds. One viewer wrote, “There’s more dinosaurs here than Jurassic Park.” That group included Jerry Feather (Denver, Colorado), Russ Lopez (Midland, Texas), Jerry Umberger (Pennsylvania), David Miller (California), Dr. “WB” Linda Batten (London), E. Ron Deanne (Las Vegas) and the Old Dart Coach. What the hell he was doing with these greats can only be explained by the fact that it was his cell phone that took the photo.

Russ Lopez and E. Ron Deanne did yeoman’s duty selling Ney Memorial Raffle tickets. As they were in constant motion bathrooms breaks were few and far between. At one point Deanne rushed up to the raffle desk saying, “I have to go to the bathroom – hold my tickets and bucket.” Just as he just started to make a swift visit to the “washroom” the Ninjas Turtles arrived at the raffle desk…

“Where’s the restroom?”

Pointing to Deanne the ODC said, “Follow him.”

As they took off after Deanne someone else said,

“Look at that – Ninja Turtles following a dinosaur.”

One morning Lopez brought the ODC steak and eggs from the MGM…

“Here’s your steak and eggs. I brought you a real silver knife and fork, and a steak knife. There’s also a linen napkin. Take ’em home. That way you’ll have at least some utensils that aren’t make of paper or plastic.”

Stopping for an end-of-the-day beer at the Chill’m bar in the Tropicana, the ODC was joined by Joseph Chaney of Chattooga. He declined a beer. Go figure. The ODC ordered (he has no issue with drinking alone). Spying a large plastic cup filled with amber liquid the ODC asked for a “large draft.” The server tried to sell a Pabst Blue Ribbon but the ODC was no rookie – so he opted for “anything else.” Before his fluid arrived the ODC pushed out a $20 bill.

The server delivered the beer while taking the $20, all in one motion. The change arrived with the receipt on top. “Save the recipe and you’ll save two dollars on your next beer.” The ODC checked the receipt. “$15 dollars for a beer – if I save the receipt I get $2 off.”

“Boy, they’re giving stuff away,” noted the still present, not drinking (and probably wealthy as a result) Joe Chaney.

The PDC “magic blue pill” for American steel darts is television. In a TV interview Barry Hearne commented about “TV ratings being very high” for the Las Vegas visit. Ratings translate to sponsorship that to this point has been unavailable for North American darts. Some darters have personal sponsorship which is great for them but does absolutely nothing for the game.

With sponsorship and television the traditional North American darts tournament, with some exceptions, would become as rare as brass darts. Gone would be the dreaded “cricket” and mixed events. The ladies would be the losers but the sport would enter a new era.

Television sports is looking for product. Darts could be the answer. The North American finals were as exciting as any TV sporting event. That rang especially true when on a Saturday afternoon as the ODC was surfing channels he happened upon Cornhole… the Championships on ESPN. Not sure what The Cornhole championships cost but darts has to be competitive.

Darts on the TV in the U.S. must be explained much better than was done on the recent Fox Sports1 telecast. The ODC’s neighbor stopped him at the mail box. “I watched the darts on TV. Those guys are good but I didn’t understand the game.”

Of the 326 million people in the USA it’s safe to say that not more than a few thousand know “Sweet Fanny Adams” about darts. Back in the day the ODC, on ESPN, explained…

“It’s an  English thing. You start with something (501) and when you have nothing you win.”

Darts is more than a sport for those that love it. As the PDC departed Las Vegas it’s possible that the strains of a 1920 tune recorded by Ruth Etting, written by Donaldson and Kahn, was heard in the distance…

Love me or leave me and let me be lonely

You won’t believe me but I love you only

I’d rather be lonely than happy with somebody else

Hemingway wrote…

“This is a good place. There’s a lot of liquor,”

I agree.

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.