Column #HR236 “The song is ended… but the melody lingers on”

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Column HR236
“The song is ended… but the melody lingers on” (lyrics by Irving Berlin, 1927)

The song? The recently concluded North American Dart Championship/US Dart Masters.

The melodies (memories) that linger? Coming together for the love of darts, rekindling old friendships and beginning new ones, sharing stories – and maybe a beverage or two.

When the still young and yet to become the Old Dart Coach, on Saturday mornings the “Grand Central Station” radio series would begin: Grand Central Station – The crossroads of a million private lives, a gigantic stage on which are played a thousand dramas daily.

Only slightly exaggerated, that’s a pretty good description of what it’s like to be immersed in darts. The Alpha and Omega of darters lives. Experiences told and retold throughout eternity.

This year at Mandalay Bay attendance was down. Charles Peterson of RedEye Rhino sold 150 tickets. Good for him. The first two days the crowd of somewhere between 350 and 500 was almost lost in the spacious venue. The tables were half full with the bleachers as empty as a car salesman’s promise. The semi and finals day was better but not close to a sellout. The PDC heard concerns about an event during the 4th of July week. Ignored. That was the only date the venue was available.

Steel dart folks are like buffalo – soon to be extinct and tending to herd. The ODC herded with David “Duck” Miller, Ms. Duck, Russ Lopez, Dave Robinson and his wife Mary Ann, Wayne Roewer, Doit and Julie Miller, Jerry Feather, E. Ron Deane and a cast of hundreds.

Watch my purse, ordered Ms. Duck. The ODC did. Upon her return he reported: Watched your purse. It didn’t do a damn thing. Just sat there. For $250 dollars it should do something.

While waiting for the North American Championship to start two men came up to chat with The Duck. Both had been quality darters. Duck introduced them. One looked very familiar. Being nosey, the ODC asked…

Excuse me, but what was your name?

Wayne.

Where are you from?

Chicago.

Did you ever play darts in New Orleans?

Every year.

Ever play in the blind draw the Sunday night the tournament ended at a bar?

Yes, many times. You and I won second at the Gold Strike blind draw. Lost to Bob Martell and Dusie. We drank lots of Jägermeister and you lost a dart.

A Grand Central Station moment.

For the final day, the group was joined by a machine darter from Washington (Willie) and a lady from Iowa (Heide). She had a sign reading, “I came to the darts and left my husband at home.” She fit in by doing shots of tequila with Big Bird from San Diego who brought the Sesame Street gang with him. Costumed fans were down this year. “The Hansen Brothers” from the movie Slap Shot were the best – two from Kansas City and one from Los Angeles.

James Wade was coming off an 8-3 spanking of Michael van Gerwen when he faced Gary Anderson in the semis. Wade was up 6-2 at the break averaging 106.25 and was 6 of 8 on doubles. Anderson closed the gap to 6-3 in 12. That became 6-4 when Wade finally missed a double as Anderson recovered (when the bull out from 130 bounced out). Next trip he eliminated 50. With the darts Anderson made it 6-5 when both players wobbled at the finish, Anderson less so.

Wade had a chance for a 7-5 lead but he missed 3 at tops allowing Anderson to draw level in 14 darts. Wade put together a leg of T, T40, T40, 57 and out for the 7-6 lead in the race to 8. The 14th leg was ugly but exciting as Wade had doubles for the win including his favorite d10, which he missed with 3. Anderson finally won. He had the darts in the decider getting to 75 after 12 which he erased with 17, 18, double top to finish and win with the 15-darter.

WOW, what a match!

Not all was strawberries and cream with champagne. During the playing of the qualifiers at least two players were disqualified for a breach of rules, both prime examples of the “chicken salad” approach by officials (identified by black shirts) that ran the event.

Thirty-two boards were set up in two long and narrow rooms. There were tables with no beverages allowed and no chairs, 4 practice boards and a round table with 5 chairs near the door.

John Part, a three time world champion, lost in the semifinals of Q-1. He played the bye round of Q2. Then, he and the ODC moved to the round table to sit where at times they were joined by Chris White and Gary Mawson.

When Part went to his group of 4 boards to find out when he was up he was told he’d been disqualified. We waited for 26 minutes and you didn’t show up.

The ODC (prior to hydration) asked two officials what was the protocol in setting up a room with no chairs and what the job of the board officials was.  We don’t encourage fans. In England at Players Championships a player is only allowed one guest.  (That of course is pure Vegemite which when deposited on the streets of San Francisco is simply called excrement.)

Each board official is responsible for 4 boards.

When a player doesn’t show does the board official stand in front of the board calling the player’s name?

No, but they do look for the player.

The board official either didn’t care or certainly didn’t have a problem with erectile dysfunction when it came to John Part. The official showed a callous disrespect for a PDC Hall of Fame member.

Does anyone think in the same circumstance Phil Taylor, Michael van Gerwen, Gary Anderson or any of the top 10 would have been DQ’d? Of course not.

It’s just lucky that the late Danny Puccilo isn’t alive. Had he been DQ’d in a similar fashion he’d have sued and won. Someday, someone will.

As the ODC was walking away from the seated officials he heard, We’re making them professionals. 

What a load!  It’s the hard working dart player who makes himself a professional, not some narcissistic bureaucratic hack official impressed with their own insecurities. The rules for competition should apply equally to all players and not be allowed to be interpreted based on some ill-conceived notion of dart utopia fermented in the mind of some self-appointed plantation-like caretaker.

Sir Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” It appears that dart organizers have never heard of Burke…

Twenty years ago, the BDO and to a lesser degree the ADO ruled the darting world with an arrogance so profound one might have wondered if it was bestowed by some superior being. It’s not surprising that both organizations have been left in the dustbin of history, dreams of eternal fiefdoms snuffed out.

Organizers are at the mercy of players.  When the players figure this out it’s “Katy bar the door.”

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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