Column #HR242 GO NADS!

Saturday, October 13, 2018
Column HR242
GO NADS!

In another life the Old Dart Coach was an unremarkable baseball player at Diablo Valley College. “If you can’t do something good do a lot of things average.” With that in mind he played the outfield, first base, warmed up pitchers and threw batting practice. He even offered to carry bats, line the field, keep score on occasion and do the team’s laundry.

Once he started in the outfield then moved to first base when the starter (named Huff) made grievous errors on easy plays. The “ball will find a player” and it found the ODC who, following in the footsteps of the starter, immediately made an error. No damage done. When the inning ended the ODC snuck to the end of the bench staying far from the coach. Sitting next to his pal Al he heard, “Shake it off Howie. Huff got first base so f—ed up no one could play it.”

Those words reverberated as the ODC watched the final of the Unibet World Grand Prix – the only PDC double start tournament. Average darters everywhere had to be overjoyed watching both Michael van Gerwen and Peter Wright struggle. They had the double so messed up neither could hit it. How bad was it? van Gerwen was 29 for 77 (38%) while Wright was 29-65 (45%). Double tops was in danger of extinction.

It was shades of yesteryear when the ODC first toed the oche for the NADS in the Nor Cal Dart Association. The singles was 301. NADS? The name allowed fans to cheer, “GO NADS!” Hearing this ODC would giggle childishly. He’s so juvenile.

Michael van Gerwen merged triumphant at the Grand Prix for the 4th time banking £100,000 to add to his bulging bank account. His victim, as usual, was Peter “Snakebite” Wright. When it counts MvG whips Wright like Rocky did a slab of meat.

van Gerwen won 5 sets to 2 (3-2, 0-3, 3-2, 1-3, 3-2, 3-0, 3-1). Both players displayed wayward darts, though not as bad as was displayed at the BDO World Masters. The Grand Prix can use the double start as an excuse.

Adam Smith-Neale took the not nearly “World” Masters title 6 sets to 4 over Glen Durrant. The BDO website announced that Smith-Neale won with a 32.16 average while Durant’s average was 33.07. Must be a misprint. Lisa “The Lancashire Rose” Ashton, was in full bloom winning the ladies final over Casey Gallagher 5-2.

Good for the “The Lancashire Rose” on her victory. Just for the record the ODC does not agree with that world-famous philosopher Homer Simpson who said, “If the Bible has taught us nothing else, and it hasn’t, it’s that girls should stick to girls’ sports, such as hot oil wrestling, foxy boxing, and such and such.”

The Sage of Sittingbourne, Dave Whitcombe, wrote of the attendance at the not nearly “World” Masters, “I’ve seen more people waiting at a bus stop than there are watching the World Masters Finals.”

Wright made a heck of a comeback just to reach the finals. He was down 3-nil to Mensur Suljovic. To borrow a well-worn phrase Suljovic was “on fire” winning sets 3-0, 3-1, 3-1. In the fourth set Suljovic was sitting on 34 to win the set. With one dart in hand Wright hit the winning double to win the set and jump started a three-set run for the 4-3 victory. The “book” on Mensur is that he sometimes lets his last dart or leg effect his overall game causing a negative effect. He chokes with no Heimlich maneuver available.

The final, despite some miserable starting, had its moments although not the high drama one usually expects with a PDC final. The first five sets found World #1 Michael van Gerwen playing horrid only to have Wright playing even worse. As TV voice Wayne Mardle said, “Wright didn’t take advantage of his opportunities.” Little known fact: Mardle has a winning record against van Gerwen. How about that?

The first two sets went with the darts when van Gerwen broke for a 2-1 lead. Then Wright broke back to level at 2. van Gerwen used a 101 finish after Wright missed a finishing double for the 3-2 lead. Then the “real” van Gerwen showed up which prompted the Fat Lady to lick her lips in preparation for singing “The Party’s Over” – as he won 7 of the next 9 legs to seal the victory.

With the decline of steel darts in America those who run dart leagues and tournaments might take pause to learn from the double start Grand Prix. The double start, all other things being almost equal, gives a lessor player a fighting chance. Fiction author Howard Michael Gould wrote, “The only thing you get out of winning is gratification and gratification is fool’s gold.” He fails to understand that fool’s gold is better than no gold.

Therein lies a reason that once-a-week players shun tournaments like a democrat does the truth.

Legendary basketball coach Dean Smith spoke volumes when he said, “If you make every game a life-and-death thing, you’re going to have problems. You’ll be dead a lot.” Dying is not fun so many of us try to avoid it as long as possible. How much fun is it to spend a lot of money only to lose first round because a tournament director has seeded players “to be fair”? Fair to the good player. Average players? Enter and help meet the bar guarantee. Tournaments should be catering to the average player. Never happen.

With the number of cricket entries at tournaments diminishing how about instituting “Houston Cricket.” Houston Cricket would exclude scoring points and a double start and finish. The double start and finish would exclude any double 20 to 15 including the bull. Try something different. You’re dying on life support so what the heck do you have to lose?

The ODC’s a strong believer in honesty, when it suits him. Actually, the ODC (in print) was a much better baseball player than an observer would think. How is that possible? Following the game, as the Sports Information Director for DVC, he ‘d call the 6 local papers with reports of the game. Headlines in the Concord Transcript, Martinez Gazette, Pittsburg Post-Dispatch, Antioch Ledger, Contra Costa Times, Richmond Independent and the Berkeley Gazette sometimes read, “HUSTLING HOWIE LEADS VIKS TO VICTORY.”

These are the first recorded instances of “fake news.”

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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