Author Archives: Howie Reed

Column #HR273 Well ADO, it’s damn sure broke. Now, FIX IT!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Column HR273
Well ADO, it’s damn sure broke.  Now FIX IT!

As the World Darts Federation’s World Cup XIX said goodbye to Cluj-Napoca, Romania, it was the end of a historic event.  The men’s overall gold went to the Netherlands by 3 points over Wales (90-87). This was only the second time in World Cup history where a nation won overall gold without winning gold in any individual event – and never made it to any finals (the last time being 1993 in Las Vegas when Wales took the overall title although Kerry Morgan did make the finals of the singles).

It was also the first time an Asian women (Mikuru Suzuki) won the Singles and only the second time for any Asian to win any gold.  Nicky Virachkul took singles gold in 1979. Nicky, from Thailand, played and lived in America.

Overall, the Netherlands built a big lead in the singles (+5 points) and the doubles (+36 points) that withstood the Welsh 4-person team’s win worth a whopping 58 points (but, alas, 3 points shy of the overall win). Had Welshmen Nick Kenny won his singles against Australia’s Peter Machen in the semis instead of losing 6-3 Wales would have been the champs. Machen would lose in the finals against Darren Herewini of New Zealand 7-6.  Canada’s Jeff Smith, the defending singles champion, would fall in the quarter finals to the Netherland’s Martijn Kleermaker 5-3.

With Herewini winning the singles it was the first time since 1979 that a player other than one from Europe had won a singles (the last being Virachkul). In the men’s pairs it was “Oh Canada” as Dave Cameron and Jeff Smith rolled to an easy 6-2 over England Scott Mitchel and Daniel Day.

Then there was the Lady’s World Cup which really is the Women’s World Championship.  Last year, at the BDO “Not Really World Championships” a female Tsunami named Mikuru Suzuki swept in from Japan. As the event wore on, she became “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki.  There’s no report of a tsunami arriving in Cluj-Napoca or even the Hurricane Flag flying. Nevertheless “Miracle” Suzuki went through the women’s field like the Old Dart Coach does a “peel and eat shrimp and prime rib buffet.”

Suzuki’s performance overshadowed England’s Ladies overall win over Japan for the overall gold 132-100.   In the singles Suzuki went (4-0, 4-0, 4-0, 4-1, 4-0, 4-1, 5-2) before she destroyed the defending World Cup champion Vicky Pruim (Sweden) 6-0. In the finals she met “The Queen” Deta Headman of England winning 7-3.  Those three legs where the most Suzuki had lost in 9 matches. There’s a great chance she was smiling all the way.

In the pairs Mikuru Suzuki and Mayumi Ouchi where just as dominating on their way to the finals 4-0, 4-0, 4-0 until Canada’s Dianne Gobeil/ Darlene van Sleeuwen extended them to 4-2 in the quarters. In the semis Australia’s Kewish/Smyth got within one leg of winning, losing 5-4. The final was a stroll in the park as Japan blasted the surprising good Czechoslovakian pair of Jitka Cisarova and Alena Gregurkov 6-1.  The Czech pair reached the finals by blowing though England’s Lorraine Winstanley and Fallen Sherrock 5-0. The English ladies won the team event with a 9-4 win over Australia.

Overall, except for Jeff Smith’s and David Cameron’s doubles win it was a disappointing World Cup for North America.  This was Canada’s first gold since 1989 when the four- person team of Bob Sinnaeve, Rick Bisaro, Tony Holyoake and Albert Anstey won out. Overall, Canada’s men would finish 4th only 8 points behind England for the overall joint bronze.  The men of the USA would finish 10th taking home nary a medal. USA’s “Chainsaw” Joe Chaney would lose 16 going to 8 for the best finish for the Stars and Stripe (although Jim Widmayer was in last 32 with an asterisk).

One of the “dangers” of the World Cup is the lack of fan and player courtesy. They just don’t know any better. Widmayer, not known as a whiner, posted a comment. “Played well most of the day with my first 3 matches all in the 80s – 4-0, 4-0 and 4-1. My last 32 match wasn’t as good. I let something get to me and it was a major distraction that I should have called an official for. The players on the left of me kept coming into my lane on the way back from the board, brushing up against me a few times during my throw. I pointed it out to them when we were warming up and they continued to do so. I had to either stop my throw or step back many times when I was up to throw my darts. I guess it’s my fault for not getting an official to watch the match. Lost 4-1 to a good player from the Netherlands.”

The Canadian women have yet to garner a gold in the 18 previous World Cups. The closest they got this time was when Dianne Gobeil lost in top 32 to Norway’s Veronica Simonsen 4-2. In the pairs Dianne Gobeil/ Darlene van Sleeuwen made it to the quarter finals losing to the champs from Japan. In the women’s team event Canada lost in the semifinals to eventual winner England 9-1. Canada would collect a joint bronze in the team event.  The Canadian women would finish 5th overall.

The USA Women would end up 10th overall, shut out of any medal since the late Stacy Bromberg took singles gold in 2009. Cali West reached the last 16 losing to Chris Savvery of Wales 4-3.  Robin Curry was top 32 when she ran into Mikuru Suzuki. Four nil, thank you. The USA only had one pair (Stacy Pace and Marlise Kiel) in top 32. They lost 4-3 to France. The 4-person team reached top 32 where they got hammered 9-3 by the powerful darting nation of South Korea.

Unlike many events there is no combination of men’s and women’s points to crown the best darting nation. The Old Dart Coach crowns England with 205 points the premier “amateur” Champions nation. They finish well ahead on points over Australia (151) and “Oh Canada” (125).

One regular contributor to this space advanced the proposition that the USA was not sending its best players.  While that may be true the fact is players knew in advance what it took to make the team. While some may disagree with the method of selecting the team, including the ODC, the rules are the rules. If they don’t work (as they appear not to) change them.  It’s not about being a good sport or playing along with the gang. It’s about winning, and it’s damn sure time that the USA got back to winning.

As American businessman “Bert” Lance said, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  Well ADO, it’s damn sure broke. Now, FIX IT!

“Meanwhile, someone asked, “Who won the PDC BoyleSports World Grand Prix?”

“I don’t care.”

“You’re apathetic.”

“No, I’m not. I just don’t care.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR272 Some WDF World Cup participants may need to visit the Three Dot Lounge

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Column HR272
Some WDF World Cup participants may need to visit the Three Dot Lounge

During this visit to your computer screen the Old Dart Coach was going to introduce you to the Three Dot Lounge…

Were the Three Dot Lounge an actual physical structure it would have 8 dartboards and a juke box filled with tunes by George Strait, Buck Owens, Rod Stewart and Tammy Why Not.  There would be two discs featured: David Allen Coe’s “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” (which the proprietor would love to sing in the key of ugly) and Lee Ofam’s “Luv Ya Blue” (which was the “old” Houston Oilers fight song).  When played at Houston Hartwell’s (a pub long gone) JR Smith inserted the words Houston Hartwell’s for Houston Oilers.

In what remains of the ODC’s mind, outside the Three Dot Lounge would be a sign advising “Men no shirt, no service – women no shirt, lots of service” but that plan had to be 86’d. (Or in more literary terms as John Steinbeck wrote in 1936, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men oft go astray.”)

The original words were those of Scottish poet Robert Frost. As he had been dead for 150+ years there was no lawsuit for copyright infringement. (On the other hand, it’s well known that the Scottish only get credit for their whiskey, Jocky Wilson and shagging sheep.)

In the final weekend of the Championship Darts Circuit, Darin Young secured his 10th trip to the William Hill World Darts Championship with a win in event #9 of the 10-event series.  He earned his ticket to London by besting (which has nothing to do with sheep) Canadian Jim Long 6-3.

The next day, North American Championship winner Danny Baggish demolished John Part 5-0 with an average of 112.2 in the round of 32. Baggish continued his terrific scoring as he gave an exit pass to Chainsaw Joe Chaney. He then slipped to a 98 average beating Chuck Puleo 6-2 and then Joe Huffman by the same score for the title.

Baggish also captured the Witch City Open singles. The Bald Eagle may be ready to soar again as Larry Butler made it to the semi s losing to Jim Long.

October 7-12 will see the renewal of the World Darts Federation’s World Cup – this one in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. This is really the World Championship for amateur players. This year has the largest entry list ever as 54 men’s teams, 48 women’s teams and 20 youth teams are entered. This includes England and their acolytes (Scotland, Wales) attending after missing the 2017 event due to financial problems. Hopefully they didn’t book tickets thru Thomas Cook as they went belly up leaving 150,000 travelers stranded.

The North American contingent (America and Canada) have been AOL in recent World Cups when it comes to winning medals. The one exception is Canada’s Jeff Smith who took the singles in 2017 and the Canadian 4-person team in 1989. Smith will return to defend his title – which will be a daunting task. Hong Kong has entered a men’s team that includes professionals Royden Lam and Leong Hwa (aka Paul Lim), both proven at the highest levels of the game. Lim sets a record as he’s competed for Papua New Guinea, Singapore, America and now Hong Kong. He’s living the Ricky Nelson tune, “I’m a Traveling Man. Lim new business card states “Have Darts Will Travel.”

Should Smith repeat he will tie John Lowe and Martin Adams as two-time winners. The late Eric Bristow took home four World Cup Singles while Raymond van Barneveld had 3.

America has brought home singles gold with the late Nicky Virachkul (1979), Sandy Reitan-Green (1983), Eva Grigsby (1989), Kathy Maloney (1993) and the late Stacy Bromberg (2009). No lady has repeated as singles champion though Stacy Bromberg was at the top of her game when prevented from playing in 2011 thanks to the WDF, aided by the ADO.  Both acted like the arrogant dictators they are.

In 1985, America won overall silver thanks to the 4-person team win (Tony Payne, Rick Ney, John Kramer and Dan Valletto) and Tony Payne’s and Rick Ney’s great play in the singles. With two players in the singles semis they had two shots at winning the gold.

The late Rick Ney would fall to Eric Bristow 4-3. Bristow then faced Tony Payne in the final. Payne took the first two legs in 18 darts. He used a 112 finish in one. After Bristow tied it at 3 he finished on bull for the 4-3 win. If the ODC’s memory is still functional Payne had darts of the match.

America took the 4-person gold in 2003 with Ray Carver, John Kuycznski, Bill David and George Walls. This year, the American men’s team is comprised of Kevin Luke, Jerry Van Loan, Jim Widmayer and “Chainsaw” Joe Chaney. The later qualified to play in the BDO version of the World Championships in January.

On the distaff side it’s Robin Curry, Cali West, Stacey Pace and Marlise Kiel. The ADO points leader for the ladies’ team, Paula Murphy, withdrew for “personal reasons” – an example of principle overcoming expediency. There is hope.

No one in any of the World Cup singles disciplines has repeated since Raymond van Barneveld in ’87 and ’89. No lady has ever won two in a row. England’s Trina Gulliver has three singles (1999, 2003 and 2009) and Valery Maytum of the Netherlands as two.

The English ladies send a strong team comprised of Lorraine Winstanley, Maria O’Brien, Fallon Sherrock and Deta Headman. Marie O’Brien is replacing Tina Gulliver who declined to be part of the England Team. Why? No EYE DEAR.

The ladies’ singles is in fact a World Championship with a field that includes two former winners: Deta Headman (England) and Sweden’s Vicky Pruim – and a new factor. That new factor is Japan’s “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki who stole the show at last year’s BDO World Championships.

The ODC wishes the teams from North America good luck.  (Remember that the WDF draw always seems to work such that the home team always has someone in at least one semifinal.)

America drew well in the team group with Latvia and Gibraltar.  Canada not so well as they’ll have to take out spoiler Hong Kong.  Canada’s women’s team also runs into Hong Kong while America drew a little better getting Isle of Man and Russia which will have the services of Anastasia Dobromyslova – who also has a good chance in the singles.

Those that want to follow the WDF World Cup can do so via the WDF’ website

The ODC’s longshot for the men’s gold is Hong Kong.  They have the players to win.

Those that don’t can visit their own version of the Three Dot Lounge.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR271 Unintended Consequences

Sunday, September 8, 2019
Column HR271
Unintended Consequences

Colin Cunningham is quoted as saying, “Watch out what you wish for, you just might get it.”

The Old Dart Coach’s take on this includes “The Law of Unintended Consequences.” You get 6 wheelbarrows full of dirt from a neighbor. Then place dirt in a planter. Into the new dirt is added tomato and watermelon plants. Two months later: the plants are overtaken by weeds. The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes.

In the UK the PDC has grabbed the spotlight for steel darts. In the USA machine darts has provided an alternative. Saddest of all ladies’ steel darts is waning. Darters wanted more money. They got it. Unintended consequences strike.

A male (with original natural factory equipment) wakes up one day hearing Shania Twain singing “Feel Like a Women.” When she gets to “Oh, oh, oh, Man! I feel like a woman!” he yells, ‘That’s me!” Now he enters the lady’s singles.

The ladies’ singles could become, “The Ladies’ Cisgender Gender Fluid Nonconforming and Non-binary Open” with 54 Genders accepted. In Canada it’d be the “LGGBDTTTIQQAAPP Singles.” Steel tournament directors be on guard!

Last fall, “Miracle” Mikuru Suzuki hit the steel point world at the BDO “Amateur World Championships” like bran muffins at the Senior Center. Lately, she would win the Swedish Open defeating Lisa Ashton. Ashton is #2 in WDF rankings. Ashton and Suzuki met in the finals of the Australia Open finals.

Some argue that women can compete against the men. They can but can they win? The results to date say no.

Take the best of 15 match final in the Australian Open. Ashton would win 8-6 with only 7 legs less than 15 darts. Ashton had the low game (12 darts) on the end of a 139 check which was also the high out. Neither of the ladies would have won on the PDC Tour with those numbers.

Ashton would return to the UK to take home her third BDO world title in 5 years with an easy 6-2 win over Anastasia Dobromyslova. Dobromyslova tried her luck against the PDC guys a few years ago with no success.

After Australia, Mikuru Suzuki took on the men at the soft point world championships (Stage #3) in Japan. She finished top 64. Quite a feat with 256 entries. Paul Lim won the event 3-0 over Hong Kong’s James Law. Lim had a tournament which for some would be a career. Lim won all his matches 3-0 for a combined 30-0. Next time he loses a leg some jerk will cry “Wanker!”

Thanks to longtime friend Babs Evans (The ODC would never write “old friend,” Babs) the ODC was able to follow “Chainsaw” Joe Chaney as he cut his way through the field of the BDO World Trophy. In the quarterfinals Chaney, with the match level at 5, tossed in a T80 only to see his next three darts go awry which allowed Jim Williams to check 120 for the win 6-5. Williams would win the title beating Richard Veerstra 8-6. The BDO failed in their write up to note that Chainsaw had the highest average against Williams at 86.93. Wankers.
Then there are those times you dream for something. It happens with no unintended consequences. Mensur Suljovic probably dreamed of winning his home country tournament…

As Gomer Pyle would say, “Shazam!”

The PDC final mid-summer travels ended in Vienna, Austria. Mensur Suljovic eked out an 8-7 victory over Michael van Gerwen. The match was tied at 2 when Michael van Gerwen used a 10-darter to lead 3-2. Suljovic would level at 3 as MVG missed doubles.

van Gerwen then got serious taking the next three on the trot to lead 6-3 in the race to 8. As he does, van Gerwen got the “walk-a- rounds” (an unintended consequence of leading) missed four doubles to get to 7. Suljovic took the opportunity to take the leg and the next two, with checks of 121 and 86, to level at 6.

van Gerwen got a leg to make it 7-6. Suljović would hold to level at 7. The winning leg came to Suljovic after van Gerwen used a T80 to leave 84 but missing the bull on his next turn for the win. Suljovic erased 70 with his favorite d14 for the 8-7 win, the title and £25,000.

One of the greats from the Golden Age has put away his darts for good. John Kramer was and is irascible, caustic and loud but above all one hell of a darts player. Oh yes, he was also a roomie of the ODC’s on the road.

Among other titles, he won the North American twice (1989 and 1999) and represented his country on more than one occasion. The most famous title came in 1985 at the WDF World Cup in Brisbane. That’s when four Yanks (John Kramer, Tony Payne, Rick Ney and Dan Valletto) defeated England 9-0. What is not generally known is that after each leg won Kramer would jaunt down to the England warmup room asking, “How’d you like that?!” or words to that effect. (The night before in the hotel lobby, Eric Bristow made a comment about how England would win. At that point Kramer suggested that he “urinate up a rope.”)

Kramer was a great winner dismissing a loss as just one of those things which usually included several expletive deleted.

He was predictable mainly because he was unpredictable. There was a period where JK, Kathy Hopkins and the ODC would meet each Friday at the St. Louis airport, they flying in from LA and the ODC from NorCal. It continued to the point that the bartender knew their names.

The ODC arrived once and went to the bar. “Your friends aren’t here yet.” They usually arrived first.

Watching the arrival gate, the ODC saw Kramer walking alongside with a Catholic priest, with Kathy next to JK. As they were late the ODC met them to go straight to the departure gate. To this point they hadn’t talked. Kathy had the look that said, “Trouble coming.” As the ODC approached he saw JK look down at the shoes saying, “Happening shoes, Padre.” The reply: “Thank you my son.”

JK suffered a stroke which involved a long rehab. The last time the ODC saw him play in a tournament was at the Las Vegas Open. They had warmed up together on Budweiser and Miller Genuine. John got called to play…

He returned. “How’d you do?”

“I was doing fine until they decided I needed a double. When did that start?”

Like all true champions John Kramer’s heart is fine but he had to say “No Mas” from arthritis of the spine which made it painful to practice.

You wish for a friend and darter like JK with the “unexpected consequences” just an added plus. As he wrote, “It was a hell of a run.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR270 Letters (emails) to the Old Dart Coach!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Column HR270
Letters (emails) to the Old Dart Coach!

Those of you who in age are near or past the speed limit on Germany’s autobahn (80 MPH) may remember the American crooner Perry Como. He visited America’s homes with a weekly TV variety show.  At some point he’d sing “Letters… we get letters” and then proceed to answer a few. Today, Como would be singing “Emails… we get emails.”

The Old Dart Coach regularly gets hundreds of emails after every column.  Okay, maybe one or two.

The latest included one person’s assessment of the PDC and the ODC.  “I think they (the PDC) should change the PDC to PCD (politically correct darts) what a load of pussies complaining about bounced darts, got rid of drinking on stage.  I never watch them on TV boring personalities that’s why they dress up like clowns and Indians bring back Eric, Jocky, John, Cliff.  How am I doing so far at writing my column?”

(Actually, he done good considering punctuation’s not a requirement.)  “By the way you were crap at commentating and darts.”  (At least he’s honest.)  “Love your stories.”  (Well he did hit the out.)

The ODC once was a pretty good rodeo announcer (except for his voice and lack of knowledge). While the ODC does agree with lack of real personalities in darts these days he does not agree with many of the writer’s comments or their “right” to promulgate such unfair “observations.”

Darters from the past learned while nurturing their darting prowess in pubs.  Pub people know that finding characters in a pub is slightly less challenging then finding fleas on a dog.

In their attempt to appease critics the PDC has grabbed their ankles at the first sound of any critic’s discouraging word.

A critic is “one given to harsh or captious judgment.”  Critics will never be your friend.  With TV in charge “politically correct” is now in capital letters.

When the players association (WPDPA) started it struggled until they brought in new blood – Barry Hearn. This infusion turned the sport around.  With Hearn came innovation, knowledge and business acumen. Also, the willingness to try something brand new (or is that innovation?).  If it didn’t work (the first Premier League) they went back to the drawing board.

When the players ran things, they ran it for themselves.  They preferred long formats not suitable for betting or TV.  Then came the best of 12.  Bingo!

Steel darts has struggled in the USA and the reason is obvious (machine darts are here to stay so live with it).

Steel darts have barely moved on from the 1970s.  The tournament system has shrunk as ADO steel leagues disappeared.  Yet the ADO continues to utilize the policies that got them where they WERE.  They’re insane.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,” said Albert Einstein.  The ADO keeps doing the same thing hoping the results will be different.

Dart players associations have sprung up around the country where serious players can compete against the best. (No noise, loud talking or aiming fluid allowed). In the latest, Dart Players of Los Angeles, Chris “The Great” White emerged as the year-long champion.  White is a Canadian who now resides in California, a lateral move.  White’s a good dart player but a better person.  The cream rises to the top.

Giving advice or suggestions to most dart organizations is like teaching a hippo to rumba.  On the other hand, free advice is usually worth the cost.

The apparent demise of the American Darts Organization has come not for failure to announce financial records but from inbreeding.  

“Dear ADO: check your mission statement!”

Nowhere does it say your function is to provide scholarships for youth or a living for players.  Do something POSITIVE for your regular league players.  The once a week player doesn’t give a Sweet Fanny Adams about international teams.

Here are some suggestions.  Build a computer database containing every player.  Charge them $1.00 per week, keep a record of their play at the league level, provide players’ ratings, eliminate “seeds” in tournaments and offer different levels of singles separated by player rating.

The PDC completed the last legs it Down Under Tour – New Zealand last week. Then it’s on to the Austrian Darts championship and finally the European Darts Matchplay.  Some may question whether Austria is “Down Under” but a map shows it’s “down under” Germany.

At the Melbourne Dart Masters (the word “Masters” makes it important) the “real” Michael van Gerwen emerged from his summer slumber to score a KO of Daryl “The Chin” Gurney 8-3.  For van Gerwen it was his first TV win since May.

When his summer slumbers hits van Gerwen’s serious about them.  At one point it was a 3-3 match.  Along the way he took out the still slumping Gary Anderson (8-6) before he dropped the guillotine on Peter Wright 8-0.

Then on to Hamilton, New Zealand, where a bumper crowd awaited them.  It’s always good to find a “bumper crowd” awaiting the players.

The event was sponsored by Burger King and TAB.  This is mentioned only because in the USA Burger King has come out with the new “Impossible Burger.”  Great name. Their marketing department knew that with “no meat” it would be impossible to sell to the ODC. The Whopper is King.

Awake from his summer slumber van Gerwen won his second title on the trot.  He struggled early against Kyle Anderson (6-5) who had 4 match darts that went awry.  MVG handled Gary Anderson (8-5), as everyone has lately, then blew the doors off Rob Cross (8-3) and Raymond van Barneveld (8-3) in the finals.

The final was played before 4,000-strong fans (no comment on how many were weak) and one assumes it was a “bumper crowd.”  There was no spotting of guys with sheep so dates must have been left home.

“I am so happy to win this title in Hamilton; it has been a phenomenal tournament and the crowd has been amazing.  I told my wife before I left three weeks ago, I am going to win two of the three events whilst I’m away and I’m so happy to have done that.  To play a final against Raymond is always an honor.  Raymond has been good for darts, like Maradona was good for football but now Messi has taken over.  It’s the same in darts now.”

Well said.

Just as Perry Como ended each show by singing “It’s so nice we spent this time together,” the ODC concurs – and reminds one and all:

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

Column #HR269 What color unicorn would you like?

Thursday, August 15, 2019
Column HR269
What color unicorn would you like?

A few weeks ago, the Old Dart Coach received an email. The communication arrived shortly after the ODC made remarks critical of “dart commentator” Paul Nicholson.

“I have concluded we are alike. I only said he was a monotone commentator – didn’t say he was bad at commentary. In short, boring delivery. Now, you have summed it up – he also fabricates.”

The writer is spot on.  A monotonous voice is an obstacle that can be overcome (much like the man carrying the cello found while walking the streets London looking for Royal Albert Hall). He stopped a gentleman, who strangely enough spoke English, and asked, “How do I get to Royal Albert Hall?  “Practice, practice, practice,” came the reply.

The writer continued, “I believe it’s jobs for mates and who they can get for the least number of pennies.” The ODC would add it’s also a place for former players of some note or no note.  It’s all part of the “you must have done it to comment on it” media culture.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The ODC did the first ESPN dart telecast. It was the Lucky Lights Challenge of Champions match between John Lowe and Leighton Rees.  The event was broadcast from Resorts International in Atlantic City. Working with the ODC was an ESPN newcomer named Chris Berman. Lowe would win the match. During the telecast Berman noted that if you used Rees’s hometown of Ynysybwl (Wales) in scrabble you could score maximum points.  After the telecast it was decided that the ODC had a voice for sky writing and a face for radio which led to a pause in his broadcasting career. He did appear on TNT (Canadian Sports Network) and briefly on Malaysian TV. His resume is available upon request, shipping not included.)

Then came a challenge to the ODC, “If you do decide one day to do a “best of the commentators column” it would make good reading.”  

After long consideration the ODC must decline the challenge because it would be unable for him to be objective.  No one is purely objective about sports commentators. Everyone has an opinion. It’s vindaloo vs. madras or Earl Grey vs. Colombian Fresh Roast. No one is neutral. All are prejudiced.

The ODC agrees 100% (which is about perfect) that knowing the players, their darting tendencies, their favorite approach to a double is important although it doesn’t take a Euclidean scholar to learn those tendencies or read a three-dart out cheat sheet.  The one ingredient all good commentators must have is an outgoing personality.  Electronic media doesn’t allow a person to fake personality. You’ve ether got it, or you don’t.

He late Sid Waddell was the best because he was Sid Waddell. The late Eric Bristow was good because he was Eric Bristow. Wayne Mardle is good because he’s Wayne Mardle. John Part is good because he’s John Part. All had or have personality and are or were interesting while apparently having fun. All have or had opinions (perhaps wrong at times) which they are or were happy to share. The only human who was never wrong got nailed to a cross.

The current PDC dartboard is under considerable attack for “bounce out darts” and, on occasion, for taking on the appearance of a “cheese ball” at a cheese ball-tostado party.

In a just released study of 602,897 darts thrown only 2,080 were rejected by the current board.  The first dart is unlikely to be rejected while the second dart has 6 times more chance and the third 12 times more often.  This study will provide little solace to the darter who loses a match when his or her dart is rejected.

As one connected to the PDC said in a recent interview, “The appearance of the dartboard provides bad optics.”  With that as a basis the person also guessed that sometime in the near future “barbed points” will not be allowed – much in the same way that golf outlawed the belly putter.  For any dart board manufacturer “optics” will overcome all studies.

PDC head honcho Barry Hearn recently announced a major TV contract for North America.  The contract mentioned is DAZN European streaming service. For North America, at a cost of $99.99 per year, it provides a variety of sports that have generally little fan interest or are not available via regular television transmissions. DAZN will now feature darts in North America which are currently covered by PDC streaming.  You must have a smart TV which poses a problem for the ODC. He has a smart TV but a dumb operator.

The PDC marriage with DAZN should come as no surprise.  Barry Hearn’s son, Eddie, runs Matchroom Sports which signed with DAZN when he had heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua. Since then, Joshua got his clocked cleaned by Andy Ruiz and DAZN has had little or no effect on North American TV.

There’s a dumpster fire that broke out in the PDC and still burns brightly.  It broke out early this summer when top players, to put it politely, started falling on their collective fannies. Peter Wright and Rob Cross do not fit in this category.

The fire continued Down Under in Brisbane when former world #1 and two-time world champion Gary Anderson went out to 32-year old local Damon Heta 8-6 while missing a total of 24 darts at a double.

In the same quarter finals Michael van Gerwen got set packing by Daryl Gurney 8-5.  Aussie Damon Heta, celebrating his 32nd birthday, is the top-ranked player in the DPA, whatever that is. His win in the final over Rob Cross 8-7 was the first time an Aussie had made a World Series final since 2017. That year it was locals Kyle Anderson and Corey Cadby in the Auckland Darts Masters.

A well-known lady darter (LD) posted her conversation with the Tungsten Dart God (TGD) recently…

LD: “I want a unicorn.”

TDG: “Impossible.”

LD: “I want a boyfriend.”

TDG: “What color unicorn would you like?”

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR268 World Matchplay Reflections – a Midsummer Night’s Dream

Friday, August 2, 2019
Column HR268
World Matchplay Reflections – a Midsummer Night’s Dream

In 1595-96, William Shakespeare produced “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.”  It’s said to be a comedy, which the Old Dart Coach will accept as fact.  (NOTE: This fellow Shakespeare was a writer not the Shakespeare that makes great fishing equipment.)

“A Midsummer’s Night Dream” is about a marriage.  Then add in four Athenian lovers who are controlled and manipulated by fairies. Hmm. Sounds funny to the ODC.

The PDC has its own “midsummer dream” called the Betfred World Matchplay. It’s held each July in Blackpool which has been called “The Las Vegas of England.” This year, it certainly had the high temperatures of the Nevada city in the desert – the weather was sweltering. Sweltering weather is bad.

World Matchplay is the PDC’s mid-summer Classic.  The state of the PDC and its Order of Merit took a hit on night 4 when both Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson bid the event a not very fond adieu in the second round.

Anderson took the biggest hit as he was the defending Matchplay champion – he saw his Order of Merit winnings fall to 5th.

Both Anderson and van Gerwen were favorites to roll though the second round. As Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” (Burns actually spoke this first but when no one knew what the hell he was saying he wrote it down.)

Michael van Gerwen most recently tanked in Las Vegas. He went on holiday and then got his comeuppance from the three-times Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant.

As has been the case lately, van Gerwen started slowly as he watched Durrant stroll to an 3-2 lead, then 4-3. The eighth leg saw Durrant start with 7 perfect darts only to settle for a 10-darter and a 5-3 lead.  At 5-4 Durrant took a pair for a 7-4 advantage.

van Gerwen’s strength has always been his ability to flip a switch that shocks his opponent into a tap out. Down 8-5 and using an 11-darter van Gerwen gained a break to start a run of wins that moved him ahead at 9-8 for the first time.  When level at 11 Durrant hit double 6 to move ahead 12-11.

What would become the final leg was a nail bitter for both players. van Gerwen had a chance to secure the leg and extend the match only to miss the bull on an 86-check.  Durrant had three darts in hand with 40 remaining. The first missed. The second nailed double tops for the match.

The 58 minutes encounter left Durrant in tears.  “This night will live with me forever; I’ve never experienced a crowd getting behind me like that.”

For van Gerwen there was a bright side. Last year, he got ousted in round one by fellow Wooden Shoe guy, Jeffrey de Zwaan 10-6. In that loss van Gerwen had the higher average – 97.88 against 94.42 for the winner. Durrant would outscore van Gerwen 99.33 to 98.67

For Durrant it was some kind of week.  He would beat James Wade (16-7) only to lose to Michael Smith 17-10 in the semifinals.

For Durrant critics, mostly drunks that have nothing better to do, he proved his bonafides in spades. He proved that he can play and do so at the highest level. The same critics will point out that MvG has been off lately.  Makes no difference. To quote Barry Hearn, “You can only beat the man in front of you.” Durrant punched his card. 

It’s no secret that Gary Anderson has lost interest in darts. One PDC official said, “He’d rather go fishing.”  Anderson has explained his absence from the darting wars as due to a bad back.

But he does seem to show a lack of interest. In the past, Anderson would pile up score allowing him to be an average finisher. It worked, but no longer. Many athletes over the years have said, “It’s harder to stay on top than it is to get there.” That alone places Phil Taylor’s achievements in bold type.

Anderson jumped off to a good start finishing a 130-check on a 12-dart leg for a 1-nil lead. King answered with three doubles from three chances for a 3-1 lead that included a 122-check. King would stretch his lead to 5-1 when the “real” Gary Anderson showed up – taking 6 of the next 7 for a 7-6 lead.

The match would be tied at 8 when King’s 14-dart break gave him a lead. Then King used 30 darts for the 11-8 victory. The win would be King’s first quarter finals of a TV event in 3 years. King would lose to the event finalist Michael Smith 16-11.

Robb Cross was the class of the field – which sometimes doesn’t lead to success. When Cross beat Daryl Gurney 17-15 he did it by reeling off 8 straight legs.  In the final he ran off 9 on the trot to put Michael Smith in a hole. Smith was unable to dig himself out, losing 18-13.

For Cross it followed up his 2018 World Championship with his second major, the Phil Taylor Trophy and £150,000. “It feels amazing,” said Cross. “I’m lost for words – so happy that I’ve won this title.” He also gets credit for not saying “I’m over the moon.”

The drunken Irishman posted that Barry Hearn met with former BDO officials Sue Williams and her husband in Las Vegas. Reportedly the visit concerned a group that wants to break away from the BDO.  Hearn wasn’t in Las Vegas during the PDC visit last month. In a July 23 interview (available on YouTube) Hearn clearly explained that he would do what he could to help the struggling BDO. “There has to be a place for the weekend player. I will do whatever I can to help them.”

Like those that run other sports Hearn is smart enough to know that the BDO is the feeding system to the PDC. For Yanks, dumping the BDO would be like the NFL trying to get rid of college football.

Hearn also answered a question regarding the number of darts rejected by the current dartboards.  “We had people statistically study over 68,000 darts. They found that only .03% of darts bounced out. Is that high? I leave that to you guys. Some darts come out because of the way they’re thrown and sometimes the board is bad.”  My goodness, honesty from a dart official. That alone puts Hearn in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The PDC’s midsummer night dream turned into a nightmare for both Gary Anderson and Michael van Gerwen, while for others (most notably Rob Cross and Michael Smith) their dreams of rainbows with unicorns jumping towards a pot of gold were realized.

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

Column #HR267 Earthquakes, darts and Brits – Par Deux

Tuesday, July 24, 2019
Column HR267
Earthquakes, darts and Brits – Par Deux

Senior Russ Lopez best characterized the US Dart Masters (aka World Series of Darts) as a “Darting Family Reunion.” He was spot on.  The Old Dart Coach and others enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones while spinning tales, real and imagined, of the “Golden Age” of North American Darts. Fellow darters like most families, share an unspoken bond.

As every Norte Americano realizes we owe a debt of gratitude to our friends from the British Isles for introducing us to the game darts. We gave them tobacco, so they owed us one.  Darts is much more than sport – it’s a lifestyle, a culture with an invisible cord that that binds us together into a closed tight-knit fraternity.  It has its own language albeit no secret handshakes.  For that we will be eternally grateful. The Brits gave us a language which we improved on. They gave us darts, its culture and a lifestyle that will forever be part of us.

When interviewing PDC officials it was clear that they value the North American market and the 364,279,000 TV viewers in the USA and Canada. One official bet the ODC that within 10 years North America will have a player competing successfully on the PDC circuit.  Pretty safe bet for the Brit as in 10 years the ODC will be “pushing up daisies.” (The Englishman’s name is found in the will so someone can collect on the bet – a free beer is a free beer.)

While the Championship Darts Circuit does a good job of preparing players in terms of competition, they can’t do anything to move the UK and Europe geographically closer to the USA and Canada. Gary Mawson has, to this point, been the only North American to compete successfully on the PDC trail.

There can be no argument but that the PDC is by far the best run, most professional and richest organization in the history of darts.  We know it, they know it and sponsors know it.

But therein lies a problem.  The PDC has become in some ways “too full of itself.”

It’s completely understandable as they took lumps of coal and turned them into sparkling diamonds that would make DeBeers jealous.  They took a 1969 Škoda auto, dressed it up and then sold it as a Rolls Royce. (The Škoda is a Czech automobile that came to the USA in 1969 – by early 1970 parts started to fall off it like leaves in winter.)

What’s worked in the UK and Europe isn’t going to work in North America.

Both Canada and the USA have proud darting heritages. Both nations have made immense contributions to the sport. We are not countries that see PDC players as Gods or rock stars. We see them as fellow darters and have respect for their abilities.

This is not to imply that the PDC players or officials act aloof or snobbish. Nothing could be further from the truth. They, as is their custom, are polite, respectful and willing to spend time with the paying customers.

Therefore, it was a complete surprise when on July 4, 2019, as the PDC took the stage at the Mandalay Bay there was nary a mention that the USA was celebrating its 243rd birthday as a nation.

It’s understandable that some in the UK are still a little PO’d that a bunch of Colonists dressed up as Indians (feather, not dot) and climbed aboard their ship to dump tea into Boston Harbor.  Heck, we’re the ones that ought to have the “RA” as it took us 240 years to get the pollution out of the harbor.

There can be no doubt that the decision not to mention the 4th of July, the USA’s national holiday, came from “on high.” It was the epitome of rudeness and self-indulgence.

If this snub was isolated, noted only by the ODC, it might well be ignored.  But it was mentioned by many in the hall that day.

As the PDC’s visits have now reached three years running one fact is clear: The North American audience has declined attend since the very first year. Why?

There may be multiple reasons (and solutions) as there usually are to any marketing conundrum.

The PDC must come to appreciate that holding an event on our national holiday is a bad idea. July 4th is a time for friends and family to gather, cookouts, fireworks and celebration. Commitments are made years in advance of the holiday. While the Mandalay Bay is a beautiful resort/casino on the Vegas Strip it’s way too expensive for the average darter (many booked at less expensive venues). With fans spread across Las Vegas get togethers are nearly nonexistent. And that is or is presumed to be a large part of the allure of the PDC visit.

No one asked but complaining without providing a possible solution is for critics. It’s like the line from the Rod Stewart song that goes, “Some guys do nothing but complain.”  So here goes.

Schedule the event so that it doesn’t encompass the 4th of July. Find an off-strip venue where the darters will feel welcome. That was the magic of the old North American darters took over the Sahara. It was theirs.

Take a look at the Orleans, the South Point, the Rio as all have the space, affordable rooms and would welcome the PDC with open arms. All would hang out the welcome mat for darters.  It would truly become what Senior Lopez calls “a family darting reunion.”

Those who watch PDC events on TV (streaming) have opinions on the commentators.  And if there’s one thing the ODC has in spades it’s opinions. As Robert Half said, “Free advice is worth the price.” That’s what the ODC gives.

Most of the commentators are good and getting better. Then there’s Paul Nicholson. He’s not good but he’s not nearly as bad as those that rag on him.

One wrote of Nicholson recently, “He told us how the Pittsburg Steelers was ‘his team’ – after all, everyone knows that a Geordie who thinks he is an Aussie has to have some affiliation with an ice hockey team from the USA.”

Slight correction: the Steelers are a football team. If you’re going to rag on someone your facts should be close to correct.

Stay thirsty my friends.