Column #449 Phil Taylor broke NO RULES!
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Phil Taylor broke NO RULES!
The Old Dart Coach, Howie Reed’s recent columns about the tempest over Phil Taylor’s shenanigans at Gibraltar Darts Trophy remind me of the night I committed THE major darting transgression – and I’m not talking about throwing without a beer in my left hand. I stopped that, briefly, ten years ago after reading Dick Allix’s column in Bull’s Eye News about good health and darts.
Yep, I was on the Atkin’s diet. I hadn’t swigged a beer or crunched a crouton in over ninety days. I’d lost twenty pounds. I’ve gained double twelve pounds back (speaking of the subject of the shenanigans).
Anyway, I’ve felt guilty since the moment it happened. I was right but I was wrong. Pretty much the way any man feels when he’s arguing with a woman.
I was throwing doubles 501, best two out of three, with my new league partner, Ritchie Dantine. Our team was near the tail-end of a see-saw battle against the leading team in the league – a team that had handed us our asses a month or so earlier by a whopping score of 39-9. The result of Ritchie’s and my match would determine whether our team would avenge its loss.
Tied at a leg a piece, I stepped to the line with 74 remaining. Our opponents were looking at 32. Victory hung on my final three arrows or possibly my last two, if I stuck the t14 and then the d16. Nothin’ to it…
But I missed. Instead, I pegged the single 14, just a hair south of the number 9 wire.
Immediately I threw to the top of the board and marked a perfect dart just below the double top. And then… set. Stroke. Release. BAM! My final dart slid ever so neatly above my second and into the d20!
Leg. Set. MATCH!
As I began to walk to the board, behind me I heard Ritchie say something congratulatory. One of our opponents also acknowledged the finish. I felt good. Revenge.
That’s when it happened…
I pulled my first dart out of the 14. I applied a little pressure to my second dart, pushing it slightly south to expose my final throw – just to be certain there was no question about its final position.
Then I pulled both of the remaining darts from the board.
That’s when the, well… let’s call it “the disagreement,” occurred…
It turns out that the other of our two opponents, Stevie Wonder, “saw” things a bit differently. He disputed our win, arguing that the 14 was actually a 9 – leaving Ritchie, after the 69 scored, 5 still to close.
What does one say in such a circumstance? I knew that the dart was in the 14 – everybody knew it was in the 14.
But the thing was: it wasn’t, at least not any more. It was in my hand.
Calmly, I argued my case. “No. No.” I said. “The first dart was in the 14. Why else would I have moved to the top? If I’d have hit the 9, I’d have thrown my next dart at the bull…”
Not quite so calmly, he responded. “You pulled your dart, man. I saw it hit the 9. I even said to my partner here that you’d handed us a break. You can’t be pullin’ your darts, man. You gotta learn the rules.”
“Hold it a minute!” I countered, while pointing at his buddy. “He saw it hit the 14! ASK him!” And then I challenged him. “What am I going to do, cheat?”
He came right back at me. “I’m not accusing you of anything,” he said, accusingly. “I just saw it differently, man. You need to learn not to pull your darts.”
So now I’m thinking… being honest with myself: “shit, it doesn’t really matter what anybody saw or didn’t see, the guy’s got a point – I shouldn’t have pulled my darts.”
BUT then, all in an instant, I think a little more: “who is this wanker lecturing me about the rules!” So I ratcheted the thing up a notch. Not intentionally, mind you. But that was the effect of what I said next. “For Christ’s sake, give me a break. This is a friendly shoot. It was a 14. Even your partner acknowledges that. I’ve been playing this game for 25 years. Do me a favor and lecture someone else about the rules.”
And then I ventured completely over the line. I looked him square in the eyes and admitted my faux pas. “You’re right,” I said. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pulled the dart. What I should have done is yank the frickin’ thing out of the board and shove it up your ass!”
No. No. I didn’t actually say that. Oh, I thought about it. Don’t’ we all sometimes…
I apologized. I told him I had honestly tried to be careful and had intentionally “shown” everybody that my final dart – the one I thought might be in doubt – by pushing my second dart just slightly out of the line of sight.
And I told him that he was right. Because he was.
I was wrong. I pulled my darts too soon.
Among the four of us we agreed to let the leg and set stand as finished.
Not long afterwards, my team mates and I tipped a last drink and headed out the door to find our cars. We had won 25 to 23 but I don’t think any of us felt very good about it.
This comes to mind as I try to put myself in Phil Taylor’s shoes. I’ve been hard on him at times, perhaps too hard. But I’ve tried to be fair. I’m sure he feels awful about his decision to not see was he clearly did see at the Gibraltar Darts Trophy. He was routing his opponent, Dean Winstanley. In or out the now infamous double twelve would have made no difference to the final result.
Of course, Taylor’s dart was not in the double twelve.
But the caller called the dart good. End of story.
Ethical lapse. Indeed.
But no one can argue that Taylor broke the rules.
He didn’t. I did.
From the Field,
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