Column #HR107 Phil Taylor: What the heck is going on?

Monday, February 10, 2014
Column HR107
Phil Taylor: What the heck is going on?

Darts and the bartender from Pine Meadows Golf Course in Martinez, California have come a long way since 2:00 a.m. on January 1, 1977.  That morning, after a long night, the bartender  accepted clean-up help from a couple of dart players who ran the local league.  In exchange he agreed to play his first a game of darts.

“Darts?  Stupid idea!” he yelled.  But 2:00 a.m. clean-up help on New Year’s Day with a 6:00  a.m. opening is impossible to turn down.

Little did Phil and Erlene Hakola know or even imagine what they were about to unleash on the world of darts.  It was either a deal with the darting  God or devil depending on your view of what has become “The Old Dart Coach.”

This isn’t one of those stupid trips down Memory Lane where some old coot from the past reminisces about “the good old days.”  Okay, the ODC’s memory’s gone so the good old days are yesterday but that’s beside the point.

The darting world, thanks to the Brits, has become a “real” sport.  There’s “real” money to be made.  Finally, here in the USA there’s some real sponsorships.  Soft tip – or “toy darts” – as Davis L. calls them – has  played a major role.  What has also changed is the atomic-like explosion of social media – more precisely Facebook.   If anyone doubts that the dumbing down of the world has arrived spend some time on Facebook.

In American darting circles on Facebook opponents are now referred to as “Gee buddy (pal or amigo also works), great playing you in the finals.”  Translation: “You lucky SOB, I’ll kick your sorry butt the next time we meet.”

Or if it’s a lady darter posting, “How much I love this tournament (insert name).  Thanks to my sponsor’s “Q” flights, Oak Barrels and Dunce Points.  To my doubles and triples partners – it was great to play with you.  Thank you so much.”  That even though they did Jack Squat.  They never hit a triple, missed every double on the board and never bought a drink.  Okay, we get it.  Enough already.

Just to prove he’s relevant the ODC could post, “To the organizers of the  Houston Open, circa 1980s) – thanks for running such a great event.  My partner Carl Parsley and I reached the finals of the cricket doubles.  In the semis we were tied at one game each.  Our opponents, one of whom was a good guy,  needed two bulls for the match.  They got one.  With two bulls remaining for the win and with the ODC to throw, from behind the oche the ODC  heard the jerk say to his partner, the good guy, ‘You’ll get a shot.  He can’t hit a bull.’  The ODC took aim, the crowd tensed and he threw.  With the dart still in the air he turned and asked…

‘Want to see it again?’ as his dart hit the dead bull.”

In the finals they faced Jerry Umberger and Rick Ney.  The ODC ran out of aiming fluid which forced Parsley to play pretty much solo.  Hell second place is keen.

Concurrent with today’s Facebook often “kinder-gentler” approach – that would send a diabetic running for the insulin – comes a frequent desire for some to tear down great players who for some reasons are having troubles.

This was evident after the Super Bowl when Payton Manning went from the “greatest ever” to bum.  In golf the hounds with the long knifes just couldn’t wait for Tiger Woods, Rory McElroy and Sergio Garcia to endure blips on their way to greatness.

It just happened that the three gentleman changed equipment – for mega bucks – before the decline, which was a handy excuse.  The ODC has another view as two of the three, Garcia and McElroy, were doing the “horizontal mambo” with a pair of  # 1 female tennis players.  When McElroy and Garcia put the release hold on the two lovelies their game came back.

Woods?  He was doing fine on the comeback after having trouble with the short iron.  The short iron in question was wielded by his now ex-wife on his noggin.  Then he started doing the “bedroom giant slalom” with the worlds #1 skier.  Whoops.  Under the ODC’s theory it wasn’t “the equipment” at all, in a manner of speaking.

That brings us to one  Philip Douglas Taylor, unquestionably the greatest dart player of his time.  He crashed out of this year’s World Championships to Michael “Who” Smith with all the grace of a giraffe on ice skates.  Then he took a January break to Portugal, maybe sipped a little port wine  and changed his darts.  The Premier League would be his redemption.  Taylor said the right things, “I’ve had a good few weeks and I feel better now than I have for a long time.  I’m making my health better.  Improve my darts.  Hopefully everything will come together.”

Taylor then met World Champion Michael van Gerwen in a match that took only 13 minutes.  Tayor got dusted 7-0, had only 4 darts at a double (and two of those were in one leg).  van Gerwen averaged 109.59.  Not too Chablis.

Taylor’s critics couldn’t wait to come charging out of the shadows.  “He’s done, bum, wanker.”

Neither is true but his performance did beg the question, “What the heck is going on?”

Had Father Time finally caught up with the Power?  Had his equipment change got him off his boil (Taylor has changed dart styles before sometimes with negative effects)?  Could it be that while in Portugal he hooked up with either the women’s #1 tennis player or skier?  Or could it be just one of those darting deals?

Some might choose “one of those darting deals” in light of Taylor’s outstanding performance in the most recent UK qualifier.  Try this on for size.  Quarter finals: 6-1 over Gary Anderson.  Semis: Peter Wright goes down 6-3.  Then a 6-2 win over Adrian Lewis in the final.

Up 6-1 against Lewis, Taylor tossed back-to-back 177s, then triple 20, triple 17 and double 18 to erase 247 for his second 9-darter of the day.

“Come home Phil.  We love you.  All is forgiven.”  That’s what will be posted in the coming weeks by the Fence Jumpers.  Dolts.

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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