Column #HR329 PRICE IS RIGHT!

Monday, February 21, 2022
Column HR329
PRICE IS RIGHT!

The Old Dart Coach never said, “It is better to be a has-been than a never-was” to those who leveled cheap shots at the senior darters.  But Dave Justice did.  He was a top player in the Motha country back when paper and feather flights were in vogue.  Justice played in coat and tie.  He was spiffy and good.

And when the quality of some of the seniors’ play was criticized the ODC also never said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  That quote is credited to Heraclitus, born in 535 BC.  He played with Mr. John Lowe.  Both had signature darts by Unicorn.

Years from now, when today’s stars are eligible to compete on the Senior Tour, their performance will also be compared – to the new stars of that day and age.  It’ natural but such questions, such comparisons, are as useless as piglet feeding instruments on a boar hog.

Dublin, Ireland, played host to Night 3 of the Premier League…

For Michael Smith it was not the best night as he absorbed another 6-3 loss.  He averaged 103.55 with a 50% exit rate.  His problem was Gerwyn Price who was candente (really hot), averaging 108.45 and checking 6 of 7.

Smith took leg one in 15 darts with d20.  Price held serve to level in 14, then followed with wins in 13 and 14.  Smith would answer in 13 when his T80 left him 36.  The “not lately Bully Boy” clawed back with a slick 12-darter, including a 144-check (t20, t20, d12) to get to 3-4.  The winner for Price came with “The Big Fish” (T70) after Smith missed d15.

Joe Cullen’s hot streak came to an abrupt end when Michael van Gerwen laid a 6-3 loss on him.  It was sloppy as they both averaged 91-plus (largely a result of their finishing only 9 times from 39 darts). All games ended in 14 or 15 darts except for a pair of 19 and 20 darters.  Good-bye averages.

During the week, Gary Anderson said (as reported via an interpreter), “I’m enjoying playing the Premier League this year.”  On the surface that would make sense as against Peter Wright, Anderson would check 100%, match Wright in T80s (4), have more T40s (6-5) but get buried in ton-pluses (17-7) resulting in a 6-4 loss.  Wright had an 11 and 12 dart legs that included 3 of his 4 T80s.   Anderson also had a pair of T80s which tied it at 1 and then took leads of 2-1 and 3-2.

James Wade is the Rodney Dangerfield of the PDC.  He “gets no respect.”   He would win a pair of matches – Jonny Clayton (6-3) and Peter Wright (6-4) – to reach the finals.  Against Clayton he averaged 93.13 and checked 6/18.  Against Wight he was outscored 105-102.  But on this night he was ignored as he was sandwiched between Gerwyn Price’s “bring the house down” games.  In show biz terms Wade had to follow “the kid’s act.”.

Gerwyn Price was magnificent.  Against van Gerwen and tied at 2 – of those legs 3 were 13 darts – Price tossed a 9-darter (177, T80 – leaving 144, then t20, t20, d12).  van Gerwen would claw back, from 4-2 down, to tie at 5 in 12, 13 and 14 darts.  Price would end it in 11 darts (T80, T80, 85 then 16, d20).

Against Wade in the finals and level at 1, Price would toss his second 9-darter of the night (T80, T80, t19, t20, d12).  During one of his T80s he dropped a dart.  He picked it up and tossed another T80 – turning to the crowd to say, “Like that?”  Wade would lead 4-3 with a chance at 5-3 but failed from 57 missing the d4.  Price used a pair of 15 darters to close the action.

The 43rd Annual $22,810 Syracuse Open was filled with the best in North America.  Leonard “Soldier” Gates made it three singles wins on the trot with a 3-1 victory in the pro singles coming from 1-nil down to defeat Chris Franklin.  Gates ended the tournament with a win in the cricket singles (that doesn’t count).

The ADO singles had Gates strolling along, going 15-1, when he encountered Larry Butler in the semifinals.  Gates went up 1-nil in a seemingly endless 22 darts.  Then 1-1.  The tide turned when Butler erased a three dart out as Gates waited on 81.  Butler took the three legs (14, 14 and 16 darts) for a finals placing.

Butler would face Joey Lynaugh in the finals.  Lynaugh eliminated PDC Tour player Jules van Dongen who hung a 3-0 Synder on Danny Lauby.  It was Lauby’s first match.   Butler took a 3-1 lead, coasting to a 4-1 win.  The Eagle soared with a storm warning for the ladies – in the form of The Texas Titian Tornado, Paula Murphy.

Murphy had a weekend of which stories are told.  Well at least this one…

In ’01 singles she lost nary a leg (9-0) when she met Tracy Feiertag (9-1) in the finals.  Down 1-2, Murphy erased 109 to level – then 94 to win.  Feiertag put ugly on 63 missing 4.

Murphy also took the cricket singles without losing a leg defeating top players Cali West (2-0), Trish Gresik (2-0) and Brenda Roush in the final (3-0).

In the mixed trips Murphy was part of a super trio joining Leopard Gates and Danny Lauby.  They strolled to a 3-0 win.  The first leg ended when Murphy tossed 100 to leave 164 which Lauby erased. They all started the second leg with T40s.  The winning dart was double tops by Murphy.

Murphy continued her S&D (Search & Destroy) mission with a Ladies Doubles win, partnering with Maria Carli and defeating Robin Curry and Cali West 3-0.  The first leg went in 30 darts after Curry-West missed 6 doubles.  A win’s a win.

The ODC never attended the Syracuse Open but many times he went to next week’s $25,090 Camellia Classic in Sacramento, California, which used to be called New Helvetia.  The first two times it was a bar shoot – now it’s a big time stop on the ADO “No Host Cocktail Tour.”

“Angelo” posted in advance on the Syracuse Darts Facebook page, “There should be a zoo of drunk people doing stupid shit.”  “Tom” answered with, “It’s called a dart tournament.”  The ODC is now sorry he missed it – but it does sound like the old Camellia.

One year at the Camellia, a sleeping darter was found in the parking lot.  A concerned person called an ambulance as she thought he was dead.  He wasn’t dead – he played singles the next day.

Another darter, having discovered Peach Brandy (never good), was also happily asleep in a hole in the parking lot.  When called for the singles a search party formed.  They escorted him from said parking lot hole to the proper dart board…

The problem was he had only 2-darts…

“Where’s your other dart?”

“Don’t know.  I was at the bar, then my car and then a hole in the parking lot.”

He borrowed a dart and won.  The crowd felt sorry for his opponent, so they took up a collection and paid his entry fee.

Them was the days.

Who, you might ask said, “It’s better to have been a has-been than a never-was”?  That would be Cecil Parkinson.  He also said, “In politics you get what you deserve rather than what you want.”

Smart guy, old Cecil.

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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