Author Archives: Howie Reed

Column #HR301 The ODC scoops the (little) big boys, again!

Tuesday, April 14, 2021
Column HR301
The ODC scoops the (little) big boys, again!

As most regular readers know, the Old Dart Coach avoids the spotlight like the devil does holy water.  Those who knew him during the Golden Era are well aware that he’d routinely slip into a tournament hall, always inconspicuously dressed in an effort to blend into the surroundings.  Quiet and shy, he would silently watch.

NOTE: The above preface was required by the ODC’s Most Honorable Editor who then insisted that the following be acknowledged.)

In the April 1 edition of this column, the ODC reported some inside information from the world of darts.  Neither the American Darts Organization (yes, it still exists) nor the Professional Dart Corporation have commented (despite no requests for either to do so).  The ODC reported that the PDC was going to promote a Senior Tour.  Just days later, the Mirror headlines screamed…

“Phil Taylor set to make a darts comeback four years after announcing his retirement.”

…a rather big headline for a small sized paper.  Alas, just three days behind the ODC’s reporting!

The Senior Event is slated for February 2021 with 12 former word champions to compete for the £25,000 winner’s cheque.  Their entries will be augmented by a qualifying school open to all over 50 years of age.  The number to graduate from “Q” school will depend on a formulization of format along with how many accept inventions.  Along with Taylor, Bob Anderson and John Lowe have already accepted.  If allowed to play, make 60-year-old Paul Lim the favorite.

The ODC strikes again.

If successful maybe it will then expand worldwide.  It could (should) include international stars like Jerry Umberger (USA), John Kramer (USA), Tony Holyoake (Canada) and Terry O’Dea and Russell Stewart from Australia.  And so many more.

The ODC has long suggested that a dart club or promoter present senior’s only events, gents and ladies.  The bar take would be stupendous especially with no young whippersnappers running around craving “fufu” drinks with umbrellas in ’em.

Former world #1 (and also #1 in the cold hard heart of the ODC) Dr. Linda Batten asked (for a friend), “Can women play?”

The snap answer?  YES!

The catch?  What woman’s going to admit to being 50 or over?

Back in the Golden Age, a Japanese promoter put together an event for the ladies.  It was a worldwide invitational with only American Kathy Maloney left out.  “She plays to slow” – proof that the promoter, now long gone, was also a dickhead.

Today’s cast of stars could (should) include familiar names like Maureen Flowers, Dr. Linda Batten, Mandy Solomons and Sonja Ralphs from the UK along with Sandy Reitan, Kathy Maloney and Kathy Karpowich representing the USA.

Senior in age but young at heart, the Golden Era lives!

Just prior to the 2021 Premier League, Gary Anderson gave a wide-ranging interview on YouTube.  The ODC did his very best, which is sometime barely adequate, to understand what he was “on about.”  Not a clue.

Knowing that readers demand all the news, the ODC contacted his Scottish speaking interpreter, Roger “The Dodger” Nickson.  Dixon is better known as the Father and Mother of the Facebook page “Darts from the Past.”

He’s saying he doesn’t practice at home anymore, just tries to relax and do a bit of fishing.  His main bug bear is that the next Pro-tour week is on the Continent.  Germany and many other countries are in another lock down, way behind the UK in vaccinations.  He doesn’t want to risk going there until the all clear is given.  He’ll not be playing in the next series of events, thinks they should all be played in the UK until everything returns to normal. 

The Anderson whine continues to flow freely.  Does anyone care that he won’t be playing in the Pro Tour April 24-26 in Germany?  No.  Other players probably love it.  The entire world knows that he doesn’t practice.  He may not play in the PDC World Cup – and nary a tear will be shed.

The Premier League is operating this year with a new format, the first five nights being played back-to-back in Milton Keynes (Milton is a distant cousin of Lotta Keynes).

Scratched before the first dart was tossed was World Champion Gerwyn Price who tested positive for the Coronavirus and negative for personality.  “Price was upset as he had tested negative three times in Wales.  How can this happen?” He was replaced by James Wade who had been on a roll at the end of the year.

Johnny Clayton earned a great result in the World Championships.  With that in mind he considered chucking in his day job for darts full time.  The wise ODC cautioned, “Don’t give up your day job.”

Currently, the ODC is eating crow with fava beans and a Chianti.  After five nights, Johnny Clayton sits atop the Premier League table race (that is tighter than a Scotsman’s change purse) – only two points separate the top spot from the eighth.

Clayton has a draw (6-6) on opening night with Peter Wright followed by 4 wins, collecting 28 legs while losing only 13.  Along the way, he added a 9-darter in his 7-3 win over Jose de Sousa.  De Sousa would also collect a 9-darter in a 6-6 draw later.  A little “Monkey see Monkey do action.”

Glen Durrant has had a terrible time so far – he’s winless, having taken only 11 legs from a possible 35.  Commentator Wayne Mardle reckons that Durrant’s throwing his new darts with a different release.  Durrant recently changed dart sponsors.

For his comments, Mardle came under some flak from the Irish Potato Head moron that writes about darts.  The ODC apologizes to morons everywhere for the Irish Lug.  “How can he give advice when he’s never won anything,” spouts the whit-less one.

Being a champion has nothing to do with commentary or coaching.  The ODC and Mardle are excellent at both.  A keen observer is much more important than a guy who can hit a double when necessary.

The World Series of Darts will return this year with stops in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and the USA.  The USA stop is scheduled for June 3-4 at the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden.

Given the current New York state of mind don’t bet on it.  That would not be Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” first heard by the ODC at the Stagedoor in N’Awlins.  Stagedoor was one of the great dart tournament hangouts.  Free crawfish feed on Saturday night.  Memoires.

New York?  World Series of Darts in June?  Don’t hold your breath.

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

Column #HR300 BREAKING NEWS from the PDC!

Thursday, April 1, 2021
Column HR300
BREAKING NEWS from the PDC!

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Information in this column has been provided to Toeing the Oche by several different sources inside the PDC.  In that none of them authorized release of this information and have “no authority or permission to speak on the behalf of the Professional Darts Corporation its officers or its employees” all have been provided anonymity by the author).

WOW! 

The birth of a baby on December 25 sometime between 6 and 4 BC would have been earth shaking news had the world at that time been addicted to cell phones or the internet.  By 33 AD those devices would have exploded as on April 1st of that year the Last Supper took place.

The Old Dart Coach believes the reverberations from the PDC plans will have the same effect on the darting world as did the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds on Halloween in 1938 to the public at large.

A press release is being prepared by PDC’s media boss Dave Allen.  Internal discussions will provide earthshaking news covering the vista of the darting world.  The effects of the proposed policies will alter the course of the sport.  When implemented, the changes to today’s darting world will be the most startling since Mr.  John Lowe organized the first ever Blind Draw mixed triples (one native American on each team) at Plymouth Rock to celebrate the first Thanksgiving.

One confidential source has shared that the PDC is going to announce shortly a transitional worldwide strategy with the ultimate goal of complete domination.  The source informed the ODC that the PDC will buy out the American Darts Organization lock stock and barrel.

There was no price announced as the final decision will be contingent upon the settlement of any and all financial obligations the ADO might have at the time the sale closes.

Under the arrangement current officers of the ADO will remain for now.  Their roles (which will be compensated) reportedly will be secure for the long term if they sign documents committing to devote full time to their positions.

The PDC’s Barry Hearn is going to announce that television contracts have been reached with three North American networks – with FOX Sports serving as the anchor as the major signee.  Matchroom Sports (owned by Hearn) is assigned the task of all media relations.  In an arrangement similar to the first PDC TV contract with Sky TV, income will be determined based on viewership.

Even more exciting in this age of “wokism” will be the formulation of a worldwide series for lady darters.

The tour will hit all continents except for Antarctica (as penguins aren’t known for their darting ability).  The plan is for a total of 24 all-women’s events spread over the 6 remaining continents.

In an effort to cuddle up to the International Olympic Committee all events will be organized using the Olympic rules for eligibly.  The 24 seeded ladies will receive travel, lodging, food and personal expenses.  Those not seeded can qualify for the remaining 8 spots in the round of 32.  Worldwide television has been lined up and a major sponsor signed.

A number of years ago at this time of year, editor Paul Seigel penned a column that reported a sale of the BDO to the PDC was eminent.  The BDO, at the time, refused the generous offer instead hanging on to the sinking ship.  Now the PDC will take over darts in the British Isle for nary a farthing.  The British farthing (14d) coin, from Old English fēorðing, from fēorða, a fourth, was a unit of currency of one quarter of a penny, equivalent to 1960 of a pound sterling, or 148 of a shilling.

The PDC will develop two major initiatives for amateur players.  An Amateur Tour implemented for those who wish to only be weekend players.  An agreement with Pontiffs, the resort operator, for 6 Super amateur events is in place as is a deal for TV coverage.

Additionally, those 6 special events will include an Invitational Senior Event for the greats of the past.  Both ladies and gents will be included.  Three different “wagering” sites have agreed to provide sponsor money for this series.

Also on the drawing board is a rejuvenation of the very popular country games with an infusion of cash and professional management.

But it’s North America which will see the biggest change…

All “recognized and approved” ADO leagues will be responsible for weekly dues and the reporting of game and match statistics.  Every player will receive a national rating that will be used in an effort to revitalize the slowly disappearing North American tournament system.  Each approved tournament will receive some financial compensation.  International participation by teams representing the PDC/ADO will be temporarily suspended.  Working within the World Darts Federation framework the PDC/ADO will aim for future combined international events.

Guidelines for PDC/ADO tournaments will include a random draw conducted by the national headquarters.  Along with this will be a new system of ranking players.  A player will receive points if he or she beats a player with a higher ranking and get points for each leg won against that opponent.  All events will collect $1.00 from each player for each event.

In place of the suspended International events the PDC/ADO has on its “to do” list a series of matches against players from Canada under the title of Can-AM Cup.  Details have not been finalized as it’s still in the planning stages.

The question then becomes why has the PDC suddenly realized that North America is now important?

The region has been mostly ignored as the PDC has spent more time and money developing those areas of closer proximity, which is understandable.   One factor for this renewed interest in North America is the increase of online and mobile gaming throughout the country.  With online betting (meaning betting while a game is in progress) becoming popular, a sport like darts becomes the perfect vehicle.  There are “props” with every thrown of the dart.

Yes, the birth of a baby in a manger on December 25 sometime between 6 and 4 BC was a once in a lifetime event. The Last Super on April 1 in 33AD was also a “one off.”  (It’s good to keep in mind that April First arrives every year at the same time.)

Enjoy April Fool’s Day.  Stay thirsty.

Column #HR299 Understanding “Q” School (and women)

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Column HR299
Understanding “Q” School (and women)

There are reports circulating that the largest book ever published is the recently released “How to Understand Women – Volume I”.  The book itself is 13,248 pages with an appendix of another 2,000 pages.  The equally hefty Volume II is due out early in 2023.  After reading all 13,248 pages and appendix the Old Dart Coach has a better understanding of women than he does the PDC Qualifying School procedure (compared to which, solving the chicken and the egg quandary is a piece of cake.

Followers might ask, “How then does the ODC expect to provide insight and news of the recently concluded PDC Qualifying school?”  There is a famous baseball catcher, turned announcer, named Bob Uecker.  In baseball (which those in the Motha Country call rounders) it’s a fact that the knuckle ball is the most difficult pitch for a catcher to handle.  It’s akin to an “ant successfully having sex with an elephant” or stopping Devon Peterson in mid-dance.

Asked how he managed a knuckle ball Uecker said, “I wait till it rolls to the backstop, then pick it up.”   That’s the ODC approach to “Q” school.

Most players who obtained Tour cards for the year are unknown in North America but two are not.  Floridian Danny Baggish became the first Yank to obtain a card since Gary “The Mailman” Mawson (that could be an “upon further review” as Mawson is sometimes listed a Canadian or Can-AM).

Baggish won the 2019 North American Darts Championship when he defeated Canadian Jeff Smith in the finals 6-5 with a 20 and tops.  Now at age 37, Baggish is planning to play in the PDC full time.  While Lakeland Florida claims him as theirs, he was born in Hagåtña, Guam and chances are he was bred there also.

On the final day of Qualifying School, Baggish needed to make a run as he had garnered no points the first three days.  When he reached the last 16, he rolled 6-2, 6-5 and 6-2 which meant he needed only one leg in the final against Scott Mitchell.  Drawing level at 1 sealed the deal – although he didn’t know it until the match was over.

The international “feel good story” came via retired, many times champion Raymond van Barneveld (aka Barney) who will return to the PDC having won his tour card.  Maybe this will shut up his critics, especially the Irish moron who equates the use of foul disgusting language with actual knowledge.  Barney’s Army is back!

Both Barney and Baggish made their first appearances in the 4-day Players event in Bolton.  Baggish didn’t fare well, never reaching the top 32.  Barney emerged triumphant on Day Three.  Critics will maintain the field that day wasn’t strong.  You only beat who’s there.

Neither player survived the first day of The Ladbrokes £450,000 UK Open.  That day had four rounds that whittled the field from 151 to 32 chasing the £100,000 first place money.  The Butlin’s Minehead Resort resembled a battlefield littered with bodies of those discarded, including past champion Gary Anderson and Adrian “Big Baby” Lewis.  Baggish and Barney both got ejected 6-5 in the second round.  

Possunt Quae Volunt best describes Lisa Ashton’s first round.  Not only was it her first TV appearance for the PDC but a victory (6-2).  It the first win for a lady in the UK Open since Deta “The Queen” Headman in 2005.  Four-time Womxn (the new politically correct term for a female) world champ Aston averaged 100.3 which the PDC claims is a world record.  Out next round, the PDC’s official press release read, “…although he progress was later halted…”  Typo or breaking news?    

It was news that the only new name in the semifinals was 26-year-old Luke Humphries.  He joined James Wade, Gerwyn Price and Michael van Gerwen.

Humphries, a former youth champion, credited Michael van Gerwen for his tutelage on how to “handle big moments.”  In a “what the heck happened” moment van Gerwen and Humphries faced off in the semis.  Could be that MvG taught him a tad too much as Humphreys rolled to an 11-5 win.  Humphries streaked to a 4-1 lead with outs of 128, 132 and 108.  van Gerwen had outs of 139, 106 and 130 with a bull but to state the oblivious: “not enough of them.  Perchance van Gerwen did teach Humphreys a little too much.

James Wade is the most underrated player in the professional darts.  He’s been consistently winning while others who started with him have been cast aside, retiring to cup and slippers and warm milk at night.  On this day Wade was superb.

He took #1 Gerwyn Price to the woodshed for a good old “AK” with a 11-6 win, melting the Iceman.  Wade, the 2008 & 2011 UK champ, was in control – jump started by a 5-nil lead at the first break.  It would lead to Wade’s 24th TV final.  Asked what he said to himself at the 7-4 mark he replied, “Stop being silly and get this done.” He did.

Prior to the first dart being thrown a controversy (CON TRAV IS SEE) aroused between #3 Peter Wright and #1 Gerwyn Price about who was best.  Asked to comment, Michael van Gerwen answered, “I’m better than both and they know it.” Those matchups will have to wait for another day.

Luke Humphries will have to wait another day for his first major TV win.  James Wade, averaging 102 with a check rate of 11 for 27, had his way with his “out of gas” opponent.  Adrenalin can only carry you so far.

Wade, The Machine, was clicking along as he jumped to a 4-1 lead and was never trouble.  This would be Wade’s 10th major and third UK Open.  According to the announcers his 2008 win came against Canadian Gary Mawson.

Wade, ever the gentleman, said afterwards, “I’m enjoying it again, I think I’ve reinvented myself.  I’m very happy to be in the world of darts, it’s a great place to be when you’re winning.” Ain’t that the truth.

Possunt Quae Volunt?  “Girls who have the will have the ability.”

How to understand Womxn better?  Say, “Yes, Dear.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

Column #HR298 Beware, Johnny Clayton!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Column HR298
Beware, Johnny Clayton!

Mention the name John Travolta and most people think of the Academy Award-winning actor for Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction.  Those of the Golden Generation of darts might have a different remembrance of him…

…maybe his role in the #1 TV sitcom in the 1970s, Welcome Back, Kotter, where he starred as Vincent “Vinnie” Barbarino in Gabe Kotter’s classroom of kids from Brooklyn.  The show opened each week with John Sebastian (of the Loving Spoonful) singing the title song.

With apologies to Sebastian, it seems only appropriate for the Old Dart Coach to sing (in the key of ugly) the following:

Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out 

Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about 

Well, the names may have changed since you hung around 

But those dreams have remained, and they’ve turned around 

Who’d have thought they’d lead ya 

(Who’d have thought they’d lead ya) 

Back here where we need ya 

(Back here where we need ya) 

Yeah, we tease him a lot ’cause we got darts on the spot 

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, welcome back 

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back. 

While gone, you may have missed the results of the first PDC major TV tournament of the year.  It wasn’t a really big major as presenter John McDonald was seen sans tie – which means it was a “major” but not a “really big major.”  The pocket hankie designates major.

In addition to a prize fund of £220,000, the Ladbrokes Masters gave all darters a chance to start off on the right foot in 2021.  For some players it was put up or shut up on their New Year’s resolution to make 2021 a banner year.  From Gary Anderson, for example (like many players) came the ubiquitous statement that “this was to be the year.”  Anderson had to turn his dismal 2020 around (a year during which in he won only one title).  His runner-up finish to World Champion Gerwyn Price showed promise.

As many dart players are aware, in any outing, particularly late, there can be slip.  Alas, Anderson’s would come early as he waved adios in his first match, losing to Adrian “Big Baby” Lewis (10-8).  Lewis is one of those who hoped for a “turn around year” following another “turn around year” that didn’t.  Lewis would drive off in his Roll’s in the quarterfinals, losing to Gerwyn Price (10-6).  The World Campion lost a nail bitter to Mervyn King 11-10.  Price could have won this one “if only.”

In the same round, last 16, Michael van Gerwen went down to Jonny Clayton who seems to have some serious gris-gris on van Gerwen.  He ejected van Gerwen in the Masters last year also.  MVG was trying to get his wooden shoes back on track after falling from the #1 spot last year.  Down 1-4, he used checks of 158, 150 and 148 to force the decider.  But he couldn’t answer Clayton’ back-to-back T80’s leading to a 14-dart finish which resulted in a trip back “coffee shops” and the drawing board…

After the match Clayton said, Hopefully I can go all the way, that’s what I’m out to try and do.  Let’s see what happens tomorrow. 

The next day proved very good as Clayton got by James Wade 10-9.  That was followed by taking the measure of 2020 World Champion Peter Wright 11-10 to reach the finals.

Clayton traveled a nail-biting road to the finals as every match (Jose de Sousa, Michael van Gerwen, James Wade and Peter Wright) ended on a final decider.  He survived more incoming than a President Trump supporter.  He averaged 104+ to reach the final.

On the other side of the draw Mervyn King dispatched the current world champion Gerwyn Price 11-10 to reach the finals.

The first TV title of 2021 saw a match between PDC players who also hold full time jobs, guys who actually work to earn a living wage.

Some critics, usually classified (rightly) as jerks, have for eons pointed out that King “never wins the big one.”  Lots of good players haven’t.  King has 6 PDC titles.

King started fast, taking a lead of 5-3 when the roof fell in, figuratively, as Clayton responded with 6 on the trot for a 9-5 lead.

On the back of a pair of 80-checks King edged back to 10-8 but Clayton’s 12-darter closed the deal.

Clayton would take home £60,000.  That amount provided him the opportunity to re-evaluate his full-time work.  “I’ll have to take a look at returning to work” he said.

Many years ago, the Old Dart Coach asked his Padre about the first time he went to the horse races…

I was driving a bus in the 1930’s.  A friend invited me to join him at the races at Bay Meadows.  I won $35.  That was almost as I made in a week.  I called my boss and quit.  The next day I went back to the races. 

Then, there was a silent pause causing the ODC to ask, What happened, Dad? 

I was able to get my job back driving the bus. 

Beware, Johnny Clayton!

During his hiatus, the IDC spoke with many darters from the Golden Age about that period.  To a person they agreed on one point: those in darts today owe a debt of gratitude to the darters of the Golden Age.  They were the trail blazers.  The Marco Polo’s and the Christopher Columbus’ of darts, sailing in unknown and greatly unappreciated waters.

It’s sad, as many pass away with nary a notice.  Age will take its toll.

One of those pioneers is Sharon Colclough who traveled the tungsten world far and wide with great success.  This at a time when the lady’s field was outstanding with great players throughout the world.

She averaged in the mid-80’s at a time when darters biggest challenge on the board were wires and staples.  She was a good player but a better person.  Sharon recently went in for a routine knee replacement that had a success rate of 999,999.999 per one million.

Sharon proved to be that .001 percent.  She awoke minus her leg.

A battler all her life, she will now have a new battle which those who know her are sure she will win.  Those who are friends of hers should message her with your love and support.

Here’s a Valentine poem from Thailand’s John Witkowski dedicated to our lovely Sharon.  God Bless you.

Roses are red 

Violets are blue 

Beer and darts cost less 

Than a dinner for two.  

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR297 Baggish is wrong. Sorry.

Monday, January 18, 2021
Column HR297
Baggish is wrong.  Sorry.

Sports in this 21st Century might best be elucidated by the term “sports analytics” – defined as a “collection of relevant historical, statistics that can provide a competitive advantage to a team or individual.”  (The use of same also gives a coach, manager or owner an excuse for losing.)

Hell, darters have been using “analytics” ever since Mr. John Lowe organized a blind draw on the deck of the Mayflower before it hit Plymouth Rock.

Dart analytics are exhibited every time a player steps to the oche and tosses a dart – the way a player stands, their arm movement, release and follow through and hopefully the successful results.

Being basic people darters, for example, explain their use of analytics by saying, “I like tops or 32” as finishes.

All darters aim at triple 20.  Analytics?  No, just common sense since the triple 20 is worth more than any other number on the board.

Though often compared to golf as a mano-a-mano sport darts is uniquely different.  Golf has its swing coach, a driver coach, a putting coach and often even a “sports psychology coach.”  Darters have themselves and a pint of lager.

If a player loves a number the odds are good he has a better chance of hitting it than not.  Then there’s the flip side when a player gets it in his head that he can’t hit a double…

That happened to Glenn Durrant in the World Championship when double 20 put the hex on him and then double 10 also.  If Durrant had been sitting on a beach in California, he couldn’t have hit the water with a beach ball.

Darts is a mental game.  “Can’t” ain’t never done nothing.

Danny Baggish recently advanced the theory that, “North American darts is on the rise” (following his exploits at the PDC World Darts Championship).  Unfortunately, but respectfully the Old Dart Coach would beg to differ.

The Chinese Flu has halted or stalled all dart leagues not only in North America but throughout the world.  In the USA, the heart of darts is not the really good player but rather the once-a-week guys and gals.  They allow someone with the desire to raise their game the opportunity to hone beginner skills.  It’s a place to learn to win and lose and that’s important.

When the Kung Flu is corralled how long will it take the steel league games to return in the USA?  With the machine game sure to make a return rather quickly the steel game, which was fading before the pandemic, will be a slow re-start.  Follow the money.

Baggish credits the CDC (Championship Darts Corporation) with his success.  I think it has everything to do with how my game has progressed.  When we play the players here, it used to be once or twice every three, four or five months.  When the CDC came along, we were able to play at least online or in person every month.  It helps big time because to go over to England and try and compete with those guys, it’s tough and we have to be on the top of our game. 

Each of those players from the CDC had to start somewhere.  They were recruited by someone who said, “Let’s play a game of darts.”  Then came a beginning league and local tournaments.  Without that support system Baggish’s comment “North American darts is on the rise” would simply be wishful thinking.

Some cheered the demise of the British Darts Organization (BDO) which is unfortunate on many levels.  Their demise left a hole not only with British darts but darts throughout the amateur world.

Gone were the World Masters and the BDO World Championships – both firmly held in the clutches of the BDO (as was the World Darts Federation).  Some would argue with that opinion but don’t try.  The WDF, to their credit, is trying new things.  Some may work and some won’t.  No shame is tying.  About time.

The WDF is the voice of the amateur darting world (those players, that is, who are not in the embrace of the PDC).  Just as the Professional Golf Association (PGA) isn’t the end all of golf – as they need the one a week golfer – so does the PDC need the local leagues.

The World Darts Federation has announced that in 2021 the World Masters will return under their control.  It will be held in Aspen, Holland December 2-5.  The venue has been the site of the successful Dutch Open since 2014.  Regarding the WDF World Cup – they made an effort despite Covid-19 with a WDF Virtual Cup.  It was SNFU with charges of cheating.

Darters cheat?  I’m shocked.  “If you ain’t cheating you aren’t trying hard enough.”

The ODC requested information about the cheating charges from Darts Connect, which was the organization running things.  Question never answered.  The winners, for what it’s worth, were Fallon Sherrock (6-1) over Ruskie Ksenia Klochek, and Hungary’s Patrik Kovacs (6-4) over Scotland’s Alan Soutar.

The burning question is: Will there be a replacement for the BDO World Professional Championship, held for eons at Lakeside in the Motha Country?  Okay, not “burning” but at least a slightly glowing ember.  From Toeing the Oche’s confidential source in England (who is not authorized to speak) – The “smart money (is) on (a) traditional January date (2022) but it won’t be called ‘World Professional’.”

Following the PDC World Championships the lineup for the 2021 Premier League was announced.  This year the League will consist of 10 players (but only 9 named, so far) with two to be loped off after Judgement Night.

One can almost hear the funeral dirge playing when typing or reading “Judgement Night.”  The PDC is withholding their final pick until after the £220,000 Ladbroke’s Masters starting Friday, January 29 in Milton Keynes.

One optimist opined that, “They’re waiting to name someone from the USA.  They need the television market.”

Television in the USA is not the highest priority of the PDC.  Check the analytics.

The once-a-week USA darter is not a darts viewer.  The PDC’s visits to the USA have fallen below expectations in attendance.  In addition, the Premier league comes on the “boob tube” in the afternoon in North America which is not a prime viewing period.  Even more important is established sports are on the airwaves 24/7.

Reality check.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR296 HOLY MOLEY, MR. FOLEY… THE PRICE WAS RIGHT!

Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Column HR296
HOLY MOLEY, MR. FOLEY… THE PRICE WAS RIGHT!

The PDC has crowned a new World Champion and new World #1 – Wales native, Gerwyn Price – and presented him with the Sid Waddell Trophy and a check for £500,000!

Price defeated former World Champion Gary Anderson 7-3.  When Price was up 6 sets to 2, he might have recalled the words of Frank Sinatra singing, “And now the end is near.”  Those words must have been ringing in Price’s head as he wasted 11 darts for the match.  His failure to hit a double followed a run where he hit tops ten on the trot and had a 75%+ check rate.

The day before, Price came from behind to defeat Steven “Family Guy” Bunning 6-4.  During his comeback he owned double 10 free and clear.  Funny, but when Glen Durrant was losing to Gary Anderson (4-0) he missed enough doubles 10s for a lifetime.  Durrant finally wised up – left with 10 he went straight for the 2 to leave double 4.  Missed that also.

Price joins the ranks of Leighton Rees, Richie Burnett and Mark Webster as World Champs from Wales.  He’ll now represent the Red Dragon when toeing the oche in 2021.  The symbol of Wales, The Red Dragon, was used by Henry VII in the battle of Bosworth in 1485.

Going into the finals Price had a slight edge in scoring average and check rate over “whining” Gary Anderson.

“Whining?”

Anderson whined (brie and crackers optional) after beating Mensur Suljovic (4-3).  Both had darts that were up and down more than the girls at the old Honey Hotel, Soi 11, Pattaya Beach.  Despite the win Anderson complained of “slow play” and that Suljovic was using the wrong water table (oh horrors!).

After beating Devon Peterson (4-0) he continued whining.  Commentator John Part suggested that Anderson was using a little “gamesmanship.”  The ODC chuckled, as he has want to do, thinking, “How long would Anderson have lasted playing Gerald “Boy G” Verrier, Kathy Maloney or the late Judy Campbell.  One dose of them and he’d be back saying, Coffee, team and please return your seatback to the upright positon before landing. 

What happened to Michael van Gerwen?

Prior to his exit he averaged 108.98, 106.85 and in the tungsten war with Joe Cullen (4-3) average 100 as Cullen averaged 97.32.  van Gerwen would have two of the top three tournament averages as he sandwiched Dave Chisnell’s 107.34.  Cullen tossed 19 T80s against MvG, missing bull for the win.

It was a shocker when van Gerwen went bye-bye 5-0 to Dave Chisnell.  Chisnell averaged 107.34.  He tossed 55 T80s for the tournament.

In the final both player’s scoring was about the same, but Price averaged 100.08 and Anderson 94.25.  The big difference, writes Captain Oblivious, was finishing…

As the “overweight lady” was licking her lips preparing to sing as the end was near, Price got a case of “whips and jingles.”  It was as if the ODC had been playing on the board and messing the doubles up so bad no one could hit them.  From a high of 75% on doubles Price ending up with a rate of 26/57 or 45.61%.  He had 11 match darts.  The “whips and jingles” allowed Anderson to gain some respect for the 3rd set and he had darts for a fourth.

While the PDC World Championships is about the winner it’s more than that.  It’s an old-time radio “soap serial.”  Like the old radio show “Grand Central Station” from 1930s to the mid-1950s the World Championship is packed with stories that tease darters’ minds and captivate the fans.

Each “Grand Central Station” began with, the crossroads of a million private lives, a gigantic stage on which are played a thousand dramas daily.  That’s the PDC World Championships.

One story that held the ODC in a death grip was Glen Durant misbehaving against Diogo Portela.  A reader posted, Glenn Durrant sucking on his darts and then leaving them in the board when he went on break!  WOW, what a Douche Canal. 

The Old Dart Coach made an egregious error his last column of 2020.  He’s ashamed of his behavior.  His actions leave him in the 2021 doghouse.

He called the poster “one of my biggest fans.”

The record was set straight via an email stating, I am not of fan of yours, in fact I think you are a supercilious arrogant horse’s ass.  May you see the light.

There’s a chance…

Gerwyn Price is a remarkable World Champion for many reasons.  Here was a dart player, and former professional rugby player, who only got his PDC tour card in 2014 after playing darts for the first time 2010 at the age of 25.

He earned the grand sum of £12,750 in ‘14.  In 2015, at the World Championships he lost to Peter Wright (3-0) and in 2016 also 3-0.

In 2017, Price actually won a set, losing 3-1.

In 2018, Price came into his own, at least at the World Championships, making it to the third round before losing to Michael van Gerwen.

In 2019, Price lost in the second round.  Who would have thunk it?

This time out Price won in sets and legs 26-18.  Anderson’s doubles were ODC-like with 18 of 67.  Pathetic.   If Anderson looks in the mirror he can only quote Pogo: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Only dart players can understand the mental pressure on Price.  He was within a dart of reaching the pinnacle of his profession.  He was faced with a “gimmie” putt for the greatest title in his sport.  He felt “mo” shift as his doubles disappeared.

As he missed and missed, he must have asked himself, “beth y ffwcio?”

But as a champion he conquered all.

With little respect, the stupidest question of the tournament was asked by the “eye-candy” presenter while talking with Gary Anderson after his semi win.  Anderson had explained he wanted to win another world championship.  “Is the £500,000 important?”  TFO.  You ask a Scotsman’s if money is importantly?  That’s like asking a fish if it requires water.  Anderson with a twinkle in his eye replied, “It’ll buy a cup of coffee.”

What’s in store for darters in 2021?

For World Champion Gerwyn Price – he’ll find new pressures, a target on his back and the realization that staying on top is harder than getting there.

Will Price, who had no record of wins prior to joining the PDC, be the forerunner of what’s to come?

Is the era of van Gerwen over?

Anderson says he’s playing the full tour next year.  Will he?

Peter Wright has a lot of work to do.

Or will the three big names (the others are “window dressing”) take a path suggested by John Part?  They can retire to cash in on the lucrative exhibition circuit and make a good living.

With the continued lockdown can darts (machine and steel) survive in the USA?

Stay tuned for the answers.

Stay thirsty my friends.

 

Column #HR295 Baggish Bags Big Baby!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Column HR295
Baggish Bags Big Baby

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” are the Old Dart Coach’s two favorite Christmas songs – the latter written in the heat of a July day in Los Angeles by Mel Tormé.  The ODC sings it in the key of UGLY. 

Danny Baggish won’t be home for Christmas in Winter Haven, Florida after his stunning spanking of two-time world champion, the fading Adrian “Big Baby” Lewis, in the PDC World Championships.  It was a Christmas present for all those that toe the oche in North America.

The ODC resisted picking a winner in The William Hill World Darts Championship where the winner will pocket £500,000 with the runner-up garnering £200,000.  Not too “Chablis.”  The total prize fund is £2,500,000.

But TV commentators, Wayne Mardle and John Part, boldly stepped forward.  That’s their job.  Part favored Peter Wright while Mardle opted for Michael van Gerwen.  It should be noted here that all darts fans got a stocking stuffer when the PDC wisely paired these two for commentary.  They are the very best.

When Baggish took the stage against Lewis, London was in Tier 3 lockdown – meaning no fans.  Fake crowd noises exempt.  In Baggish’s first win against Damon Heta (3-2) he needed nerves of steel coming from 0-2 down in the first set which he ended with 113-check.  If that wasn’t drama, he held it together to survive 6 match darts.

There were 29 countries represented which caused some distress to a Eurocentric “darts writer.”  His theory?  Euro is the world.  “Sorry Pal, that ship sailed.”

First up, Brazilian Diogo Portela beat Steve Beaten (who was making his 30th appearance) 3-0.  Portela broke out in tears after the win.  Unfortunately, he lost next round to Glenn Durrant who came under fire from one of the ODC’s biggest and most loyal fans.  Glenn Durrant sucking on his darts and then leaving them in the board when he went on break!  WOW, what a Douche Canal. 

Canadian Jeff Smith was convincing in his 3-1 win over Keane Berry.  Then Smith broke into an early 2-0 lead against #22 Chris Dobey.   As the ex often accused the ODC, Smith couldn’t finish losing 3-2.  Notre Americano Danny Lauby played well enough to win but didn’t falling 3-2 to Ryan Searle.  At one point Lauby wanted d7.  When a dart was embedded on the wire of the d7 the fake crowd went wild.  Some claim that “eruption” so discombobulated Lauby that he lost.  Chainsaw Joe disagrees.  I kinda disagree about the crowd noise.  Only because the crowd gets it wrong just as much.  They boo and cheer randomly.   

Before Baggish there was Singapore’s gift to the world of darts, Paul Lim.  The official PDC scribe called his 3-2 win over Luke Humphries “astonishing.”  Silly.  Nothing Paul Lim has done in the last 40 years should surprise those who know him.  In this 35th appearance Lim gave the young whippersnapper a dart lesson.  Humphries rapid throw is reminiscent of “Rocket” Ronnie Baxter.  Three darts faster than a serpent’s tongue.  The throw works when everything is going well, not so when off.

Lim is a precision, deliberate and steady player.  Humphries got off to a 2-0 start in sets although

Lim’s doubles were “wanting” in the first set.  In typical Lim fashion he had a talk with himself.  I kept telling myself to pressure him [Humphries] after losing the first set.  I dug deep and it paid off. 

The 7-T80’s by Humphries were wasted when he missed doubles galore.  Those who know Lim, which is anyone whose played darts anywhere in the world, is aware of his sneaky humor.  Lim said, This is one for the old guys.  Looking down at the someone who laughed, Lim answered with a sparkle in his eyes, Not funny!  It was a win for “Old Timers” everywhere.

It was unfortunate that the PDC didn’t see fit to have two of Lim’s contemporary’s, Part and Mardle, call the match.  Part, for instance, had paired with Lim on many occasions.  Instead, fans heard Stuart Pyke and Laura Turner who had nothing to add but, he’s 66 years old and he’s the Singapore Slinger.  He’s more than that…

Part in a social media post wrote, As Dart Maple I have to say that Paul is my Yoda, now having played a World Championship match in five different decades.  My friend, my hero and inspiration.   

In Lim’s next round match, he ran into the buzzsaw that was #9 in world, Dimitri Van den Bergh.  While many have had a bad year, Van den Berg had a good year with a Matchplay win over Gary Anderson.  Against Lim he was nearly perfect with an average of 105.61, doubling with 9 of 17.  Lim was perfect with 2 for 2 but his scoring lacked.

The headline blared: Adrian Lewis was sent crashing out of the William Hill World Championship.

To be accurate, Lewis has crashed lately more than Evel Knievel…

The cause of this crash was Yank Danny Baggish as he advanced 3-1 to the next round.  Baggish took it to the former champ winning the first two sets assisted by Lewis missing 15 doubles.  Lewis would gain a leg to narrow Baggish’s lead to 2-1.  The fourth set was a glittering triumph for Baggish.  He tossed the first T70 out then followed it up with a 91 using the bull.  Lewis proved that you score for show but finish for dough as he was 6 for 28.

Baggish got it done.  People have written me off before both games, but I will keep showing it. 

Another world champion bit the dust on the same day.  2018 champion and 5th seed Rob Cross was taken out in dramatic fashion.  Matchplay runner-up, Netherlands’ Dirk van Duijvenbode, did the deed 3-2.  They went to a deciding leg with Cross on a one dart finish.  van Duijvenbode needed 91 and took it out for a 12-darter.  Afterwards he said: No, I never practice but still play good.   That’s a Christmas present every darter could use.

Whether at home or roasting chestnuts by an open fire the Old Dart Coash would like to wish one and all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Please take a moment to remember the darting fellows that left us this year: Terri Marcello, Katy Hopkins, Alan Glazier, Roger Crystal and DK (Dave Kelly) and those they left behind, Hoppy, Sally and Lori.  We miss you and thank you for what you gave to the game and us.

We’ll not be thirsty as we look forward to seeing you next year.