So there I was, relaxing on the couch. On the table to my right were a few spent bottles of Michelob Amber Bock, my beer of choice ever since the American Darts Association's (ADA), Glenn Remick, closed his big deal with Anheuser-Busch. At my feet was my golden retriever, Bentley, who is also an avid fan of the sport. At this moment he was even more a fan of licking the last few crumbs from a plate of pastrami sandwiches.
Ah, the joy of watching darts on television...
Cincinnati's Tony Payne had just gone down 8-4, but in style and with the crowd behind him, to the former world champion and young Tom Selleck look-a-like, Steve Beaton. But for a few missed doubles the final tally could have been quite the opposite. After Payne threw up a maximum in the sixth leg, commentator Sid Waddell exclaimed: "They're coming up to July 4th here in America and Tony's starting to celebrate early!"
Well, it wasn't to be.
For my part, in the comfort of my living room, I had been anxiously awaiting the match-up between Jamie Harvey and Atlanta's Roger Carter. Finally it was time. The moment had arrived...
But then, suddenly, it was the afternoon of November 17, 1968.
I was 15 years old and watching football on television with my father. The Oakland Raiders and New York Jets were both 7-2 on the season. Marquee-stars like Joe Namath, Daryle Lamonica, Fred Biletnikoff and Don Maynard were engaged in a dizzying show of aerial acrobatics. The game featured five lead changes. Namath passed for 381 yards and a touchdown. Lamonica passed for 311 yards and four touchdowns. Maynard caught ten passes for 228 yards.
With less than a minute remaining the Jets led the Raiders 32-29.
And THAT's when it happened.
Suddenly, just as suddenly as last night, the game disappeared. BLIP! Just like that it was gone. The movie Heidi appeared! My GOD!
And in the next 42 seconds, Oakland scored two touchdowns to win 43-32.
It was much the same last night.
America didn't get to see Roger Carter take it to Scotland's Jamie Harvey. Just as magically (at least it seems like magic to click the remote and have real live darts appear on the screen here in America) as the Desert Classic appeared on the Fox Sports Channel, the tournament VANISHED from the screen, BEFORE Carter and Harvey even walked to the stage. The Professional Darts Corporation's (PDC) Las Vegas Desert Classic was replaced, without warning - instantaneously - by the mugs of a couple of Sky Television sportscasters talking about soccer or cricket or some such thing.
So America didn't get to see Carter ignite the partisan crowd with a 160 out shot to take the first leg and then race to a 4-1 lead. Sadly, or perhaps not so sadly, America also did not get to see Harvey battle back to take the match 8-5.
Yep, the first session was a little bit odd, a little bit reminiscent, at least for me, of a long-ago memory, but it featured an incredible display of darts.
Certainly Sid Waddell thought so:
As Terry Jenkins was takin' it to Alex Roy in the first match-up, Waddell observed: "Roy looks like a gunfighter at the OK Corral who just realized he's firing blanks!" After Bob Anderson knocked off a 160 close: "Anderson's like John Wayne with a microscope on top of his Winchester!" About Denis Ovens, as he was being dismantled by Paul Williams: "Ovens is playing like a man who just woke up in a tub of cotton candy!"
I don't know what any of this really means. In fact (thanks to the Dr. of Darts, Patrick Chaplin, who traded me a copy for a couple of old Vanilla Fudge CDs), just a while back I read Waddell's hard-to-find Bedside Darts. I didn't understand any of that either.
But I LOVE the guy! And I love what he brings to "couch-side" darts too.
If the truth be known, I wore down early in the evening session. The last thing I remember is Dennis Priestley slammin' in the 180's (and also a 170 and a 150 close) against Ritchie Burnett. With my dog as my pillow, I awoke early this morning. I padded to the fridge, grabbed a fresh Amber Bock and head to the computer to dash off this column.
So, I missed Carter's match against world number six Colin Lloyd. Carter lost by a whisker, 8-7, to see his tournament hopes dashed. And, DAMN, if I didn't miss Payne's 8-1 demolition of world number five, Ronnie Baxter!
But I'll be back today!
Darts on TELEVISION!!! What a wonderful July 4th it is.
From the Field,