It must have been two years ago that a message appeared on my computer monitor from a guy I didn't know who lived in a place I'd never been. Never could I have imagined that I'd actually meet this mysterious e-mailer. Never would I have dreamed that last night we'd duke it out for the Cricket Championship of the Universe in the good ole Land of Oz.
Boyd Taylor is President of Tri-Cities Darting Association. He lives precisely two hundred-twenty miles up the Yellow Brick Road, in the middle of nowhere, east of the Emerald City. Seattle that is. Aptly named for the lush green trees and shrubs that cover the landscape. Which, if the truth be known, is just a fancy way of saying that it rains damn near twenty-four hours a day, pretty much year round.
For the past couple of seasons the Tri-Cities league has run my column in its regular monthly newsletter, To the Point. This in itself is also quite mysterious. Unlike so many leagues around the world, the Tri-Cities darters actually manage to publish a bit of copy on a consistent basis. Lord knows they putmy league completely to shame. The last time the Cape Cod Darts Association printed a newsletter it was run off a mimeograph machine. It looked like hell but it smelled great.
Knowing I was going to be in Seattle with an evening free I popped my own message to Boyd's computer and arranged to meet him for a night a darts. We walked into the Old Pequliar Pub (1722 NW Market) together at about 8:00 PM, just as the semi-finals match of the Emerald City Darts Association "A" Division was corking it up. Standing at the line for the home team was Jim Carsner, currently the thirty-sixth ranked darter in the nation, according to the ADO.
Old Peculiar is a popular, well established, darts bar -- one among many in the Seattle area. There are four boards, a couple of pool tables and an assortment of tables and chairs, and even couches, well positioned to view the action. The bar's well stocked with imports and the bartender is remarkably well skilled. With some secret, but very adroit, maneuver she was somehow able to imprint the shape of a shamrock onto the head of my Guinness -- very much like the way they fuse logos into the sand in the ashtrays by the elevators at expensive hotels. Anyway, I was so intrigued by this that I carefully examined six mugs of the stout.
Of course, competing for the Championship of the Universe is more than familiar to anyone addicted to the sport of darts. This is the match that follows the match for the Championship of the Galaxy that follows the match for the Championship of the World that follows the match to see who gets to take home the Sports Illustrated cover model in the poster on the wall behind the bar. The Championship of the Universe is the last of the last of the last games of the night. It is never played with out ingesting just the right dose of "aiming fluids". And it is never, ever, contested earlier than two hours after you promised your spouse you'd be home.
So Boyd wins the cork (I was pleased to place my dart inside the triple ring). Boyd calls Cricket -- one game, do or die. He fills up the twenties and chalks up forty points. I step up and shoot blanks at the nineteen (but know I can do better if the next time to the line I wipe off my fingers which are sticky from feeling the shamrock on the head of my beer). Boyd closes the nineteens, the eighteens and nearly takes out the seventeens. I somehow manage to throw a mark into the fat of the seventeen and then trip on the oche as I return to admire the shamrock floating atop my Guinness.
And so the night went. The Championship of the Universe --the mother of all darts matches -- slowly slipped away. Boyd, in victory, retreated back to his computer somewhere up the Yellow Brick Road. And I ... I weaved into the rainy night of the Emerald City in search of the Wizard or some Alka-Seltzer. Anything to settle the shamrocks in my gut.
From the Field,