I suppose it is as expected that Denver, dubbed the "Best Sports City" in America by USA Today, also lays claim as home to the number one darts bar in the world. It makes sense. Take a Super Bowl victory (finally), mix in a Stanley Cup (yawn), add a dash of good press and big fat dollop of crazed fans and -- voila! -- you're da King of everything and cities like Miami, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco and who-knows-where-all-else are nothing but a bunch of bush league cow town chumps. Yep sports fans, it makes absolutely perfect sense.
Give me a Mile High break.
I don't know much about football or hockey. And I don't care to. Fans in Denver, or wherever, and the press, can debate for eternity who's got the ugliest linebacker or who's got the fewest teeth. At the end of the day who really cares? What we're talkin' is darts. Show me a 300 hundred pound fat boy with mush for brains who can figure out what to do with 32 left on the board and I'll kick a 60 yard field goal, and then eat the damn football.
It is simply beyond comprehension that any city, anywhere, can take pride in being rated the "best" at anything by USA Today. It would be different, much different and far more meaningful, if the Tokyo Times ranked some Denver little league team as the world's top sluggers. Or if Playboy magazine featured some University of Colorado co-eds as the sexiest in the land. Japan's the expert on midget baseball and Playboy certainly knows the ins and outs of the exciting 36-24-36 game shot.
It was for precisely this reason that I took extra special note when I first heard about a little joint called The Dart Board (3467 South Broadway) in the Denver suburb of Englewood. The place was billed as the numero uno darts bar in the ENTIRE WORLD and it's boast was not conjured off the pages of a cartoon newspaper that knows nothing about the sport. The Dart Board was awarded it's premier rating by none other than England's own Darts Player magazine.
Now that's credibility!
From the street The Dart Board is about as nondescript as a joint can be. Clearly, owner Jerry Feather knows what he's created inside and is confident the serious darter won't mind driving around the block a time or two before finding the front door.
And he's right. When I stepped through the entrance I simply couldn't believe my eyes. If there's a darts bar in Heaven it's just got to look exactly like The Dart Board. As I peered through the smoke and beyond the patrons gathered at the long bar on the right I half expected to see Glen Silva standing at one of the 26 toe lines on the floor. The set up is absolutely phenomenal -- far and away the best I've encountered in my travels.
Feather is The Man when it comes to darts in Denver. One of the founders of the Rocky Mountain Darting Association (RMDA), Feather's teams have captured no less than 50 City Cup trophies during the 22 years since his bar first turned on the tap. Easily a thousand trophies and plaques crowd the walls amidst dozens of tournament posters and antique dart boards -- testament to the caliber and success of the many teams Feather has sponsored.
Feather showed me around his shrine. He took me through a fancy gate and up some back steps to the sacred second floor where there are still more boards, more hardware and even another bar. He bought me a shot of some special Dart Board concoction, fitted me into one of the Dart Board's trade-marked dart shirts and then set me up to throw with a couple of the regulars -- Ryan "The Hawaiian", a local "AA" shooter, and "Six Dart" Bart, whose moniker speaks for itself.
We didn't throw much really. We split some cricket, emptied a couple Budweisers and then, with Feather, talked the game. The soft tip invasion. The night The Dart Board hosted a John Lowe and Cliff Lazarenko exhibition. The evening Paul Lim knocked down 3,884 points with 101 darts from the very same line we just threw. About how Barry Twomlow himself, apparently, cast the deciding vote -- over Eric Bristow's Crafty Cockney -- to put The Dart Board at the apex in Dart Player's listing of the top darts establishments on the planet.
Had I not scheduled a red-eye return flight home I'd have probably closed the bar. Feather kindly called me a taxi. I bid farewell to Ryan and Bart and headed into the night to make one quick final stop en route to the airport.
According to some homeless guy I met earlier in the day, about half way between Coors Field and the airport was a little place that, supposedly, has sold more burgers than anywhere else in the universe. "Buddy, if it's airline food you're looking at, take my advice and make the stop." I'm now somewhere in the sky. The stewardess has finally made her way down the aisle to my seat. I look up. She looks down and politely asks what I'd like to drink with my peanuts. "A Budweiser please," I respond, "but hold the nuts."
Yep, the bum, just like billions and billions of other junk food connoisseurs, was right -- a Big Mac beats a measly old pack of stale peanuts any day of the week.
The Tokyo Times. Playboy. Dart Player Magazine. Da bum. All experts in their field. Credibility.
Denver -- the "Best Sports City" in America?
Give me a call when Sports Illustrated weighs in.
From the Field,