As you know, I don't read as much as I should. So, finishing a book is a huge triumph for me. Just like what the 1986 New York Mets did in the World Series that year.
How's that for a seamless transition?
Well, when I do read during the summer months, it will more than likely be a book about baseball. This goes back to what I used to read during the heat and humidity of Mount Vernon, New York when I was a kid. Dozens of tomes about the sport. And that's what makes the following statement so profound.
Ron Darling's "Game 7, 1986" just might be the best baseball book I have ever read.
Wow. Even I am bowled over by that proclamation.
Ron Darling, a former pitcher for the New York Mets during those great mid 80s days, is now an analyst for games on SNY. Indeed, in yet another pronouncement, Ron (along with Orel Hershiser on Dodger broadcasts) just might be one of the best baseball analysts working today. He should be getting a lot more national prominence. He runs rings around the likes of Harold Reynolds, Tom Verducci, and that chick on ESPN who used to play softball. His work is always fair and on-the-money. He pulls no punches.
And that tone transfers to "Game 7, 1986." As I think back, I also enjoyed Darling's first book "The Complete Game." Both books are incredibly well thought out and crafted. Most notably, they don't take on the usual athlete tomes of "I did this and then I did that and boy, oh, boy, I am great," Nor does Darling offer the incredible whining that I found in Mike Piazza's annoying autobiography.
For those who do not know this, Ron Darling was the Mets starting pitcher in the deciding Game 7 of the 1986 World Series after the team had come back from the walking dead in Game 6. You know the drill. Bill Buckner, Mookie Wilson, yada, yada, yada. Darling is handed the ball and, as he honestly relates his contribution to that night, was not very good. He put his team in a hole and ultimately is taken out of the game in the fourth inning. As a result, Darling is not necessarily a hero here and is potentially the goat. Of course, history tells us the latter never happens. But, it is truly fascinating to hear one player's interpretation of a deciding World Series game and his ignoble place in it.
Ron takes you pitch-by-pitch and emotion-to-emotion throughout the entire contest and it's a compelling and linear look at a game that I actually was lucky enough to attend. Baseball fans have to be very blessed to be in the house when their team wins the World Series. As I thought that very night, I realized this moment of euphoria might never happen again. So you want to relish it.
Thanks to Ron Darling's latest book, I got to relive October 27, 1986 all over again. And not through the eyes of a star, but through the words of a pretty good baseball player who is human enough to understand and embrace a shortcoming or two.
Ron, I can't wait until you're the main baseball analyst on the World Series.
Dinner last night: The pre-game buffet at the Dodger Stadium Club.