I think I am a fairly ordinary guy. Growing older somewhat gracefully, as my inner child slowly calms down. I think a by-product of growing older is your memory is not as great as it used to be. If you asked me what I ate for breakfast a few days ago, I may have trouble giving you the correct answer. Another side effect of the passage of time on the memory is nostalgia. You may romanticize things and enjoy them much more today than you actually did thirty years ago. In the last few years there have been books published that dissect a game from several decades prior, inning by inning and pitch by pitch, which leads to my first of many questions. How do players remember everything that happened during a specific game, every thought process, every tobacco spit and every sneer at an opposing player. If you ask why am I asking such a silly question, please see the sentence above about my breakfast. Anyhow, today’s book follows this same format about game seven of one of the most dramatic World Series in recent memory.
The 1986 World Series without a doubt was full of plenty of drama. From the New York Mets trek to the big dance via Houston, to Bill Buckner making himself a footnote in baseball history, 1986 is a hard one to forget. Ron Darling on most other baseball pitching staffs would have easily been the Ace, but on the Mets he was in the shadows of one phenom, namely Dwight Gooden. Nonetheless Darling was the arm on tap to pitch Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. Most people forget that the Buckner error was in Game 6 which then led to needing to play a game 7.
Ron Darling has made a nice little post pitching career for himself being a baseball analyst for both the Mets and the MLB Network. He has great natural insight into the game and always explains the nuances to the fans so that the get a full understanding of the issues at hand. Darling takes the same approach in his new book.
He takes the reader through Game 7 inning by inning, explaining the thought process used in his pitches as well as what was going on around him. You see how the pitcher Ron Darling was processing the events of the day, but he also shows how the person Ron Darling was interpreting it as well. It gives a real good rendition of the players take on what happened in Game 7, from a person who was on an emotional see-saw the entire evening.
Darling also gives a little glimpse of his personal life as well as some takes on his New York teammates. It is not an in-depth analysis of his fellow Mets but it certainly gives the reader a behind the scenes glimpse of the team.
The question still sticks in my mind, how do you remember this much vivid detail 30 years later? Admittedly he used some video footage to “refresh” his memory, but I still find it hard to accept these types of books as 100% credible. Time easily distorts things even with the aide of video tape. It also seems to some degree Ron darling is apologizing for his pitching performance but does seem to take the attitude of “I am sure glad we won, even though I sucked”.
This book is an enjoyable and quick read. It flows smoothly and if Ron Darling is remembering correctly, gives the reader some great detail into Game 7. It was a World Series to remember and all baseball fans will enjoy reliving this one special game.
You can get this book from the nice folks at St. Martins Press
They have been called everything from the Loveable Losers to the Amazing Mets. During their franchise history they have seen the highest of highs, the lowest depths of despair and just about everything in between. Love them or hate them the New York Mets have made the last 50 years pretty interesting. Today’s book takes a look at the first year of those Loveable Losers……
Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?
By: Jimmy Breslin 1963-Ivan R. Dee Publishing
Everyone who is any kind of baseball fan knows the saga of the New York Mets. An expansion team that started play in 1962 as part of the National League expansion. The entered the league the same year as Houston’s Colt 45’s, but garnered a much more dedicated fan base than their Houston counterparts. More than likely the Mets were so popular despite their horrible record, because fans were happy to have a National League presence in the city of New York again. Five years after the exodus of the Giants and Dodgers to greener pastures in California, New Yorker’s finally had a hometown team to root for besides the Yankees.
First published in 1963, I was not sure what exactly I would find with this book. I was assuming it would be about the growing pains and woes of a first year expansion team as part of the biggest media circus in the world. The reality of this book was that you saw those pains, but you also learned about what the Mets now meant to New York.
Fans of the both the Giants and Dodgers seemed to have an inferiority complex when it came to the Yankee fans. After the two teams left New York, these fans were at a loss as to their allegiance. What the Mets brought back to New York fans who pulled for the Dodgers and Giants, was something to root for.
Regardless of their record the author has shown how the Mets were a boost to the morale of the New York fans. How they were embraced both as a team, players individually and how there was now hope in the city, outside of the Bronx. Essentially the book shows how the Mets filled a void for the fans and no matter how good or bad they played, the fans loved them back.
Due to its age, some of the book is very dated. I also got the feeling while reading this book that the original intention may have been to promote the Mets. There was minimal description of the actual play of the Mets and more explanation of why the Mets were good for New York. There also was an overall sentiment throughout the book, that even though the Mets stink, we have hope for success in the future. That essentially is what made me think a promotional piece for the marketing department.
When all is said and done over 50 years later it is a fairly enjoyable book. It gives you a glimpse of the mindset of New York in the early 60’s, as well as their hopes looking towards the future of their new toy, The Mets. Mets fans will enjoy this book, as will general history buffs. I am not sure how much mass appeal this will have to fans outside of the east coast though, because old New York baseball is more than a lifetime ago for them.
You can get this book from Ivan R. Dee Publishing