My most recent memories of Ron Darling are from October 2017. The former World Series champion, now a commentator for TBS, was providing color commentary during the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. Darling’s commentary caused some Nationals fans and Cubs fans to turn to social media during games to express displeasure with his “favoritism” for the other team during the broadcasts.
It was with these recent memories in mind that I began his 2009 memoir–The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball and the Art of Pitching.
Darling’s memoir is craftily organized in a manner that highlights the meaningful lessons he learned over the course of nine innings he played in or called as a color commentator. He also includes a warm-up chapter, an extra innings chapter and a post-game chapter. These inclusions were a nice touch and emphasize to the readers that meaningful realizations can also occur outside of a regulation nine-inning game.
The anecdotes readers would expect in a conventional baseball autobiography are included in The Complete Game. Darling discusses his major league debut, pitching in the 1986 World Series for the New York Mets and his decision to retire in 1995.
He shares stories about perseverance using a story about a lousy homecoming at Fenway Park during Game 4 of the World Series when he just could not find a groove. There is also a great story about when Mets manager Davey Johnson held him accountable and forced him to overcome adversity.
Readers may find his description of pitching the ninth inning of a complete game to clinch a spot in the 1988 playoffs to be the most interesting. It highlights the type of games contemporary players circle on their calendars as “must wins” for the good of the team and personal satisfaction.
The Complete Game may not an ideal book for all readers–especially those who may have been frustrated during the NLDS by Darling’s analysis provided about pitching situations. It will, however, provide all readers with a greater appreciation for the strategy involved in pitching. This would definitely be a terrific read for a Mets fan interested in learning about the players and coaches during one of the peaks of the franchise’s history.