A former Major League Baseball pitcher offers anecdotes and surprisingly candid gossip.
Unlike most MLB players, Darling (Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life, 2016, etc.) not only graduated from college; he attended an Ivy League university. At Yale, he began as a position player before becoming a pitcher, and then he worked his way through the minor leagues to star for the New York Mets from 1983 to 1991 (he later played for the Expos and the Athletics, retiring in 1995). He is now a broadcaster for the Mets along with former teammate and author Keith Hernandez. The loose organizing principle of his latest book is reminiscences of the players, managers, coaches, and team owners with whom Darling interacted during his years as a player. The majority of the anecdotes are positive. However, unlike many baseball memoirists, Darling portrays some of his colleagues in negative ways based on their observed behaviors both on and off the field. Lenny Dykstra receives especially harsh treatment. Dwight Gooden, the brilliant pitcher, receives both praise and searing criticism for squandering his talent in a haze of substance abuse (ditto Darryl Strawberry). Some lower-profile players receive multiple pages of adoration, such as veteran pitcher Al Jackson, who unselfishly served as Darling’s on-field mentor. “We weren’t friends—ours was very much a mentor-mentee type of relationship. I don’t think we ever went out for a beer after a game. But I enjoyed Al’s company immensely. He was all business, all the time, but there was a soft, sweet side to his personality.” The anecdotes come and go so quickly that the book is probably best read a few pages at a time. In later chapters, Darling reflects on becoming a broadcaster, which offers a different perspective on the game, and gives opinions about the current game.
A sometimes-scattershot but lively account for MLB fans.