As the starting pitcher for the New York Mets in Game 7 of the 1986 World Series, Ron Darling came up short. Rather than turning in a dream-of-a-lifetime performance, Darling was lifted in the fourth inning after giving up three runs to the Boston Red Sox. The Mets would go on to win, 8-5, but Darling was left with mixed emotions – thrilled to be on a championship team but disappointed that he hadn’t contributed to the final win. A Yale graduate who is today an Emmy Award-winning TV baseball analyst, Darling provides a fascinating and candid in-depth retrospective of Game 7 and the season that led to the team’s third championship. The Series will often be remembered, however, as the one that got away from the Red Sox, who were one strike away from clinching the title in Game 6 before losing in extra innings on Bill Buckner’s famous fielding blooper. On the 30th anniversary of the ’86 Series, Darling helps bring that memory back to life along with countless forgotten details.
Here’s an excerpt from Game 7, 1986:
“I know this now, and I suppose I knew it then, on some level – but I certainly didn’t appreciate it. As a young man, well into my major league career by this point, I should have known at least to keep it simple. To think, Hey, I did a good job against these Red Sox hitters in Game 1 and Game 4. My stuff’s better than their stuff. I’m good. We’re good. But that’s not how I played it. No, I let the game play me. I let the Red Sox play me, instead of the other way around. My mind drifted. I thought, This is a veteran team. I’ve shown them just about everything I’ve got. I’m gonna have to try something different.
“If I’d had more inner confidence, if I’d had the kind of arrogant selfishness you see in our greatest athletes, I would have gone into the game thinking I would dictate the at bats Thinking, I’ve owned these guys. Thinking, Bring it, Boston! But my mind didn’t go there. Instead I worried I’d have to come up with a new bag of tricks, else I would be found out.
“I hadn’t even thrown a pitch and already I was down in the count.