May 21, 2009

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The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound, by Ron Darling (2009, Knopf, 272 pages)

This one is best suited for people who already have a deep-ish knowledge or caring about the game.

Ron Darling pitched for the Mets in the 1980s. His memoir is mainly situational in-game stuff — bottom of the fifth, two on, two out, hitter lines to left, etc. He offers a few insights of general interest — managers would rather do without pitchers entirely, he says — but he leans toward the technical stuff. It feels like conversation fodder for those who already call baseball home or at least stop there on their way home from work to shoot the breeze with the other regulars. Each chapter presents a particular real situation from a particular real major-league game, as experienced by the pitcher — in most cases Ron Darling himself, in a couple instances some other pitcher. So we are let inside the pitcher’s head, which can be interesting, but after a while it gets tedious if you don’t speak Pitcher. If you do, or if you really really want to immerse yourself, have a ball. (Ha!) B —L.P