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The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 31, 2009


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307269841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269843
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,593,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From The New Yorker

What’s on the mind of a major-league pitcher, out there in mid-inning and mid-career trouble once again, with men on base, his concentration wavering, and some of his best stuff not on call today? According to this account by Ron Darling, the stalwart ex-Mets starter and incumbent Mets broadcaster, it’s a good three or four pages’ worth of anxiety, reminders, tendencies, situations, afterthoughts, and admonishments per pitch. “Once again,” as he puts it, “I thought, This is not good.” Darling offers pitches and outcomes (but no box scores) from ten selected games in his career, including a successful World Series start against the Red Sox at Fenway Park in 1986, a gruesome windy-day thumping suffered at Wrigley Field, and his celebrated extra-inning near-no-hitter back when he was pitching for Yale. Among them are enough oddities and thrilling turns of baseball to make a reader glad to be here and—well, not out there.
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Darling was a Major League pitcher from 1983 to 1995. He was good but not great. Along the way, he became a student of the game—and a very observant, self-aware one at that—and has since won an Emmy as a baseball analyst. Using a unique nine-inning format in this mix of autobiography and reflection on the game, Darling picks a particularly notable—not necessarily successful—inning in his career and minutely dissects it. For example, for his first entry, he examines his first inning as a big-league pitcher: who he faced, what he was thinking, why he threw the pitches he did, what happened, and what he learned. His fifth-inning choice takes place during an August 1984 game against the Chicago Cubs in which Darling was intimidated, pitched poorly, and nearly incited a brawl when he hit a Cub batter out of frustration. He supplements each chapter with context, flashbacks, and other examples from his career to illustrate how what he learned in that particular inning carried forward—or didn’t. It’s hard to recall a baseball book that offers as much information about the game—from a player’s perspective—as this one. Baseball generates dozens of books every year, from biographies to statistical abstracts. This is easily the best of the year so far. --Wes Lukowsky

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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His narrative made for a very enlightening and engaging journal.
Larry Underwood
This is a wonderful book that details both the highlights and lowlights of Ron Darling's career both as a pitcher and a broadcaster.
Mark Ahrens
For baseball fans, who want more than a ESPN knowledge of this great game, this book is a must.
Frank R. Annunziato

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jason A. Miller VINE VOICE on May 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Mets traded for Ron Darling in April 1982 -- the same month I attended my first game at Shea Stadium. Ronnie made his first start in September 1983, just as the Mets were just starting to show hints of the dominant team they'd be for the next six or seven years. Finally, the Mets traded Darling to Montreal in July 1991 -- just as the wheels were starting to come off the franchise, and just as I moved off to college and lost track of the team for most of the '90s.

Ronnie then went out to Oakland, laboring as an over-the-hill starter with occasional spots of brilliance for the Tony LaRussa Oakland A's (and somehow managing to miss out on all the steroids in that clubhouse). He didn't rejoin the Mets until 2006, in broadcaster capacity, but now he's once again an important fixture to a contending team.

"The Complete Game" is a small book, part of baseball publishing's general trend away from poorly-ghostwritten autobiographies and toward more modest analytical works. The ghostwriter selection here seems a little unusual (Daniel Paisner appears not to be a career baseball writer, and in an odd glitch mis-identifies Don Larsen's 1956 World Series perfect game), but the book does stand out in this year's crop of books about steroid users and steroid dealers.

The theme is that Ron describes ten representative games from his career as pitcher and broadcaster: two games he called during the Mets' lost 2008 campaign, seven games he pitched while a Met or Athletic, and his legendary college finale (previous written up by Roger Angell in Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Ahrens on April 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book that details both the highlights and lowlights of Ron Darling's career both as a pitcher and a broadcaster. He tells wonderful stories, often self-deprecating, about how different managers handled his tough situations and devotes an entire chapter to the famous college game in 1981 between Yale (Darling) and St. Johns (Frank Viola) where Darling pitched 11 innings of no-hit ball but lost in the 12th.

Great detail about how Darling would pitch different batters in different situations.

This book is almost impossible to put down. A great read!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By tflanagan on April 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A must read for a real depiction of the GAME!!! Ron Darling knows from first hand knowledge and it is the hand of a champion. I challenge you to read this and walk away once you pick it up. YOU CAN'T and YOU WON'T
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kelly C. Ward on May 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Quick read, well-written, logically presented, the replacement of innings for chapters was creative and facilitated the book's flow.

I was hoping for more strategy, theory and physics behind the various pitches and pitch selection, though, and thought that's what I was getting when I purchased the book; instead, discovered the book to be more "feely" than "touchy".

Because it was so well written and edited, I'd look forward to hearing more from Ron in a second book on strategy since he does bring more of the cerebral aspects of the game to life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a must for anyone who closely followed the Mets in the mid to late 1980s and early 1990s. Ron Darling played a major role in those teams and in his book, provides excellent insight into several important games that he started, including game four of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox, the September 1987 game against the Cardinals, where the Met fell out of the National League East pennant race, and the 1988 National League East clinching game against the Phillies.

It's also a book for fans who want to get closer to the game. Unlike typical baseball memoirs, which begin with tales of early childhood and end with retirement from the game, Darling takes a new approach. Each chapter focuses on one inning in 10 different games where he was either player or broadcaster. The result is a book that can't be put down. It is a classic that belongs next to Ball Four and the Bronx Zoo.

If you ever wondered what goes through the mind of a pitcher when the pitching coach or manager walks out to the mound or the communication between pitcher and catcher or when a pitcher faces a tough opponent in a crucial game, this book will tell you.

I also have to confess that I am a big fan of Darling, from his early days with the Mets to his current job as a broadcaster with SNY and TBS. He has one of the best baseball minds and we are fortunate that he likes to share his knowledge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Larry Underwood on September 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ron Darling's retrospective of what was going on inside the head of one of baseball's most cerebral performers over the course of 9 innings of various games is something any true fan of the game will relish. I loved it.

Darling had a successful career as a big league pitcher, and much of that came from his mental approach to the game. Darling recalls with wonderful clarity some of his memorable moments on the mound, as well as in the broadcast booth, which give great insight into the complexities a pitcher faces when performing his task.

Certainly, the thought process a hitter goes through while trying to solve the mysteries of the pitches being hurled in his direction would be even more daunting. Trying to outfox the pitcher is even more confounding that the pitcher's task at hand; still, Darling tried his hardest to make sure he was using his mental capacities to their fullest to accomplish his mission. His narrative made for a very enlightening and engaging journal.

After completing this book, I couldn't help but think of Yogi Berra's great quote about the complexities of our national pastime when he said, "90% of baseball is half mental!" How true.
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