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

4.2 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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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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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: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,481,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not very good. Maybe worthwhile if you're a Mets fan from that era -- maybe.

I was hoping for something like Keith Hernandez's Pure Baseball, but this didn't come close. Very little strategy. Insights about his own career were pretty surface level. The writing wasn't great; while I've read worse in sports-related books, it was still riddled with clichés, and there were other issues as well.

The only positives were that it's a quick read, and I enjoyed reading the names of some players I hadn't thought of in years.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Complete Game is one of the best books around at demonstrating what goes through the head of a starting pitcher in the heat of battle. Ron Darling a winning pitcher with the Mets and Oakland A's knows of what he speaks. He gives the reader the opportunity to look over his shoulder as he pitches in big games like the world series. And deals with the decision making processes from pregame rituals, to pitch sequencing.
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Format: Hardcover
Ron Darling quickly became "a good listen." He's also rates as "a good read."

The former major league pitcher had a successful playing career of more than a decade after an outstanding period at Yale. He has made a very smooth move into the New York Mets' broadcast booth during the past few seasons. Darling even has won an Emmy for his performance as an analyst. He obviously puts in the hours, knows the game, and expresses his thoughts well. The fact that he has been tapped for some national broadcasts tells you that he has a bright future in the business.

Darling also can write, based on "The Complete Game." He gives some first-person thoughts about baseball, mostly on the subject of pitching. This is an outstanding job by the first-time author.

Darling takes an unusual approach for the book that works pretty well. He takes a particularly memorable first inning from his career and writes about it. Then he moves into a second inning and gives it 20 more pages. Followed by a third, and a fourth, and so on.

For example, Darling describes what the first inning of his first major league start was like, and what the ninth inning of a pennant-clinching complete game effort was like. Most of the news is about successes, as you'd expect, but there are bad innings in there as well.

What sets this apart is Darling's attention to detail. Ever wonder what goes through a pitcher's mind when he isn't getting anyone out and the pitching coach is coming out to see you? It's here. There's an anecdote about how Tom Seaver used to tease the Ivy Leaguer by having him fill out the New York Times crossword puzzle each day.
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