The 1986 New York Mets have legendary status among Mets fans. Even thirty years later, almost every fan knows the call: "A little roller up along first, behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!"
What perhaps has gotten lost in the three decades since that improbable Game 6 victory is that there was still a Game 7 to be played. In his new book, Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life, Game 7 starter Ron Darling offers a detailed account of his performance and how he failed to rise to the occasion, or, as he puts it, how they won in spite of him.
This is not a book about winning the 1986 World Series. Yes, certainly winning is a part of it, but with the passage of time and with an analyst's eye, Darling breaks down just what went wrong on that night thirty years ago. A fan can clearly see what is being played out on the field in front of them. They can see the ball missing the strike zone and the home runs sailing over the fence, but what they cannot see is the inner workings of a pitcher's mind. Both casual and die-hard fans will enjoy Darling's rare glimpse of the chess match that is played between pitcher and hitter with every pitch, every at-bat, and every inning.
By now every Met fan knows this story gets a happy ending, but Darling is still able to successfully recreate the drama, the tension, and eventually, the euphoria that played out on a grand stage on that night at Shea Stadium. He weaves in interesting anecdotes from the season and the World Series—like where he was as the comeback was taking shape in Game 6—and he addresses the drug use that was part of the clubhouse culture.
Darling also offers his honest opinion of his teammates and how they each contributed to the team as a whole, both during the season and the World Series. The book is not without its flaws. He perhaps harps a bit too much on his own performance that night, but it seems his aim is to take the reader on a journey through his thoughts during the events leading up to Game 7 and everything that followed. It is Darling's journey, too, as he is still trying to come to terms with that day and how, for him, "the bitter could never quite detach from the sweet."