A hot start to the 2019 New York Mets season has the SNY broadcast team at the top of its game.
The real challenge comes during the dog days of summer in years when the Mets are out of contention. That’s where the big personalities of color commentators Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling, the beloved 1986 world champions, and play-by-play man Gary Cohen, help keep fans engaged and entertained.
“When the Mets have really great seasons, we’re really good at capturing a great game,” Darling said during an event promoting his new book, "108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game," in Manhattan on Monday. “When the Mets have tough seasons, we’re almost like ‘The Larry Sanders Show.’ We’re a different baseball broadcast.”
After 14 seasons together on SNY, Darling said they feel comfortable injecting themselves into the broadcasts: “We’ve been able to become who we are away from the booth.”
Meshing colorful personality with baseball knowledge is at the heart of Darling’s memoir. The former pitcher held a book signing and discussion Monday at the Playboy Club to raise money for the Ron Darling Foundation, which aims to cure diabetes and help local communities in need.
The new book is at times an uncomfortably honest look back at his 13-year playing career; it already has sparked controversy — former teammate Lenny Dykstra is suing Darling over allegations in the book that Dykstra made racially charged comments toward Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd during the 1986 World Series. Dykstra, in litigation filed Tuesday, says Darling lied about the incident to sell the book.
Though "108 Stitches" is a nod to the Mets franchise-record of 108 wins during the ‘86 regular season, Darling muses about the personal connections he had with memorable characters around baseball.
“It’s easy reading,” he said, “You can pull up any page and find a story about baseball.”
Darling spoke about the fame that comes with winning, including an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" and landing on the cover of GQ, and the free spirits that made the ‘86 team unforgettable. The team captured the attention of the city for its antics, but it won because of a competitive fire that never went out.
“It was the only team I played on that didn’t just want to win,” he said. “If it was 5-1 in the ninth, they wanted to beat you 10-1.”