30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 19: Daring Darling to remember Game 7 of the ’86 World Series vs. Game 7 of the ’88 NLCS

Mets pitcher Ron Darling, right, gets some time with first baseman Keith Hernandez during the 1986 World Series Game 7. (Photo: Associated Press)

Mets pitcher Ron Darling, right, gets some time with first baseman Keith Hernandez during the 1986 World Series Game 7. (Photo: Associated Press)

The book: “Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life”
The author: Ron Darling, with Daniel Paisner
The vital statistics: St. Martin’s Press, 256 pages, $25.95. Released April 5
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers website.

51JswpiceVLThe pitch: We written before about the various visits we’ve had with the former Mets All-Star and current SNY and TBS analyst about games he’s pitched.
For the longest time, we were led to believe his crushing Game 7 loss in the 1988 NLCS against the Dodgers was the one that he could never shake.
“It was my total and utter disaster,” he once told us. “I’m haunted by that seven game to this day.”
Darling only made it through 10 batters. He left the contest trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the second with the bases loaded and no one out. Doc Gooden came in and couldn’t help. Darling was charged with six runs (four earned) as Orel Hershiser went on to a complete-game five-hit 6-0 triumph that put the Dodgers in the World Series.
Now, Darling admits that isn’t that only thing that keeps him up at night.
In this book, he’s tearing his heart out with a self-examination about all that transpired during the deciding game of the 1986 World Series, two Octobers earlier.
Maybe it wasn’t so painful because, as the readers know going into this book, Darling wasn’t on the losing end. No spoiler alert: The Mets won the series, the Boston Red Sox lost again.
Darling started Game 7 and gave up three earned runs in the top of the second. Just 18 batters faced in 3 2/3 innings. Two homers allowed. No strikeouts. It was up to relievers Sid Fernandez, Roger McDowell and Jesse Orosco try to clean things up long enough for the Mets’ offense to wake up.
“My piss-poor performance,” Darling calls it on page 149.
Since this one delivers a much happier ending, Darling finds it a little more palatable to recount, about how he approached it, what he remembers and doesn’t remember, and lessons learned.
Lessons apparently not applied.
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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 18: The fascination is mutual, Kurkjian

71chxTMczdL._SL1414_The book: “I’m Fascinated by Sacrifice Flies: Inside the Game We All Love”
The author: Tim Kurkjian
The vital statistics: St. Martin’s Press, 256 pages, $26.99. To be released May 3
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com, at the publishers’ website.

51F1uhOrdQLThe pitch: We were fascinated to find out that if you searched Amazon.com for “Tim Kurkjian,” you’ll come across someone insane enough to sell you an authentic batting practice-used Rawlings baseball signed by the ESPN baseball analyst/columnist for $59.95.
Deal, or no deal?
And if you really looked at the signature and had no idea who it was, you might think: Stan Kasten?

Kurkjian’s valued opinions on “Baseball Tonight” over the years, and now as an occasional game analyst in the booth on top of what he writes for ESPN.com, was in some apparent need of updating.
It’s been a good eight years since  he produced a “for the love of the game” tome – the one he did in 2008 called “Is This a Great Game, or What? From A-Rod’s Heart to Zim’s Head – My 25 Years in Baseball.
The same way that was favorably embraced, this will likely be appreciated as well by those who see the game as a way of life, flaws and all, and because of its flaws, crafted by someone who we’ve thought of endearingly as a compilation of Huell Howser, Bill James and Joe Garagiola. And with the voice of a yet-to-be named character on the Cartoon Network.
As for the title …
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Play It Forward April 18-24: Kings, Ducks have some road work to do

Actress Chloe Grace Moretz had a decent seat for Game 2 of the Kings-Sharks series at Staples Center last Saturday. When she was paying attention. Next two are in San Jose. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Actress Chloe Grace Moretz had a decent seat for Game 2 of the Kings-Sharks series at Staples Center last Saturday. When she was paying attention. Next two are in San Jose. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
KINGS vs. SAN JOSE
Details/TV: Game 3 at San Jose, Monday at 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
DUCKS vs. NASHVILLE
Details/TV: Game 3 at Nashville, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., Prime Ticket
Before the Stanley Cup playoffs started, an analysis in USA Today of all 16 participating teams had the Ducks ranked No. 2 (they will win “because of their ability to limit chances against”) and the Kings at No. 4 (“Darryl Sutter has instilled a style that wins in the playoffs; basically stifle all offense against.”) Yet, for them to meet up in the second round, as was expected, there’s going to have to be some major turn of events. Caution: Major Road Work Ahead.
We know from recent history the Kings once lost three in a row to the Sharks in a Western Conference first-round series, somehow scrambled back to win it, then outlasted the Ducks in an epic second round before figuring out an improbable way of claiming the 2014 Stanley Cup. What’ll it take this time? Drew Doughty playing 60 minutes (or more) a game? He’s already logged 34 shifts and 29:19 minutes in Game 1 and 32 shifts and 29:15 minutes in Game 2. But it hasn’t stopped Joe Pavelski from becoming the first star of the game in the first two contests.
During the regular season, the Ducks lost at Nashville on Oct. 22 by a 5-1 count back when they were a mess, sporting a 1-9 record in that month. Circling back on Nov. 17, the Ducks also lost 3-2 with Frederick Anderson in the nets. With an 0-2 deficit in this series to match what the Kings face, the Ducks have no other gameplan other than to figure out a way for their best players to play better than their opponents’ best.
Best of luck.
Also this week for the Kings: Game 4 at San Jose is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., FSW; If necessary, Game 5 is at Staples Center on Friday, Prime Ticket, with Game 6 in San Jose on Sunday, Time TBA, on FSW or Prime Ticket.
Also this week for the Ducks: Game 4 at Nashville, Thursday at 5 p.m., Prime Ticket. Game 5 at Anaheim, Saturday, time TBA.

ALSO THIS WEEK:
NBA PLAYOFFS WESTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
CLIPPERS vs. PORTLAND
Details/TV: Game 2 at Staples Center, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
The Washington Post posted four “X Factors” for the NBA’s Western Conference series. One of them was Blazers’ shooting guard C.J. McCollum, who, when trying to continue the flow of the team’s offense when the reserves take in minutes, might enjoy facing non-defensive minded Jamal Crawford or Austin Rivers. Writes the Post about second-year man McCollum, the 6-4, 200-pounder out of Lehigh who was second to Damian Lillard in averaging 20.8 points, 4.3 assists and 34.8 minutes a game: “(His) ability to get his own shot as well as create easy looks for the likes of Ed Davis and Allen Crabbe will go a long way to determining if Portland can generate the margins they need.” Also note: The Clippers were worst in the league from 12-to-nine minutes mark left in the second quarter. In the Clippers’ 20-point series opening win, McCollum scored just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting, and 1-for-5 from 3-point land.
Also this week: Game 3 at Portland, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN

THE REST OF THE WEEK:
The Dodgers head to Atlanta and Colorado, while the Angels finish a road trip in Chicago before coming home against Seattle … The 120th Boston Marathon lands on Monday … UCLA’s spring football game is Saturday at Drake Stadium … More at this link.

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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 17: In general, there’s much to learn about Gene Mauch

Gene Mauch, right, with Fidel Castro. In Cuba. In 1959. Yes, it happened (from "The Little General")

Gene Mauch, right, with Fidel Castro. In Cuba. In 1959. Yes, it happened (from “The Little General”)

The book: “The Little General: Gene Mauch, A Baseball Life”
The author: Mel Proctor
The vital statistics: Blue River Press, 360 pages, $22.95. Released Publisher, pages, price. Released spring, 2015
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Vromans.com, the publishers website

91xSx13gzmLThe pitch: Gene Mauch’s name came up as a piece of Dodgers’ trivia history recently.
Corey Seager was the Opening Day shortstop on April 4, at 21 years, 343 days.
Did that make him the youngest to do it in franchise history?
That distinction still belongs to Mauch, who started and played in the first five games for the 1944 Dodgers at age 18 years, 152 days. Key members of that Dodgers’ infield, including Pee Wee Reese, were off to World War II. Manager Leo Durocher admired the grit and headiness of the 5-foot-10, 165-pound Mauch, whom Branch Rickey had signed after his junior year at L.A.’s Fremont High and brought to spring training. Durocher was to be a player-manager, putting himself at second base, but a mishap in spring training – a botched throw from Mauch to Durocher caused him to break a finger – ended that experiment.
mauchdodgersOn April 18, 1944, with the Dodgers at Philadelphia, Mauch started, batting eighth. Lloyd Warner pinch hit for him in the sixth. The next day, Mauch got his first hit. Eventually Durocher had veteran Billy Hart play shortstop, and Mauch went back to the minor leagues with just 15 at bats.
It’s all there in Chapter 2 of this tribute book to Mauch written by Proctor, and if all you somewhat know about Mauch was how his managerial reign in 1964 with the Phillies and in 1982 and 1986 with the  Angels got to the doorstep of the World Series but never crossed the threshold, then you’re missing out so much on a man that Proctor rightfully frames as someone more misunderstood than not.
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30 baseball books for April ’16, Day 16: It’s Durocher, circa 1948, following up (sorta) on Robinson’s debut and more

image089The book: “The Dodgers and Me”
The author: Leo Durocher
The vital statistics: Pathfinder Books, 302 pages, $12.95. (Re-released Feb. 23)
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com

61hpHqNB58L._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_The pitch: The original version of this tome from Ziff-Davis Publishing landed in 1948 – the year after Durocher needed something to do as he was stuck gardening at home in Santa Monica because of an MLB suspension, unable to work as the Dodgers’ manager in the season that Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.
Original first editions sometimes show up in online auctions going for more than $150, if signed. The great online used book site, Abebooks.com, will show one or two for $190.
A copy might surface on eBay.com in the $75 range.
So why did we gravitate toward this one?
Because of the affordability, the availability and the enjoy ability.
And we’re not even sure who to thank for this. The book publisher listed in this copy is Pathfinder Books. On online book sellers, its CreateSpace Independent Publishing, implying someone prints and sends these out once they’re ordered.
Imagine the kind of shelf life books like this could continue to have, and might this one inspire, if baseball fans continue to rediscover more oldies but goodies like this and show a willingness to buy not only hardbound, but softbound and kindle versions (at $2.99 a pop)?
Durocher has not been with us since 1991, living out the last year of his life golfing in Palm Springs. But bringing this diary back to life is pretty cool.
$_58On this revised cover, the “The Inside Story” subtitle is missing. An illustration of those Dodgers doesn’t even include Durocher.
All the original black-and-white photos are included (if not in the same order as the original editions) as well as the muddy typeface that makes the reader feel as if he needs to wash his hands after handling it.
Our first memories of Durocher came in the 1960s, when we saw him on an episode of “The Munsters,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” or “Mr. Ed,” playing himself, but often playing himself off as the Dodgers’ manager (when he was actually a coach on Walter Alston’s staff).
We were familiar with him later as a manager with the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros until the early ‘70s.
But outside of a shaded reference to Durocher as played by Christopher Meloni in the 2013 movie “42,” where Durocher is suspected of being associated with known gamblers, we aren’t really told why Durocher had to serve a season-long suspension.
This book, as it turns out, does nothing at all to help.
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