Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ron Darling On The Upcoming MLB Postseason

Ron Darling. Photo courtesy Turner Sports.

Ron Darling will be on the call for TBS, along with Ernie Johnson and Cal Ripken, for the 2016 Major League Baseball Postseason.
TBS is the exclusive TV home of the 2016 American League Postseason, starting with the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday, Oct. 4 and continuing through the ALCS.  This is TBS’ 10th season of MLB Postseason coverage, which began in 2007, and the network is completing its’ ninth regular season slate of Sunday game coverage.
Daring spoke at MLB on TBS Media Day and here is a sampling of the conversation:
How impressive has this late run by the Mets been, considering all their injuries?

As a baseball person, I'm almost more impressed this year than I was last year. Last year was exciting because you had great young pitching and you had (Yoenis) Cespedes, who just, you know, carried the team on his shoulders, so there weren't as many ancillary pieces. I hope that Gabriel Ynoa, and (Robert) Gsellman, and (Seth) Lugo and (T.J.) Rivera go on to have long and amazing careers. You could honestly say that this could be their moment, the best moment that they might ever have in a big league uniform. To me, hat is get one guy that does it, but to get four, five, or six guys, to me, is just remarkable. Their record in Gsellman, Lugo, and (Rafael) Montero, even including Montero because he won his first two starts, their record when those guys pitch is more than you could ever ask from (Jacob) deGrom and others.
As a baseball guy, I almost like it more because I know that I could have never done what they did, the six, seven, eight years in the minor leagues. I just don't have that in me, couldn't have done it, so when I see people that can do it, I'm really attracted to watching them play, and glad that they have their time in the sun.
Last season, you called Mets games deep into the playoffs. Since TBS has the American League, you won't have that chance this season. Is that kind of a relief?
I think the experience was better because the Mets won. I did the Dodgers series, they win. I do the Cubs series, they win. I wonder how it would have been historically if they hadn't won those series, for me as a broadcaster. It wouldn't have been different for me how I did the games, I wonder if it would have been different as far as the criticism, or whatever, if they hadn't won the series.
I don't think it's a strange situation at all. In fact, because I know we're doing the American League, I haven't even really thought about having to do the Mets games (in the postseason). When you follow a team around, you're not supposed to root for the team, I understand that, but you root for the human beings and you hope that they have amazing stories and amazing games, so in that way, not to be there and not to chronicle it, I feel bad about that.
I wish I was part of it, but looking at it from not-a-New York Mets-announcer, the Cubs are the Golden State Warriors. They can only have a great year if they win it all, and I'm assuming they're going to make it to at least the final seven. In that way, I'm happy because Boston, Toronto, Baltimore, Texas, Cleveland, with the injuries, they're so grouped together. I'd hate to have to bet on who's going to come out of that scrum.
Since you have done national broadcasts for the playoffs for many years now, do people see you as a national broadcaster as much as a Mets announcer?
I can only speak for some people social media-wise, whatever, and it seems like everything's positive, and I think the only reason, you know, there's always going to be negative because, I think Jack Buck is probably one of the best announcers in the history of the game, and it seems like nobody likes him. I think it has a lot to do with how provincial you are about your team.
I do feel like you earn that, though, because when I do games in the postseason, I spend a lot of time trying to make sure that I know exactly when so and so was injured, exactly the turning point in someone's season, that on June 22nd, Hanley Ramirez changed his batting stance. All those things, I think, are important to have when people go, 'well, he's not Jerry Remy, but he kind of knows about our team this year.'
You're the only announcer on a lead broadcast team for the playoffs that calls a team throughout the season.
I honestly, for me personally, and it might not be for everyone else, I don't know how you can do the postseason without doing a team all year. The reason I say that is that the year-long process, even though, I should know this, it surprises me every year that it's that long, that in a three-game series in Atlanta, the Mets can look like the worst team in baseball, and then a week later, in a three-game series in Cincinnati, they look like the best team in baseball. That stuff always surprises me because, when I played, I always felt like you were kind of moving uphill, but it is 'boom' all year long, and so going through that, you can have a great appreciation for who gets spit out the other side.
What's it like when you call the American League playoffs and have to do Yankees games, and you might hear some stuff from their fans that you're a Met guy?
I did early in my career with TBS, I did a lot of Yankees postseason, and I never got that. I think that I'm certainly considered a Met guy, but I'm considered a New York guy, so that helps me, right? One of the greatest things that prepared me for this job was that I pitched in New York, so I've been cheered off the mound, and I've booed by 50,000 people coming off the mound, so I think my shoulders are big enough for any criticism that comes your way. It's going to come, that's how it goes, and if I wasn't prepared. It's funny, I was working with someone who will remain nameless because it's not right, but we just did a game, postseason, and afterwards he got on the phone with his significant other, she was reading him back the comments that people had about him, and he's like 'oh no, oh no, no,' and I asked him, 'are you getting what people are like tweeting about you or whatever?' He's like yeah, and I said, 'Let me tell you, as long as you live, this job, there's a few things you do after the game: one is you don't read Twitter, second, you consider things that you could have done better in the broadcast and make sure you do it next time, things that you did do well in the broadcast, you bring to the next broadcast, and third, get yourself a stiff bourbon. Those are the three things you do after a game, that's it.
You almost make it sound like how you would analyze one of your starts in preparation for your next start.
That's a great question. I feel exactly that that's what it is in the postseason. You know, in the regular season, you're trying to weave a thematic tale of a team's travels for six months. In the postseason, you're trying to stay out of the way of greatness because these teams are all at their best, great things are going to happen, and you want to make sure that you're not in the way of it, so that is part of it. Then, the second part of the postseason, because of the days off, it does, it allows me to think about lineups, think about the pitcher, think about the last time he pitched.
It's very much like pitching. I can't run anymore, so I don't have to run five miles like I used to do in between starts pitching, but running miles as far as data is concerned. I thought when I first started this job, and I think for some announcers it's like this, that there'd be a lot more interaction with the players and get more insight for the broadcast. I found, especially in the postseason, that is nonsense to what I'm trying to do because Ernie Johnson will do that, Joe Buck for FOX will do that. My job is that when the game starts, that I am the seventh umpire, I'm the second manager, I'm the extra pitching coach, I'm the teammate, you know, so I think that all those hats that you wear are the fun part of the postseason, it really is.
What are your thoughts on Vin Scully, who is retiring this year, and his influence on the game and on broadcasters?
I think for Vinny, there's such a humility and intelligence in what he does that I think that gets lost in broadcast shows or whatever. Speaking louder on some shows seems to be where they're going.
When I think of Vinny, though, and I've known him since I was a kid, that he's bigger than an announcer. 'Announcer' doesn't even encapsulate what he is.
To me, he is the caretaker of the last 60 years of Major League Baseball. What we're going to miss is that, at some point, he can talk about a young player for the Diamondbacks, Socrates Brito, and go on a tangent about Socrates and all of that, while sprinkling in 'Carl Furillo, when I watched Carl play.' All of that stuff is going to be kind of lost because I can tell the story, but I wasn't there, so it doesn't ring true. He's the greatest caretaker that we've ever had behind the mic for this great sport.

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