NLDS’ Darling Impressed with Past, Present Gibson

Photo by Jon Willey

By Josh Greene

In regards to the D-backs’ big six-run come-from-behind win vs. the Dodgers earlier this week, WTBS’ NLDS broadcaster and former big league pitcher Ron Darling knows a thing or two about two-out, extra-inning rallies, too.

The ex-right-hander was a member of the 1986 World Champion Mets who worked their way back into their World Series matchup with the Red Sox by mounting a similar rally in extra innings of a must-win Game 6. Down by two runs and down to their last out entering the bottom of the 10th inning, New York forced a Game 7 with an improbable comeback that – rather than a Ryan Roberts walk-off grand slam – also featured a game-changing play at first base, just like Tuesday’s D-backs win.

Two years after the ’86 Series, it was Kirk Gibson who helped eliminate Darling’s Mets en route to an NL MVP award and a championship with the Dodgers. Making a difference in left field with the leather, the future D-backs manager also collected two home runs and six RBI to help sink New York.

“We handled Kirk pretty well in the regular season, but he turned it up a notch in the playoffs,” Darling said. “He was one of those guys when the lights shined brightest, he played better. And he did that against us in 1988. Between his play and that of Orel Hershiser, it was too much for us to overcome.

“He had two or three amazing catches. He was just a winning player, man. Amid all the Sabersticians and all the numbers, he was a great ballplayer. We ran into a buzz saw, but it was his leadership and winning MVP was the main reason they won the championship.”

Helping call his share of NLDS action this postseason from the broadcast booth, Darling credits Gibson and his staff with making a difference in the D-backs’ clubhouse culture and also that of the one on the field.

“It’s Gibby’s energy but also that of his coaching staff who all played the game right,” he said. “I’m happy to see it anytime guys from my generation – the gamers – but you never know if that will translate. Will guys who make millions of dollars want to listen to a guy about playing the game the right way? Some do, and some don’t. But he’s forceful enough where people will listen, and they will be better players for it.”

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