Ron Darling strongly endorsed the Yankees’ decision on a starting pitcher for the American League wild-card game, saying on Tuesday that going with Luis Severino is “a pretty brilliant move, and I think it’s a brave move.”
Darling was at the teams' workouts on Tuesday in the Bronx in preparation for his role as a Turner analyst for Wednesday night’s game, as well as for the winners’ ALDS against the Red Sox and eventually the ALCS.
He said he understood calls for the Yankees to go with J.A. Happ, given that he is a veteran lefthander in a ballpark with a deep leftfield. But he said of Severino, “If he’s on – and Aaron (Boone) said it great - if he’s pitching the way he can pitch, he’ll be the best pitcher on the field. I think that’s a good way to go. I think they made a good decision.”
Whatever happens, Darling said it will be a “no-lose situation” for him personally. He lives in New York, and he has a son who lives in Oakland. And regardless of who wins the wild-card game, he will return to his home area when he works the games in Boston this weekend.
“My dad has been sick, so for me to do games in Fenway Park, where he introduced me to the Red Sox and enjoying that team as a kid, and just being in my ‘hood, I think it’s a pretty good thing,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be interesting to broadcast a dominant team, a team that won 108 games. I remember a team like that.” (That was a reference to the 1986 Mets, young readers.)
Darling is intrigued by watching a Red Sox team “with a bull’s-eye on you. For the Yankees, this (wild card) is the game. I think they have to get through this game, or it’s a lost season. If they play the Red Sox (and lose), I don’t think it is a lost season. The Red Sox, if they don’t play in the World Series, it’s a lost season.”
Darling will work with analyst Dennis Eckersley and play-by-play man Brian Anderson. Ernie Johnson, Turner’s lead baseball play-by-play man, is out for the playoffs because blood clots in both legs prevent him from plane travel.
“I just sent a note to Ernie, because I know he’ll be pretty melancholy tomorrow,” Darling said. “Before our first game, he and I would always have a catch, so I’m missing that catch this year. But Brian’s the guy that every network would like to hang their hat on. That’s how talented he is, how good he is.”
Darling, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez recently completed their 13th season in the Mets booth for SNY, and all are expected back in the spring.
But Darling recently was the subject of speculation about potential interest in being the Mets' next general manager. He said he was presented with a hypothetical by a reporter, “and I guess I bit. I mean, I have three jobs. I can’t do any more jobs.”
He did acknowledge that he is “always intrigued by any idea of putting together a winning team. I think that to me intrigues me more than managing. I guess that really was my point is to do that as opposed to being on the field. But do I think I’m in the right place for what I do? Absolutely.”
Darling said he and Cohen recently spoke informally about the notion of the SNY trio someday retiring en masse, perhaps once they reach the 20-year mark together or thereabout.
“Maybe that would be a time for all of us to leave at the same time,” he said. “I think it would be a good thing for the network. It would be great if we get on a 20-year run, then give somebody else an opportunity to pick up our mess.”