Jim O'Donnell: Darling's restraint, timing gets TBS through wretched MLB moment

  • TBS broadcaster Ron Darling has done a wonderful job during baseball's postseason.

    TBS broadcaster Ron Darling has done a wonderful job during baseball's postseason. Associated Press

Updated 10/16/2021 9:36 AM

RON DARLING WAS ALREADY having a very good MLB postseason.

Working for Turner alongside play-by-play man Brian Anderson, the former Yale QB was mic-side for Game 5 of the Dodgers-Giants NLDS.


Darling then took it to a higher star when first-base umpire Gabe Morales blew the series-ending checked swing decision that knocked out Wilmer Flores and the 109-win Giants.

The game now belongs to the rages -- especially for San Francisco fans.

Bottom of the ninth, LAD up 2-1, two outs, Kris Bryant on first.

The brilliant Max Scherzer called upon in an abnormal role to finish and get his first career save for Dave Roberts and the Dodgers.

Up 0-2 in the count on Flores, Scherzer sent a "fisher" low and teasingly away.

Flores began to offer and then appeared to stop.

Not so said Morales, who may never be seen north of Oxnard again.

Series over.

On a botched call.

As Anderson began to fill in the audio blanks, Darling merely said: "Oh ... no."

More Anderson fill.

Then Darling, with restrained, pitch-perfect timing, again: "I didn't think he went on the slider down from Max ... Gabe Morales thought he did."

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Making the sequence even more brutal was the fact that the midnight matinee was one of the few in the endless MLB string of October nocturnal nonsense that was riveting from gate to wire.

When the initial replay from the camera down the first-base line came up, Darling concluded his unabridged requiem with: "Flores not even close ... Just an awful way for this game to end."

The sequence underscored the brilliance of silence as a rhythmic tool in any quality play-by-play booth.

In terms of national-caliber analysts in any sport, Darling showed once again that he is platinum-gold.

The Hawaii native has long had an ambient arrogance to his tone and on-air manner, like the Skull-and-Boneser down the hall.

As counterpoint, ask a Steve Stone what the score is and he'll tell you how the game was invented.


For sheer unprepared babble, Bears fans got a forced three-hour injection two weeks ago during a victory over the Lions when Fox sideman Aqib Talib ran the gamut from the banal to the mundane.

Darling and Anderson now continue with the Dodgers-Braves NLCS on TBS (Game 2, Sunday, 6:30 p.m.).

While Gabe Morales searches for shamed sanctuary somewhere in the blue-flamed tarpits of major league infamy.

STREET-BEATIN': TBS is getting further pop in its NLCS coverage with the presence of the supreme Bob Costas as wraparound studio host. Costas had the Greek-Irish forthrightness earlier this month to publicly proclaim that he is not the play-by-play man he once was. (Is his ring tone now "Yesterday?") ...

Some rave national reviews for the postseason MLB work of both Adam Amin and Jason Benetti. That looming question remains -- how long can Chicago hold 'em for local work? Benetti and "Just Visiting" Boog Sciambi are reported to be in the hunt to replace Matt Vasgersian on ESPN'S "Sunday Night Baseball." ...

On the flop side, White Sox fans had to gut out Len Kasper's thrashing attempt to adapt to radio play-by-play this season. (It requires a different sort of wordcraft than TV; can't some broadcast sports authority in Michigan fund a job for the state's lost native son?) ...

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and staff are sitting on a most intriguing appointment to the Illinois Racing Board. The probable nominee will bring name recognition and vast sports administrative acumen to the role. (For all of $1,500 per meeting, and no, it's not Lou Piniella.) ...

Also from the tails and hooves, Ben Bradley of WGN-Channel 9 News clocked in with an earnest, well-crafted piece on the rough-gaited state of horse racing in the Chicago area. That's no easy feat in an eight-minute TV window. ...

There is much to critique about ESPN/NFL reporter Adam Schefter -- beginning with the fact that he's fair-to-middlin' at best. But this pitchforking about him allowing then-Washington F.T. president Bruce Allen to fact check a story in 2011 is unnecessary roughness. (Full truthiness: A bearded baby was doing a variant with the personable Allen and the Chicago Blitz for The Daily Herald back in 1983.) ...

Exactly 50% of the nation -- 124 lucky markets -- will get the Bears-Packers Sunday (Fox, noon; Joe Davis & Greg Olsen). Given the depletion of Matt's Madcaps at running back, every fantasy player in the land has been trying to add Khalil Herbert -- meaning Justin Fields will rush for 83 yards ...

Jacksonville fans can only hope that Urban Meyer doesn't dance around Piccadilly Circus before the Jaguars-Dolphins Sunday eye opener from London (CBS, 8:30 a.m.; Kevin Harlan & Trent Green.) ...

And Fox's normally unflappable Gus Johnson -- after a Penn State punt went out of bounds at midfield: "And now Iowa will start from its own 50."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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