Stunned by former Mets starter / SNY mouthpiece Ron Darling’s claim of “I’m a huge Coltrane fan”, the Village Voice’s Allan Barra wonders,”was one of the most popular Mets in the team’s history just trying to earn himself some cheap cultural credentials with the intellectual crowd?”

“How do you feel about Kind of Blue?”

“I’ve listened to Kind of Blue, I don’t know, 40 or 50 times, and each time it’s like I’m hearing it new,” he said about the famous Miles Davis album. “There’s always something I didn’t hear before.””I can listen to jazz from just about any period, but my favorite is the era from 1946, a year after the war, to the mid-’60s. I like a lot of avant-garde jazz, like Coltrane and Miles Davis. To me, that music never seems nostalgic. It always sounds current.”

“Which artists?” I asked. “Were you thrilled by the energy and aggressiveness of Lee Morgan’s trumpet? What pianists? Did you groove to Bill Evans’s cool introspection? Were you moved by Tommy Flanagan’s resourcefulness? Soothed by Oscar Peterson’s elegance?”

“Yes to all of the above,” he answered. “And lots of others, too”Red Garland, Hank Jones, Ahmad Jamal; I got to where I could identify many of them from a random solo. But as far as I’m concerned, John Coltrane and Miles Davis are in a separate universe.”

“Even the late-period Coltrane stuff?” I asked. “Doesn’t some of it get a bit too abstract to all but the converted?”

“That’s to my taste, too,” Darling replied, “but sometimes I feel unworthy. I find that sometimes in his late period, it seems like noise and I can’t make it out”but in the middle of it, I kind of understand the beat; it sounds right to me. I always figured it’s not Coltrane’s fault that I don’t get it right away, it’s just my lack of sophistication. It all depends on where you are. Something that doesn’t make sense today might make perfect sense 10 years from now.”

“Did you ask them to play Coltrane riffs for you when you came to bat at Shea?”

“No, they chose the music for us. I think they used to play the Beach Boys’ ‘Darling’ for me, which I thought was pretty good. Funny thing”a lot of the music they play at the ballpark now is ’80s pop and rock. A lot of it’s the same stuff they played when I was still playing ball.”

“Does it make you feel nostalgic?”

“Naw. I don’t get it”I thought it was trash then.”