Showing posts with label Keith Hernandez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Keith Hernandez. Show all posts

Friday, July 13, 2012

50 Years in Cards: 1984

Part 23 of our 50-year Moustache...
What is it: 1984 Topps #120, Keith Hernandez

What makes it interesting: Now, we're talking! The '84s succeed where the '83s failed as far as aesthetics. The borders and round photo were replaced by some more rigid lines and text, something that reeks 1980s and really looks great. A winning set from Topps. The Mets team set is also winning, as it features the first regular issue card of Darryl Strawberry and the final Mets card of Tom Seaver, and the Traded series includes the rookie cards of Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling.

And then there's Keith Hernandez, who appears on his first Regular-issue Mets card, here.

Brought over in a deadline deal with the St. Louis Cardinals Tantamount to Peter Minuit purchasing the island of Manhattan, Keith became the kind of player the Mets hadn't had in years, the kind of player they had been missing: an impassioned leader who absolutely refused to accept losing. Though the remainder of '83 was a wash, by '84 much of the team had been turned over to a much younger group, ready to follow Keith's lead. That first year, Keith led the Mets in hitting, and the team won 90 games for only the second time in team history. In 1985, the year Keith would chronicle in his compelling book "If At First...: A Season With The Mets," they improved further, winning 98 games. And, of course, there was 1986, there was Keith getting a massively important hit in Game 7, and there was the World Series Championship we'd been chasing.

Injuries would catch up with Keith later in his career, but by then, his mark on Mets history was already well-secure. Not only did he constantly get the clutch hit, but his fielding was unparalleled by anyone before or after him. Post-career exploits would lead him to "Seinfeld," two more books, and, of course, a spot in the broadcast booth at SNY. Keith is, truly, a great Met, and his credentials speak for itself. After all, He's Keith Hernandez.

Card Back:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Kitschy Weekend

Not much noteworthy went on this weekend, or at least that's a kind way of saying that the Mets looked lousy all weekend. Coming off their great series in Tampa, the Mets arrived home and continued to pitch well, but apparently left their bats in Florida. Too bad, since good performances by Jonathon Niese and Chris Young were mostly wasted.

The only good thing to report from the weekend would be Sunday's Keith Hernandez Bobblehead promotion, which I was on hand for. I'd made mention in the past of my bizarre attraction to this kitsch the Mets give out from time to time. It serves no greater purpose than to clutter up my life and my closet, I suppose. But over time, I'd pared some of that stuff down. A number of promotional items I'd accumulated over the years became eBay fodder, among them bobbleheads of Willie Randolph, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, a bunch of old caps of varied colors, and even a Dunkin Donuts gift card (the Endy Chavez Bobblehead, I have kept, along with the mini Shea Stadium replica from 2008). Nonetheless, with the Mets doing their 50th Anniversary Bobbleheads, I felt I had to try to get to at least one of these games. I would have preferred Edgardo Alfonzo, but scheduling being in my way, I had to settle for Keith Hernandez. That's not to say that this is settling much. Keith is as beloved a Met as anyone. So, when a ticket for June 17th landed in my lap, I of course ran out to Citi Field to get my Keith Bobblehead. And, with it, I got to sit through a relatively boring 2 hour, 50 minute Mets loss. But, who cares? I got a Keith Hernandez bobblehead, right!?

I feel silly, sometimes, getting quite so excited about these kinds of things. But I also know I'm not the only one. Or at least I hope I'm not.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Written Traditions

Before Keith Hernandez plied his trade on television, becoming a maven of unintentional (and sometimes very intentional) comedy and general smarminess, he was one of Baseball's greatest on-field minds. To watch him at the plate was to appreciate his strategy: Lie in the weeds, then attack. To see him field was like watching a Gene Kelly dance routine: Graceful and flawless. Both of these traits about Hernandez are made evident in the first of two books he wrote about Baseball, "If at First..."

With Pitchers and Catchers set to report to Port St. Lucie tomorrow (Johan Santana among them), it is almost time for me to pull out my dog-eared, raggedy paperback copy of "If at First..." for my annual Spring Training reading. I have read this book every march for the past 5 seasons as a way of getting me primed and ready for the Baseball season from a thinking man's standpoint.

The book, a journal-style chronicle of the Mets 1985 campaign (the paperback has a final chapter regarding 1986), gives you a great deal of insight into how Keith dealt with a lot of the outside circumstances in his life. 1985 was not a particularly good year for him off the field, with a messy divorce and the Pittsburgh Drug Trials taking place at various points during the season. Hernandez handles it all with class, never allowing it to greatly affect his performance on the field. "On the ballfield, I'm free," he says before Opening Day. Minor details that might have been missed to the general public are discussed. Hernandez discusses his relationship with the other players on the team. Tough on young Darryl Strawberry, who will eventually battle the same problems Hernandez had earlier in his career. Chummy with Rusty Staub, the newly-acquired Gary Carter, Ron Darling and Jesse Orosco. Moments are mixed in with anecdotes from his prior days coming up through the Cardinals system. Of course, his relationship with his father, who was tough on him to the point where they wouldn't speak for several weeks on end. Although I am too young to remember the 1985 season with any great detail, having read this book makes me feel like I was there for every game.

It's just about time for me to pull it off the bookshelf once again. It's a nice reminder of what to look forward to.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Real Men of Genius

This was a big day for the Mets. Not only did Pedro Martinez make a successful return to the pitching rotation and record his 3,000th career strikeout, but Keith Hernandez managed to work the words "floozy" and "blusterous" into his pregame analysis and later to go on about the importance of the Mets "bulge" (i.e., their five-game lead over the Phillies).

Look, all I know is that my life would be a lot less complete without these two gentlemen. God bless you, Pedro Martinez and Keith Hernandez.

It's been a roller coaster of a couple weeks in Mets Land, so let's just enjoy the upswing. And oh yeah, keep on rooting for those Bravos! (For two more days, anyway.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


... Who does Keith Hernandez have to blow to get on the all-time Gold Glove team?

C Johnny Bench
1B Wes Parker
2B Joe Morgan
SS Ozzie Smith
3B Brooks Robinson
OF Willie Mays
OF Roberto Clemente
OF Ken Griffey Jr.
P Greg Maddux

I confess, I've never heard of Wes Parker ("You've never heard of Wes Parker? Well, Wes Parker played blahblahblah for the blahblahblah and batted blahblahblahblahblahblah..."). He seems like a nice fellow, and it's fun to see an underdog end up on one of these lists alongside Mays, Morgan, Brooks Robinson, and the other Hall 0f Famers, but I would have thought Keith would be a shoe-in. Maybe I'm biased. In fact, I'm certain I'm biased. Oh well, Keith, at least you won another big honor this year.

Wes Parker surprise addition to all-time Rawlings Gold Glove team [ESPN]

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Congratulations, Keith Hernandez's Mustache

At some point during Friday night's loss to the Reds, Shea's video screen cut to a shot of Gary Cohen in the booth wearing a fake mustache followed by similar shots of several SNY cameramen wearing similar 'staches. Later, one of the many clap-clap-clap "Let's go Mets!" chants was accompanied by a loop of cartoon Gary and Ron slapping the 'stache off of Keith's face from that weirdest of the SNY commercials. What the hell was going on? Mets2Moon and I were stumped and too grumpy with the proceedings of the game to give it much thought. The next morning, I remembered: Newsday has been running a bracket contest about the best mustaches in New York sports history. The finalists were Keith and Don Mattingly. Keith must have won, explaining the 'stache-fest at Shea. Sure enough, he did.

Donny Baseball's soup strainer is gone now, and Keith's benefits from performance enhancing substances (Just for Men), but that is a solid final round.

We already know quite a bit about Keith's mustache's résumé: the .296 career average, 11 straight Gold Gloves, two rings, two Silver Sluggers, sharing the 1979 NL MVP with Willie Stargell, and making out with Elaine Benes. But there's a lot of Keith's mustache I bet you didn't know:
  • Finished third in the 1994 New York City mayoral election with 12% of the vote
  • Made a killing in dot com stocks; got out before the bubble burst
  • Completed the Boston Marathon in 3:06:32
  • Authored bestselling memoir, The Whiskers of My Discontent
  • An ace at sodoku
Yes, friends, that is indeed an impressive mustache.

(And of course, happy Ralph Kiner Day, everyone.)

Mustache Madness - Great Mustaches in New York sports [Newsday]

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

And he's not even getting a Divorce!

In April, 2001, El Guapo and I were taking in a Mets game on a lazy weekend afternoon, when the following exchange took place between Gary Thorne and Tom Seaver.

Thorne: Lemme tell you about Pittsburgh...




(Long Pause)

Seaver: Go ahead.

Truly a watershed moment in Mets History.

It really makes you think about what the qualifications must be to announce a Baseball game. And through the years we have followed the Mets, we've heard some of the best and quite a bit of the worst you can get out of an announcing team. Let's take a look at some of the men who we listen to as we watch, or listen, as some of us prefer, to our team.

Gary Cohen

Now, Cohen sounds just like what a good announcer should sound like. Crisp, clean and to the point. I really feel comfortable listening to him announce games. His calls are never over the top (well, unless Benny Agbayani was involved), and he does an excellent job playing the straight man in the booth to the clown that is Keith Hernandez (Or Ron Darling, depending on the day). For years, he was the radio voice, and as a radio listener, I can certainly say that the Mets Radio broadcast suffers without him.

Howie Rose, WFAN Radio

Let's face it, Rose is and will always be remembered for a certain Hockey call made on May 27, 1994.

Rose is where we start to get into some trouble. Rose is now the #1 man on the Radio. He was, for many years, the host of Mets Extra, the Radio version of the Pre/Post game show, and was fired in 1992 or 93 for being overly critical of the team. He then spent many years on TV, jockeying for time during the Dark Ages of Mets Broadcasting, when the TV team consisted of Rose, Tim McCarver, Fran Healy and Rusty Staub. Now you know why I always listened to the radio.

But Rose seems to be much more at home on the Radio. He doesn't have to fill in with idiotic banter, and as far as being too opinionated, well, some men you just can't reach. But he peaked in 2004/05 when he was teamed with Cohen in the Radio booth. Thoroughly enjoyable listening. He's still decent, but I much prefer him over Tom McCarthy.

But you will never, ever get another moment out of him like "MATTEAU! MATTEAU! MATTEAU!"

Keith Hernandez, SNY TV

I think Keith Hernandez just lives his life in complete "I'm Keith Hernandez" mode. He truly plays the role of the clown on the air, and much of his charm comes from his love of mindless banter and idle chit-chat. Nobody knows more about the game of Baseball, and what a specific player could be thinking about at a specific game moment like Keith Hernandez. As a player, he had the reputation as a thinking man's player, and it came across in his performance. Now, with nothing more to prove, he can just kick back and say whatever he feels.

Well, until he offends somebody...

Ron Darling, SNY TV

Darling's purpose in the booth is mainly to counter Hernandez and provide an ex-Pitcher's perspective to the game, which he does quite well. He and Keith were, of course, ex-teammates, forever bonded by a 1986 World Championship, and they're both lionized by Mets fans because of it. In fact, few remember that Darling was the starting pitcher in Game 7 of the 1986 World Series, and by his own admission, he pitched rather poorly in that game. We hadn't heard much from Darling since his retirement in 1995 until he resurfaced as an announcer for the Washington Nationals, and then was hired by SNY for the '06 season.

Darling and Hernandez in particular seem to have a good rapport in the booth, and as El Guapo noted, they often joke around about their playing days together. It's fun during Spring Training. It can get a little annoying when they start talking about Mentos during a blowout.

Tom McCarthy
, WFAN Radio

Because there is usually one announcer who is universally disliked by Mets fans, and the other four are generally liked, it's McCarthy who is the fall guy. His calls aren't necessarily bad, and he seems to get along well with Rose on the radio, but I swear to God when I listen to him announcing, it's almost as if Gilbert Gottfried stepped into the booth. And he came to the Mets after several years of working for the Phillies. That right there should give you bad vibes.

Ralph Kiner, SNY TV (occasionally)

The absolute King of Unintentional Comedy. Kiner has been butchering the English Language for as long as the Mets have been in existence. His quips are legendary. Kiner's Korner is ingrained in all of our minds. His comments page on the UMDB alone tell you how loved and revered Kiner is among Mets fans. Yes, his ability to call a game has been compromised by Bell's Palsy, and his appearances in the booth are always few and far between, but always enjoyed. The Mets are holding a night for him on July 14th this season. Nobody deserves it more.

And those who are gone, but surely not forgotten...

Fran Healy

OK, we all wish we could forget Fran. It's hilarious now, when you turn on FSNY, and there's Fran, randomly interviewing some Lacrosse player on the "Regional Sports Re-Port!" or talking to a retired basketball player on "Halls of Fame."

Every Mets fan has that moment when Fran simply threw them over the edge. For me, it was in July, 2000. The Mets were playing a game in Toronto, and Mike Piazza hit a Grand Slam over an advertisement in the outfield that read "PIZZA PIZZA." And no less than 20 times over the course of the rest of the game, Fran kept repeating, "And Mike Piazza...Hit a Ga-Rand Sa-Lam! And he hit it OVER THE PIZZA SIGN!" And who can forget that "THE NEW YORK METS 22 YEAR OLD SHORTSTOP IS CREATING ALL KINDS OF EXCITEMENT!!!" Fran would never hesitate to beat a fact into your head repeatedly.

Bob Murphy, Emeritus

I was at Murph's last game in 2003, and I admit that I cried. And I cried again when he passed away the following summer. I know I'm going to sound a little cheesy when I say this, but Murphy was the voice of my childhood, and the first voice I remember associating with the Mets. Murphy was the perfect announcer because he always remained positive about the team without being a homer (hear that, Sterling?). You knew he rooted for the Mets, but it was always something gentle, like the Happy Recap. Of course, like Kiner, Murphy had his moments with the English Language, and as a comment on the UMDB said, "If there was ever a man on this earth who looked like Porky Pig it's Bob Murphy," but all of those things just added to his charm. Sultry Summer nights are not the same without him.

I'll close with another anecdote. Again, it's April of 2001. El Guapo and I are watching a Mets game, I believe they were playing Montreal. Fran was announcing, and Keith was in the booth, filling in (so they were in "MUHN-tree-al"). Keith had been talking about the times he had hit 2 Home Runs in a game. He had mentioned that one of the times was the day his divorce was finalized. Almost as if on cue, Lee Stevens of the Expos cranked a HR, his second of the day (most likely off Trachsel). This, of course, prompted Fran to yell with glee, "HIS SECOND HOMER OF THE DAY! AND HE'S NOT EVEN GETTING A DIVORCE!"