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Good Ketih/Bad Keith

Edgy DC
Aug 11 2005 03:22 PM
Edited 3 time(s), most recently on Aug 12 2005 08:00 AM

It seems almost inevitable that whenever Keith Hernandez gets a few games in the Met booth, somebody in the press calls on the Mets to make him a permanent member. Now, I don't think that's happening soon because I think Keith likes things the way they are, being a retired gentleman miraculaously retaining his youthful brown hair, able to work as it interests him, but on his terms only --- not subject to the daily grind.

But I also don't really think it should happen, because what makes Keith a treat is his lack of professionalism --- and I try to mean that in the best way. He's impolitic --- sometimes rightly, sometimes wrongly, occasionally brutally. It allows him to approach a situation from a new angle analytically and provide exciting insight. That's what McCarver once was, before professionalism --- and a pink slip --- turned him into a poseur who retained the airs of independent thought but really kept churning out received, lazy, uncreative and safer observations.

A smarter, but less honest, Fran, almost.

Anyhow, I'd hate to see that happen to Keith, and if that means he only does 50 games, so be it.

Anyhow, last night's good Keith: After the double-steal, the Mets crack production team found archival footage featuring the last Mets' steal of home --- a straight steal by Roger Cedeņo. I'm pretty sure that was the game where Roger Clemens returned to Shea, featuring that steal, Shawn Estes' inability to hit Roger Clemens in the butt, Mike Piazza's homer, and Estes' homer. But if it was, nobody mentioned it. But what Keith did do is mercilessly rip the Yankee catcher for his tag (Cedeņo should have been out and the ump made a great call), describing the tag as "absolutely brutal."

The producers did some quick research and Frannie reported that the Yankee catcher was Alberto Castillo and that he was released by the Yankees the next day --- a report that kind of vindicated Keith's shockingly honest report.

Last night's bad Keith: Kevin Mitchell came up in conversation, perhaps when they were talking about ballplayers from San Diego. Noting that Mitchell was traded after 1986, Keith observed that losing Mitchell and Ray Knight is what sank the team after 1986 because it made them a primarily lefthanded hitting team.

Now, the Mitchell trade was mostly unwise, there's just no denying that. But the broader point is nonsense. In 1987, Kevin Mitchell was good but not great, going .280 / .350 / .474 / .824 for two teams, getting traded in a challenge trade by his hometown Padres 62 games into his tenure there. Kevin McReynolds played 20 more games than him and went .276 / .318 / .495 // .813. So it's hard to frame that as a loss to the Mets righthanded hitting prowess in 1987.

Ray Knight, meanwhile, went an ominous .256 / .310 / .373 // .683 for Baltimore while, at the same time, Howard Johnson went .265 / .364 / .504 // .868 in his breakthrough year, including an uncharacteristic .289 / .376 / .552 // .928 agianst lefthanders.

Big plus for the Mets.

Aside from that, the righthanded hitting half of their second-base platoon, Tim Teufel, came through with a career year, going .308 / .398 / .545 // .943 and getting 43 extra-base hits in only 299 at-bats.

The Mets had plenty of righthanded hitting that year, even with the beginning of Gary Carter's end.

The Mets faded for a lot of reasons:

  • In 1987, significant injury and suspension time was missed by most of their star starting rotation.
  • In 1988, they just didn't do it in the playoffs.
  • In 1989, they stuck too long with Carter, and, well, you Keith, in a season in which you both were injured and ineffective when healthy.
  • After that, they didn't successfully transition to a new generation while a pattern of consolidation trades for veterans was catching up with them.
Nothing against Ray Knight, but his myth has to end somewhere, and Keith's mouth would be a refreshing place for that to happen.

metirish
Aug 11 2005 11:21 PM

OK, great post, I saw the game last night and Mitchell was brought up because of the Wright catch, Mitch made a catch somthing like that when playing for the Reds Ted said, at least that's what I think I heard, I coould be wrong.That's when Keith brought up how much the team missed him after he was traded, and how the team was a primarily lefthanded hitting team.I'd love to hear Keith talk more about this, with the numbers you put out it shows maybe Keith was wrong but he was part of the team so if he says the team missed Mitch then I would believe him.Does he mean the team missed him because he was a good teammate or was it all about the numbers, that would be interesting to know.

I think you are so right in regards to Keith the broadcaster, I love the fact that he's not your tupical player turned color guy turned cliche guy, just listen to Rick Sutcliffe, he's the worst. Hernandez from what I have read recently likes his life, 50 games is fine with him and doing post season work on MSG where he excels suits his NYC life.

I'd love to see Keith teamed with Thom Brennaman on FOX during the Play-Offs, I think they would make a great team, Brennaman IMO is far better than Buck , Hernandez would be great with him.

There is no doubt that Hernandez is a fave of the media guys that write about these things, they love him because he's not like the other bullshit artists, the last thing Keith would need though if he got a National gig is for a program director tell him how he should act, that would never work and I hope it would never happen.

Johnny Dickshot
Aug 12 2005 06:51 AM

The stolen-home game was not off Clemens but Ted Lilly. Cedeno reached base with a fly ball to right that wasn't caught by Enrique Wilson.

That game marked the final MFY appearances for both Lilly & Castillo; and Mondesi was traded for that night.

I like Keith on TV too and for the same unpolished, stright-shootin' reasons you cite.

PatchyFogg
Aug 12 2005 11:17 AM

What Kevin Mitchell and Ray Knight did numbers-wise in other outposts the next year is of no consequence to me. If Keith says that they needed those guys, that's good enough for me.

However, given the way that Keith caved and apologized to the players after his MSG.com article a few years back, I'm not so sure about the impolitic stuff, either.

Edgy DC
Aug 12 2005 11:28 AM

The Mets led the league in scoring by .15 runs. What they needed was Dwight Gooden to not get suspended and Rick Aguilera, Sid Fernandez, Bob Ojeda, and --- though we hardly knew it yet --- David Cone to not get hurt.