Keith Hernandez deserves to be remembered. You will often hear this name bandied about for consideration to some other hall. Does he belong with the immortals or was he not quite good enough.
We don’t care, and all of that is missing the point. The point being Keith Hernandez had an extremely cool baseball career and deserves to be remembered.
Allow me go off topic for a moment. A while back my brother and I had an argument about who would make the greatest lead off hitter of all time. I answered Rickey Henderson. My brother countered with Barry Bonds, because of how he got on base. And then I called him a cheater and an asshole, because any manager that put Bonds at lead off would get fired within a week. Keith Hernandez answered the question, “What would it be like if a manager went completely insane and put a pretty good second baseman at first base?” Want a clip?
Wow. That’s...pretty goddamn good. Here’s the deal, I wanted to wow everybody here with dozens of examples of these plays, but apparently there are only four on youtube that I can find, so I’m going to have to pace myself here, and also acknowledge that there are roughly 50 other blogs that show these same clips, because these clips are really cool. What the hell, here’s another where he tells Ozzie his stash is trash.
The guy was the best fielding first baseman of all time, and fine, I’ll admit that first basemen are typically not remembered for their defense, but baseball is an extremely old game and anytime there is a person that everybody uses as the go to for best defense at their position of all time, they deserve some special consideration. The guy was utterly amazing.
The thing is he didn’t sock many dingers, and people gravitate toward what a player does at the plate, as seen here, looking like a goddamn Mario Brother.
But that isn’t to say he wasn’t a good hitter. He had a great on base percentage and got over 2,000 hits. That’s...something. He won a batting title, shared an MVP, and had a higher career WAR of 60 than players like Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza, Vlad Guerrero, Willie Stargell, Whitey Ford, and Clayton Kershaw, assuming Clayton tragically dies in an earthquake this spring.
I’m not saying he’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game mind you. I’m just saying he deserves to be remembered. Look at this goddamn bunt defense by the way. (I’m too hung over to cue this up properly. Just go to the minute mark)
See and all that is cool, but the man did something completely unheard of. He made the Mets cool. He didn’t do it on his own, but when he was traded from the Cardinals for the most Cardinals reason ever (Whitey Herzog says he didn’t hustle), he went from a team that had just won the World Series, to the worst team in the NL East. Three years later, this happened.
Heh. Go to hell, Boston.
Point is, he was a big part of the reason why the Mets were cooler than the Yankees for a few years. And the Yankees had Rickey Henderson. Crazy. (BTW, there are going to be a lot of guys on that 86 WS that make the HORG). And just how did Whitey feel about that trade after the fact?
Getting rid of Hernandez was addition by subtraction. I really feel that, if we had kept him, his attitude and his bull would have ruined our ball club. I know he never would have been as good for us as he has been with the Mets.
Oh for fuck’s sake. Go to hell, Whitey. You lost your shirt on that trade.
And now what do we have? As well as whipping out one of the better Seinfeld episodes, the guy is part of a great crew on SNY, which, hard as it may be to believe, are probably slightly better than listening to Michael Kay or John Sterling. I know, really slaying the dragon, there. I can’t say I’d rather be a Mets fan, because I know just how quickly that team can turn into a clown show, but I would love for my Yankees to annex their announcing crew.
All in all, that’s a hell of a career. Was he among the best of the best? I don’t care. His career was, and is, insanely cool.
Keith, you were really good.