The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘Keith Hernandez’

Happy birthday

Posted by keithosaunders on August 24, 2018

When I was young I fell in love with jazz music.  I studied, practiced, jammed, and gigged.  I was precocious and thought I was much better than I was.  Harmonically, rhythmically, and technically I was callow – less than the player I am today.  I didn’t care.  There was joy and abandon in my playing and the optimism that is the domain of the young.

When I was young I went on dates.  I had infatuations, rejections, romances, and breakups.  There were no dating aps — I  was judged on my poise and insouciance in the moment.  Sometimes I fell flat on my face and other times the stars aligned for great successes.  It didn’t matter – there was time.

When I was young if I wanted to go to a ballgame my greatest worry (living in New York) was whether or not there would be a rain out.  The cost was not prohibitive, the game, though slow, was not marred by interminable booth delays or a revolving door of relief pitchers.  I was not made to feel like a criminal upon entering the stadium.  There was joy in the experience.

So begins my 58th year.  Bring it on.


Image result for Keith Hernandez

Keith Hernandez – my favorite Met.

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The 1986 Mets — amazingly unlikeable

Posted by keithosaunders on June 26, 2011

When the Mets won the World Series in 1986 I, along with the rest of the city, was enthralled.  It did not quite compare to the unbridled joy I felt in 1981, when the Dodgers finally beat the Yankees, but it was close.  To this day the two game sixes, versus the Astros in the NLCS, and of course, the Redsox in the Series, are among the most dramatic, and improbable games I have ever seen. 

We in New York thought that the Mets of the ’80s would be good for at least another two or three Series victories, but of course it was not to be.  Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry were taken down by drug and alcohol addiction, Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez were soon to be on the downside of their careers, and a series of bad trades, and unfortunate signings (can you say Kevin McReynolds?)  did the team in. 

Recently I watched a documentary called The Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets.  As the title implies, it deals largely with the demons of that team — the drugs, fighting, and carousing.  They interviewed Strawberry, Gooden, Carter, among others.  Glaringly absent was Keith Hernandez, who any Met fan knows, was the leader of that team.  I can imagine that the Mets, who employ Keith as an announcer, nixed his involvement in a show that was going to be decidedly negative.

While it was a poorly produced documentary that had an agenda, it did bring up some valid points about this team.  The Mets of the mid-80s should have won more, or at the very least, been in position to win more.  

To hear Strawberry talk about what his routine was like. is eye-opening to say the least.  According to Straw, he would be out until the wee hours of the morning, drinking, snorting, hanging out with celebrities, and making the most of being the toast of the town.  He would arrive at the ballpark and pop six greenies before batting practice, washing them down with coffee, since that seemed to strengthen their effect.  After batting practice he would pop three more greenies right before the game.  Repeat and rinse for a 162 game season.  Gee, I wonder why his and Doc’s career fizzled so soon?

The worst was the story that Straw told of the plane trip coming back to New York from Houston after winning the pennant.  The entire team was smashed on champagne, and they began ripping up the seats from the plane, even managing to dislodge one.  They received a bill for $20,000 dollars, which Davey Johnson ripped up.  And you wonder why he was a considered a player’s manager…

The thing that bothered me about all of this is the way Straw looks back on all of this.  While he says he regrets his actions, and acknowledges the harm they did to his career, you can hear in his voice a kind of pride he took in those wild times.  To me it’s not funny to hear about vandalism.  I can understand being young, wanting to party, and sow wild oats, but when you put it in the context of the wasted potential, it’s merely sad. 

What a waste.  That team may have one day been mentioned in the same breath as the A’s of the early 70s, or the Big Red Machine.  Instead, they are a blip on baseball’s radar.  At best they are a testament to the gogo 80s; a shitty decade if there ever was one.

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Texas and San Francisco: An unlikely, yet delightful matchup

Posted by keithosaunders on October 27, 2010

I love these Series in which I have no rooting interest.  As a Mets fan you would think I would grow tired of this situation, but as documented earlier, my pathological Yankee  hatred prevents me from fully enjoying any Series that they are a part of.  

Some of my favorite non-rooting interest Series have been Pittsburgh v Baltimore, a 7 game thriller featuring my favorite, Willie Stargell, and the we-are-family Pirates.  Then there was the Phillies first Series victory the next year — a 6 game affair against the Kansas City Royals.  I also liked the 1982 Keith Hernandez, Willie McGee Cardinals, who beat the Brewers in 7 games.

OK, I now realize there are too many non-rooting interest Series to list, but you get the idea.  When your team is not involved it allows you to focus on the pure joy and beauty of baseball without the ulcer-inducing tension inherent in rooting for your team. 

Who am I rooting for this year?  I honestly don’t know.  I grew up in Los Angeles hating the Giants because we were supposed to hate the Giants.  Truthfully, however, I did not experience the real inter-city rivalry that my father did growing up in Brooklyn in the 30s and 40s.  The Giants were rarely good in the 70s and early 80s and so were not entirely on my radar. 

I love the way this Texas team plays ball but can I root for a team that was once owned by George Bush?  Not to mention the fact that I am currently living in San Fran, for crying out loud. 

So what I’m really rooting for is a 7 game Series.  If it goes 6 or 7 games I’m sure I’ll have been swayed one way or another.  We haven’t had a 7 game Series since 2002, which was the last time the Giants were involved.  They played the Angels and ended up losing in heart-breaking fashion.  They were ahead 3-2 in games going back to Anaheim, and blew a 5-0 7th inning lead in game 6 before losing the final game 4-1. 

Before I sign off for the day I would like to note that my moving to New York City in 1984 coincided with the emergence of the Mets as a force after a decade of horrible baseball.  Now I show up in the Bay Area and all of a sudden the Giants come from out of nowhere to appear in the fall classic.  Don’t you think that Seattle or Washington should want me to move to their cities?  I am considering all offers.  A nice penthouse apartment on K street, and Nationals season tickets would suit me fine.

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Fun with announcing, starring Ralph Kiner and Keith Hernandez

Posted by keithosaunders on September 2, 2010

Lest you think that the Yankees, with Phil Rizzuto and John Sterling, have cornered the market on eccentricity in the announcing booth, I am giving equal time to the New York Mets TV team.  For years Ralph Kiner, the great Pittsburgh Pirates slugger, was a staple in the Mets announcing core.  These days he is mostly retired, but every once in a while, say five or six times a year, they dust him off, prop him up, and bring him in.  He’s always been a favorite of mine and he was a great announcer in his day, although he could be prone to mispronounce certain names or sponsors.  Manufacturers Hanover became Manufacturers Hand Over, while Reds pitchers Mario Sota was transformed into Mario Soda.

Once again, the great Jeff Mazzei supplied the anecdote:

…the highlight was Kiner & Hernandez strolling down memory lane.  Gary Cohen made the mistake of asking Ralph if the Mets and Astros had a natural rivalry in the early days because they were both expansion teams that arrived at the same time.  Ralph said it was actually very one-sided with the Astros winning most of the time, but he loved coming to Houston because of the hotel.  Keith chimed in that he knew exactly what hotel he was talking about (which he did). 

Kiner said, “Yes, they had a great bar,” and Hernandez reminisced, “Yes, they had that great brown bag policy.  Apparently, Harris County was a dry county, and this hotel let you bring your own liquor into the bar as long as it was concealed. 

But this was just the beginning.  Keith said, “You know, when I played triple A in Wichita, they had a bar with a policy that you could bring your own as long as you removed the label and replaced it with a label that just had your name, and you’d leave it on the counter.  I used to love to tell the bartender, “Give me a Keith & tonic”. 

And so began Ralph & Keith’s journey through the dry counties of triple A baseball.  It was all the more hilarious due to Kiner’s slurred speech which was interrupted by Gary Cohen’s vain attempts to call the game.  I guess you never know when Pandora’s box is about to be opened.

 From the Yankee game, Michael Kay was reading a promo for Yankee Classics on the Yes Network.  O’neill chimes in with, “Have the Yankees ever lost a game on that show?  They must be 1000-0, like the Harlem Globetrotters.”

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Revisiting Mets vs Astros: Game 6

Posted by keithosaunders on June 27, 2010

The game was played in the Astrodome on Wednesday, October 15th.  I was at game 5 which was played at Shea Stadium the previous day.  Nobody remembers game 5 because of the magnitude of the following game, but it was a beauty as well, featuring an epic matchup of Dwight Gooden and Nolan Ryan.  Darryl Strawberry tied the game at 1 with a home run in the 5th and the score remained knotted until the bottom of the 12th when Gary Carter drove in the winning run with a single up the middle.

I never saw Game 6 because of  my then steady gig playing solo piano for yuppies at a Wall street watering whole called St Maggie’s Cafe.  I ended up listening to most of the extra innings on the restaurant’s transistor radio.  (how quaint!)  

24 years ago postseason day games were not uncommon, especially when both leagues were playing on the same day.  The Mets game had a 3;30 start time because the ALCS game 7 between the Redsox and the Angels was scheduled for 8pm that evening.  The result was that New York City, on a crisp fall afternoon, ground to a halt.  People literally stopped working and flocked to office TVs.  On the streets people ducked into the nearest bar or watched department store televisions. 

After playing for an hour or so I was politely asked to stop.  I gladly took a seat at the bar and listened to one of the most gut wrenching post season games ever.  The game matched  Bobby Ojeda and Bob Knepper.   Ojeda did not have his best stuff allowing 3 early runs, but he settled down.  Knepper pitched a gem shutting down the Mets offense for 8 innings.

The details:  The Mets finally solved Knepper in the 9th inning putting up a 3 spot off of him and reliever Dave Smith.  When the ‘stros failed to score in the bottom of the inning the game headed to extras.  The Mets went ahead in the 14th on a Wally Backman RBI but Jessie Orosco blew the save allowing a home run to Billy Hatcher.  Finally, in the top of the 16th the Mets exploded for 3 runs silencing the rabid Astrodome crowd.  But the Astros would not go down easily and they battered a tired Orosco for 2 runs before Kevin Bsss struck out to end the game.

Living in New York City I have always looked at this game from a Mets perspective.  It was a tough, gritty win — an improbable win given how dominant Knepper was.  Ojeda was hittable but managed to get the key outs keeping the score within reach.  The bullpen was almost flawless and Keith Hernandez made several sparkling plays at first. 

From an Astros, perspective, however, the game looks much different.  In the bottom of the first Houston scored 3 runs and had the Mets on the ropes when Alan Ashby botched a squeeze play, swinging through a pitch and leaving Bass hung out to dry between third and home.  Just that one run would have made the difference.

The 16th inning rally began with a high fly pop up by Strawberry which dropped between three fielders.  Center fielder Hatcher had taken one step back before realizing that the ball was going to be in front of him.  This was probably a catchable ball.  When Ray Knight singled to left.  third base coach Bud Harrelson aggressively sent Darryl home.  The throw from Bass was up the line and Strawberry was safe, but a good throw may have gotten him. 

Imagine being an Astros fan watching this game.  Could there have been a more excruciating loss?  Boston Redsox fans would soon have an answer to this question.   

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