Yes. Keith Hernandez Belongs in the Hall of Fame

15 Jan

1984 Topps Keith Hernandez

While reflecting on his career, which earned him a number retirement from the Mets and a congratulatory press conference on Wednesday, Keith Hernandez also came face-to-face with his own mortality.

Specifically, when the topic shifted to his chances of making the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the 68-year-old Hernandez said that if he does earn an induction, he’d like for it to happen while he’s still around to appreciate it. “It’s out of my hands,” Hernandez said. “I’ve been out of the game for a long time. Hopefully I’ve got another 15, 16, 17, 18 years of life. Maybe it’ll happen before I kick the bucket.”

I’m not into the analytics stuff, so I went old-school and counted 9 Hall of Fame-ish seasons for Hernandez during his career. Add to that an MVP in ’79, two World Series championships and 11 Gold Gloves and to me, Hernandez should be in there. Of course, the biggest knock will be the lack power for a 1st baseman (only 162 HRs in a 17-year career), but in his prime Keith was pretty consistent run producer with a guarantee of around 90 per year and an OBP that was always high. That said, the fact that Hernandez never got better than 10.8% in a Hall of Fame vote when he was on the ballot is mind-boggling. Time for the Veterans Committee to make up for that mistake.

Mets to Bring Back Old Timers Day

13 Jan

Mets Old Timers Day

On Wednesday, on a Zoom news conference to talk about that honor, Hernandez may have added a second new line to his resume: Newsbreaker. As he was talking about the Mets’ growing efforts under owner Steve Cohen to celebrate their history, Hernandez seemed to break the news that the team is going to hold its first Old-Timers’ Day since the 1990s this summer.

“The fact that we’re going to have an Old-Timers’ game again,” Hernandez said. “They’re going to bring in 50 players, I understand. That is fantastic.” The Mets have not announced the return of Old-Timers’ Day. Team president Sandy Alderson was asked on the same Zoom call if they plan to in 2022.

Yet another great move here by Steve Cohen in respect to Mets tradition.

Keith Hernandez To Finally Have His Number 17 Retired

11 Jan

Keith Hernandez

The Mets are going to retire Keith Hernandez’s No. 17 next season, during a ceremony on Saturday, July 9, prior to a game with the Marlins. Hernandez, the lynchpin of the Mets’ 1986 world championship team, joins Casey Stengel (37), Gil Hodges (14), Tom Seaver (41), Mike Piazza (31) and Jerry Koosman (36) to be so honored.

Hernandez played for the Mets from 1983 through 1989, acquired from the Cardinals in a trade on June 15, 1983. He hit .297 as a Met and won five Gold Gloves as a first baseman in New York. In 1984 he finished second to Ryne Sandberg in the NL MVP vote, hitting .311 with 97 RBIs.

Hernandez’s number being retired is not only long overdue, but also further testament to former owner’s Fred Wilpon’s incompetence in running the team all those years. David Wright will obviously get his number retired some day soon. But why the late, great Gary Carter hasn’t had his number retired already is beyond me.

All-Star Slugger Bill Buckner Dies at 69

27 May

Bill Buckner was much more than Game 6 and it wasn’t his fault (Dave Stapleton should’ve been playing 1st and as many foregt, there was a Game 7) the Red Sox lost the ’86 World Series. Buckner was a batting champ, an All-Star and had a long and distinguished career. Still, it was a good thing that he and Red Sox fans were able to reconcile before he passed and how awesome was it for Larry David to show Buckner’s ‘true spirit’ in that infamous Curb Your Enthusiasm episode years back.
RELATED: Saddened Mookie Wilson: Bill Buckner is more than that one play

Wally Backman Defends Lenny Dykstra in Racial Slur Fight

8 Apr

Dykstra Backman Darling

Score one for Team Dykstra.

Wally Backman became the latest former Met to chime in on the feud between Lenny Dykstra and Ron Darling over whether Dykstra shouted racial slurs at Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd from the on-deck circle during the 1986 World Series, as Darling claims he did.

Dykstra has vehemently denied the allegation while former teammates Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Kevin Mitchell, along with Boyd, have all said they did not hear his comments. Keith Hernandez, meanwhile, said he saw Dykstra “barking” at Boyd, but did not hear the alleged insults.

Backman was adamant the episode never happened.

“The fact of the matter is I [was] standing right besides Lenny on the on-deck circle before that game,” said Backman, the former minor-league Mets manager now in charge of the Long Island Ducks. “If something like that would have happened, if something would have been said, I would have said something to him at that time. But I’ve known Lenny a long time and I know for a fact — on my kids’ life — he did not say that.”

The evidence on both sides has been weighed and I think it’s pretty clear on who the winner is. Darling should apologize and admit he got it wrong.

No One Has Corroborated Ron Darling’s Account Of Alleged Lenny Dykstra Racial Taunts

4 Apr

Not his broadcasting partner Keith Hernandez. Not Darryl Strawberry or Dwight Gooden or Kevin Mitchell. Not Oil Can Boyd. Not Wally Backman (who had to be right behind Dykstra as he was 2nd in the lineup that day). Not any former Red Sox or even a front-seat Sox fan who attended Game 3. No one.

RELATED: Ex-Met Darryl Strawberry takes sides in Ron Darling-Lenny Dykstra feud, calling 1 of them a liar

Lenny Dykstra Vows To Sue Ron Darling Over Book Alleging Racial Taunts During ’86 World Series

1 Apr

Ron Darling Lenny Dykstra

Former baseball great Lenny Dykstra has vowed to sue former Mets pitcher Ron Darling Jr., who claims in a new book that Dykstra hurled racial slurs at Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd during Game 3 of the 1986 World Series.

Dykstra was a key player in that game, hitting a leadoff home run against Boyd in Fenway Park. The Mets would later win the series.

During Game 3, Dykstra shouted “every imaginable and unimaginable insult and expletive in (Oil Can’s) direction — foul, racist, hateful, hurtful stuff,” Ron Darling wrote in his book, “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game.” The book is due out Tuesday.

Like I alluded to earlier on Twitter, Dykstra has proven to be a lot of unsavory things since he retired from baseball, but I’ve never heard about him being a racist. Plus, Lenny had 4 black teammates on the ’86 Mets: Kevin Mitchell, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Mookie Wilson. You think in 30-plus years, one of them would’ve said something about this alleged incident by now if was true? Hell, Mookie, Straw and Doc have each written books about their playing days, have done countless interviews and have attended many a reunion with each other (and with Lenny) and this is the first team we’re hearing about Dykstra supposedly yelling racial taunts at Oil Can Boyd. I’ve never heard of Boyd or anyone else out of Boston vouching for this story either. Yeah, Lenny Dykstra may be a nutcase, but that doesn’t make him a racist.

Keith Hernandez To Undergo Back Surgery

28 Jan

Keith Hernandez
With his unique wit and at times brutal honesty, it’s funny how the 1979 co-MVP and 2-time World champ’s broadcasting career has become as noteworthy as his playing days:

Mets legend and SNY announcer Keith Hernandez will undergo back surgery during the latter part of next week. Hernandez made the announcement on Twitter on Saturday.

“I’ve blown out my back once again,” he wrote. “This time I ruptured a disc, T11-12, which is my mid back. Surgery is scheduled latter part of next week. I have a terrific surgeon. Arthroscopic entry, which means no cutting through tissue & muscle. He will cut a small portion of bone away on both vertebrae which will enlarge my nerve passageway & relieve my discomfort there. I’m very positive about this. I’ve lived with back pain everyday going back to 1990.”

Though Hernandez is tired of his back issues, he said he is remaining positive and is confident the surgery will heal this long-term problem.

“Micro-laser procedure,” he wrote. “He will zap the protruding disc and that will eradicate the pressure on my nerve which has been giving me hell. He will also repair my old, lower back injury. I have severe stenosis there (L4-5).”

Wally Backman Gets To Manage Again

29 Nov

Wally Backman

Wally Backman is back where he wanted to be all along — the New York market. Backman, a member of the 1986 world champion Mets and a longtime manager in the Mets’ minor-league system, will manage the Ducks of the independent Atlantic League next season, the team announced Wednesday morning.

“I’m excited about it,” Backman, 59, said on a conference call Wednesday afternoon. “I’m back in my old stomping grounds. I’ve always showed my interest in being in the New York area and, with this opportunity coming available, I thought it was a great opportunity to be back where I really wanted to be, and that was New York.”

Backman played for the Mets from 1980-88, hitting .283 with seven home runs and 165 RBIs. He coached in the Mets’ minor- league system from 2009-16, managing at all three levels. His time with the organization ended in 2016, resulting in a public dispute regarding the nature of his departure.

Backman said he would still like to manage in the major leagues someday but is completely focused on the Ducks and bringing another championship to Central Islip.

As many no-names and guys who didn’t deserve second chances to manage in the major leagues, but got them anyway have come and gone since Backman blew his shot with the D’Backs all those years back, you’d think some GM out there would take another gamble on him.