Monday, October 20, 2014

I'm Keith Hernandez! And It's My Birthday Once Again!

Hello, my friends.  I'm Keith Hernandez.  And today is a special day for me.  You see, today is my birthday.  That's right, all you kids out there.  I'm now 61 years old.

In honor of my 61st birthday, the cast and crew at Studious Metsimus asked me to give you a brief recap of my life.  To be honest with you, I've never heard of Studious Metsimus, but the offer of unlimited Tootsie Pops was too much to refuse.  Plus, they promised me there would be no traffic on the Long Island Expressway so I could make a quick getaway.  How could I pass that up?

Anyway, I was born in San Francisco on October 20, 1953.  Contrary to popular belief, I was not born with a mustache.  The picture you see below is one of my early pictures.  Yes, the ladies loved me even then.  Can you blame them?  I mean, look at me!  I'm Keith Hernandez!

Unfortunately, I failed in my petition to get my own name on my Little League jersey.

After my days as a Little League lothario were done, I was drafted in the 42nd round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971.  (Yes, I did go to high school between my Little League days and my high school graduation, but that was an awkward time for me, so I'd rather not talk about it.)  Clearly, the scouts back then were terrible judges of talent if they waited that long to draft me.  Unfortunately, I did nothing to earn that selection early on in my minor league career until I was promoted to Triple-A Tulsa in 1973, where I hit .333 and showed those other kids out there how a real baseball player was supposed to play the game.

In 1974, I hit .351 for Tulsa and was promoted to the big show on August 30 of that year against my hometown San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.  I reached base three times in my first big league game, drawing two walks before collecting my first big league hit and RBI in the ninth inning off Giants' starter Mike Caldwell.  Unfortunately, we lost that game 8-2, but I let it be known to my teammates and the rest of the league that I was here to stay.

Once I settled in to the big leagues, I made my presence felt in the clubhouse and on the field.  The Cardinals just had to keep me around.  Therefore, they traded incumbent first baseman Joe Torre to the Mets after the 1974 season (more on first basemen being traded to the Mets a little later ... after a few more paragraphs and my first Tootsie Pop).  I was a Cardinal now, and St. Louis was about to see what Keith Hernandez was all about.

It was in St. Louis that I let my trademark mustache grow.  That is also where I earned my first Gold Glove in 1978 and my first MVP Award one year later.  (Okay, so it was a co-MVP award that I shared with Willie Stargell.  But in Strat-O-Matic, I kicked Willie's posterior.)  St. Louis was also the place where I claimed my first batting title (also in 1979), my first World Series championship (1982), my first line of ... umm ... baseball cards (yeah, that's the ticket) and my first comparison to adult film thespian Ron Jeremy.

If you ask me, I don't see the resemblance.   He looks more like Mike Piazza than he does me.  Also, my acting skills are far superior to his.  Was he on "Seinfeld"?  I don't think so.  That was me.  Why did they choose me over him?  Because I'm Keith Hernandez!

Less than eight months after bringing home St. Louis' first World Series championship since 1967, I experienced one of the saddest days of my life, or so it seemed at the time.  On June 15, 1983, I was traded from the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals to the perennial cellar dweller New York Mets.  Shockingly, I wasn't even traded for future Hall of Famers.  I was shipped off to the Mets for Neil Allen, Rick Ownbey and a half-empty box of Tender Vittles.

It was already an insult to me that I was traded to the team known as "Pond Scum" and the "Stems" in St. Louis.  But come on!  Couldn't the Mets have offered some 9 Lives to the Cardinals instead of Tender Vittles?  After all, Morris the Cat was all the rage back then.  I mean, he was the O.G.  (Original Grumpy cat).   I would have accepted a trade for Allen, Ownbey and 9 Lives, not Allen, Ownbey and half-eaten Tender Vittles.  Sheesh!

I guess since the Cardinals already had the Clydesdale Horses, they didn't need another animal in the barn.

Anyway, the Mets didn't do too well after I got traded there.  We finished 68-94 in 1983, but showed some signs of life.  Old punching buddy Darryl Strawberry came up in May and future broadcast colleague R.J. (that's Ron Darling for all you casual Mets fans out there) was called up when rosters expanded in September.

Big Brother didn't come around in 1984 like he was supposed to, but we had our own little Animal Farm at Shea Stadium.  Top pitching prospect Dwight Gooden was called up in 1984 and Davey Johnson became the new Mets manager.  The team responded by going 90-72 and giving the Cubs all they could handle in the NL East.  As a result, I was no longer saddened by my trade to New York and only occasionally did I wonder if Whitey Herzog had finished what was left in the box of Tender Vittles.

After falling short again in 1985, we put it all together in 1986.  That was the year I won my second World Series championship and helped bring the first title to Flushing since the Miracle Mets did the same in 1969.  I also paired up with another Ronnie after bringing the trophy home in 1986. 

What?  No Gary?  Fine.  Then we'll just have to make do with Keith and Ron instead.

After my tenure with the Mets ended in 1989, I decided to give acting a try.  I wasn't going to tell you this, but the Tootsie Pop dangling in front of my face has convinced me to do so.

Did you know that "Seinfeld" was not my first attempt at acting?  Before TV immortality, I wanted to be a movie star.  My time with former actor Ronald Reagan in the White House showed me that if he could be President and a movie star, then I could be a baseball legend and a movie star as well, so it was off to Hollywood for me.

I first gave acting a shot when I auditioned for the movie "Major League".  However, it ended up being a bad dream and instead of playing for the Cleveland Indians in the film alongside noted actors Charlie Sheen, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert and Wesley Snipes, I ended up playing for the REAL Cleveland Indians.  It was not a good time to be Keith Hernandez.

There's no way I would've let Roger Dorn get away with not diving for ground balls.

I was injured for most of my time in Cleveland.  Because of that, I only played in 45 games for the Indians, batting .200 with one HR and eight RBI.  You know it wasn't a good season when my Studious Metsimus editor reminded me that I had to write out my home run and RBI totals in words (one and eight) instead of numbers (1 and 8).  Needless to say, I retired after the 1990 season and went back home...

...which didn't last long.  In 1992, I appeared on Episode #34 of "Seinfeld".  The special one-hour episode, named "The Boyfriend", featured me trying to date Elaine Benes, but not being able to get past first base because I used to smoke back then.  Another subplot involved me being accused of spitting a magic loogie on Kramer and Newman, when in fact it was my former Met teammate, Roger McDowell from the grassy knoll.

"That is one magic loogie."

My appearance on "Seinfeld" in 1992 and my subsequent cameo in the series finale in 1998 parlayed into several broadcasting appearances for the Mets.  When SNY debuted in 2006, I teamed up with former radio play-by-play man Gary Cohen and analyst/former teammate Ron Darling as the new broadcast team for the New York Mets.  My boothmates and I are also part of Gary, Keith & Ron, or GKR for short.  Together, we've raised money for our favorite charities, such as the Cobble Hill Health Center (for Alzheimer's care) and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (hoping to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes).  In addition, we've also focused on helping victims of domestic abuse.  And for all you kids out there, there's nothing funny about domestic abuse.

Fans might know me for my baseball career.  Others might know me for my excellent acting on "Seinfeld".  Some of you might even know me for my Just For Men commercials with Walt "Clyde" Frazier.  Current Met fans know me for my unabashed analysis on SNY telecasts of Mets games. 

I'm all of those people. Although I'm a year older today, I'm still only 61 so I have plenty left to accomplish.  Maybe I'll mass produce my Mex Burgers or take on a side job as a Schick Hydro spokesperson now that my Just For Men contract has expired.  Who knows?  One thing is for sure.  No matter what job I have or what position I fill, I'll always be around.  Why wouldn't I be?  After all, I'm Keith Hernandez!

With or without a mustache, I'll always be Keith Hernandez!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Joey's Soapbox: My 2014 Not-So-Biased World Series Pick

Hello, everyone.  This is your favorite Studious Metsimus prognosticator, Joey Beartran.  Today, I'm sad to report that it's that time of year again.  The end of the baseball season is upon us, and it'll be the 28th consecutive year that doesn't end with the Mets raising the World Series trophy and Keith Hernandez recovering from a hangover.

But just because the Mets aren't playing for all the marbles doesn't mean I can't suggest which team you should wager your marbles on.

The 2014 World Series features a playoff-experienced San Francisco Giants team and the new kids on the playoff block, the Kansas City Royals, a team that has shown the right stuff in becoming the first team to win eight straight games to start a postseason.  It's the second time that both World Series participants are wild card teams (the Angels and Giants played in the first all-wild card Fall Classic in 2002) and the first time any wild card team has advanced to the World Series since the two-wild card format was instituted in 2012.

It's the culmination of everything the Giants and Royals have played for since the start of the season.  It's the 2014 World Series.  And it's time I stop rambling and give you my expert pick to help you make an educated wager on the winner.  Just remember to compensate me properly when my pick wins you lots of dough.  (And for the record, I prefer my dough in the form of pizza.)

You take my World Series pick and I'll take sausage and extra cheese on my pizza.

World Series

San Francisco Giants vs. Kansas City Royals

This is the third time the Giants have played in the World Series since the Mets moved to Citi Field.  The last time the Royals played in the Fall Classic, the Mets had just one championship to their credit.  Needless to say, this is a matchup between two completely different teams when it comes to playoff experience.  But they're quite similar in just about everything else.

Neither team was known for the home run ball, as both the Giants and Royals had just two players with more than 16 homers.

Both teams had great starting pitchers and even better bullpens, as the Giants and Royals' bullpen ERA was nearly half a run lower than what their starters produced.

San Francisco and Kansas City also hit better with runners in scoring position (.267 for SF, .271 for KC) than they did overall (.255 for SF, .263 for KC).

Both teams advanced to the World Series by winning a plethora of close games.  The Giants won all three of their games against the Nationals in the division series by one run, then defeated the Cardinals by three runs or less in each of their four NLCS wins against them.  Meanwhile, seven of the Royals' eight postseason victories were either one-run wins or games in which Kansas City scored the winning run in its final at-bat.

Finally, both San Francisco and Kansas City have played excellent defense during their respective postseason runs, as the Giants have made three errors in ten games and the Royals have committed three miscues in eight contests.

But there is one HUGE difference between the two teams.  And it's in their legs.  San Francisco stole 56 bases during the regular season, good for last place in the National League.  No Giants player swiped more than 16 bags, and one of them was team co-leader Angel Pagan, who is inactive for the postseason.  Meanwhile, Kansas City's 153 steals led the American League.  Speedsters Jarrod Dyson (36 SB), Alcides Escobar (31 SB), Lorenzo Cain (28 SB) and Nori Aoki (17 SB) all would have led the Giants with their stolen base totals.

The Giants allowed 107 stolen bases during the regular season, a number that was surpassed by just four National League teams.  All four of those teams (San Diego, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami) finished the season with losing records.  Giants catchers threw out a mere 32 would-be base stealers and had plenty of trouble with Royals' runners during their interleague matchup with Kansas City in August, throwing out just one base stealer in nine attempts.  In fact, in the final game of the three-game series sweep by the Royals, the Giants allowed seven stolen bases with nary a caught stealing to their credit.  It was just the seventh time in the last century that the Giants allowed as many as seven steals in one game and the fifth time it happened without any base stealers being caught.

Rk Date Team Opp Result SB CS
1 2014-08-10 KCR SFG W 7-4 7 0
2 2009-05-14 NYM SFG W 7-4 7 0
3 1999-04-13 HOU SFG W 7-3 7 1
4 1988-04-18 CIN SFG L 3-6 7 0
5 1983-07-27 STL SFG W 7-6 9 0
6 1946-09-08 BRO NYG W 11-3 8 1
7 1919-07-07 (1) PHI NYG L 5-10 7 0
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/19/2014.

Jarrod Dyson is one of many Royals who should make the Giants nervous.  (Denny Medley/USA Today Sports)

It goes without saying that Buster Posey and all Giants pitchers will have to keep an eye on Kansas City's speedsters once they reach base.  And if too many of them reach base, it'll be sayonara for San Francisco.

The Giants can win their third championship if they continue their timely hitting and keep the Royals off first base.  It's hard enough to continue to come up with clutch hits.  It's almost impossible to keep the Royals from running wild on the bases.  San Francisco tried in August and was embarrassed in a three-game sweep.  This won't be a sweep by the Royals, but it also won't be a third title in five years for the Giants either.

Prediction:  Royals in 6.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Has Bruce Bochy Punched His Ticket To The Hall of Fame?

"The Giants win the pennant" are words Bruce Bochy has heard quite often.  (Paul Kitagaki/Sacramento Bee)

On Thursday, the San Francisco Giants defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series to clinch their third pennant in five seasons.  In doing so, the Giants became the first National League team since the Atlanta Braves of the mid-to-late 1990s to make it to the World Series three times in a five-year span.  (Atlanta won pennants in 1995, 1996 and 1999.)

Bruce Bochy has managed each of the Giants’ three pennant-winning teams and has been the team’s skipper since 2007.  His eight seasons at the helm in San Francisco came on the heels of a 12-year run as manager of the San Diego Padres from 1995 to 2006.  In those dozen campaigns, Bochy led the Padres to 951 victories, the most of any manager in San Diego's 46 years in the National League.  During Bochy’s tenure in San Diego, the Padres won four division titles and the 1998 National League pennant.  The other 15 managers in Padres’ history have combined to lead the team to one postseason appearance in 34 seasons (Dick Williams in 1984).

All told, Bochy has won 1,618 regular season games in two decades as a manager in the big leagues, leading his teams to seven postseason appearances, six division titles, four pennants and two World Series championships.  So the question must be asked.  If Bruce Bochy retired today, is he a Hall of Famer?  Why don't we let his numbers answer the question?

  • Bochy is one of 24 men to manage in the majors for at least 20 seasons.  Seventeen of the other 23 are in the Hall of Fame.
  • Bochy’s total of 1,618 victories has been surpassed by just 17 managers.  Twelve of those managers are in the Hall of Fame.  (By the end of the 2015 season, Bochy should pass two of those 17 managers, as he is only one win behind Ralph Houk and 53 victories behind Dusty Baker, who is not managing a big league team at the moment.)
  • Bochy has led his teams to the postseason seven times, making him one of 15 managers to accomplish that feat.  Ten of the other 14 are in the Hall of Fame.  One of the four who isn’t in the Hall is Mike Scioscia, who is still an active manager with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

As impressive as the above accomplishments are, it doesn’t guarantee Hall of Fame enshrinement.  It just makes it more likely that Bochy will someday get the call from the Hall.

However, pennants and World Series championships are what managers are most remembered for, and Bochy has had his share of those as well.  If Bochy’s longevity, regular season win total and postseason appearances have improved his chances of making it to Cooperstown, then his accomplishments in October have almost certainly cemented his enshrinement.  Take a look at the chart below and consider the following two tidbits.

Rk Mgr Yrs W L W-L% W (post) L (post) W-L% (post) Plyof App WSwon PennWon ▾
1 John McGraw HOF 33 2763 1948 .586 26 28 .481 9 3 10
2 Casey Stengel HOF 25 1905 1842 .508 37 26 .587 10 7 10
3 Connie Mack HOF 53 3731 3948 .486 24 19 .558 8 5 9
4 Joe McCarthy HOF 24 2125 1333 .615 26 13 .667 9 7 9
5 Walter Alston HOF 23 2040 1613 .558 23 21 .523 7 4 7
6 Miller Huggins HOF 17 1413 1134 .555 18 15 .545 6 3 6
7 Tony La Russa HOF 33 2728 2365 .536 70 58 .547 14 3 6
8 Joe Torre HOF 29 2326 1997 .538 84 58 .592 15 4 6
9 Harry Wright HOF 23 1225 885 .581 0 0 0 0 6
10 Sparky Anderson HOF 26 2194 1834 .545 34 21 .618 7 3 5
11 Cap Anson HOF 21 1295 947 .578 0 0 0 0 5
12 Bobby Cox HOF 29 2504 2001 .556 67 69 .493 16 1 5
13 Ned Hanlon HOF 19 1313 1164 .530 0 0 0 0 5
14 Frank Selee HOF 16 1284 862 .598 0 0 0 0 5
15 Frank Chance HOF 11 946 648 .593 11 9 .550 4 2 4
16 Fred Clarke HOF 19 1602 1181 .576 7 8 .467 2 1 4
17 Charlie Comiskey HOF 12 840 541 .608 0 0 0 1 4
18 Tom Lasorda HOF 21 1599 1439 .526 31 30 .508 7 2 4
19 Bill McKechnie HOF 25 1896 1723 .524 8 14 .364 4 2 4
20 Billy Southworth HOF 13 1044 704 .597 11 11 .500 4 2 4
21 Earl Weaver HOF 17 1480 1060 .583 26 20 .565 6 1 4
22 Dick Williams HOF 21 1571 1451 .520 21 23 .477 5 2 4
23 Bruce Bochy 20 1618 1604 .502 38 27 .585 7 2 4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/17/2014.
Note:  Harry Wright, Cap Anson, Ned Hanlon, Frank Selee and Charlie Comiskey all won pennants before the advent of the modern World Series in 1903.  Comiskey's lone "World Series" victory came in 1886 in the American Association.

  • Prior to the 2014 season, a total of 22 managers guided their teams to four of more league pennants.  Did you happen to notice the "HOF" next to their names?  That means all 22 of those managers are in the Hall of Fame.  By earning a World Series berth against the Royals, Bochy has just become the 23rd manager to win four pennants, winning one in San Diego and three in San Francisco.
  • Of the 22 managers who won four or more pennants, only nine of them won at least three World Series titles.  All nine are in the Hall of Fame.  With four wins against Kansas City in this year’s Fall Classic, Bochy will become the tenth manager to win three championships, doing so in just a five-year span with the Giants.

With 20 years of managerial experience, a ton of victories and more than a handful of trips to the playoffs, Bruce Bochy is certainly a viable candidate for the Hall of Fame.  But now that he’s won four pennants and is within a few wins of completing his trifecta of titles, enshrinement in Cooperstown is more than just likely.  It’s pretty much a certainty.

Bruce Bochy’s run as a big league manager isn’t quite over yet, but when he does decide to call it a career, he may as well pack his bags for Cooperstown.  The Hall of Fame should be the last stop in Bochy’s amazing post-playing career.