DeFaced by Michael Stahl: Vote Mex In!

4 01 2012

VOTE MEX IN!

A Blessay by Michael Stahl

Yeah I’m a Mets fan, so you can try to discount this entire piece as orange and blue propaganda. I don’t care. Living in New York City, I’m exposed to an over-abundance of positive Yankee press and the Mets deserve to have someone be bombastic in their name for a change.

I fell in love with the Mets in 1985, and ’86, obviously, validated my admiration for them. Mets pride though has eluded me, and the rest of their fans, ever since. Unless we count Endy Chavez’s catch in a losing effort against the Cardinals or Jose Reyes’ cowardly bunt single in the first inning of the last game of this past season which helped award him the batting title as outstanding achievements, there hasn’t been much to pound our chests over. Therefore, the 1986 World Series Champs team remain the darlings of the Mets fan base who are under the age of about 50.

Keith Hernandez, arguably the most valuable player of that team, found himself on the ballot again for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011, this time with the Veterans Committee granting him consideration. He failed to gain the necessary votes, but year in and year out, it continues to baffle me as to why he is not a Hall of Famer. For so many reasons, Hernandez should be inducted, giving the diehards something to cheer about.

The Numbers:

When stacked up against other Hall of Fame first basemen, Keith Hernandez’s offensive numbers, though not face-melting, are respectable. He has more hits, home runs, runs scored, and a higher batting average than five of the eighteen who are already in the Hall and bests half of them in the highly regarded category of on-base percentage. Many argue that because he was a first baseman and not a prolific power threat, which is to be expected from that position, Hernandez’s accomplishments fall short. However, anybody who knows a shitball about the history of first base is aware of the fact that Keith holds the record for Gold Gloves there, 11, all of which were won consecutively. It was his defense that had the biggest impact. To that, critics will point out that only middle-infield players should be voted in solely based on defense, like Ozzie Smith and Bill Mazeroski, because a lack of offensive production from those spots is outweighed by the benefits of having speedy, agile, skilled glove-men present there. But if there isn’t room in the Hall of Fame for the greatest defensive first baseman of all time, then how can defense be considered part of the criteria at all?

Other Honors:

Keith Hernandez won a batting title and the National League MVP in 1979. In 1982 he won the World Series with the Cardinals, knocking in eight runs in the seven games. 1986 brought him a second championship ring and he was the Mets’ unquestioned leader. Keith was an all star five times, won the Silver Slugger twice (but was not an offensive threat…), and finished second in the MVP voting in 1984.

His Mustache:

   

I’ll just give you Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, and Goose Gossage. All in the Hall of Fame. All have amazing mustaches. Keith’s is right there with ‘em.

His Reputation:

There are a bunch of clichés that get thrown around when talking baseball. Many of these attempt to quantify a player’s “intangible” value – all of which somehow apply to Derek Jeter. One will muse: “You need to see him play every day to really understand how important he is to the Yankees.” People will constantly say that Jeter is “clutch” and “a leader in the clubhouse.” Then there’s the fact that he “does things that don’t show up in the box score.” God doesn’t get as much printed praise as what is bestowed upon the current Yankees captain.

Anyway, considering Derek Jeter will undoubtedly get into the Hall of Fame one day, at least partially based on this reputation built on innumerable ambiguous compliments, it is fair to argue that Keith should have his face emblazoned in bronze too if all of these things could describe him as well. He was the Mets captain in 1987, having earned that title after years of leading the team, culminating with that championship the year before. After making three diving catches throughout the course of Game 6 of the ’86 NLCS that don’t show up in the box score, he famously told Jesse Orosco on the mound that if Orosco threw Kevin Bass a fastball, he’d punch Orosco out. Bass became the last batter of the game, striking out on an Orosco curve. Now that’s leadership. Everybody remembers “The Buckner Game” in the subsequent World Series (Keith was drinking beers in the clubhouse when the error happened), but it was in the game after that, when the Mets needed yet another win to capture the title, that Keith Hernandez delivered a pivotal base hit that got the Mets’ scoring going. That’s clutch. And his daily quality defense at first base changed the way the position was played.

“But Jeter does it with class!” you might say between chomps on a slice of Ray’s Famous. First of all, I don’t think he has as much class as many claim. And admittedly, Keith may not win awards for exuding refined character, but who gives a shit about that? Certainly not the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Babe Ruth was known to be a heavy drinker and often cheated on his wife (check out p. 162). Mickey Mantle basically drank himself to death. And Ty Cobb was a well-documented racist and hated by his teammates. All of them are in the Hall of Fame. Sure Keith had his run-ins with Cardinals management and had to testify about his cocaine use in the ’70s and ’80s, but at least he admitted it. And who had money about them in those two wholesome American decades and didn’t do coke?

And last, but certainly not least, his lowbrow and despicable Two-Episode “Seinfeld” appearance:

and this:

In Conclusion:

In recent years, players like Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, and Bert Blyleven have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after spending quite some time on the ballot. Many argue that these men are finally getting their due respect because the steroid era has fizzled. Steroid-fueled statistics dwarfed those of the clean players who preceded the beefy monsters that dominated the game for nearly two decades. With that in mind, and all the rest, I hope that when I make my first visit to Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame museum, I’ll get to see Keith Hernandez’s plaque raised next to all of the other greats who exhibited either stellar or unsavory character. And if not, there’s always the broadcast wing…

Beginning to make his rounds on Internet blogs, Michael Stahl is on a mission to alter your perception of stuff. Be it the world of entertainment, sports, culture, or society as a whole, read him only with an open mind, or harm yourself trying. Check out his film and television “counter-criticism” blog Walter Peck Was Just Doing His Job. With whatever energy you have left, consume his interviews for IntellectualTimes.com, STAHLing for Time. He has marked his territory on MindBombed.com and now is proud to leave an imprint upon Sugar-N-Thunder.com.

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