Friday, June 10, 2011

The Tao of Mex

If Keith Hernandez started his own religion, how many followers do you think he'd have? I'm guessing a lot, certainly more than those rapture guys. I mean, who are you going to put your faith in? An 80-year-old radio show host who'd already been wrong about the rapture (and was wrong again)? Or an All-Star first baseman who won a World Series in 1986 and shared the MVP in 1979 (when he should have won it outright)?


He has an uncanny ability to see the future, like when he saw a catcher call for a changeup, said, "Are you kidding?" and then seconds later, David Wright blasted a homer to deep left.

Almost everything Keith says is gospel.  He speaks of the fundys in such a way that they should be carved into two stone tablets.

He's also a big fan of Strat-o-Matic, which I spent many hours playing as a child, my bedroom a monastic retreat, the quiet broken only by the rattle of dice on cardboard. (You know that question, if you could invite anyone over for dinner, living or dead, who would they be? I'd pass on dinner and invite Keith, Jerry Seinfeld and Len Dykstra over to play Strat-o-Matic. Four-team round robin tourney, using a combination of old-timers and modern players. That would be sweet.)

Hernandez sees all, knows all. So who better to comment on the travails of Jason Bay? Yet even in Keith's infinite wisdom, he cannot solve the puzzle of Bay.

He's quick to point out he's never been in a slump this long, so it's baffling even to him. He's said in the past that the only way out of a slump is to hit your way out, but he agrees that days off, at this point, is probably the best thing for Bay. Maybe they should go further and send him to Aruba for a few days to really clear his head. Anywhere but a ballpark.

You look at Bay, there's nothing physically wrong. He still plays defense, runs hard. He's reportedly killing it in batting practice. But the coaches aren't feeding him a steady diet of sliders and breaking balls. Bay's problem, to my untrained eye, is rooted in a combination of poor pitch recognition and plunging confidence. It's become a death spiral.

Jason Pridie filled in for Bay Thursday night and did well, at the plate and in the field. The Mets chased Yovani Gallardo and Jon Niese tossed another gem as the Mets' starters continue to post quality starts. That's four wins in their last five games and seven of 11, as the .500 mark is once again within grasping distance.

Maybe Bay needs a return to Pittsburgh to snap him out of his trance. Something's gotta give, and now Lucas Duda is up for Nick Evans.

Speaking of batting practice, Keith made a very interesting point (does he make anything but) about how players take batting practice these days with the coach close to the plate, maybe 50 feet away, as opposed to throwing back from the slope of the mound. He noted that Barry Bonds popularized that approach because it improved bat speed. Keith's feeling is that BP should be relaxed, and be about getting loose, and not be so results-driven.



  1. You're so right about Keith, especially the BP comments. Couldn't agree more with him. You dial it up at game-time. These guys hit themselves to death in BP. Overkill.

    I feel for Bay. I like him....he just needs something to happen to bust him out of this mental prison he's in.

    And I know that monastic haven pretty well...