Craig Calcaterra

Keith Hernandez

Keith Hernandez is one interesting dude

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We all know Keith Hernandez as a great player. Most of us know him as part of, perhaps, the best booth in all of baseball broadcasting. We know he can be a bit cranky about young players and sabermetrics sometimes but he makes up for it with good insights and a lot of humor.

But we don’t know too much about him personally. Which makes this feature on him by Michael Powell of the New York Times so rewarding. After reading it, you feel like you sort of know the guy. What he does, how he lives and what kind of a person he is.

He’s not an enigma, of course. What you hear from him in the broadcast booth is clearly an extension of his personality. But this certainly helps contextualize the guy a bit and shows you that, whatever you think of him, he’s the genuine article. And he’s funny too:

Former President Richard Nixon once visited the Mets locker room. The photograph is on a bureau: the former president in a suit and tie and Keith naked from the waist up. They shared lunches. Nixon wanted to talk about the stars of the ’86 team — Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson, Dwight Gooden. One day Mr. Hernandez blurted out: “Mr. President, all we do is talk baseball. Could we talk politics?”

“He went on for 45 minutes about Russia and China.”

And he’s not 100% self-aware at times. In the article he’s criticizing young players and coaches for being too conformist and robotic in their approach, particularly with respect to taking walks and things. In response he says “I would have been labeled a bad seed, a malcontent.” Which makes one wonder how he thinks he got traded to the Mets in the first place, but that was a long time ago so I suppose we’ll let it slide.

Anyway, I love Hernandez as a broadcaster. The whole big personality New York thing he has about him is hard for meek little Midwesterners like me to get their head around sometimes, but like I said above: he is the genuine article, he seems totally honest about himself and comfortable in his own skin and those are the traits that make a person whole and human. And which make a good broadcaster, no matter how many of them insist on being diplomatic homers rather than actually saying what they feel.

After reading this story it’s hard not to admire the guy. And it’s hard to explain why more teams don’t hire broadcasters who have full lives and don’t give a hell about most other things, because that’s where the candor that makes Hernandez so good comes from.

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

Dodgers Giants
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Giants 3, Dodgers 2: “Not in our house. Not yet.” Or so the Giants seem to be telling the Dodgers, who could clinch in San Francisco if they, you know, figured out how to win a ballgame in San Francisco. They haven’t for a long time, and last night’s thriller was just their latest failure in AT&T Park. Alejandro De Aza hit a walkoff sac fly inthe 12th inning to set up Clayton Kershaw vs. Madison Bumgarner tonight. East coasters: take a nap and watch this one.

Cubs 1, Royals 0: Like the Cards-Pirates game, this was a long scoreless battle, broken up by a walkoff pinch-hit homer by Chris Donorfia in the 11th. That obscured a nice pitchers’ duel between Yordano Ventura (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 6K) and Kyle Hendricks (6 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 9K). It may ultimately not make a difference — The Cubs trail the Pirates by three and a half games in the race for home field in the wild card game — but it’s keepin’ the magic alive. (“Siri, remind me to look and see if “Keepin’ the Magic Alive” is the name of an album by a late-70s, early-80s arena rock band, because it HAS to be, right? Maybe REO Speedwagon?”)

Nationals 5, Reds 1: Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the eighth before Tucker Barnhart broke it up with a clean single to left field. Matt Thornton pitched the ninth inning. He didn’t assault anyone.

Cardinals 3, Pirates 0: Six Cardinals pitchers combined on the shutout in a game that was scoreless until the ninth when Jon Jay singled in a run and then Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer. The real story here, of course, was rookie Stephen Piscotty being carted off the field after a violent collision with Peter Bourjos in left-center field. Knee-to-the-head stuff, which could’ve been extremely dangerous. Thankfully his tests came back negative for concussions and other serious business and he’s merely being held in a Pittsburgh hospital overnight for observation. We should know more on his condition today.

Blue Jays 4, Orioles 3: They usually win with long bombs, but here the Jays’ winning run came via a single, a sacrifice and a dribbler combined with a throwing error in the top of the ninth. Doesn’t matter. The O’s are officially eliminated. Toronto’s fifth straight victory, combined with the Yankees’ loss puts the Blue Jays’ magic number at two.

Red Sox 5, Yankees 1Travis Shaw and Jackie Bradley each hit two-run homers off Ivan Nova and Eduardo Rodriguez — who the AP is calling E-Rod, which I refuse to do and no one can make me, dammit — scatter seven hits over six innings and allowed only one run. The Yankees could’ve clinched a playoff spot here and could’ve gotten their 10,000th win as a franchise here but, um, didn’t.

Twins 4, Indians 2: Associated Press headline:

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If Phil Hughes has a secret life in which he goes to underground clubs and competes in freestyle rapping competitions, it’s almost certain that he uses the name “Ill Hughes.” He as an alter ego in some of his songs who merely goes by “Ill Phil.” It’s a complicated subculture.

Tigers 7, Rangers 4: A third straight loss for the first place Rangers who now find themselves a mere one and a half games ahead of Houston. Justin Verlander allowed one run in six innings, and Tyler Collins hit a three-run home run in a five-run fifth. Prince Fielder singled, doubled, homered and drove in all four of Texas’ runs in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Angels 5, Athletics 4: The Angels win their 6th straight on a bases loaded pinch-hit RBI single from David Murphy in the bottom of the ninth. The Angels remain a half game back of the Astros for the cared (tied in the loss column). A huge four-game series against the Rangers this weekend. But first two more against the A’s. Who are trottin’ Barry Zito out against them on Wednesday, which has to totally pump up the Astros and Rangers. Indeed, they have to be STOKED about that.

Astros 3, Mariners 2George SpringerEvan Gattis and Chris Carter all homered. Carter has homered in three straight games. The Astros are holding on for dear life, but they’re holding on.

Tucker Barnhart breaks up Max Scherzer’s no-no in the eighth

Max Scherzer
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UPDATE #2: Scherzer’s no-hitter is over after seven and a third innings. He gave up a one-out hit to Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart on pitch number 105. It was a clean single to left field with the count 1-2. So, all of you baseball history buffs can stand down

UPDATE: Scherzer’s no-no is still intact, though he needed a lot of pitches to get through the seventh, thanks in part because of an 11-pitch at bat to Jay Bruce that ended in a walk. But he worked around that and gave up no hits. And he reached 99 m.p.h. on the gun in striking out Joey Votto. He’s at 98 pitches and the Nats led 4-0.

4:46 PM: Here’s a change: some drama with the Washington Nationals.

Max Scherzer is on the hill for the Nats in an afternoon tilt against the Cincinnati Reds and he’s got a no-hitter going through six innings. He has struck out eight and walked two. He does have 79 pitches, however, so he’ll have to be super efficient going forward if he is to go the distance here.

If it’s not a no-hitter and the game remains close — Washington leads 3-0 right now — Jonathan Papelbon will not be available to close it out. Just in case you’re just waking up right now and weren’t aware.

Max Scherzer has already thrown a no-hitter this year, of course: against the Pirates on June 20.