Keith Hernandez Can be Helpful and Honest

Annoucer's loyalty called into question

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Feb 12, 2010  |  Updated 2:46 PM EDT
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Keith Hernandez Can be Helpful and Honest

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Keith Hernandez

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Even when they do the right thing, the Mets can't catch a break.

In what might have been their smartest move of the entire offseason, the team invited Keith Hernandez to tutor Daniel Murphy on the finer points of playing first base. The kindest way to discuss Murphy's play in 2009 is to say that nobody died as a result of the way he played the position. Asking Hernandez, one of the best ever, to give him some help was a pretty smart move by an organization that seems allergic to them.

Bob Raissman of the Daily News doesn't like it though. The media columnist wonders if Hernandez will let loose with criticism when Murphy makes a bad play or if he'll hold his tongue.

Will Hernandez hammer Murphy? Will he rip himself for providing a lousy lesson plan?

 He better say something. Any sign of Hernandez pulling punches will open the door for anyone claiming a double standard, that Hernandez is becoming a windy shill. 

The thought of Hernandez changing anything about his broadcast style is a terrible one because there were plenty of nights in recent seasons when he, Ron Darling and Gary Cohen were the only reason to watch the Mets. It's a real concern, although the notion that Hernandez would pull punches because he did a job for the Mets seems a bit farfetched because he's always worked for the Mets.

We live in an era of team-owned cable networks and Hernandez (and Ron Darling and Michael Kay and all the other local voices) serve at the pleasure of the same owners that pay the players they're talking about. That situation can create a problem when it comes to honesty. The YES announcers make it clear that they are calling the game from the perspective of the Yankees and will only point out the most egregious errors by the boys in pinstripes.

Hernandez, Darling and the SNY crew hasn't played things the same way. They are tough, fair and brutal in their assessments of players from all teams, at least they are when they aren't discussing the best restaurants in San Francisco or favored bottles of red wine. Some flag waving makes its way through, but usually not from Hernandez and never at the level of what Raissman calls Al-Yankzeera.

What this one side job would do to change Hernandez's willingness to call the Mets a mess is unclear. He's never been shy about it in the past, nor has he been shy about poking fun at himself, so it would be a great surprise to tune in and find a different announcer in the booth.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.

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