Sometimes New York Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez sounds like he’s speaking his own language. This is the very best of those Keith-isms.
I’ve waxed poetic before about the irreplaceable chemistry that the New York Mets have in their TV booth. Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez, and Ron Darling are three of the best announcers in baseball, and all bring their own personalities to the SNY booth, leading to endlessly fun antics for the Flushing Faithful to enjoy while we watch the games from home.
But Hernandez has managed to create a truly unique brand of color commentary over the years that he has been with the Mets. He turns regular baseball phrases into verbal works of art, and once he’s waist-deep in a story about Lou Brock, there’s no turning back. Hernandez is what I would call an “old soul” who perfectly translates the beauty and humor of baseball into how he describes in-game action on television.
Inspired by a “Keith-isms Bingo” graphic that I saw recently, made by the outstanding artist known as Athlete Logos, I’ve decided to compile a few of my favorite “Keith-isms” here. There will no doubt be more of these coming our way in the 2021 Mets season since Hernandez never seems to run out of amusing material.
If a devoted Mets fan ever happens to order a rib-eye steak at a restaurant, they will no doubt think of Hernandez. In “Keith-lingo,” “rib-eye steak” stands for “RBI,” which we know actually stands for “runs batted in.” Cohen and Darling often chuckle at Hernandez’s liberal use of the term “rib-eye steaks” in the booth, and with good reason. It’s part of the charm of the SNY TV broadcast. It also might be the reason that rib-eye steak is unironically my favorite kind of steak, especially when it is accompanied by runs batted in from the Mets.
“My scorecard is a mess, Ronnie”
When has Keith’s scorecard NOT been a mess? It could be a scoreless game in the fifth inning, but if one relatively unusual play happens on the field, whether it’s a reversed stolen base call or a hit changed to an error, Hernandez never fails to mention just how illegible his scorecard has become. At this point, Cohen and Darling usually chime in with thoughts on the neatness of their own scorecards.
As a counterpoint, Hernandez also enjoys pointing out when his scorecard is particularly neat.
In other baseball broadcasts that I’ve watched, there is a curious lack of scorecard mentions from the TV announcers. By “curious lack,” I mean that I don’t think I have ever heard another team’s announcer mention their scorecard on the air. Perhaps other teams’ broadcasters just aren’t as dedicated to the art of scorekeeping as the Mets broadcasters are.
“This game is an El Stinko”
Throughout Hernandez’s tenure as a Mets announcer, they have had plenty of nearly unwatchable games. During the worst of times for the Amazins, Hernandez tends to break out the term “El Stinko” to refer to the unfortunate product on the field. I am not sure if “El Stinko” has been used in any other contexts before Hernandez adopted it into his Mets-related vocabulary, but in my book, he now owns the term. One could just say, “this was a terrible game,” but Hernandez manages to turn a bad game into a beautifully poetic statement.
“For all you kids out there”
Every game that features Hernandez in the booth is a valuable learning opportunity for kids everywhere tuning into the game. He never misses an opportunity to remind children watching at home about how baseball is supposed to be played or illuminate an obscure rule playing out on the field. When I hear Hernandez break out the classic “for all you kids out there,” I always lean in a little closer to my television, even though I’m technically an adult.
Often paired with “for all you kids out there” is the classic “good fundies” quip from Hernandez. He is a big believer in teaching “good fundies,” aka good fundamentals of baseball, to little leaguers and minor leaguers alike. In his book, some examples of “good fundies” include laying down a good bunt, running hard to first base even on an out, and getting the glove down properly to field a ground ball. Given that Hernandez is one of, if not the greatest defensive first basemen of all time, he likely knows “good fundies” better than just about anyone.
(When the game is going a little slowly) “Sigh…”
Hernandez brings a lot of life to the Mets broadcast, but even he is not immune to the sometimes slow pace of baseball games. When it’s past the fifth inning and the Mets have not made much progress on the offensive front, expect to start hearing audible sighs from Hernandez in the TV booth. In the past, he usually reserved his sighs for extra inning games, but in recent years the sighs seem to have creeped earlier into the game, to the point where I think he audibly sighed into the microphone at least once per game in 2020.
Most of the time, I can’t blame him. When the Mets are committing defensive blunders left and right and frequently running into outs on the bases, who wouldn’t let out a defeated sigh while watching them? I do hope that under the Cohen ownership, future Mets games will be less sigh-worthy.
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Throughout Mets history, their broadcasters have been almost as beloved as their greatest players. Hernandez encapsulates the fun-loving spirit and penchant for humor that Mets fans pride themselves on, and he translates this into the TV broadcast night after night during every baseball season. His “Keith-isms” provide a refreshing contrast to the analytics-heavy commentary on ESPN baseball broadcasts. Hernandez’s unique quips remind fans that modern baseball announcing may be packed full of statistical analysis, but there will always be a place in the game for colorful descriptions of on-field action.