In his column today, Bob Raissman of the Daily News gives us all something to think about when watching tonight's highly anticipated match-up between Mets phenom Matt Harvey and Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg: Is Keith Hernandez enjoying himself too much?
Raissman contends that in Harvey's recent dominating start against the Minnesota Twins, Hernandez was less analyst than fanboy. That is a powerful accusation as the Mets' TV booth has long been renowned as skilled, entertaining, and even-handed.
To support his assertion, Raissman notes that Hernandez said that he enjoyed watching Harvey pitch, and later relayed a conversation with a Twins broadcaster in which he referred to Harvey with a possessive pronoun.
Beyond those examples, Raissman mentions Keith's general tone, contrasting it with his usual "cool" delivery, and contending that it impeded the viewer's understanding of the game. But what he fails to recognize is that hearing an often detached baseball lifer left utterly impressed confirms that what you're watching is truly special. There was no homerism on Saturday, just a person who has lived baseball from every angle taking joy in watching one of the best young arms in the game. You shouldn't want to deny anyone that, even if he sits in front of a microphone. Moreover, it seemed clear that Keith cared more about the cut on Harvey's slider than the colors on his jersey.
Raissman's piece diagnoses a non-existent problem. Analysts should provide passion, context, and, when appropriate, awe. Keith Hernandez added all three to Sunday's broadcast and made it more fun to watch.
We are all going to enjoy the game tonight. I will, you will, I bet Bob Raissman will, too. And if there's a superlative pitching performance, no matter who gives it, I fully expect Keith Hernandez will let us know that he likes what he sees. His job is to help us analyze and appreciate the game as it unfolds, and sometimes that even includes enjoying it.