Like most persons with ears, even when the on-field product sucks (which is the majority of the time), I find the repartee between Mets TV voices Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez to be reliably effervescent, even if Keith occasionally seems the more impatient of the three (or the least tolerant of female trainers in the dugout). During last Sunday’s SNY telecast of a matinee in Miami, Hernandez’ reaction to a photograph of Padres reliever Alex Torres — the first pitcher to don a bulky, newly designed cap with a protective liner — raised the ire of New York Post sports media critic Phil Mushnick, who likened the sneering to that of “a schoolyard bully”.
Yes, Torres looked odd. Yet, clearly, if he were determined to diminish the chances of a fractured skull or brain injury from a line drive to the side of his head, his head, if not his cap, was on straight.
Well, Hernandez took a macho, style-over-function stance, mocking Torres for looking “absurd.” (The same was heard when batting helmets arrived, then grew larger until they included earflaps and would be worn by base coaches.)
He wasn’t done. He suggested Torres and anyone who would wear such a thing is a coward: “If you’re scared, get a dog.”
Ugh! Either Hernandez was unaware of the dozens of annual, all-levels episodes that have pitchers rushed to hospitals — some with permanent neurological damage — or such episodes have not yet left an impression on him.
In Torres’ case, last year with the Rays, he replaced Alex Cobb after Cobb was nailed in the head with a line drive. After Saturday’s game, Torres recalled he still could hear the crack against Cobb’s head — and Torres was in the bullpen. “I’m glad he’s alive.”