10 QUESTIONS FOR KEITH HERNANDEZ

Ken Hoffman tees up Keith Hernandez on kissing Elaine on Seinfeld and visiting Houston this weekend

Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Keith Hernandez batted .294 over his 18-year Major League Baseball career. He shared the National League MVP Award in 1979, starred on two World Series champions, played in five All-Star games, won a batting title, 11 Gold Glove Awards in 11 consecutive seasons, holds the record for game-winning RBI, was named to the New York Mets all-time greatest team and is considered the best-fielding first baseman ever.

Wow! What an amazing career. Hernandez will be in Houston this weekend for Tristar Sports' 34th annual Sports Memorabilia and Autograph Show at NRG Arena. Other sports heroes appearing for autograph sessions are Joe Montana, Lance McCullers, Randy Johnson, Ryne Sandberg, Yuli Gurriel, Brooks Robinson, and dozens more. Visit the official site for celebrities, tickets, and times.

I'd love to talk baseball with you, Keith Hernandez but I've got my priorities straight: Tell me about the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer and Newman accused you of spitting on them after a Mets game and you got to kiss Elaine! TV Guide ranked Seinfeld the "Greatest Show in Television History" and the two-part episode with Hernandez, titled "The Boyfriend," the greatest episode of the greatest show. Even bigger wow!

CultureMap: What's tougher, facing a Nolan Ryan fastball or not laughing doing a scene with George Costanza on Seinfeld?

Keith Hernandez: For me, the Seinfeld episode. But the funniest guy was Newman. It was hardest to keep a straight face when Newman and Kramer walked into Jerry's apartment and saw that I was there. They brought up the game against Philadelphia where I made an error and cost the Mets the game and ruined their day and accused me of spitting on them.

CM: How did you get the role on Seinfeld? Did you call them or did they call you?

KH: It was 1991, the year after I retired from baseball. Ironically, they went through my last baseball agent, who wasn't under my employ anymore. It was Scott Boras. They called him in Los Angeles and he called me and said, 'Do you want to do this sitcom called Seinfeld?'

I was a baseball player and we play mostly night games, so I never watched prime time television. I still don't. (Hernandez is a broadcaster for the Mets.) I didn't know what the Seinfeld show was. Scott Boras said they just wanted me for a guest shot. And that's how the ball got rolling. (The story goes, if Hernandez had said no, Seinfeld producers were going to ask Mets catcher Gary Carter.)

CM: Like most Seinfeld fans, I've seen every episode, oh, about 20 times and can practically recite the scripts by heart. Seinfeld seems to air on every station around the clock now. How many times have you seen your episode?

KH: I do not watch it. I've seen it twice, once when it first aired in 1992 and one other time. I just get embarrassed. I think I did OK, but it's embarrassing to watch yourself. I had a ton of lines and I did memorize them and I didn't screw up." (Hernandez still receives $3,000 in royalties each year for his Seinfeld appearance.)

CM: What were you doing the year after you retired from baseball?

KH: I was doing nothing. I had back surgery and I was recovering from that. That's why I retired at 37. It took me a year to recover. I wasn't in a wheelchair, but I was working my way back physically from a serious operation.

CM: When you were a kid, did you ever imagine that people would stand in line for your autograph or take a photo with you?

KH: Absolutely not. I grew up in California in the era of the San Francisco Giants and Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal. If they had sold baseball jerseys in my day like they do today, I would have had a Mickey Mantle jersey, number 7, on my back. Mickey Mantle was my idol. I happen to share a birthday with him. I certainly would have badgered my dad to take me to an autograph show like this weekend in Houston.

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out what Keith Hernandez thought of the Seinfeld script when he first read it, and much more.

Every-Thing Sports

A chat with Astros' fans

Jermaine Every

Spring has sprung, and you know what that means. Spring Training is in full bloom. The Grapefruit and Cactus leagues are underway. The Astros have gotten their statements, apologies, pressers, and rebuttals out of the way. So have many other major leaguers, as well as some outside the scope of MLB. I first wrote about them embracing the bad guy role the day they made their apology, then how I felt about their haters a few days later after listening to the fallout. Now, it's time to speak directly to the Astros' fans to clear the air, set a decorum, and a few other items:

They cheated. Time to move on.

I know this may be hard to come to grips with, but they cheated, got caught, and were punished. So what if other teams were doing it too! They were the ones who got made an example of by the commissioner because someone with intimate knowledge of their ways decided to go public (Mike "The Rat" Fiers). Commissioner Rob Manfred had no other option but to punish the organization. While he's undoubtedly trying to minimize any collateral damage this may have caused the sport, you have to understand that he's protecting what little integrity baseball has left. We all know the well-documented history of baseball as a sport overrun with cheating. From steroids, to sign stealing to greenies to scuffing to pine tar to corked bats; it's all been done. They did what they did. Face it. Acknowledge it. Move on.

Dealing with backlash

There have been tons of media members, other MLB players, as well as others outside of the sport with plenty to say. Most of it has not been favorable. Some of it has been downright distasteful if you ask me. But that's what comes with the territory. I have a good friend who's a Patriots' fan. We give him grief all the time. However, he could care less. His attitude is one Astros' fans should adopt: "So what that we cheated! And?!? We still have rings!" People will exercise their free speech and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it. Let them talk, but don't get baited into an unnecessary back and forth. Don't let the trolls pull out the worst in you. That's what they want and that's how they feel like they've won. Instead, give them what they're not expecting and lean into the roll of most hated.

Continue your support

This team will face an extraordinary amount of scrutiny, hate, and ugliness. It is now the time to support them even more than before. Don't abandon them now. If you don't like what they did and want to stand on some sort of moral high ground, you should quit watching baseball, maybe sports in general. No one can say they did everything on the up and up every single time in baseball. They may not have done things to the extent the Astros did, but they all used something to gain an advantage. Twitter user @Joshstros has some really cool tee shirts at his teespring store for sale. I opted for the aWo shirt as a nod to my love of pro wrestling will be ordering more. This is like that one relative or friend you have that's going through a tough time that was self-inflicted. Do you abandon them and cut them off? Or do you go all in with your love and support to help them get through that rough patch? If you're a real family member or friend, you show them more love during that time to help them come out a better person.

That pic at the top of this article was a selfie I took in New Orleans. I walked to a parade while visiting family wearing my Astros gear. I got nothing but love from those that approached me. Some were native New Orleanians that have dealt with Bountygate as Saints fans, others were fans of other teams that felt like things were overblown, some weren't fans of any MLB team and thought the Astros were doing what every other team had already been doing but are being made an example of. Either way, I found over 95% of the people I interacted with were very cool about the whole thing. I've got friends who are fans of other MLB teams. They too don't get why this is as big a deal as people are making it out to be. People living in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. MLB should live by that considering they're all guilty of something. Bottom line Astros' fans: stand by your team through thick and thin. You rode the wave in 2017. Continue to ride with them in 2020 and beyond.

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