America's Pasttime

From John Sterling to Keith Hernandez, Wednesday was a rough day in the booth for the MLB old heads

Yankees play-by-play broadcaster John Sterling is a legend. He’s been calling Yankees games for over 30 years. At one point he called 5,060 consecutive Yankees without a single day off a runny nose or a graduation. He’s the veritable Cal Ripken Jr. of MLB broadcasting. Keith Hernandez, meanwhile, is a little newer to the game after the game, but no less beloved in New York. A Met (and mustache) icon, Hernandez has become baseball’s grumpy old grandpa as the years have ticked by, a soothing-yet-curmudgeonly balm for all that ails the Flushing faithful. Hell, the man was even on ‘Seinfeld.’ Beat that.

For both Sterling and Hernandez, however, Wednesday was a day they would like to (and probably soon will) forget. It began bright and early at Citizens Bank Ballpark, where Hernandez and equally iconic play-by-partner Gary Cohen were on the call for the Mets' and Phillies’ 1:05 p.m. start. In the top of the third, with not much happening on the basepaths, the topic turned to Hernandez’s morning trevails, which apparently included falling for the most obvious scam in the history of American exploitation.

The guy doesn’t even know what Zelle is. Zelle! That joker on the phone must have thought he hit the jackpot ... until Hernandez started yelling, that is. Needless to say, it was a rocky morning for Keith, but with the grace of God and the help of his banking associate, he got through it unscathed (just don’t ask him what Venmo is).

Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Yankees compatriot John Sterling, who a few hours later delivered his signature home run call … on a fly out … again. Take it away Mr. Sterling.

OK, so obviously this was bad, but it gets even worse when you realize Sterling did the very same thing back in October, anointing an ordinary single a “Stantonian home run!” during the AL Wild Card game between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Sterling’s trademark home run calls have always been sort of corny—the achilles heel of his illustrious career—but when he can’t even get the home-run part right, there’s some cause for concern.

In the end, we don’t know which is worse—getting defrauded by a fake utilities company and then admitting it on live TV or “IT’S HIGH, IT’S FAR, IT’S GONE … it’s caught.” We suppose the answer lies in the numbers—at the time of writing Sterling’s gaffe enjoyed a 1.8-million-view lead—but no matter which way you slice it, MLB's olds got touched up on Wednesday.