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01/26/09 12:39 PM EST

Ladies and gentlemen: The MexHex

Introducing -- and debunking? -- a theory on the Hernandez curse

NEW YORK -- So, you all were so sure you knew the reason for the Mets' collapses the last two seasons. Blame it on the bullpen, you said; and the offense disappeared at the least opportune times. One reader suggested the Mets' inability to win during the final month of 2007 and '08 was linked to their having visited Washington, D.C., and that all things negative emanated from the nation's capital.

We'll now comes a new theory, submitted for your approval via e-mail by Kyu Chul S. of Fort Lee, N.J. It was written with tongue in cheek -- I hope -- but was worth a second look, a cackle and public airing.

It links the Mets' poor showing in the final 17 games of each of the last three seasons to Keith Hernandez, the primary force in the team's successful run in the 1980s and now one of the color analysts for Mets telecasts on SNY. The e-mail identifies Hernandez's influence as "The Curse of Keith Hernandez." But I suspect a catchier name is needed. So we've taken Hernandez's nickname and created The MexHex.

The original e-mail follows:

For the past two seasons, we have witnessed the Mets implode in their final 17 games. Even the venerated 2006 team suffered from similar ignominy with its 7-10 record down the stretch. These shady performances led me to conclude that there is a curse on the New York Mets franchise: The Curse of Keith Hernandez.

While this may simply sound like a desperate plea for help, one must look at the facts. Mr. Hernandez's uniform number with the Mets was 17, and for three seasons now, the Mets have lost their mojo after playing solid baseball for 145 games. This phenomenon has coincided with Mr. Hernandez's promotion to full-time broadcasting duties. So I am simply wondering -- do you believe there is a curse on the Mets?
-- Kyu Chul S., Fort Lee, N.J.

Well, I hadn't considered the possible link. I knew the Mets' records for the final 17 games in 2007 and '08 were poor, respectively, 5-12 and 7-10. But who would have guessed? Anyway, I forwarded the e-mail to Hernandez, and he responded to me -- and its author.

Marty Noble forwarded to me your e-mail about a possible Keith Hernandez curse on the Mets. I didn't realize that the 2006 team won only seven of its final 17 games. You may be onto something!

But I want you to know that I am completely innocent of any involvement in this purported jinx. Hey, they said there was a Keith Hernandez jinx in St. Louis until they finally won in 2006. Well, if that one can be broken, so can this one. Let's hope they do sooner than later.

Happy New Year!
-- Keith Hernandez

Now, I'm not one to let something like this pass without some investigation. So I went back to Hernandez's seasons with the Mets -- 1983-89 -- to determine whether the MexHex had its roots while the Gold Glove first baseman was an active force.

I sent Hernandez this e-mail:

Rest easy. The theory of the jinx is without foundation. The Mets were strong finishers during No. 17's tenure at Shea. They produced a .613 winning percentage in the final 17 games of those seven seasons (119 games) and a .573 before the final 17 games.
-- Noble

Mets down the stretch
A look at the Mets' record in the final 17 games of each season during Keith Hernandez's tenure with the club.

1983 8-9
1984 10-7
1985 10-7
1986 13-4
1987 8-9
1988 14-3
1989 10-7
Total 73-46
Though claiming innocence, Hernandez now was troubled by what I had determined. He replied swiftly, noting, I assume, that he didn't have full impact on the 1983 team because he joined those Mets on June 15. He said only this: "'83 doesn't count."

Well, I guess we have to blame it on Jose Lima, now, or ... Jason Anderson, Kevin Appier, Mike Bordick, Choo Choo Coleman, David Cone, Wilson Delgado, Larry Elliot, Gil Flores, Rod Gaspar, Satoru Komiyama, Dae-Sung Koo, Frank Lary, Graeme Lloyd, Luis Lopez, Teddy Martinez, Brent Mayne, Jeff McKnight, Felix Millan, Jerry Morales, David Newhan, Dennis Ribant, Bret Saberhagen, Jimmie Schaeffer, Dick Stuart, Fernando Tatis, Ellis Valentine or Don Zimmer -- Mets 17's all.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.