Livan Hernandez retires, still haunts you

Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

Even though he was kind of cool, he still haunts me. I don't know what to think, man.

Livan Hernandez started three Opening Days for the Giants. The team put out bunting, called Huey Lewis, arranged for warplanes to scare the hell out of people ... and it was all for Livan Hernandez. Not specifically, but that's how it turned out.

Apropos of nothing, the Giants were 2-1 in those games. I would have guessed 0-4.

Hernandez started two World Series games for the Giants. They put out bunting, called Huey Lewis, arranged for warplanes to bomb Scott Spiezio*, and it was all for Hernandez. He was 0-2 with a 14.29 ERA. Dusty Baker had a choice between Big Game Livan and Quietly Competent Against Lefties Rueter. He chose the former. He chose ... poorly. This isn't hindsight, either. In 2002, people were desperate -- desperate -- for Kirk Rueter to start a World Series game. It ended like we all expected.

Yet the Giants won both of the playoff games Hernandez started before that, a win against the Braves (lol) and a game against the Cardinals in the NLCS. There's a chance the Giants don't even get that far if he pulls a Sidney Ponson in the NLDS.

After leaving the Giants for a player to be thanked later, Hernandez turned into a swollen Greg Maddux, averaging close to 240 innings a year and giving the Expos/Nationals tremendous value. He rarely cracked 85 m.p.h., and he threw his curve below 60 at times. He was was the newborn king of dooky-slinging floop, and it was secretly fun to watch. It was odd to see an ex-Giant succeed wildly after a trade, yet have absolutely no regrets.

His legacy here will always be tied to the World Series. If not for Cody Ross and/or Marco Scutaro, Hernandez would be on the Wall of Shame, stuck with Cody Ransom and Jose Cruz, Jr., remembered for one thing only.

Now that we're spoiled and ostensibly more mature, we can look back at Livan Hernandez and appreciate him as a unique pitcher, a phenom-turned-dookiesloober who lasted far, far longer than he was supposed to. Back in his peak, the pitch-count mania was peaking, and Hernandez was known for 150-pitch complete games. They should have named the pitcher-abuse points after him. Looming Injuries Via Asinine Negligence. He was supposed to turn into powder by 2000.

It's 2014, and he's finally announcing his retirement. I respect the hell out of that.

He was also okay for the Giants, considering. FanGraphs had him over two wins in every season in San Francisco, and he was a part of some pretty good teams. Maybe it's time to rethink his legacy here.

...

Just kidding. What a weirdo. Also, here's an article that's always worth reading.

Pitcher Livan Hernandez became something of a sadistic benefactor when (bullpen catcher Jeff Motuzas) arrived in Arizona in 2006. Motuzas said Hernandez once paid him $3,000 to drink a gallon of milk in 12 minutes. The two also hammered out a deal that permitted Hernandez to punch Motuzas in the groin for $50 a pop whenever he felt the urge. Motuzas would receive a $300 bonus after every 10th punch.

Cool. But Hernandez will always be the guy who couldn't win a World Series game to me, even if that's really, really unfair. Baseball's so random. How can you define an entire career based on a couple of outings? That's a question for the philosophers. For us rabid fans, there's no other choice.

*The mission was aborted when the pilots mistakenly thought Spiezio's stupid goatee was a signal flare from a downed comrade.

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