Well, it was going to happen (again) eventually. Today we learned that Liván Hernandez signed a minor-league deal with the Astros organization, getting himself an invitation to Spring Training in the bargain.
This is pitching. Putting the ball where you want it, how you want it, and, knowing the hitter, controlling the damage done. In 2010 and 2011 Livan Hernandez did not do any of these things well. He’s lucky the umpires helped him out.
I must concede all of that. And yet I am filled with great sadness to see Livo go. In my mind, I will remember the Livo of 2005.
I will remember the Livo of April 29, 2005, who scattered 9 hits over 8 innings pitched, giving up only one run and striking out five, earning a Curly “W.” That was the Livo I went to RFK to see: a man defying logic, bewildering batters and fans alike, eating up innings. Or casually sauntering across the infield. Or utterly bamboozling an otherwise excellent ballclub.
Even so, it was perhaps fitting that his final appearance in 2011 was a dispiriting loss to the Mets. Statistically, the “real” Livo was the one that walked off the field on a hot September afternoon at Nats Park–a far cry from the Livo that toed the rubber that day in April 2005.
None of my fondness for Livo is logical. I cannot back it up with any statistics. And yet, as a fan, I will always smile when I think of Livo. He was the first Nationals pitcher I really started to follow. When I would waver between going or not going to RFK, the thought that Livo was pitching was enough to get me on the Orange Line to the stadium. And in 2014, when Nats park is overrun with bandwagon fans in their Bryce Harper shirseys, I will know a fan of the ’05 Nats when I see Livo’s name.
Adios, Livo. Siempre contarás con el agradecimiento de la afición de Washington por lo que has hecho con los Nats.