For as often as I’ll curse Livan Hernandez’s name because of the infamous Eric Gregg game in the 1997 playoffs, I don’t really hold it against Hernandez. He was just taking what the umpire was giving him, and how on Earth can a fan of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux fault anyone for that? Eric Gregg can take a flying leap off of whatever plane of existence his soul currently inhabits, but Livan Hernandez is really hard to hate.
And indeed, after today’s most excellent feature story by Tom Boswell, it’s absolutely impossible not to like the guy. He’s never missed a start. He gets guys out with an 84 m.p.h. “fastball.” He throws 100 warmup pitches before a game. He called a home run he hit last year and then gave his bat to the Braves fan he was taunting about it. In the middle of an outstanding 2010 season he bypassed his agent and told Mike Rizzo that he’d pitch for a million bucks in 2011 because he was happy where he was and didn’t want to mess with a good thing.
I love pitchers, and the pitchers I love the most are the laid-back ones who don’t seem to over-think stuff. They just throw the ball, don’t really get too worked up about anything and want to pitch until they’re old and gray. Hernandez is like that. He says he wants to be “the Jamie Moyer of right-handers.”
I’d be shocked as hell if he lasted another five years let alone another 11 or 12 to reach Moyer’s longevity, but you can’t not love the attitude.