Livan Hernandez hasn’t pitched since 2012, but he hadn’t officially retired yet. Now he will reports Bill Ladson of MLB.com. The official papers will be filed and Hernandez’s playing career will, administratively speaking, be no more.
Hernandez pitched for 17 seasons in the big leagues, compiling a record of 178-177 with an ERA of 4.44. While he made the All-Star team twice and was a playoff hero in 1997 for the Marlins, he was basically an innings-eater. You could do well if he was in the back of the rotation throwing 200+ innings a year, but if he was your top starter you were kinda screwed. There’s a lot of value in that, even if it isn’t always pretty.
Of course, despite all of that, Hernandez is probably best known for Game 5 of the 1997 NLCS in which he “struck out” 16 Atlanta Braves batters. He had a bit of an assist, of course, from home umpire Eric Gregg:
Which, to this day, had to be the worst job of home plate umpiring in baseball history. I was livid at the time, but since then I’ve just grown amused by it all. Really, good for Hernandez. Unless he paid off Gregg, he didn’t ask for that zone. He merely observed that he was getting it and pitched to the spot he was given over and over again. Sure, the spot was a foot outside or more, but the reason for that is between Eric Gregg and his god.
A god which the late Gregg is likely sitting next to right now, laughing his butt off about that 1997 NLCS, up in Umpire Heaven.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.