Welcome back, Livo! It’s good to have you.
I love Livan Hernandez returning to the Washington Nationals. He may be finished, but if he is in the right frame of mind, he will be a good mentor to some of these young kids on the staff, like Garrett Mock, who should have been able to pitch seven innings in Tuesday night’s 15-6 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
He is not always in the right frame of mind, of course. But he is generally entertaining, and here is one of the more memorable entertaining moments with Livo, back in July 2005, when the Nationals were actually battling for first place in the National League East (did that really happen?) and what I wrote about it then.
Livo was pretty upset after a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies, although who or what exactly he was upset about wasn’t exactly clear - his knee, his team, his career, his golf game, whatever. In his postgame comments, he declared, among other things, that something was bothering him that he would not reveal until the end of the season and that he was 99.9 percent sure he was going to have surgery on his painful right knee.
He said he would make a decision the next day. “I will go to sleep tonight, think about it and then we’ll see.”
Well, he must have slept on a bed of nails, because he came to the ballpark yesterday in a very bad mood but at least focused this time on what exactly was the problem.
The media - specifically ESPN.
He walked into the clubhouse and declared to the Nationals public relations staff, “I want to know who the [bleep] writes for ESPN.” Then he said he would “find who is talking [bleep] to ESPN.”
In fact, this is pretty much how a five-minute diatribe went while the media cowered (myself included, of course) in the clubhouse … something, something, curse, ESPN… something, something, curse, ESPN.
It was quite the scene.
At one point while a camera was pointing in his direction, it appeared we were going to have a Kenny Rogers moment.
“Put that camera down,” Livo said, and he wasn’t asking.
Then came the best moment of this melodrama. A player walked over to Livo and tried to calm him down.
Jose Guillen. Who better?
Livo eventually calmed down enough to talk “Somebody called ESPN, and the people on ESPN are talking,” he said. “They never talk about how I pitch and how I don’t miss a start in the year. Now I say something, and they put everything bigger like I’m going to quit.”
Apparently, he was upset about reports on ESPN that he had already made up his mind to have season-ending surgery and felt he was portrayed as a quitter by the network. But there was nobody from ESPN in sight in the clubhouse yesterday. I was tempted to tell Livo to call George Solomon, the Washington Post sports editor, who was also the ESPN om budsman at the time.
That was such a fun year that even the abuse is a fond memory.
Listen to “The Sports Fix” with myself and Kevin Sheehan from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN 980 AM Washington and espn980.com.
For more information about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com.