Today, February 20th, we acknowledge and celebrate the life of Hernandez the Prolific.
Life: A Cuban emigre, Hernandez received national attention very early, starting and winning Games 1 and 5 of the 1997 World Series and winning the MVP trophy for same. Noted for his durability, Hernandez led the league in innings pitched for three consecutive years, from 2003 through 2005, and has thrown more innings since 1998 (his rookie season) than any other active pitcher, leading the second player on that list (Javier Vazquez) by 200 innings. An above-average pitcher at his peak, Hernandez has become merely serviceable, relying more on guile and something called “pitchability” than actual stuff.
Ritual: To remember Hernandez the Prolific, either (a) invent a pitch with a mysterious name or (b) read Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and ask yourself, “Am I the old man, the sea, the tireless marlin, all of the above, none of the above?” (Hint: you are not the sea.)
Prayer of Hernandez the Prolific:
Included among the many pitches
you’ve introduced to this country
since your debut in 1996
is one called Rice with Mango
another called The Eleven-Yard Shirt
and a third, The Melancholy Peanut Vendor,
that’s only possible to throw
on the day of a loved one’s funeral.
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