f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Francisco Liriano

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Francisco Liriano

I attended a Minnesota Twins game yesterday. They got shellacked.

In the eighth inning, however, the crowd where I was sitting started to buzz a bit. I began to hear a pop and snap as a new pitcher warmed up in the bullpen along the third base-line.

"That's Liriano!" baseball dorks like myself whispered to each other.

Francisco Liriano is a lefty who throws stupidly fast. He was 9-2 with a 1.78 ERA at Triple-A and had 112 strikeouts in 91 innings pitched. Oh, and he's 21.

The Twins are loathe to force young players into pressure situations. Francisco won't be starting for us this September because we are still hypothetically in the wild-card race. Yesterday was a pathetic effort though so, trailing 6-0, they let young Liriano warm up and then brought him in to pitch the top of the ninth.

His fastball crackled, but he soon fell behind 3-1 to his first batter. Not wanting to walk his first professional hitter, Liriano reared back and did what I guess he did a lot in the minor leagues--smoked a fastball and dared the player to hit it.

483 feet later, the Twins were down 7-0 and Liriano had an infinite ERA. He struck out the next two guys and got the third out on a weak grounder. All three batters looked silly.

Oh, but that home run.

The big leagues, young Liriano learned, are a different thing. "I dare you to hit me" won't work because if a player knows what's coming (and at 3-1, you can guess it'll be fastball) he's making big bucks to make it soar.

There's about twelve weak life lessons I could draw from this and somehow twist to apply to writing. In most of them you're the pitcher, your first draft is the fastball, and I'm (or editors like me) the hitter, waiting with a sadistic grin.

I guess I'll leave it at this: you're not in the minors anymore. It's exciting. It's energizing. But you won't sneak anything by.

(Thanks for listening. Mostly I just wanted to write about baseball today.)
One quick follow-up -

Most awkward game moment ever! Guy asks his girlfriend (I assume) to marry him on the Jumbotron. And she stands there, crying. She never nods or says "Yes." She just looks mortified and terrified and unhappy. They just kind cut away to bloopers.

To this couple I dedicate Bonnie Raitt's 1992 classic "I Can't Make You Love Me." (see meme below)