Watching Francisco Liriano pitch is like living in a dysfunctional family.
As a fan of the Minnesota Twins, I never knew which Frankie was going to show up on the mound. The stellar strike-out pitcher I respected and appreciated? The hit-and-miss thrower who would get himself into a bases-loaded nightmare and then clean up everything with pinpoint accuracy and a shrug? Or the flaying mess that melted down in the first (or third or fifth) inning, making me wince and want to sneak quietly out the exit?
I was at the Metrodome watching him pitch when he got injured in 2006; eventually, he had Tommie John surgery. When he finally returned to the mound, he was never the same.
I always hoped for the young phenom but in recent years (and especially weeks), I didn’t know what to expect and I just prayed he performed well enough to be picked up by another team.
I couldn’t be happier for the despised Chicago White Sox, which now lay claim to the craziness and take on the Twins again this week. Liriano may actually pitch against his old team. That’ll be entertaining — either Liriano will hurl a perfect game against the Twins or he’ll walk in the winning run.
How White Sox general manager Kenny Williams thinks Liriano will be able to withstand the withering scrutiny of rabid Chicago fans, I don’t know. I suspect this trade will turn out more like Chuck Knoblauch, the impressive rookie second baseman with the Twins who couldn’t hack it with the Yankees and ended up in left field, than David Ortiz, the designated hitter who was mediocre with the Twins but turned into “Big Papi” with the Boston Red Sox.
Whatever happens, I’m glad the Twins dumped Liriano. I couldn’t take the unpredictability, and there’s no Al-Anon for fans of dysfunctional pitchers.