Friday, November 20, 2009
Basking in the glow
Starting pitcher: M.C. O'Connor
At lunch yesterday JCP and I had a lot of fun talking about Tim Lincecum's remarkable season and his 2nd Cy Young in as many years. This morning I'm still basking in the glow. I know Cardinals fans are dismayed, and I expect a number of BBWAA members are surprised, but I believe the best man won the award. All homerism aside, Tim Lincecum was the best pitcher in the league last year and pitched even better this year. They used to say when I was a kid that a challenger had to "knock out the champ" in order to claim the title. Mr. Carpenter and Mr. Wainwright had tremendous seasons and are great ballplayers, but they lost their 15-round decisions by a few points on the judges' cards. I knew the vote would be close--I think we all did, and I must admit I thought Carpenter would win. I figured he'd get the lion's share of 1st place points, and Tim would clean up the 2nd place points. I could certainly see a writer picking either of the other two guys as number one, but I couldn't imagine anyone voting both guys ahead of Tim. (And Javier Vasquez and Dan Haren are both studs and very deserving of votes--it should not have been Tim vs. The Cards, but Tim vs. the best in the league.) In the end, Tim just got too many votes--he was 1, 2, or 3 on every ballot. He made quite an impression on the baseball cognoscenti. As well he should. Giants fans know how dominating this kid is. Leave the stats aside for a second, and think about the feeling you get when you watch him pitch. For me, it's simply awe. I just marvel at his confidence, his fearlessness, and his ability to sit guys down. The guy is great theater--his small frame, his slacker 'do, his outrageous delivery--and you can't take your eyes off him. Giants fans have never seen this kind of talent on the hill. Tim has a long way to go to match the career numbers of guys like Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, but in back-to-back seasons he has simply smothered the opposition with pitching brilliance. (Pitching brilliance, I might add, that is totally supported by a panoply of both sabermetric numbers and old-fashioned stats!) When Barry was being Barry, I remember feeling like the earth stopped turning when he was at the plate. Whatever I was doing, wherever I was, I froze and gave my full atttention to that moment. We know what that was like--we will probably never experience a hitter like that again. Tim is the closest thing to getting that feeling back. You feel like magic is going to happen when he has a ball in his hand, much like when Barry was waving that black bat. Congratulations, Tim! I hope the brain trust is smart enough to make you a Giant forever.