Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tiger and Tim

I was checking out the following article about the decline of one of golf's greatest recent stars:

And I found myself immediately thinking of our own Tim Lincecum. Yes, I know it does not take much for me to go there, but you must admit there are some basic similarities. Young, flashy, superstars that took their sport by storm and quickly climbed to the absolute top. Then both crashed, hard and fast. During their amazing glory days they each established huge, adoring fan bases that are still to this day clinging to their memories and denying their eyes. 

With Tiger's injuries it may be easier to understand the big drop off.  However, it seems that a big key is his lack of confidence, especially with his short game.  Doesn't that sound a bit like it could be the key for Tim's lack of command? Isn't it wild that two such dominant performers may ultimately be undone by their own insecurities?

Anybody else see a connection, or am I just seeing Tim shadows everywhere?

Oh yeah, they both had pushy, controlling Sports Fathers.  Maybe that is a factor? Hmmmm....


Zo said...

Tim shadows. The long shadow of Tim. Timorous vapours.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Tiger is of course far more famous than Tim, and his accomplishments in his sport put him among the greatest of all time even if he never picks up a club again. And Woods continued to play good golf and win money, awards, and tournaments even if failing to win more majors. Plus his run of success in the majors (1997-2008) was longer than Tim's entire career so far.

I'd say Tiger's "fall" was not nearly as precipitous as Tim's unless you include his public shame and infamy over his failed marriage. Tiger as you point out had injuries and surgeries, something Tim has never had trouble with, amazingly. Woods, though, had the luxury of taking a "break" from the game, so perhaps that counts, too. Tim, to his immense credit, has battled every season and never let poor performances derail him.

And Woods is impossibly rich, even by athlete standards, and has his finger in a lot of pies--writing a book, creating a foundation, designing products, etc. And the scrutiny that status comes with has to be an immense burden, something Tim has never really dealt with. There are a lot of people who HATE athletes like Tiger (or David Beckham, Michael Schumacher, Lance Armstrong, similarly rich and famous on that scale) and Tim has never faced that kind of animus.

I think the comparison is a reach mainly because Tiger is so much bigger than his sport and is so much more an international celebrity. On the other hand, on our fall trip everyone who wanted to talk baseball with us asked about Tim. (That is until MadBum did his thing.) Tim remains very popular even among casual fans. Just goes to show what a beanie and a pot bust can do for a guy.

I don't know--it's hard to compare team sport athletes to individual sport athletes. And both of these guys really are freaks, that is, it is hard to find a comp for either. So, perhaps that's what they have in common!

nomisnala said...

You posited a conjecture and it needs to be explored. M.C. Made some astute observations comparing tiger with Timmy. Maybe we can call Tim Tim (Tiger) Lincecum!

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I agree that there are some similarities, but as MC noted, there is also a world of difference too. And with all his millions, I would say that Tim is impossibly rich as well. :^)

I would also note that Tiger's dad would not have left his son alone for five seasons, to flounder and fall from grace the way Tim did, without stepping in and kicking some butt to reach for the top. Tim's father hasn't coached Tim full-time since 2009 season. Tim reached out and will be working with his dad this season.

And that I think is the key to him returning to relevance in 2015. He won't be Cy Tim, but I think he could be part of a three headed ace trio with Bumgarner and Cain in the playoffs. It's not like he hasn't been dominant every last season. His problem has been regaining his proper mechanics once he loses his feel for his pitches. Presumably his dad can help him regain that touch faster, as well as keep him on the straight and narrow longer.

JC Parsons said...

I obviously am aware of some differences between the two, although I'm not sure if we should give Tiger much credit for "surviving" his bigger fortune. I guess my key point, which seemed to get supported, was how the fans are reacting to the massive falls from grace. DENIAL based on fond memories. Anyone that thinks Tim should be in the starting rotation, especially instead of Petit, is not dealing with reality. Where we left it, Tim had played himself out of the rotation and basically off the playoff roster. That was AFTER an effective few weeks and a flashy no-hitter. And it wasn't just him blowing it, Petit pitched like a god ( setting a cool record and still getting almost no respect around here). Any notion that Tim can be with MadBum and Cain as some 3 headed monster is sweet but straight out of 2010. He is fighting for the 4 or 5 spot at this point in his career (actually more likely a relief role) and there is nothing to make any one think otherwise. Except for the sweet memories. Likewise the idea that Tim's father can provide some cure is also more based on ancient history rather than ANY evidence recently. After all, why would Dad wait a few years to help as his son plummets into mediocrity?
So I guess the comparison that hit home to me was more about how we are all dealing with the loss of our superstars, rather than the details of their journey.

Brother Bob said...

We can observe similarities and differences simultaneously. As of this date, both Tim and Tiger suck. That's about as deep as any of my analyses get.
Yet there remains the fascination of "What if?.." Comebacks are the most moving sports phenomenon. The "Bob Brenly Game" was probably the most exciting game in my experience. When Nicklaus won his last Masters, when he was way over the hill, I'm pretty sure I cried.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I think everyone around here respects Petit and know he'd start on a lot of teams. Giants are lucky to have pitching depth. Yeah, I think Tim is fighting for a rotation spot. Boch has said he'll start, but that's just being a manager. Tim needs a good spring to get the nod. And I really do think he can be an effective starter. He doesn't have to be the Tim of legend and song. A Zitovian redemption season is a real possibility, don't you think?

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I am not in denial.

People are letting the last bad memories screw with their perception.

Lincecum was dominant for 18 starts, from his 3rd start to the save, then lost it. He had a 3.65 ERA, which would be good enough to hold a rotation spot. If he didn't have good enough stuff, he would not STILL be striking out a lot of hitters. If his father can keep his mechanics to form, I don't see why he can't hold a spot in the rotation.

That said, if he don't pitch well in the spring, he will lose his job.

Zo said...

I think Jon's observation illustrates why the Giants signed Vogie. There are too many questions in the rotation not to have some insurance. Tim is one of those questions.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

I agree with Zo.

Questions abound: Bumgarner, 4000+ pitches, 270+ IP; Cain, recovery from surgery or can't pitch without impediments or just can't pitch; Hudson, recovery from surgery, might not make opening day, old; Peavy, first half 2014; Lincecum, last three seasons downs.

Vogie is insurance in case any of them happens, or the old TINSTAAPP that a pitcher can go down at any time, for any thing.

That said, I think on a pitcher by pitcher basis, each is likely to come out OK.

Bumgarner workload is mentioned without noting that before reaching the majors, he was throwing on the side all the time, if anyone today is built to handle increased work load like that, it's him.

Cain, all the worry is TINSTAAPP, he pitched fine with chips, he should have no mechanics issues, his surgery was successful, no infection news, he should pitch fine with no chips. Same with ankle.

Hudson, he's probably the biggest worry, with the surgery so close to ST and OD, but that's why you got Vogie and Petit. Again, surgery is minor, like with Cain, no infection, so he should be fine once fully healed (look at how consistent his career is, even with TJS and ankle bust, and with rest, he'll be good deeper into season).

Peavy's PQS has been good for years, his 2014 first half is the anomaly, compared to the other seasons over the past 4-5 seasons. He also credits Posey and Susac's catching. You can't count on him in the playoffs, but you can count on good performances during the regular season.

And Lincecum I've covered. It's not like he's not pitched well the past three seasons. He has done well for about half a season (roughly 3 ERA), and pretty terrible the other half (5-6 ERA). He clearly has the skills, nobody can fake it for half a season, three seasons in a row. He needs help in keeping his mechanics aligned. Hmm, who can do that?

campanari said...

I certainly agree with JCP's general observation about a spirit of nostalgic, sentimental denial among fans and its relevance to T and T. OGC is also right, I think, in holding out hope that Lincecum's lapses in mechanics can be corrected, or at least made less common, so that he ought not to be written off, though I can't say that I'm sanguine about his ever amounting to much again.

Where I'm really skeptical, though, is that any of us on the outside can make any rational assumptions that have to do with the relations between Tim Lincecum and Chris Lincecum. Fathers and sons have such a range of complex relationships that no guess can count as a good guess except from someone who knows a lot of specifics that we don't. What father would sullenly and self-righteously sit back while his stubborn, self-sufficient-seeming son flops? Lots of them. And this may or may not be the scenario here. Denials of reality are bad. So are precarious assumptions about it.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

That's why I've been sticking to the only facts that I know, which is what Lincecum reported.

One, his father hasn't been helping him regularly since 2009. Apparently he had to wear his big boy pants, as he put it. Don't know whether that was him or his dad who made that edict.

Two, his father will be helping him in the 2015 season.

We've seen his up and down performances. Like the worse roller-coaster ride ever. One thing was always true: when he's on, he's still one heck of a dominant pitcher. You can't do that without skill.

The other true thing is that he has just been getting worse and worse with time as well.

Zo said...

Brandon Belt has now agreed to a contract. That leaves only Casey McGehee unsigned. I am hoping to be able to spell McGehee without looking it up by spring training.

Brother Bob said...

Better than Scheirholz. I probably still got it wrong.

nomisnala said...

I believe it was actually the giants coaching staff that asked Tim and his Dad to lay off the father coaching relationship and let the giants coaches work with him so as not to have too many changes in his form because of too many imputs. At this point I believe that after the 2014 season, the giants coaching staff basically tossed out their collective genius, and said, OK, we will swallow our pride and allow Timmy to work with his dad this off season. He can't do much worse.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Yes, but you were close enough: Schierholtz. (though... that was what I remembered but I had to check to be sure ;^).

El said...

Regarding Tim - I've tried to think of another pitcher who, barring injury, fell so far so fast.

Keep coming up empty.

Another freaky uniqueness.....

carmot said...

Hmmm, an interesting question you offer for us to ponder. On the most basic level, I see what you see.

However, I see one major (no pun intended here!) difference. It's something I've long described as "The Tiger Woods Effect." Yup, seriously.

Tiger made golf cool for the masses. He infused boatloads of money into the PGA. Media coverage. Sponsors. In a sense, I feel like Tiger Woods created his own competition.

I mean to say, there were likely a ton of kids who would've never been interested in golf. The money wasn't there, the popularity wasn't there, the access to the game wasn't there. Things like First Tee helped. Then, we can probably recognize that some elite athletes got more intrigued by golf. The fitness came in. Less risk of injury compared to football, for example.

Kids that might've been 10 years old watching Tiger destroy the field at Pebble in 2000's US Open... Maybe were saying to themselves, "I want to be the next Tiger Woods." While they wouldn't exactly have had that sentiment about Davis Love III or Justin Rose (no offense meant to them or others). Maybe they would've jst stuck to developing in basketball or baseball or football. But now? Golf was kind of intriguing. This factors into the GROWTH of golf- Tiger Woods does, directly, IMHO.

So? So, without Tiger, the field might actually be weaker than what we see today. But he created a wider field. More money, more talent, more COMPETITION. Ironically, against himself. And, I feel like it has begun to catch up. They're here.

Lincecum, as awesome as he was, didn't invigorate MLB in any such way. Kids that want to be pro baseball players when they grow up can find many choices for their idol. Yes, truly, The Freak has been among them. But Timmy hasn't been responsible for creating his own competition.

Just my thought. YMMV. Cheers.

obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

campanari, I've been thinking about what you wrote. Yes, we don't really know what went down between the two. Perhaps Tim wanted to do it on this own to see how he could do and his father respected that. Perhaps his father decided it was time to leave the nest and for Tim to make it on his own, and gave a time table. We don't know why they didn't work together.

For Tiger, my point was that his father was much more of a stage father who had more invested in his son being great, and thus would not let his son flounder when he could help him. Tim's father, from interviews I heard over the years, did not seem to be that type of dad to push relentlessly, who could back off if asked or agreed. He was a proud dad, clearly, but he never seemed to be THAT dad who pushed and pushed. That was my point I was trying to make.

I've also heard his father in calls after that split in coaching. He defended his son and never had anything bad to say about him, from the ones I heard. If anything, he was a fierce papa defending his brood from naysayers. So, my speculation, he was available to help, but wasn't helping, for whatever reason.

One thing that stuck with me from the Timmy interview was that Tim used that phrase he uses, wearing big boy pants. Again, that could go either way, father or son, plus it could also have been the Giants telling him that as well, as I've seen someone note.

In any case, whatever the reason for the lack of coaching, that is now over, that experiment with wearing big boy pants is over, and his dad is helping him again.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I agree with Carmot. Tiger indeed sowed the seeds of his own demise by being a golf "rock star." He set a new bar and the rest of the world set out to top it. Back here in the NL West, LA spent gazillions and remade their team in order to beat the Giants! That's why it is so hard in sport to stay on top as everyone under you works that much harder and copies or improves upon the champs' formula for success.