Rooting for Lincecum, Lee
I don’t generally pay much attention to the National League, although I do follow the Mets a little bit.
Which might explain why I was largely unaware of the existence of San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum until Oct. 8. Glancing at the box score I noticed that this lanky fellow had pitched a complete game two-hit shutout, striking out 14 and breaking the all-time record for strikeouts in Giants post-season history. “Who’s this guy?” I wondered.
The more I read about Tim Lincecum, the more I liked him. First of all, he’s small — only 5’11” and 172. And he’s a two-time Cy Young award winner, “known for his long stride, unorthodox mechanics, and ability to generate high velocity despite his slight build,” according to Wikipedia. In fact, Tim Lincecum looks like someone who might have lived in my dorm during my freshman year of college, which is not true of most major league athletes. “He’s so gawky and weird looking,” I told a friend. “I think I’m a fan.” Plus, I think he’s about 12 years old. In other words, Tim Lincecum is a pitching prodigy.
I wasn’t really planning to follow the baseball post-season all that closely, as my Boston Red Sox failed to make the playoffs, but Tim Lincecum has kept me interested. I think it’s safe to say that I’m rooting for the Giants to make it out of the NLCS. I’ve also taken an interest in the Rangers, who impressed me by knocking off Tampa Bay. But I also just like their team. The Josh Hamilton story is a good one, and they happen to employ my second favorite pitcher in the playoffs, the godlike Cliff Lee. If Lincecum seems surprisingly ordinary, Lee seems like to exist on a more ethereal plane. Lincecum is kind of like Peter Parker, an average guy with extraordinary superpowers, while Lee is more like Superman, born on another planet and rocketed to earth.
The Rangers actually broke my heart on Friday, when they imploded after building up a 6-0 lead and lost the game. But they rebounded nicely in game 2, and now Cliff Lee is on the mound tonight. Lee might very well end up pitching for the Yankees next year, but until that happens, I’m rooting for him.
Lincecum wasn’t quite as masterful in his game 1 victory against the Phillies. He gave up three runs and only — only! — struck out eight, but in some ways I was even more impressed with him. Dominating at home against a not-quite-ready for the World Series team such as the Atlanta Braves is one thing; waltzing into Citizens Bank Park in Philly and beating Roy Halladay is another. Sure, Cody Ross belted two home runs, and closer Brian Wilson performed well under pressure. But this team needs Lincecum to succeed.
The Phillies fans tried to rattle Lincecum by whistling at him and yelling that his hair looks like a girl’s, but he laughed off the insults, telling a reporter, “I must have a nice butt or something.” Personally, I think it’s time to retire “you look like a girl” as an insult, given that it’s 2010 and not all that unusual to see guys with long hair. (My freshman year dorm was full of them.) And because this notion that the worst thing a boy can be is girly, or girl-like, is kind of sexist and should be put to rest. And because I like Tim Lincecum’s long hair, and I don’t want him to cut it.
In the meantime, I’m hoping for a Tim Lincecum-Cliff Lee matchup in the World Series. It’s unlikely, yes, but I can dream, can’t I?
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