- Editor’s note: This story was originally published on November 1. 23.
Monday marked the countdown to Barry Bonds’ last chance to get to Cooperstown.
The 30 player ballot for the bbwa hall of fame class of 2022 is out and bonds is just one of a long list of big names to choose from on the writer’s ballot. it is also full of ancient giants. Since this closes a chapter in the book of bonds, it begins a new one for Tim Lincecum.
this coming year is the first time lincecum is eligible to make it to the hall of fame. For a four-year stretch of his 10-year career, it seemed the path to the Hall of Fame was already paved for San Francisco’s own Armstrong. it was nothing the game had ever seen before, a ball of rubber bands twisting, turning and darting forward at the plate with a terrified batter waiting for a pitch from a player who was generously 5-foot-11.
and then, just as fast as its light flickered and blazed across the san francisco sky, it burned up into the abyss.
lincecum won’t be in the hall of fame next year, and probably never will be. that’s also not the point of perhaps the most beloved giant pitcher in franchise history.
the room is all about stats, plaques, and artifacts. look at a player’s numbers and see how good he was for many years. They earned it, they deserved it.
every once in a while i look at lincecum’s baseball reference page and am left looking at all black for stats in which he led the national league, or all of baseball. From 2008 to 2011, when he appeared in four straight All-Star games and won back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards, Black went for stats like strikeouts, strikeouts per nine, hits per nine, era+, fip and even wild pitches. later in his career, he went for stats like turnovers, earned runs and, again, wild pitches.
In those four stellar years for the Giants, Lincecum went 62-36 with a 2.81 ERA and had 977 strikeouts in 881 2/3 innings, which equates to exactly 10 strikeouts per nine. He had commanding outings in the 2010 playoffs, helping the Giants win their first World Series since moving to San Francisco. nothing could stop him.
until his body got fed up with his violent pitching motion that ended with an eight-foot stride.
The last five seasons of his career, four with the Giants and one with the Los Angeles Angels, saw him go 41-48 with a 4.94 era, just 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings and four walks per game. nine. he was no longer a giant, an angel without wings.
Still, he came out of the bullpen in the 2012 world series and pitched no-hitters in 2013 and 2014, seasons in which he had a 4.37 and 4.74 era. Lincecum and Sandy Koufax, a Hall of Fame southpaw whose left arm ran out of fuel too soon, are the only two pitchers to have won multiple Cy Youngs, multiple World Series rings and pitched multiple no-hitters.
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When I marvel at any of his many statistical feats, I think back to how he could make you feel lyncecum. you reveled in his success and angered by the sadness of his career ending. however, in the back of your mind, you still knew there was that spark that could spark a no-hitter in any game, no matter how many pitches it might take.
Really, it brings me back to a day. Not a World Series, not a legendary playoff performance, not the two times the San Diego Padres couldn’t get a single hit out of him.
steph curry is the only “everyday” athlete who has captured the hearts of bay area sports fans like a lynx. both are the biggest illusion, which makes many young people and adults believe that they can achieve the same athletic achievements as them. yeah, good luck with that.
but curry is the son of a 16-year nba veteran, he’s 6-foot-3 and has developed his body through extensive training into something his neighbor will never be able to do. Lincecum couldn’t cut 6 feet with his spikes on, and just fed his body a mixture of in-n-out burgers and god’s green gift to the earth before striking out too many lousy batters to count. It’s a combination of Kelly Leak and Rodney Mullen on the pitcher’s mound, except one ball is his skateboard doing 60-foot-6 tricks, and that’s not a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.
That’s why when Lincecum returned for Bruce Bochy’s final game as Giants manager, the fans gave him a bigger ovation than ever for Bond or anyone else. the same electricity he gave everyone who ever wore black and orange was felt the moment the center field gates opened, showing lyncecum on his no. jersey 55 giants – backwards hat, frosted tips and knotted flannel in total.
“I’m trying to transition,” Lincecum told Amy Gutierrez after Bochy’s postgame press conference. “I think the hardest part was accepting who I was after baseball, and I haven’t fully done that yet. I haven’t formally retired. I’m not sure if I will or not.
“so with that, i’m just trying to find my way. going through a little bit of familiar stuff a few years ago, that puts things in perspective. yeah, i’m just trying to find my way.”
tim lincecum is who many of us are, and even more of us only dream of being.
The Hall of Fame is for a select few players who have ever stepped foot on a baseball field. an even smaller group can make you feel like the monster did. that means more than any museum.