Lincecum makes it look like fun

This is my Wednesday column on Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter. WARNING: This is a baseball column. Feel free to skip this.

SAN FRANCISCO – Tim Lincecum’s curveball dropped 18 inches. Will Venable drove the ball into the dirt a foot past home plate. The ball bounced five times – it took forever getting to second base. Joe Panik didn’t panic. He took a knee, caught the grounder and flipped it to the first baseman, Buster Posey. No hitter, the second of Lincecum’s career. The Giants lined up in the infield and one by one they took turns hugging him.

No one makes pitching look more difficult than Lincecum. It’s his delivery. He turns his back on the hitter, raises his leg and jumps forward before he releases the ball. After all of that, he struggles throwing strikes. Sometimes he will miss the catcher’s target by a few feet.

Not Wednesday. He threw 73 strikes and just 40 balls during the Giants’ 4-0 win against the Padres. When he missed the strike zone, he missed by an inch or two. He was in the zone – that was obvious even in the first inning when he struck out the first two batters he faced.

“I’m not just saying this,” Bruce Bochy said in the Giants’ interview room after the game. “Early in the game I said he’s got a chance to throw a no-hitter here, the way he was locked in and had everything going for him.”

It was the delivery. It seemed natural Wednesday afternoon, all of those moving parts perfectly moving together.

“Sometimes he tries to work a little too hard out there,” Bochy said. “That’s what I liked about today. It looked like he was putting very, very little effort into his delivery.”

It took Lincecum about three minutes to get three outs every half inning. Fans in the stadium didn’t seem to realize what was happening until Lincecum finished the sixth inning of his no-hitter. A few fans stood and cheered while other fans looked at them and seemed to wonder why they were standing and cheering.

When Lincecum walked back out to the mound for the top of the seventh, the crowd erupted. Lincecum picked up the ball and stepped on the rubber. As he warmed up, he rocked back and lifted his hands all the way over his head, like pitchers used to do a hundred years ago. Then he spun curveballs that seemed to travel in slow motion. They soared 10 feet into the air before falling back to earth. He was messing around. Messing around in the middle of a no-hitter.

“It’s almost like he’s immune to the big moment,” said Hunter Pence in the clubhouse after the game. Pence has played during both of Lincecum’s no-hitters, so he would know. “He’s free. When it’s happening, he doesn’t make it a bigger deal than it is. He makes it lesser of a deal, as big as it is. If that makes sense.”

Some people have thought Lincecum is declining as a pitcher. There is good reason to think that. After Wednesday’s win, he has a winning record, 6-5. And his earned run average, which had been over 5.00, is now down to 4.42. This is Lincecum’s second no-hitter in two seasons. Is The Freak back?

The Giants brought Lincecum to the interview room with catcher Hector Sanchez. A reporter asked Lincecum if he was aware during the game that he was throwing a no-hitter.

“Uh,” Lincecum said, and then paused for five seconds before he said, “Yeah, I was aware of it.” He was distracted. Not exuberant. He wasn’t there. He had a dazed, faraway look. He was still in the zone.

When reporters asked Lincecum questions, he kept forgetting to talk into the microphone. So, Sanchez would grab it and move it right in front of Lincecum’s mouth. Here, Timmy, talk into this. Sanchez had to do this two or three times. It was like a Marx Brothers gag.

One reporter asked Lincecum how he was going to celebrate his second no-hitter. “I’m going to go to my house, maybe drink a little bit. Can I say that?” Lincecum laughed and then he sang out, “I’m gonna paaaar-ty!”

Lincecum was in party-mode even before the game. He was wearing bright neon orange shorts and camouflage tights under the shorts. He bounced around the clubhouse and talked to anyone who would listen.

His teammates looked grim. Some of them were sitting and watching Mike Krukow explain on television why the Giants have struggled recently, losing 11 of their past 14 before Lincecum’s no-hitter. Javier Lopez, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Hudson and Madison Bumgarner sat silently and stared at Krukow’s face on the flat-screen.

When Krukow was done delivering the bad news, a woman came on the screen and reminded viewers that the Giants’ 9 1/2-game division lead over the Dodgers had “dwindled down to just three games.”

Lopez muted the television and rolled his eyes. Then he un-muted it. Muting the television is not the way to mute the critics. Throwing a no-hitter works much better.

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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  1. Aaahh Freak out!
    “The Freak”, C’est Chic
    Freak out!
    Aaahh Freak out!
    “The Freak”, C’est Chic
    Freak out!
    Aaahh Freak out!
    “The Freak”, C’est Chic
    Freak out!
    Aaahh Freak out!
    “The Freak”, C’est Chic
    Freak out!…….
    Have you heard about the new dance craze?
    Listen to us, I’m sure you’ll be amazed
    Big fun to be had by everyone
    It’s up to you, It surely can be done
    Young and old are doing it, I’m told
    Just one try, and you too will be sold
    It’s called “The Freak!” They’re doing it night and day
    Allow us, we’ll show you the way…….Aaahh Freak out!………I said Freak….

    Congrats on no hitter Freak!!! Too bad it wasn’t the Dodgers….Beat LA!

    …….Oh……VD – Report to equipment room to get your swollen head sized for your helmet.

    1. Tuna – When I was a young teenager I remember suffering as a Giants fan in 1978-83. Johnnie Lemaster “Stickman” was the worst starting short stop in mlb history. The catchers were Mark Hill and Mike Sadek lol…..The outfield was the strength, young Jack Clark, Terry Whitfield and Larry Herndon were studs……Willy McCovey was old then but Bill Madlock was a pretty good 3rd baseman. Pitching was dreadful except Vida Blue and reliever Greg “Moon Man” Minton.

      1. HOLY CRAP! That brought alot of great memories. I often listened to those games on the radio. That was alot of fun. I’m still a Giants fan but it’s not the same.

        I can’t root for anyone who is a Seahawks fan. Sorry but I’d much rather any other Giant have success than this tool. As far as I’m concerned it was a win and that was it. Good for the team. Lincecum can be traded right now as far as I’m concerned.

  2. I’d love to read an article on how the Raiders are completely bumbling their attempts at finding a new place to play. Does Mark Davis actually do anything during the day?

  3. C4C
    I respect your interest in the raiders attempt in finding a new place to play.

    Personally speaking, I don’t give a cent where they play. Al Davis’ insatiable greed has negatively reverberated in raidernation from the day he moved a highly successful franchise from Oakland to LA.

    As far as I’m concerned, they have earned the right to play in the broken down coliseum.

    1. Al Davis’ insatiable greed
      ——————————————
      I might not be a fan of the team or the bulk of their fans but I disagree 100% with this statement. Al Davis wanted to win football games, period. Now he wasn’t a big dummy either so obviously to run a billion dollar company you need revenues and he never did anything that wasn’t in the best interest of the team. I wont make excuses for him jumping between L.A. and Oakland but again he did what was best for the team, the franchise and their image. I’ll never care for that team but Al Davis is a man that helped shape the league into what it is today and he deserves respect for his accomplishments.

      1. C4C
        Al Davis was huge as a founding father of the burgeoning AFL and his hiring of minorities as head coaches and women in the front office were landmark.

        But Davis’ was making a great deal of money in Oakland before his appetite for the larger LA Coliseum caught his eye.
        And even after his move back to Oakland from LA, I recall him making a few attempts at possibly going back the LA.
        And this was after the city of Oakland spent money on making some contractual modifications to the coliseum.

        I firmly believe had the raiders never made a move to LA that they would be playing in a new “football only” venue some place in Oakland rather then being the only team in the NFL that shares a field with a baseball team.

        Yes, Al Davis should receive kudos for his early AFL and hiring decisions, but the sad state of the team over the last decade must rest on his lap as well.

        The raiders fans (and 3/4 of my own family) deserve better!

        1. I believe he was motivated by what it would take to strengthen the team even if it was financially based. A team with more money can do more things. I don’t pretend he ever had the fans in mind when he made his decisions other then which group of them might show up to more games. If the thought that he could sell out more games in LA then why wouldn’t he want to take his team there? That’s a decision that strengthens his organization. Does it happen a the fans expense, sure but it’s not motivated by greed.

  4. “The Kansas City Chiefs should also change their name to avoid giving offense, according to Amanda Blackhorse, the lead plaintiff in the case that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just decided against the Redskins.”

    Cause apparently the word Chiefs is also disparaging…

    This is why the Redskins name should never change. You let these wing nuts think for a second that their opinion should change the world and sooner then later everything will be totally FUBAR.

    1. Coffee’sfor Closers– I agree the line against this sort of idiocy needs to be drawn somewhere and this Redskins thing is as good as any.

  5. I’m going to start a political party comprised of only registered native americans and we’ll call ourselves the Red Party!

    I wonder who’ll be more upset, the Amanda Blackhorse’s of the world or the anti-communists?

      1. Good call, we did just receive a couple of crates of blankets though. They look warm and fuzzy cant wait to try them out.

    1. Yep, I keep hoping these baseball columns will generate zero blog hits, which might lead to a cease and desist order from the PD brass.

  6. Just watched a fantastic documentary on gambling called “Drawing Dead.” It’s not overly depressing and I’d recommend it to anyone.

    1. It appears that the Warriors don’t have any picks in the draft, if so why does the PD want you there?

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