On Tuesday, the San Francisco Giants announced that they were re-signing free agent pitcher Tim Lincecum to a two-year, $35 million contract (with a no-trade clause). The immediate analysis was predictable: That’s way too much money for a pitcher who has struggled for much of the last two seasons (although it must be pointed out that advanced metrics do say Lincecum has been the victim of some bad luck during that time). Analysts who make this point are almost certainly correct.
But you know what? Rational, thoughtful baseball analysts can suck it. I am so happy that Lincecum is going to be on the Giants for the next two years.
Here’s the thing: Yes, we want the executives of our favorite teams to be shrewd, calculating businessmen. In fact, most smart fans have trained themselves to think exactly the way we want our execs to: Thanks in large part to the advancement of sabermetric analysis, we now have ready access to stats that tell us, in theory, exactly what a player’s season-to-season dollar value is. I’m also, as someone who follows the Oakland A’s in addition to the Giants, well aware that sports fans essentially root for laundry.
But you know what? Thinking like businessmen and admitting we root for laundry sucks. Sometimes we love a player so much that we don’t ever want to see him leave, no matter if he’s not that good anymore. That’s how I feel about Tim Lincecum.
Timmy was the guy who fell to the Giants in the draft because teams thought he was too small, that his body wouldn’t hold up to the workload of pitching every five days. Then he roared through the minor leagues, essentially untouchable, reaching the Giants during the nadir of the post-Bonds dark times.
And what did he do? Win the Cy Young Award in his first two full seasons as a Giant. In his third season, he didn’t win the Cy Young, but he helped the Giants make the playoffs, and once they were there, he pitched not only the single most dominant game I’ve ever seen (His 14-strikeout, 1-0 complete game shutout win in Game 1 against the Braves), he also won the game that clinched the first Giants championship in San Francisco (he only had 10 strikeouts in 8 innings that night).
But it’s not just the fact that he dominated. He wasn’t a robotic Terminator like Justin Verlander. Timmy has charisma. There’s the long hair. There’s his utterly unique, whirling, javelin-throw of a windup.
There’s the way he missed his first All Star Game, in New York, because he was suffering from “dehydration” (we ALL know what that means). There’s the way he took his demotion to the bullpen in 2012 in stride, and turned into an ace reliever as the Giants won their second World Series in three years. There’s his conviction for marijuana possession, which led to the fans in San Francisco (a city in which weed is all but officially legal) mocking up t-shirts that said “Let Timmy Smoke.” There’s the fact that when he threw a no-hitter this year, the most memorable moment was his reaction to an umpire taking a foul ball in the junk.
Basically, Tim Lincecum is the perfect San Francisco ballplayer. I know he probably won’t live up to the dollar-figure of that contract, but A) at least it’s short term (unlike the Hunter Pence contract, which is going to be a Zito-esque disaster in three years), and B) who fucking cares? The guys who own the Giants are crazy rich, and owning the Giants, a team that always sells out its stadium and has a strong national following, has just made them richer. I don’t give a shit what they have to pay, I just don’t want to see Lincecum pitch anywhere else, ever. It would be a crime. And I know while the odds of it happening at some point are still pretty high, at least it won’t be for two more years.
Timmy is ours, goddammit, and we love him and no one else can have him.