Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tim Lincecum

The news wasn't unexpected, but it's hard to absorb. After struggling to find his pitch for the past couple of seasons and being on the disabled list since June, Tim Lincecum had hip surgery today. He won't pitch again this season, and the likelihood of him appearing again in a San Francisco Giants uniform is dim. He's been a focal point for me since he came up back in 2007, and the thought of not seeing him on the mound or in the dugout leads to a feeling close to grief.

So, what's next for Tim Lincecum? Will he pitch again? For whom? And in what capacity? And if he can't pitch again, or if no team is willing to give him that opportunity, what will he do? Most any other player I can envision in a post-retirement role—a coach, say, or as a front-office guy, maybe a so-called "community ambassador" for the Giants. But I can't slot Timmy into any of those spots. He's a pitcher, a little, lithe, balletic athlete, seemingly a bit shy and self-effacing. Except when he was on the mound, where he dominated.

Maybe all this is premature, and Tim Lincecum will heal quickly and well, and he'll be pitching again next season. Maybe not with the same stuff he once had, but he'll be back, whether for the Giants or another team.  I'd hoped to celebrate the day he retired. Today, I don't feel like celebrating.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Torture, Giants style

Back in the summer, after one of those games the Giants won by squeaking their way into the win column, broadcaster Duane Kuiper said, "Giants baseball—torture!" That boy nailed it. This whole season has been torture for us fans. Consider: During the 2010 regular season, the Giants played in 52 games that were decided by one run. They played in 28 more games that were decided by two runs. And they won 33 times after they entered the seventh inning either tied or behind on the scoreboard. And in the postseason, against the Atlanta Braves, all three games in the series have been decided by one run. All three have come down to the final pitch with the outcome in doubt.

Personally, I need life support. Or at least a brown paper bag to breathe into during the games. I am absolutely sure the Geneva Convention doesn't allow Giants games to be broadcast at Gitmo—way, way too cruel and inhumane for even the most hardened suspected terrorist.

So, before today's game, I did what I could to call forth good spirits and exorcise the torture demons. The Giants won, 3-2, but not before being down two runs and down to their last out in the top of the 9th inning—so torture lives on. Guess it's got to be that way; those guys are at their best when they're waterboarding the rest of us.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Bicycles, baseball, life

At the Public House before Game 1, NLDS

Some weeks ago—seven, maybe eight; I've lost track now—I tripped on uneven pavement while carrying a basket loaded with clean laundry and dislocated some bones in my right foot. The extent of the injury took a while to determine, but it's now clear that surgery is needed to put it right again. In the words of the old philosopher, crap! Meantime, I've been limping around and not able to ride my bicycle because the foot was so swollen. But the swelling has diminished (though not the pain, thus the continuing limp), and this October weather is so beautiful and so perfect to ride in that this morning I said, the hell with it, I'm getting on the bike and I'll pay whatever consequences arise. So, for the first time since Aug. 21, I was rolling again.

And it felt wonderful. Weather warm, breezy from the north, and I took the dump road and had a lovely ride. Saw three hawks, big guys, and two previously quite large but presently very flat coyotes (poor things). I scarcely cracked 14mph, but every mile felt terrific. And the foot didn't bark, and it still feels OK, so maybe I'll make it, after all.

I needed that ride after last night's crushing loss to Atlanta by the Giants. (The injured foot hasn't kept me from going to the games, though anyone who says crutches are glamorous or fun, I want to speak to said lunatic. Especially on BART.) Thursday night's game was such a gem, with Lincecum striking out 14 batters and looking like he could have kept pitching for another hour or so, that last night's game was a HUGE tub of ice water over the head. But that's baseball, and if you want to see the game as metaphor for life, that loss is just another example of how the game is the great leveler; that no matter how high you get with a win, or two, or four in a row, sooner or later the loss will come. The encouraging coda: The wins will come again, too. It's just one loss.

We had a good time, though, hanging at the Public House before the game, meeting new people who are instant friends because, well, hey, we're all Giants fans.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes, it rains. GO GIANTS! Praying for a win tomorrow . . .

Public House, Game 2, NLDS, with new friends the Blackwelders:
mom Lola, sibs Casey and Jamie

Monday, October 4, 2010

A happy day

Today has been a happy day. Happy as in, I’ve had a smile going all day long and it’s not showing any signs of fading before the day comes to an end and I fall asleep, still happy. What has brought this on? Did I win the lottery? lose 10 pounds? (hah!) hear the Tea Party has been dumped into Boston Harbor? No, something much sweeter and long-lasting—yesterday, the Giants clinched the National League West championship for 2010, and I got to be there to experience and share in the joy. Joy made manifest by a team that all season long has teased, thrilled, and tortured me and all the rest of their besotted fans.

I’ve been a baseball fan all my life, but for much of it, my fan-ishness has been pretty casual—pay mild attention during the season, get to a game or two (or most likely, none), and when the season is wrapping up with the World Series. This year, I’ve been with them all the say, every game, seemingly every pitch—all 162 games.

I know it’s only baseball. It’s a meaningless activity compared with real life and the day-to-day grind. But watching and reading about politics, the horrible, hateful Republicans, Obama’s futile attempts to bring compromise back to governing, war, death and destruction, did nothing but make me anxious and depressed, whereas baseball, though it often makes me anxious and depressed, is, in the end, still baseball—a beautiful game played by talented, spirited, and amazing young athletes who are just a treat to watch and each of whom has his own interesting, quirky, inspiring story.

So the Giants will now play Atlanta Braves for a shot at the National League Championship. I have no idea how this will all turn out, and I have no doubt that there will be torture involved before we’re done. But today was about not thinking ahead. Today was about enjoying being a fan whose team has accomplished what it set out to do. It took them all 162 games to do it, but really, how perfect was that? I hope I get my voice back by this Thursday—I’m going to the first playoff game. And tonight, still, I’m going to bed happy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Playing by the rules

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn't get a lot of credit from the fans. In fact, what he mostly gets is grief, and a lot of it. Fans criticize his lineups, his tendency to play veterans instead of younger guys, mock his lugubrious tone when giving interviews, ridicule the size of his head (really, the size of his head? Seriously?), as if he had as much control over that as he does the lineup.

Caught up in the drama of the action on the field, I usually don't even think about Bochy except when he pulls what I consider a bonehead move, like putting Denny Bautista on the mound in crucial innings. I don't think much about the manager at all. But last night's game against the Dodgers was a textbook case illustrating how one manager out-managed his opposing number to get a win. Taking advantage of an inexperienced substitute manager and invoking a little-used (and even less-known) section of baseball's Official Rules, Bochy got the Dodgers' closing pitcher removed from the game, with no warm-up time for the new pitcher before he had to take the mound.

It was classic, it was epic, and it was an education for me. While I knew that managers strategize throughout a game, watching Bochy outfox the Dodger management was a huge eye-opener. Wily, cunning, sharp, take-no-prisoners Boch—you da man! Go Giants! Dodgers suck!