Oct 22, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum throws a pitch against the Kansas City Royals in the 7th inning during game two of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a story that’s all over Bay Area newsstands and sports websites as pitchers and catchers arrived in Arizona yesterday. A fan favorite, and the San Francisco Giants #10 draft pick in 2006, Tim Lincecum taking the time this off-season to work with his father, Chris, to see if he can regain the “Freak”-ish form that propelled him into baseball stardom in ’07.
There is a genuine connection with Timmy and the fans at AT&T Park, and the desire for him to succeed is almost palpable.
What’s crystal clear is that this was not a mere discussion, or a game of catch that you and I would have with our dad’s over the holidays. Timmy explained that the two had about 50 sessions that he called a “throwing regimen” and that each day he threw, he was giving at least 90% effort. This was in addition to his regular conditioning and training (see the part of the interview
It was this “professional” reuniting with his father that has the media in a frenzy. The reunion was something I’ve been waiting to hear from Lincecum knowing how much their relationship means to his success.
Tom Verducci wrote an outstanding piece on Tim in 2008 that perfectly captures the weight of what Chris Lincecum means to his son:
"In the stands Chris would sit behind home plate and flash signals to Tim, who knew exactly what to correct. If, for instance, Chris slapped his thighs, Tim knew to “sit down on my legs” through his delivery, to use the lower half of his body more."
Aug 23, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (R) removes Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) from the game against the Washington Nationals in the third inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Chris, the engineer of Timmy’s freakish delivery, also knew that his throwing motion would not only get the most out of his diminutive frame, but also provide longevity to his career. So, when the injury bug began to bite in 2013, I had a inclining that it was time to go back to dad.
And back to dad he went. Something that took a lot of humility from both parties as Tim describes:
"We’re both very stubborn individuals so those moments came out where he had to go take a smoke break — that happened quite a bit, but we learned to love each other regardless and just kind of move on knowing that we’re just kind of fighting for the same thing. I have that dying will in me that ‘I want to do it my way, I want to do it my way, dad.’ He’s just there to remind me that it’s not going to be that way."
I am a believer in the intangible aspects of sports. Relationships, in my opinion, are a key contributor to the success of the Giants in recent years. So when I heard what Lincecum had done with most of his time since November, I was ecstatic. It is something that cannot be overlooked and, I am willing to predict, will have an effect on the consistency we will see out of #55 on the mound this year.
Jun 25, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) celebrates with teammates after throwing a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park. The San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Giants long-time pitching coach Dave Righetti knows to leave Lincecum be, which has been a blessing and a curse. When things were good, and Tim was earning his second consecutive National League Cy Young Award, it seemed this hands-off approach would work. But, when we stopped knowing what to expect from one start to the next (easy to forget that he threw his second no-hitter in June last year) there had to be some sort of intervention.
On KNBR this morning with Murph and Mac, Duane Kuiper was adamant that Timmy is the most highly “criticized pitcher from start-to-start EVER”. With his inconsistency in the past three seasons (he was an all-star for four consectutive seasons prior to 2012) it seems that his struggles have ultimately landed him back where he started. Home.
Going home to get help from family is something that is highly relatable, and relatability is something that Lincecum has always had in his favor. His average height and boyish look is a major factor as to why we root for him, and why I continue to cheer when he takes the mound. There is a genuine connection with Timmy and the fans at AT&T Park, and the desire for him to succeed is almost palpable.
It is no secret that Lincecum is in the final year of his contract, and that production this season will factor greatly into what kind of offers he will be fielding during the off-season. My hope is that “The Freak” will give the Giants, and us fans a reason to beg him to stay.