While I was slapping together a half-warmed post on the trade deadline, a significant portion of the KNBR-listening fanbase was gathering outside of Mays Field with torches and pitchforks. I had no idea until I started listening to Ralph Barbieri on my commute home. Apparently, not leaving Tim Lincecum in to pitch the eighth inning of Saturday’s game was the baseball equivalent of setting a kennel on fire. Who knew?
The salient points, as I see them:
1. For the next season or two, while the Giants are more focused on rebuilding than they are on contending, no one should ever complain that the Giants are being too cautious with Tim Lincecum’s arm. The only explanations for wanting Lincecum to go back out for the eighth are selfish explanations. That’s fine; every fan has the right to be a selfish fan. But a win on Saturday means nothing to the Giants in the grand scheme of things. Blowing the win didn’t damage Lincecum’s confidence. It didn’t set the rebuilding process back. Stretching a young pitcher for a win in 2008 only serves to bring short-term satisfaction to the fans. That isn't completely frivolous -- I understand that people paid good money to watch the game, drove up from Fresno, invested three-plus hours, etc... -- but it's still just one game out of 162.
2. The Giants don’t have a set pitch-count limit, but they want to prevent high-stress outings in consecutive games. Lincecum’s previous game was his first game back following an illness that was serious enough to put him in the hospital. He walked four and ran up high pitch counts on a lot of hitters. After the sixth inning, Lincecum was already over 100 pitches. For some inexplicable reason, Bochy sent him back out for the seventh. Lincecum finished with 121 pitches and three more earned runs than he deserved.
That’s why Bochy was cautious with Lincecum on Saturday. It wasn’t the decision on Saturday that was moronic; it was the decision from Lincecum’s previous game. Blame Bochy, yes, but blame him for the first decision.
That should be the end of the controversy. The Giants are following a risk-vs.-reward kind of policy with Lincecum. The risk involves a young pitcher’s health. The reward is the difference between 16 or 17 games under .500. You don’t want to coddle a young pitcher and have him throw 50 pitches per start, but it’s entirely reasonable to want to build up his endurance. Bochy blew it in the first game after the All-Star break, but at least he didn’t compound the mistake by riding Lincecum hard in the second game.
But, man, people were ticked off. Barbieri was irritated enough to jump down Dave Flemming’s throat when Flemming started to detail the logic behind the Giants’ caution. You could smell the rage over the airwaves. And, of course, you had the sub-human pigmen who were calling into the show:
"I think, you know, that Tim Lincecum’s dad is a little too involved with his career. So they’re probably thinking about his next contract, and Lincecum asked out of the game...."
Wow. That’s a kind of stupid you can spread on a cracker. You’ve won a prize. Another caller:
"If Lincecum did ask out of the game…I don’t know. That doesn’t sound like him, but…(blah blah blah something implying lack of heart)"
Yeah. I have no idea if Lincecum did say something to Righetti or Bochy, but it should be noted that we, as Giants fans, want our pitchers to be FORD TOUGH, and HAVE THE ATTITUDE OF A GAMER at all times, and PITCH THROUGH DISCOMFORT and tell the skipper that HELL YEAH I CAN TAKE THE BALL AGAIN. I CAN TAKE IT AND THROW IT THROUGH A GODDAMN WALL, MAN.
Because the alternative – being honest about how one feels physically so as to prevent strain and possible injury – is for SISSY GODLESS NON-GAMERS WHOSE MOTHERS STILL NURSE THEM IN A ROOM WITH FRESH FLOWERS AND PICTURES ON THE WALLS OF UNICORNS GIVING BACKRUBS TO PANDA BEARS. Commie fruits, the lot of them. Report a tired arm, lose 50 man points. Them's the rules.
Maybe I should just ease up on the sports-talk radio for a bit. But, really, we’re arguing about the Giants being too cautious with the future of the franchise now? Everyone on the other side of this argument fails.
Also, last night’s game gave me mild arrhythmia.