There are a lot of young pitchers out there that I'm enamored of. My sinker fetish is starting to make other people uncomfortable -- the wife found the "two-seamer" folder on my laptop -- and I love watching pitchers like Kyle Drabek and Zach Britton. I love watching a kid with a live arm and an uncertain future.
Every once in a while, though, I need a kick in the butt to realize what it's like to watch Tim Lincecum. Here's what it's like watching Tim Lincecum: It's really, really neat. Cool, even. Spiffy. Sublime. Amazing. Lincecummy. Mmmmm. A game like today's was a proper kick in the butt.
When Lincecum came up in 2007, he was still wild -- he walked four or more hitters in over a third of his starts. He was one of those boy-if-it-ever-clicks sort of guys. Not sure what happened after that. It's like in the offseason he went to the ace store, picked up a box of Ace-O's, came home, poured some ace milk in a bowl, chowed down, and woke up as a future Cy Youngs winner. Also, at some point, he snorted Walter Johnson's ashes. The things you can find on eBay ...
Point is, he went from unknown to forgone conclusion so danged quickly, it's easy to lose sight of how spectacular he really is. Are you surprised when Roy Halladay pitches a good game? No, because he's Roy Halladay. Lincecum entered that same club so fast that it's almost possible to take him for granted. Almost. Every time he goes out there, you're expecting really, really good things. He's Tim Lincecum, and you're not. Sometimes it's worth stepping back and thinking, whoa, how did that happen?
And while I'm a pitch-count agnostic, I'm still a little grossed out by the 133 pitches. After Lincecum threw an extra five starts in October and November, it seems like discretion is the better part of valor. After an extra-long season, and in the middle of a season that the Giants hope will be as extra-long, it should take a great reason to extend a pitcher that far. A complete-game shutout isn't one of those reasons. It's awesome, it's exciting, and it's thrilling. But he's had them before. Statistically, Jeremy Affeldt would be able to hold a vast majority of three-run leads in the ninth.
That's just an aside, though. The real story is Tim Lincecum, who is good. He's a good pitcher. He was good before, and he's good still. He might even be -- forgive me if I'm leaving your orbit -- really good. There's a chance. And he's absolutely fascinating to watch. We didn't watch Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn duel for 1235 innings. We didn't watch Carl Hubbell strike out Nikola Tesla, Teddy Roosevelt, and Henry Ford in the same All-Star Game. But we get to watch Tim Lincecum.
And Tim Lincecum is good.