This site is far too focused on the 2015 Giants. I know it, but there's nothing I can do about it. After a dumb series like the last one, it wouldn't make sense to write 1,000 words about how Freddy Sanchez was awesome, even if that's what I want to do.
As such, most of the Tim Lincecum coverage around here is negative these days. When he was pitching well, I would write only about how the other shoe was about to drop. Now that the other shoe is dropping, all I can write is, "Hey, look at that shoe! Everyone pay attention to that shoe falling in slow motion! It's going to hit us all right in the face! Shoe coming through!" It's beyond annoying.
Except, today is Tim Lincecum's 31st birthday. That means it's a fine day to take a break and celebrate his existence. Here are his five best games, along with videos of happy-fun times to watch over and over until you get fired.
5. That one where he pitched really well and struck a bunch of fools out (tie)
The other four are pretty easy, and you can guess what they are, so this is the spot for Cy Young Lincecum at his best, and there isn't a shortage of options. Do you remember that time he shut the Cardinals out in St. Louis?
Or how about the time he struck out 15 Pirates in a Cy Young season?
Yup, yup. I'm also partial to the first unquestionably great outing of his career against the Astros in Houston, but there's no video up on MLB.com. Regardless, you can't go wrong with almost any of his starts from 2008 through 2009. This spot is reserved for your Classic Tim game of choice.
4. Game 4, 2012 NLDS
In a lost season filled with tears, shrieks, and mournful wails, Tim Lincecum came into an elimination game with two runners on and a one-run lead.
"Say, maybe, just maybe, the Giants can win the NLDS. Then you never know, baseball can surprise you, ha ha."
Maybe a debate for another time is if the Giants could have won the 2012 World Series without Lincecum. My position is that they could not have, and that first postseason appearance of 2012 is why.
3. No-hitter (#1), 2013
This is here because one of the no-hitters had to be, so I relegated the one with 482 pitches thrown. The Padres who haven't had a no-hitter in franchise history -- seems like that would be something you hear more about -- were the victims, and that made it extra funny. Really, though, the glory came with the timing. It almost wouldn't have been as special if it had happened in '08 or '09. The struggles the previous two seasons added extra flavor, they did.
Could have done without the struggles, upon further reflection. It still would have been a lot of fun. Regardless, it's never a bad time to relive that first no-hitter.
2. No-hitter (#2), 2014
The Padres who haven't had a no-hitter in franchise history -- seems like that would be something you hear more about -- were the victims in this one, and that made it extra funny. Really, though, the glory came with the timing. It almost wouldn't have been as special if it had happened in '08 or '09. The struggles the previous two seasons added extra flavor, they did.
Wait a sec ...
This one is ranked higher because a) Lincecum pitched better, b) it was at home, and c) that sense of he's-not-going-to-do-this-to-the-Padres-again-is-he, but it's basically a tie.
1. Game 1, 2010 NLDS
The best game I've ever been to. Possibly the best postseason start in Giants history and one of the best in baseball history.This is the defining Lincecum moment for me, straddling the line perfectly between his Cy Young past and his uncertain future. Remember, Lincecum was dreadful in August that year, which Giants fans absolutely could not handle. There was a sense that the Giants were crashing into a window that some jerk closed on them. That was it, everyone. That was the window, Lincecum is bad now, and everything is ruined.
He rebounded in September, but fans were still a little raw from Lincecum's first brush with mortality, and when he gave up a leadoff double to Omar Infante, you could hear the sighs all around the ballpark. He then allowed two more runners in the game and struck out 14, looking absolutely dominant the entire time. The Padres did not have a hit in this game, either.
You might have thought, "This team might actually win the W.... oh, who am I kidding?", and that's okay. Even if the Giants didn't win the World Series, that start would still be something to bring up in 20 or 30 years. Then they actually won the silly thing, so it isn't even bittersweet. It was just the best start at the perfect time, and it opened a stargate to this alternate dimension where the Giants win more postseason games than the other teams.
Happy birthday, Tim Lincecum! Happy birthday and good luck, we're all counting on you.