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Ranking destinations for Tim Lincecum

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If I write this, the Giants have to avoid re-signing him, right? That's how that works?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Lincecum is probably leaving us soon, despite the pleas of MySpace Tom and Smash Mouth. And while his last four years in a Giants uniform were not especially productive ones, he still leaves as one of the most beloved players in San Francisco history. Unfortunately, some of his prospective destinations are unpalatable to us as Giants fans, while teams that we might be happy to see him on aren't likely to sign him.

So for a moment, let's ignore where Tim Lincecum actually fits on prospective rosters, and rank the 29 teams by how off-putting they would be completing the sentence "Now Tim Lincecum is on the ____." The rankings run the gamut from "OH GOD NO" to "Oh, hey, good for him!"

No

29. Dodgers

Ew. Just ew. I know there's a contingent of people out there who will think "Tim Lincecum is bad now, and I want the Dodgers to be bad, so every bad inning Tim Lincecum pitches for the Dodgers is actually a good thing!" These people are wrong and sad, and you should pity them. Here is a factual, gross sentence:

Juan Marichal finished his career with the Dodgers

That's wrong. That's morally repulsive and disgusting and it shouldn't have happened. It was just two games and he pitched very poorly, but it's still not right. Lincecum's success didn't last as long as Marichal's, but for us, Tim Lincecum is as iconic as it gets. He should never be a Dodger. Never.

Slightly less no, but still no

28. Phillies
27. Braves
26. Diamondbacks
25. Cardinals
24. Rockies

Can you imagine Lincecum pitching for Phillies fans, in the Phillies' ballpark, where he and Cody Ross ruined Roy Halladay's day in 2010? It would be funny to us for about twenty seconds, and then he would get more booed than anyone has ever been booed before, and we'd start to look at him in that uniform, and we'd get that shudder, like we just heard a really good ghost story and now we think there's a frankenvampwolf behind us, except it would be real. Totally inappropriate.

The Braves, in addition to their racist chant and stupid new stadium, spent so long being the damn Braves that it would create too much cognitive dissonance to have to root for one of their players sometimes. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are NL West rivals of the Giants, and they're each off-putting in their own way. The Diamondbacks have that grit-and-hitting-people philosophy that might be less discussed with Kirk Gibson and Kevin Towers gone, but Tony La Russa gave it plenty of support back when he was hired, and he's sure still around. And the Rockies are responsible for so, so many crimes against baseball. In one sense, Dinger's not even close to the worst. In another, more accurate, sense, Dinger is the worst.

I don't like it, and you don't like it, but it could be worse

23. Padres
22. Red Sox
21. Angels
20. Yankees

Yes, it feels very wrong for Tim Lincecum to be a Padre, but be honest: doesn't it also feel a little right? He's a former star looking to rebuild his career, and they're the San Diego Padres. They signed Mark Prior twice after he broke down. They had Josh Johnson last year.  It's who they are. That small comfort in knowing that the universe is an orderly place governed by comprehensible rules just barely edges the Padres into this category.

The Red Sox and Yankees are the Red Sox and Yankees, and you know who they are. The Yankees have been a little less throw-money-at-the-mousetrap-and-hope-we-snare-someone-good lately, but make no mistake, they're still the damn Yankees. They do get to be the most desirable team in this section, because at least Tim Lincecum The Yankee wouldn't be allowed to grow that awful mustache. And as for the Angels, well, just because I'm over 2002 doesn't mean I'm over 2002.

The Marlins

19. Marlins

There are ways in which this isn't a bad fit: the environment is very low-pressure, the team is very young, which (even at 31) seems like it would appeal to Lincecum, and the inevitable buddy comedy with Giancarlo Stanton as cops on the streets of Miami would be delightful. However, there is the slight matter of the Marlins being a trainwreck of a franchise owned by Jeffrey Loria, well known as the alternate universe Martin Shkreli who decided to buy a baseball team.

Also, it's hot there, and Lincecum doesn't like the heat. Is that still a thing? Seems like we haven't heard about his starts being bad in the heat ever since all his starts began to be bad.

Not terrible, but with reservations

18. Cubs
17. A's
16. Rangers
15. Tigers

Without anyone describing them as such, the Cubs have become the Red Sox/Yankees/Dodgers of the Midwest, and that's not a good thing. Sure, you could say the Giants are in that category too, but we can both enjoy that and recognize that fans of other teams find it irritating.

If the A's signed Lincecum, this would somehow increase A's fans complaining about the Giants. You might think it's scientifically impossible, but they'd find a way.

Lincecum dominated the Rangers in the 2010 World Series (in his second start, at least) on his way to winning the award for the best postseason anyone had that year. He then did well against the Tigers as a reliever in 2012. Being a World Series hero against a team makes just enough of an impression to make me uneasy about him being in that uniform.

Fine, but why bother?

14. Brewers
13. Reds
12. White Sox
11. Twins
10. Indians

There's nothing necessarily wrong with pitching for any of these teams, and it would be easy to root for Lincecum if he was on any of them. It would also be easy to forget about him completely.

Would root for and remember

9. Rays
8. Mets
7. Astros
6. Royals
5. Nationals

The Rays seem like they're about a year away from fading into the same obscurity they enjoyed as the Devil Rays. But until then (and plenty of people think they'll be good again soon), they get to just barely make it onto this list. The Mets had a delightful run to the World Series, and seem to be full of pleasant young men who are good at beating the Dodgers, which makes it hard to root against them. The Astros have an exciting team, and the Royals just signed Ian Kennedy for five years, so they're clearly very welcoming to mediocre pitchers who were once good.

As for the Nationals, they'd have made the next section if they didn't have Jonathan Papelbon. I like a lot of things about the Nationals, but I don't want Lincecum to have to deal with Jonathan Butthole Mouth Papelbon every day.

The best fits

4. Orioles
3. Mariners
2. Blue Jays
1. Pirates

There's something comforting about seeing Tim Lincecum in orange and black, playing for a manager who's almost universally admired for his strategic acumen. There's also something comforting about the idea of Tim Lincecum going back home to Washington, which people have been speculating about for years.

And finally, it would be nice to see Lincecum on a winning team full of likable guys, which both the Blue Jays and Pirates are. I'd enjoy watching and wholeheartedly rooting him on when he pitched for either of those teams. He's Tim Lincecum. He's given us plenty of fantastic, iconic moments. The least we can give him – literally the absolute least – is rooting for him wherever his career takes him.