It’s been a rough week in Major League Baseball. Emotions always run high at the end of the season, but while the playoff celebrations are fun, they aren’t at the forefront of the news like usual.
This year, all of baseball says goodbye to a legend, but Mariano Rivera deserves his own post at a later time. On the west coast, the Giants and their fans say goodbye to at least one, possibly more, of the guys that have created so many memories. Barry Zito threw his final start last night, a win against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Tim Lincecum pitched what could be his last game in a Giants uniform in another win tonight.
Zito’s contract has been touched on enough. While it’s been a long seven years, we saw a resurgence from Z in 2012. Being left off the 2010 postseason roster was a tough thing to handle but we will never forget what Zito did to help the Giants claim their second World Series title. His 7.2 innings pitched without allowing a single run in the NLCS kept the Giants’ playoff hopes alive, and, at the age of 34, Zito was able to stop a potent Cardinals’ offense dead in its tracks. His World Series Game 1 matchup with Justin Verlander seemed to be incredibly one sided, but that didn’t stop him from throwing 5.2 and giving up just one run as San Francisco cheered him on with chants of “Barry! Barry!”
His tough NLDS start was saved by my next subject: Tim Lincecum. We’ve seen ups and downs with “The Freak.” We’ve witnessed two years of Cy Young Award winning-performances. We watched our ace bounce back from a rough August and strike out 14 Braves in the 2010 NLDS. We cheered as he jumped in the huddle, ran his fingers through his hair and threw up the #1 sign after his team won San Francisco’s first World Series championship.
In 2012, Lincecum didn’t complain as he was moved to the bullpen as what some call the Giants “secret weapon.” He saved the other arms when Zito was taken out early against the Reds and dominated throughout October. We watched Lincecum’s velocity slip and remain cautiously optimistic recently. When he threw his no-hitter on July 13, 2013, it just seemed right. And now, we potentially say goodbye to them both.
Zito will not be returning to the orange and black, but Lincecum’s fate still hangs in the balance. As the two-time Cy Young award winning, two-time World Champion made his potentially final start as a Giant, the memories of his impact on this franchise come flooding back. Lincecum brought us from the era of Barry Bonds and heavy hitting to the years of solid pitching and dominance at AT&T Park. He was the transition that provided promise in the losing seasons and created hope as the San Francisco Giants once again became contenders.
“I’ve been one of the most fortunate pitchers in this organization, just to be a part of so many things. To have these guys around me – Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson – big names. Buster Posey coming up, Pablo Sandoval, the names just don’t end, and being here to witness all the marvelous things they’ve done and to be here through the team things,” said Lincecum.
“It’s hard not to like him. He’s just a likeable guy,” said Posey. “He’s Timmy.”
My fandom may be showing and, hey, Lincecum may return after all this. Regardless of what happens, if Lincecum ends up in San Francisco, Seattle or elsewhere, in the rotation or bullpen, No. 55 will always have a warm welcome back at AT&T Park.