Tim Lincecum threw for scouts from most of the teams in the league on Friday. The fact so many organizations attended is an indictment of the quality of starting pitchers in the league. (Matt York/AP)

Freak show underscores sorry state of pitching

So riddle Balls this: In an age of pitch counts and high-powered arms, how is it that a washed-up pitcher who hasn’t appeared in a major league game since last June and is only months removed from major hip surgery can generate so much interest as Tim Lincecum did on Friday?

And what does it say for the Giants that they among more than 20 teams that were represented in Scottsdale, Ariz., where Lincecum tried to convince people that he could become even Small Time Timmy Jim again? Only months after they shelled out $220 million in guaranteed money to rebuild their rotation?

What it says is, like so many teams, the Giants are a desperate bunch right now. They also didn’t go far enough in their search last offseason, when they held out hope that has-beens Matt Cain and Jake Peavy could be milked for one more season.

Here’s the real problem: The organization has lagged behind in the development of young pitchers over the years.

No one in the minor leagues is ready to to take the ball at the moment. Chris Heston is an option, but he seems to have lost his way like the rest.

Now the Giants will consider Lincecum, soon to be 32, who offers far more questions than answers. Can the guy pitch at this level? Can he pitch every fifth day? How long will it take to build the arm strength necessary to pitch even five innings?

Freak show, indeed.

HEAR FOOTSTEPS?: Could be the Cleveland Cavaliers have figured it out. They have yet to lose in the postseason and drained 25 3-pointers the other night, the most by one team in any game in NBA history, another sign that they’ve entered the new millennium.

Granted, the barrage came against the Atlanta Hawks, who whined that it was “unprofessional” to hoist so many long balls in a blowout. The only thing unprofessional was that the Hawks wimped out and allowed it to happen. Still, give credit to new Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, who has put an emphasis on tempo, ball movement and defense.

Sound familiar, Warriors fans?

Whether the Cavaliers have the depth to beat the Champs at their own game remains to be seen — you gonna trust J.R. Smith in a big game? — but they’re in a better place now than with the overmatched David Blatt at this time a year ago.

JUST SAYIN’: TNT’s Charles Barkley says the Hawks should take out a Cavaliers player, ex-NBA tough guy Charles Oakley warns Barkley not to talk do-do about his hometown, and Balls can’t help but think the playoffs would be a lot more fun if they settled this without rules and referees in an empty gym.

WHEN IS A GOAL A GOAL: If it’s true that the NHL wants more goals, then Balls finds it kinda strange that it takes so many away on flimsy evidence.

That’s what the Sharks thought after Joe Pavelski’s apparent game-winner against the Nashville Predators was overturned in the third overtime on Thursday night-Friday morning. The officials ruled that Pavelski had interfered with goalie Pekke Rinne before the puck slid across the goal line, a decision that was upheld after a video review.

The officials probably got this one right. Pavelski was cross-checked on his way to the goal area — no penalty was called — but he appeared to make no attempt to put on the breaks before he crashed into the goalie. Still, there’s so much traffic in front of the net, it’s impossible to separate fact from fiction too many times.

“Whad’ya gonna do?” shrugged Pavelski, too tired to say much more.

Switch to the larger Olympic-sized ice surface, for one. That would create more space and reduce congestion around the net especially. It also would mean fewer expensive seats behind the glass, and the higher-ups want no part of that, of course.

After the Predators squared the series at two games apiece, the call was magnified, to say the least. To advance to the conference finals, the Sharks will have to win at least one more game at the SAP Center, where no home team was worse in the regular season.

All together now — uh-oh.

NO REIMER, NO REASON: The Sharks had plenty of opportunities to put the Predators away before overworked goalie Martin Jones allowed a big, fat, juicy rebound for the game-winner. If the grind seems to have gotten to Jones lately, it shouldn’t come as a shocker. He has played 74 games this season, more than twice his previous career total.

In round one, with his team ahead 2-0 in the series, coach Peter DeBoer had ample opportunity to work veteran James Reimer into the mix but decided against it. Reimer had been the better of the two goalies in the final weeks of the regular season, not to mention the most experienced one.

Now DeBoer has almost no choice but to stick with a largely untested goaltender who’s a few quarts low at the moment. Good luck with that.

YOUR TURN: “Your article on Barry Bonds was so true. If Willie McCovey were playing, then his splash [home runs] would be all legit. Bonds says he loves McCovey but [believes] it’s his cove. The Giants knew what they were doing naming it after such a great ball player so respectful of the game, someone the younger fans could look up to, a good man and a good citizen. And McCovey still wears the same size hat.” — Sheila Gardella, Millbrae

Got an opinion? A gripe? A compliment? A compliment?! Send them to pladd@aol.com, and who knows, you may get your name in the paper before long.Paul LadewskiSan Francisco GiantsTim Lincecum

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