San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum has what it takes to be ‘cool’

It wasn’t an escape. Not according to Tim Lincecum, although some might view it exactly as that. He simply headed north, back to the state of Washington and away from the state of hysteria in which, metaphorically, he had found himself.

“It was like going home for the weekend for most people,” said Lincecum of his … well, maybe retreat is too strong a word. Let’s say escape from the world of questions, notepads and, yes, baseball.

“I got away from the job,” Lincecum said. “Home with my friends and family.”

Home to his new high-rise condo in Seattle with a view of the Cascades. Home to where he grew up and went to the University of Washington. And for a few weeks, his life was his own.

If that can be said of a young man who in November was pitching the Giants to their first World Series win in the 52 years since coming to San Francisco and earning the Babe Ruth Award as postseason MVP from the baseball writers.

Who in December, wearing a tux and spraying Champagne, was on the cover of Sports illustrated, with the headline, “Time To Get Your Freak On.”

Who in February — along with such icons as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown and Arnold Palmer — was named by GQ magazine as one of the 25 coolest athletes of all time.

Who in March received a huge spread in T, the New York Times Style magazine, where Timmy disclosed his individuality — we knew the man with his windup and shoulder-length hair had a style of his own — saying, “Most pitchers on game days are like, ‘Leave me alone,’ but I’m like, ‘Guys you can talk to me, we can listen to music.’”

Lincecum, 26, came to Scottsdale, Ariz., and spring training almost doomed by expectations. Two Cy Young Awards and then the victory in the series clincher? Now comes the inevitable, “What have you done lately?”

Pitch well in exhibition games, might be one answer, after a somewhat ragged first start of the spring. Express satisfaction that with Buster Posey, Rookie of the Year; Cody Ross, unexpected postseason hero; Andres Torres, who took years to become an overnight success; Brian Wilson, who has the best beard since Abe Lincoln; and Matt Cain, Mr. Reliable, the media didn’t have to focus on Tim.

Which, of course, it did anyway.

Tim has four pitches and a singular understanding of what journalists need to do when they catch him at his locker.

“They have to ask about every grain of rice, every grain of sand,” Lincecum said. He makes the comment without a hint of bitterness.

“It’s the nature of the beast,” Lincecum said. “It comes with the territory.”

So does a $13 million salary in the second year of a two-year contract, money that, other than a condo and the Mercedes S he drives, is used on few luxuries. GQ might judge him cool, but he wouldn’t be in the pages of the mag for his attire. Remember, Seattle is the home of grunge, and let it go at that.

For the first Cy Young, in 2008, he all but skateboarded down to the AT&T Park news conference, knit cap over the hair — now as much a trademark as his pitching delivery. If he doesn’t take himself seriously, there’s a reason.

“It’s a humbling game,” Lincecum said of baseball. He had his bad stretches last season, especially August, and the skeptics said that little body (5-foot-11, 163 pounds) winding up to throw those big pitches was finally coming apart.

Not at all. Lincecum was competent once more when needed — September, October and that memorable first day of November in Arlington, Texas.

“When you feel like things are going your way, and you start reading your own stuff,” Lincecum said of publicity, “it just comes back at you and bites you in the rear. So you learn to be on an even keel, not to get too excited about good things and not to get too down on the others.”

Michael Hailey, the deputy editor of GQ, was asked how someone as young as Lincecum could join Michael Jordan, Gary Player and Bjorn Borg, among others, as one of the publication’s 25 coolest athletes of all time.

“There are certain guys who might not be the greatest athlete on the field,” Hailey said, “but there’s something about them that makes you look at them and say, ‘Cool.’ In Tim’s case, he embodies both.”

Indeed. And there’s no escaping that fact.

 

Catching up with the champs

The San Francisco Examiner will profile a series of Giants players leading up to the season opener against the Dodgers on March 31.

TODAY

Pitcher Tim Lincecum

FRIDAY

Outfielder Cody Ross

SUNDAY

First baseman Aubrey Huff

MONDAY

Shortstop Miguel Tejada

TUESDAY

Pitcher Barry Zito

WEDNESDAY

Catcher Buster Posey

GiantsMLBOakland A's & MLBTim Lincecum

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Anti-eviction demonstrators rally outside San Francisco Superior Court. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Report: Unpaid rent due to COVID-19 could be up to $32.7M per month

A new city report that attempts to quantify how much rent has… Continue reading

Music venues around The City have largely been unable to reopen due to ongoing pandemic health orders. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SF to cut $2.5M in fees to help 300 nightlife venues

San Francisco will cut $2.5 million in fees for hundreds of entertainment… Continue reading

Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett departs the U.S. Capitol on October 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Ginsburg’s death. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)
GOP senators confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court in partisan vote

By Jennifer Haberkorn Los Angeles Times The Senate on Monday confirmed Judge… Continue reading

Curator Tim Burgard looks over a section of the galleries comprising “The de Young Open,” a huge, varied collection of work by Bay Area artists. (Photo courtesy Gary Sexton/Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Bay Area artists jam-pack vivid ‘de Young Open’

Huge exhibition — with works for sale — showcases diversity, supports community

SF Board of Education vice president Gabriela Lopez and commissioner Alison Collins listen at a news conference condemning recent racist and social media attacks targeted at them and the two student representatives on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Online attacks on school board members denounced by city officials

City officials on Monday condemned the targeting of school board members, both… Continue reading

Most Read