Wednesday, October 27, 2010

COLUMN: Cliff (Lee) vs. Tim (Lincecum)

By Anthony Fenech, Senior Reporter || October 27, 2010

Probably not, he said.

I stood there, shook my head and chuckled.

I was outside of the San Francisco Giants clubhouse, and I was just turned down by Tim Lincecum.

He took my interview request – “Hey Tim, can I get a minute?” – and matter-of-factly responded to it over his left shoulder, walking through the clubhouse doors.
“Probably not.”

It was cool. You see, Tim’s kind of a big deal, and I’m kind of a big Tim fan.

So I let him slide. What was I to expect, that this cool, hippie-looking 26-year-old guy that once got pulled over with a few grams of weed in his car was going to recognize my coolness and want to talk?

Yes, that’s exactly what I expected.

So he disappointed me. And the next day, against a last-place Pirates team in Pittsburgh, he disappointed me again.

Wasn’t dominant. Wasn’t throwing hard. Wasn’t striking out guys. He wasn’t, well, being Tim.

Was this the Tim Lincecum I loved rooting for, the pitcher I’d stay up late to watch, only to be disappointed start after start after start, wondering when he’d complete a game or shut a team out?

“Probably not,” I decided, and traded him.

For Cliff Lee.

Cliff – short for Clifton – was on the Seattle Mariners at the time. They stunk. Never scored and never won.

Except when he pitched.

In those games, Cliff would take the ball, get on the mound and throw strike after strike.

He would never walk anybody, strike out everybody; he’d win games, complete games and was the fantasy ace of a manager’s dreams.

Then he got traded to Texas, did all right, got hurt, wasn’t able to pitch for my fantasy team in the playoffs, we lost, and life went on.

Still, the question loomed: Should I have traded Tim, who pitched well during the playoffs, for Cliff?

Probably not.

But after the ups and the downs, 162 games and two playoff rounds, both Cy Young-winning pitchers are still standing, saving their best for a grand ending.
And tonight, they’ll face off in the opening game of the World Series.

Tim for the young Giants, a team that beat the defending National League Champions, and Cliff for the upstart Rangers, a team that beat the defending World Series Champions.

Lincecum and Lee, a powerful San Francisco righty and a commanding Texas lefty, pitching from the same mound in October.

Anyone predict that in April?

Probably not.

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