Randy Winn

Richie, I’m sorry

I have to give it to the Giants marketing department. The only reason why I bought tickets for my girlfriend and I to see yesterday’s Giants/Cubs game was the price, thanks to the “Giants K” promotion.

I didn’t even know Saturday’s game was so valuable, and I watched the whole thing. When Tim Lincecum combined with Tyler Walker and Brian Wilson for 14 strikeouts in the Giants’ 1-0 win over the A’s, it led to a tidy $14 off each cheap seat for yesterday’s game, a 8-3 Giants win over the Cubs.

Anybody who reads this space knows I’m hard on the Giants front office. But this “Giants K” promotion is gold. Not only does anyone paying attention to Lincecum starts get a chance to buy ticket for the same price as a movie matinee, but the Giants offer the cheap seats during Lincecum starts.

It’s called making an investment. They know San Francisco is a name-brand town, and they’re just trying to build up the Lincecum name. Smart business.

But don’t expect any Timmy-bargains next year.

Lincecum was his usual dazzling self in his tenth win yesterday, even knocking in a run when Omar Vizquel failed to do so (although my favorite cheer yesterday was yelling “C’mon Omar, get a hit” repeatedly. Definite crowd pleaser.).

But the night belonged to Rich Aurilia, who thugged a homer to left field off Carlos Marmol that could only be described as “professional.”

I’ve been tough on Richie all year, almost like a father who still wished his son went to Harvard after the kid already graduated from Sacramento State. Aurilia’s been a great Giant, but I figured he was a lost cause. Why worry about what a 34-year-old utility guy can contribute when there are all sorts of younger players who haven’t gotten an opportunity (like Dan Ortmeier, who we can all pretty much agree is the offensive version of Pat Misch).

But Aurilia is different than Ray Durham or Randy Winn. He cares about donning the orange and black. If Sabean didn’t let him go to the Mariners years ago, he’d be one of the longest-tenured Giants in team history.

And in 2008, he’s been the best Giant not named Tim Lincecum.

I did my part. I went and voted for Bengie Molina and Aaron Rowand 25 times each on MLB.com, partly because they were both hitting in the .320s a few weeks ago and also because the Giants announcing crew pretty much guilted me into it.

Now neither of them are hitting .300, or even have as many homers as John Bowker (and no, I’m not going to write an expansive column on Bowker anytime soon unless I’m fully sure it won’t jinx him. Same with Fred Lewis, who might want to change gloves after his performance today against the Dodgers … yeesh.), and there’s no question Richie is the only guy on the team who can be reasonably expected to do well against good pitching.

So Richie … I’m sorry.

I don’t really even like Dan Ortmeier. He isn’t better looking than you. No Richie, I swear — you have much better facial hair. You play a better first base than he does, and you don’t strike out 80% of the time you’re sent up to bat in the ninth inning.

OK, now that I’ve gotten that embarrassing bit of business out of the way, let’s talk about Timmy, whose presence causes the entire team to strut in a way they don’t with any other pitcher on the mound.

How can you blame them? We’re watching history. He’s not just the only Giants pitcher who’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated in my lifetime, but today he sparked a seven-minute conversation between my dad and I over the intricacies of his windup that involved my dad saying the word “torque” at least three times and neither of us gaining one bit of understanding of how Lincecum actually throws the ball 98 mph while weighing the same amount I did after getting mono as a senior in high school.

He’s a godsend. He’s a blessing (not to be confused with Randy Winn’s wife Blessings). Immediately after the Giants and their fans stood in the eye of the greatest offensive hurricane in baseball history, the franchise has been blessed with … the Franchise.

To be fair, Lincecum hasn’t even had a full season yet. This isn’t Sandy Koufax in 1963, but it matches Fernando-mania in terms of pitching dominance and sheer novelty.

And to think, the smartest baseball heads in the country were predicting 100 losses for the Giants this season.

Lincecum shouldn’t get the credit just for the ten games he’s won. Do you think Sanchez would keep pitching at the level he has if he’s suddenly the best pitcher on the team? Does Brian Wilson keep believing in his fastball after giving up a ninth inning run to cut the lead in half if Timmy isn’t screaming at him from the dugout? I say no.

And I got to watch him yesterday for a grand total of $21 dollars (two tickets, plus convenience fees, ticket-printing fees and some sort of Keiichi Yabu tariff I didn’t totally understand). Giants front office, I’ve got to hand it to you. Cheap tickets on Timmy Day, and you kept putting Richie out there when many (including me) wondered why. Now if you could just make it illegal for fans to do the wave at Mays Field”


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