Clayton Kershaw

Tim Lincecum vs. Clayton Kershaw: fun magazine cover, serious rivalry

Sports Illustrated drove San Francisco Giants fans to drink (more) yesterday, picking the Angels over the Giants in the 2012 World Series. That’s how painful 2002 was — Giants fans would rather have a national publication ignore their team entirely than recreate the Rally Monkey Meltdown.

There are a few reasons why everyone should look past 10-year anniversaries and cheer up:

1. Sports Illustrated almost always gets preseason predictions wrong (Peter King’s still mourning the demise of the 2011 Atlanta Falcons).

2. None of Sports Illustrated’s 12 baseball writers picked the St. Louis Cardinals to get to the World Series last season, let alone win it. Jon Heyman picked the Rockies to go all the way, although he did predict the Rangers would win the American League pennant.

3. ESPN The Magazine’s MLB Preview featured a different North vs. South matchup (and a much better cover than SI’s mega-closeup of the right half of Albert Pujols’ face). This version SF vs. LA isn’t anywhere near as painful as 2002 … although it didn’t exactly go swimmingly in 2011, either.

From Tim Keown’s fantastic feature in The Mag:

Lincecum vs. Kershaw, the pitching rivalry of our time. They faced each other four times last year, a fortuitous fluke of the schedule, and Kershaw won them all. It was a source of pride for the Dodgers; it was acid reflux for the Giants.

Keown writes a passage about each of the four games Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw faced one another, including a few great quotes from Lincecum, including “It got to be a little joke. I looked at the lineup card and said: Okay, who do I got today? Oh, Kershaw? Again? That’s just great. Then I went out and gave up two runs in the first two innings. It was like, “F—, that’s exactly what we didn’t need.

During Media Day on Feb. 4, I asked Lincecum about a possible rivalry with Kershaw. Here’s the transcript:

BASG: You were listed in nine of Bill James’ top 100 pitching duels last season, and four of those were against Kershaw. Do you think about those types of games and maybe even a rivalry with Clayton during the off-season to motivate you?

Lincecum: Definitely. Clayton’s … great, great pitcher. You can’t really say enough about him because every time you saw him he just did something different to us. The first game of the season, it was like, he was throwing 90 mile-an-hour cutters. Then it was like, curveballs. Then the next game it was 83 mile-an-hour sliders. When he changes that up and you’re constantly making adjustments, and it’s not like it looked like he was fighting in any of those games. He felt comfortable. You know a guy’s good when just looks like he’s on his roll and he doesn’t look like he’s out of place. He’s … he’s a really good pitcher. And to have to come up against that and admire that kind of matchup, for me, is kind of like appreciating the ones that I used to grow up with. People used to compare me and Oswalt, you know, but it’s like, they’re flipped. It’s like, Oswalt was before me and I was before Kershaw — and I’m not that much older than him by any means, so — but it’s just the way it kind of flipped, you know? It’s like, surreal.

That part of the conversation took place about 1:00 into the video, if you want to check it out:
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