Barry Bonds

Appreciating Tim Lincecum

There’s a lot of things to complain about when it comes to the San Francisco Giants, historically speaking. Just mention “complain” and “Giants” in the same sentence, and any fan’s brain will become a series of flashing mental pictures featuring Jose Cruz, Jr., Scott Spezio, Felipe Alou, “Life of Brian”, Bengie Molina dropping a foul-tip, pictures of Chevron cars, certain female sideline reporters, etc.

All of this collective whining is generated by one thing, the team’s lack of a World Series since moving to San Francisco. It’s why all Giant fans cringe just a little whenever they walk into the Coliseum, watch video of Willie Mays making baseball’s version of “The Catch” (great moment, but a rough reminder that the Giants have been title-free for 55 years) or anything celebrating the 1989 Giants (a fun team, but one that still got steamrolled in the Earthquake Series in the same merciless fashion as the Niners routed the Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV).

However, like the 49ers experiencing the unmatched progression of Joe Montana to Steve Young behind Jesse Sapolu, leaving NFL fans throughout the country green with envy, the Giants have the same thing going with Barry Bonds transitioning to Tim Lincecum.

The entire nation was jealous of Giants fans for being able to cheer for Bonds without guilt, and now they’re cheering with San Francisco (and don’t forget the South Bay, says Bill Neukom) for Lincecum.

Besides a short stretch when everyone jumped on the Nike/Ken Griffey, Jr. bandwagon, everyone knew Bonds was the best player in baseball. It isn’t unanimous yet, but you wouldn’t have to talk to too many scouts, coaches, writers or hitters to find several who believe Lincecum has no peer on the mound.

The best player in the game, followed by the best pitcher. Even when everyone was excited about Will Clark, he wasn’t even the best player in the Bay Area (that would be Rickey Henderson). The Warriors have never had the best player in the NBA. The Raiders have never had the best player in the NFL, although even with dominance of players like Montana and Jerry Rice, that league’s best player is harder to quantify.

It doesn’t matter that Timmeh doesn’t ice his arm, but it’s near comical that he reaches 98 mph without throwing a four-seam fastball. And now, like how Giant fans used to do the unthinkable and actually expect a home run when Bonds was at the plate, we all keep on eye on when the first base hit is collected in each Lincecum start.

The first Giants’ no-hitter is an inevitability if you ask Mike Krukow or probe the innermost thoughts of any San Francisco supporter that pays even the least bit of attention, thanks to Lincecum. The best hitter of his generation, followed by a phenom with hopes (and expectations too, if you noticed how Tim yelled those expletives last night after Bochy pulled him in the 7th) of becoming the best pitcher of his era. Even if the Giants aren’t destined to reach the World Series and prevail anytime soon, following this team isn’t all bad. Far from it.

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