On Tuesday I got to visit the 2K sports studio in Novato, where they do all the motion capture for their excellent array of sports video games. With Tim Lincecum on the cover of the upcoming MLB 2K9, yours truly got to watch Lincecum do every motion capture activity possible (from throwing every pitch to miming a homerun swing) with an assortment of gaming, MLB and local media.
When I arrived at the studio I was promised a one-on-one interview with the NL Cy Young Award winner, but as time went on and things got further behind schedule and a one-on-one interview turned into a six-minute press conference. Apparently Timmy was feeling “tired.” I did get a couple questions in as I tried to steer the session towards baseball (with limited success), although his first answer kind of confused me a little, as you’ll see.
Lincecum proved to be a willing participant, although one could tell he had had about enough once one of the gaming writers started asking about his hair. Maybe his hair (which he seems to be growing out again) is a sore subject, which might explain why he wore a beanie the entire time he was at the Studio. Here’s the entire transcript of the press conference:
BASG: How did you find out that you won the Cy Young?
Tim Lincecum: I got the call, my agent announcing it and telling me. Everything kind of happened in one day with the Cy Young (and the cover for MLB 2K9) and just like, a big cake waiting at my front door for me that morning. It was very nice to hear about.
BASG: Who gave you the cake?
TL: No, I’m just saying, it was a nice surprise (everyone laughs) if you like cake. I like ice cream cake, actually.
Gaming Writer #1: When did you find out about being on the cover for 2K?
TL: Same day, so it was an awesome day for me. I couldn’t even express my excitement, just ecstatic. Still am, still trying to hold it in.
GW #2: So, I’ve got the long hair (points to his own head) and one thing I noticed about you early on last year you started growing your hair a bit, but then you cut it a couple months into the season.
TL: (Looking a little apprehensive) Uh, it was a few months into the season. I just trimmed it, yeah.
GW #2: Did Boch have anything to do with that?
TL: No, not at all. It just wasn’t looking good.
GW #2: If you grew it out a little more I think it would start looking better. I just like Steve Nash, athletes that grow their hair. I just think it’s good for athletes to express themselves like that. I like seeing that because a lot of baseball players, you know, they have the short hair.
TL: I’ve always kind of had the short hair, just something I tried to start last year, just kind of go with it. First time I’ve actually had hair that long, I’ve always had buzz cuts and stuff so I liked (the long hair), and that’s why I’m going with it again.
GW #3: So I hear you’re a big gamer yourself, what games do you like to play?
TL: All kinds, I mean, nothing in particular. Gears of War, Gears of War 2, some of the games I really can’t say because where we’re at. But definitely, I was playing MLB back in college all the time with my roommate, so it was always baseball games, football games, stuff like that.
GW #1: What’s your favorite game now, what’s in your system?
TL: Actually I was playing Gears of War 2, I just got it yesterday so that’s definitely going to be the first one in my Xbox when I get home.
GW #4: When you’re on the mound and there’s a guy on second base, stealing your catcher’s signals, what would your reaction be?
TL: My reaction, uh, I don’t know if that would happen until he got into the batter’s box the next time. Can’t really do anything about it there. I’ve never really caught anybody stealing signals. It’s part of the game, they do that, but like I said jokingly, I’m not going to hit anyone, I’m not going to do anything about it.
BASG: It was a big deal in September when you pitched that shutout in San Diego, throwing 138 pitches. What’s your opinion on pitch counts for you?
TL: For me, I’ve always had pitch counts. I’ve had games where I threw almost 160 pitches, you know? But I understand where the pitch count has to come from, everybody in Major League Baseball, professional baseball for that matter is a liability. I mean, you gotta take a risk with that, you don’t want to blow ’em out. As much as guys will be out there telling the coach how good they feel, you know, some guys might hold back and say, ‘maybe I’m not feeling that well,’ so you got kind of a happy medium where you go up or down from it and that’s where the pitch count comes in.
BASG: How big of a breakthrough was that for you personally, that game?
TL: It was big, it was a big step for me to get my first complete game. I was definitely pumped, it was nice to actually get to hug the catcher at the end of the game as opposed to waiting for everybody to get to the locker room, so that was nice.
GW #5: You mentioned Gears of War, Gears of War 2, so does that mean you’re a 360 guy?
TL: Yes. 360 for the most part, yes.
GW #2: So I’ve heard you’re a big Beatles fan, is that true?
TL: Yeah. Uh, I like all kinds of music.
GW #2: Do you like, know all the Beatles albums?
TL: I don’t know all of them.
GW #2: (sounding disappointed) Oh, you don’t know all of their albums?
TL: I know a lot of their songs.
GW #2: But in general, what is some of your favorite music?
TL: I mean, I don’t have any favorite music in particular, I listen to R&B, rap when I can, country, I mean I’m all over the map, I just listen to whatever sounds good to me.
GW #3: So can you talk about what it was like to do this motion capture?
TL: Oh, like I was telling someone earlier, this is a one of a kind experience for me. First time I got to jump in that suit with all the sensors on it. You hear about this kind of stuff, I was watching MTV last year, watching Rob and Big, they had that skateboard game, gotta put those crazy suits on. I was like ‘Man, that would be something to do.’ Sure enough, I’m here and I’m doing it a little bit later, so, it’s a great experience and so much fun.
Mychael Urban, MLB.com: Thinking Halloween ’09, with that outfit?
TL: (sarcastically) Yeeeeah, might get hit by some cars. All black. Maybe put an “S” on there for Superman, I don’t know.
GW #4: Ken Griffey Jr. has one of the most pure swings. You have one of the most pure pitching motions in the game, you don’t even ice after games.
TL: I don’t know what “pure” would mean in a pitching motion…
GW #4: But the fact that you don’t ice…
TL: There’s actually plenty of guys that I know that don’t ice. I don’t know why they make such a big deal about me not icing.
John Shea, SF Chronicle: Why did you go through all of this? Was it a dream to be part of a video game?
TL: That’s stuff kids dream about all the time, man. It’s like, when I was in college Jared Weaver was on the cover of the college game and they had a guy from Texas on there, and everyone’s like “I wish I could be that guy” when I was going to the University of Washington, so back then when that game came out we started playing it and you see yourself in the game and your like “Yeah, that’s me! That’s my number,” even though it doesn’t necessarily look just like you. Now games have taken another level, it’s like almost to a T, pretty much just me out there in computer gaming form.