Friday, July 10, 2009

Lincecum, Cain...Pray for Rain?

Watching the San Francisco Giants this year has been a real treat, and an unexpected one at that. Maybe I was alone, but my expectations for the team this year were not very high, and when they got off to a slow start I figured that it would be another year of casual watching, and tuning in for real when Tim Lincecum was on the mound.

But here we are, just a few days away from the All-Star break, and if it were not for the misfortune of being in the same division as the best team in the National League, the Giants would be sitting just pretty. As it is, they're right in the thick of (and right now, leading) the wild card race, and if their pitchers can hold on for the entire season, there's no reason to think that they won't be playing meaningful games in October.

Pablo Sandoval has been a real treat to watch, and Nate Schierholtz seems to turn in an amazing fielding play every other game or so. It's not a perfect lineup, but it's one with personality, and they seem to be gaining confidence as the season goes along.

And then, of course, there is Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Cain has been spectacular, but Lincecum has not been of this world. I'm not sure the last time that I've enjoyed watching an athlete as much as I'm enjoying Tim Lincecum right now. Part of the appeal is that he looks so unlike a professional athlete - he looks like a 16-year old out there, and a fragile one at that. When I watch him pitch, I spend half my time worrying about him getting injured. But in recent starts, he's been so dominant - Bob Gibson-type dominant - that you can really do nothing but take a deep breath, cross your fingers, and hope that the sky is the limit. Because at this point, who knows what we might be seeing.

If Randy Johnson can get healthy, if Jonathan Sanchez can pitch for entire games as good as he can pitch for single innings at a time, and if Barry Zito can pitch every game the way he did the other night, then this Giants team really could make a bid for history. But even if they don't it's going to be a fun ride.

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