By BOB SAN
AAP staff columnist
TORONTO (Oct. 30, 2012) — For the second time in three years, San Francisco Giant Filipino-American star pitcher Tim Lincecum celebrated a World Series baseball championship. However, Lincecum’s 2012 series experience is a world different from the one in 2010.
Two seasons ago, Lincecum was one of the game’s elite starting pitchers and was coming off two consecutive Cy Young Awards in 2008 and 2009. He anchored a solid pitching staff in 2010 as the Giants defeated Texas Rangers in five games.
It was a much different scenario in 2012. Lincecum struggled during the regular season, finishing 10-15 with an astronomical 5.18 ERA. That forced Giants manager Bruce Bochy to demote his star pitching into the bullpen for the post-season. That turned out to a stroke of genius as Lincecum provided solid relief throughout the post-season.
Lincecum appeared in six post-season games and finished with an ERA of 2.55 with 20 strikeouts and only five walks. He was at his best in the World Series. He hurled 4 1/2 innings in two series games, did not give up a hit while striking out eight and walking just one. Lincecum’s World Series ERA read .000.
The Giant’s 2012 World Series title certainly adds to Lincecum’s almost folk hero status in the Bay Area. With his slender frame (5 feet-11 inches and 170 pounds), along with his hippie looks, long hair and an awkward pitching motion, Lincecum was nicknamed “the Freak.” He looks more like one of those guys in Fast Times at Ridgemont High than a major league star pitcher. Yet, ever since he broke into the majors in 2007, Lincecum has established himself as one of the game’s top pitchers, until his struggle this season.
Lincecum endeared himself to the Giants teammates, management and the fans when he handled his demotion to the bullpen in the post-season with class. Instead of whining, he worked just as he was starting and was ready to take the ball when his name was called.
In the final analysis, how many teams could say they had a two-time Cy Young Award winning coming out of their bullpens. Lincecum and his fellow hurlers were the main reasons the Giants defeated Cincinnati, St.Louis and Detroit to win baseball’s ultimate prize.
Lincecum has long been the most popular Filipino-American athlete in the United State. His Filipino heritage comes from his mother Rebecca Asis, who was born from Filipino immigrant parents.
His father Chris Lincecum was a promising minor league player. When Chris hurt his arm he became an engineer and worked at Boeing just outside Seattle. Tim Lincecum was born in Renton, about 30 minutes from Seattle. Chris saw that Tim had talent but was small in stature so he used his engineering knowledge to develop the unique pitching style for Tim.
The only other pitcher I know of who pitches with Lincecum’s motion was Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, of four World Series champion Dodger’s teams of the 1950s and 1960s and three Cy Young awards.
Lincecum, who lives in Seattle during the off-season, is still very much in his prime. It won’t surprise me at all if he regains his form and returns to the dominant starter that he was.