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Tim Lincecum isn’t my typical choice when it comes to a favorite player.

I don’t know if he does anything amazing for the community in SF as Justin Morneau has done here in Minnesota. I don’t know his

Photo credit Bruce Edwards via Wikipedia

Photo credit Bruce Edwards via Wikipedia

college or minor league back stories. Heck, I remember looking at him the first time and wasn’t impressed. He’s slight of frame and with that Keanu Reeves look and that god awful haircut, I couldn’t take him seriously in the spring before his rookie season.

Then he threw a 12-6 deuce that just reminded me of Dwight Gooden and the hitter’s knees buckled. Then he threw a 96 mph fastball by the kid that made him look terrible. Not a big deal. It was spring training, and a lot of players look foolish from time to time — but then Lincecum did two things that made me take note. He threw two more fastballs over 95 with precision and he dropped the curve on a veteran hitter and made that guy’s knees buckle too. Again, that happens. But then he smiled. And it wasn’t just a typical “I’m playing in the big leagues, mom” kind of smile, either. His smile said: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The Freak made me a fan.

Over the seasons his stuff has changed. His arm isn’t as strong as it used to be, and his slighter frame has caught up with him which is to be expected. Lincecum’s most likely not going to win a third Cy Young award though two is pretty impressive. He’s getting older (29), his arm is getting more miles on it, and yet last year he still was able to put enough of the old freak and the new pitcher together to strike out a batter per inning. He even tossed a no hitter in the mix.

There was talk of him moving to the pen permanently as he did in the postseason a few years ago so he could regain some of his dominance. That never materialized. In fact he didn’t even get to experience free agency last season. The Giants rewarded him for all he’s done and now he goes out and takes the ball every fifth day just like he’s always done. He’s still relatively young to be a seasoned veteran, but I guess with a couple of World Series titles, a couple of Cy Young Awards, a few All-Star games, and all the accolades it makes sense do define him as such. He may not be more than a fourth or fifth starter anymore for the Giants, but he’s making the transition from thrower to pitcher and from amazing stuff to amazing smarts a little like Frank Tanana did back in the late 1970s. Not everyone is blessed like Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson and able to take with them that 95 miles-per-hour heater from the time they are 16 until they are 45.

I will never forget that smirk, and I will never forget the feeling I had watching the no hitter on my phone at work. Is he the same guy he was? No, but put him in a money situation and I don’t think he will let you down. His is makeup has been that of a big time ace, and long after his arm is mediocre that confidence will carry him through. I have faith in The Freak.

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