Joe Poz, unfiltered and wonderful as always.
At one point in Thursday’s mind-blowing game, Lincecum struck out on Brooks Conrad on some sort of ridiculous super pitch — Conrad seemed to literally swing through the ball (he foul tipped it). Bob Brenly called it a change-up. I shouted, “Come on Bob, that wasn’t a change-up. That was a curveball.” And so I rewound the thing and watched it. And I said, “Oh wait, maybe he was right. Maybe it was a change-up.” I rewound again and watched and said, “No, that wasn’t a change-up. That was a slider.” I rewound again and watched and said, “No, wait, I think that WAS a curveball.” I rewound again and finally settled on it being a slider. But really it was some sort of shape-shifting pitch. It could be whatever you wanted it to be.
That’s the sort of pitch Lincecum throws several times a game — the sort of pitch that made Satchel Paige say: “I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I toss one that ain’t been seen by this generation.” Lincecum threw 10 or 15 generation pitches on Thursday, sliders that burned out and disappeared like they were entering the earth’s atmosphere, change-ups that sputtered and coughed on the way to the plate like old Buicks, fastballs that seem to skip double-dutch just as they arrive at the plate. Maybe the skateboard-dude persona adds a little to the act. Maybe the crazy motion that convinced too many scouts to pass on him in the draft adds a little to the act.
Whatever … watching Lincecum pitch is like watching Magic Johnson in his prime, like watching Gale Sayers when he was healthy, like watching John McEnroe when he was in shape and at the top of his game. There’s the greatness part, and then there’s something a little extra, this buzz of hope that you will see something that you have never seen before. Lincecum struck out 14, walked 1, allowed two hits and so electrified the San Francisco crowd I could feel AT&T Park shaking from 1,500 miles away. I have never seen that before. Not quite that.
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