Originally posted on The Platoon Advantage  |  Last updated 7/15/13
Despite Brian Kenny's protestations, a no-hitter is still an event to get excited about, like Christmas morning even after you know Santa Claus isn't coming. The combination of talent meeting luck, as an entire team is stymied by the pitcher and nine men who, for one day, are positioned in just the right way so no hard liners, bloop singles, or slow rollers can find safe haven--a no-hitter is the perfect expression of the oddity that is the game of baseball. It's the sporting version of having a Chinese fortune cookie actually come true. But Tim Lincecum's no-hitter, while as enjoyable and exciting as summer popcorn fare, had an added dose of depressing subtext, especially as his pitch count rose to astronomical levels. Because Lincecum's outing wasn't easy, he needed 148 pitches, the most in a single game since 2010. His command having been his greatest bugaboo (and not Destiny Child's great "Bug a Boo"), flared up once again, leading to four walks, a hit batsman and a wild pitch. Sure, he struck out thirteen batters, but his fastball topped out at 92 mph, averaging only 90, instead of the 94 he averaged during his first two seasons, relying on changeups (or splitters, if you prefer), curveballs, and sliders to get his outs.  This wasn't a young pitcher throwing a no-hitter in his coming out party to the league. Nor was it a pitcher in his prime, allowing us to dream of the Cy Youngs, shutouts, and cheesy Dick's Sporting Goods commercials down the line. Instead, this felt like a Kevin Costner movie: a grizzled veteran nearing the end of his ropes, getting one last magical game to cap his career. And Lincecum is only 29. If the best days of a finely tuned athlete are behind him before he's even turned 30, what hope is there for the rest of us? Maybe I should install some vinyl siding now and pick out my burial plot.  If Lincecum was younger or still posting ERAs under 3, I can't imagine Bruce Bochy letting him throw 148 pitches. Because instead of a no-hitter, the team would be worried about the weeks in front of Lincecum, the years stretching out forever, fairly certain that there would at least be one of these opportunities again. Instead, Lincecum has wavered between the rotation and the bullpen, the collapse of the Giants starting staff perhaps the only thing saving him. And while we'd like to think that this one special evening, when everything came together, represents a change, the flash point where Lincecum commands all of his weapons and can enter the second phase of his career, chances are it's not. While he continues to strike batters out, Lincecum had a 5.06 ERA in the ten starts before the no-hitter, his fWAR over the last two seasons ranking him 68th, in between Lucas Harrell, who can't cut it in the Astros rotation, and Bruce Chen who's been bounced from the Royals staff. His ERA since 2012 is the third highest, behind the uninspiring Joe Blanton and the thin residue of hope left on Ubaldo Jimenez.  Perhaps I'm being too pessimistic. Perhaps Lincecum's success with his offspeed offerings proves that while he has the ability to get outs without an overpowering fastball, he's still learning how to properly harness it, how to spot pitches on the corners, how to find a second act in American life. Maybe it will be another year, or two, or three before Lincecum finishes his transition from a high strikeout, high walk power pitcher to a sinkerballing Tim Hudson who made a career out of pounding the lower half of the zone with low 90s fastballs.  But when Yonder Alonso flew out and Buster Posey raced behind Lincecum, lifting him in a giant bear hug, it felt like the coda to Lincecum's greatest seasons, not the start of something new. As the Giants struggle to stay out of the cellar in the NL West, this was the post credit sequence to a team that Lincecum helped lead in the post-Bonds generation, guiding the club to two World Series titles along the way.  Unlike movies that can choose to end the story on the moment of triumph, fading to black and letting you pretend that only blue skies are ahead, Tim Lincecum's career will continue, probably offering only a continuation of ever reduced results. Because while Saturday night was magical, I couldn't stop thinking about the future. And baseball history hasn't been kind to pitchers on the down slope of their careers.   
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Bubba Watson's caddie owns heckler at PGA Championship

NFL denies sending Donald Trump letter about schedule

Michael Bennett calls out NFL stars for not speaking up on social matters

Nationals make astute move in acquiring Melancon

Son of former NFL player Antonio Armstrong charged with death of parents

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Texans GM 'disappointed' in DeAndre Hopkins

Can Andre Johnson end his regression in Tennessee?

Favre opens up about painkiller addiction during career

Miami women’s basketball coach criticizes Texas A&M following slideshow

Twin Cities preparing for influx of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

WATCH: Bautista bat flip will be available as NHL 17 celebration

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker