If you're not a baseball fan, you should read this anyway.
Because it's about more than baseball.
It's about living and pursuing your dream. It's about believing. It's about hard work.
Now, I'm not a sportscaster like JT or a sportswriter so I don't really know how to sum all of this up, esp for people who don't really follow baseball.
Maybe JT can write this post instead of me? :)
So let's start with what the Cy Young Award is. According to Wikipedia, "The Cy Young Award is an honor given annually in baseball to the best pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB), one each for the American and National leagues. The award was first introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955."
Now, who is Tim Lincecum?
Tim Lincecum was, 29 months ago, pitching for the University of Washington. But for the past two years, he's been pitching with the Giants (he was called up May of 2007). And this past year, he was THE pitcher for the Giants.
He's 24 now but he still looks like he's 18. The crazy thing is to think that as a freshman in high school, he was still 4'11" and 85 lbs!!! And now he's nearly 6' tall and 170 lbs. He learned his mechanics from his dad in his backyard and now he's one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The story gets better. According to "The Freak" (one of his many nicknames), in an article in the SF Chronicle,
"People have been doubting me my whole life. Nothing new," Lincecum said. "I'm not going to hold it against them. If they doubt me, let them watch and see what the end result is. I don't let them bring me down like they used to."Okay, so what's the big deal?
There's a few things here:
1) The Giants majorly SUCKED this season. But you know what? When you knew Lincecum was going to pitch, you knew it would be a great game to watch. He consistently threw close to 100 mph fastballs, 80 mph curveballs and so many strikeouts that he ended up winning the National League Strikeout Title (265 strikeouts by the end of the season!),
2) Tim brought a team mentality to the game. The other players respected him and he respected the other players. They played like a true TEAM. Not that they didn't when he wasn't pitching, but in 2007, with Barry Bonds' all-star presence, they never played like a team. It was all about Barry and his home runs. Even though Lincecum began to gain a lot of press and praise as the season went on, he never made it about HIM.
In fact, catcher Bengie Molina had this to say (from another SF Chronicle article):
"That's great, man. Wow," catcher Bengie Molina said when told of Lincecum's win. "He pitched so great. I'm so happy for him. I'm hoping he enjoys it. I know it's an individual award, but looking back and seeing the year we had as team, for him to come out with Cy Young is amazing. It's unbelievable."
3) Lincecum is a truly remarkable pitcher. His style is different. He's got an usual twisting windup which features a longer stride (The normal stride length for a pitcher is 77% to 87% of his height. Lincecum's stride is 129%, some 7 1/2 feet) and heavy torque. Here's some other stats that set him apart (again from the SF Chronicle):
Aside from his 18-5 record and 2.52 ERA, two statistics set Lincecum apart from other candidates: He became the first Giants pitcher, dating to the New York days, to lead the majors in strikeouts (265) and the fourth pitcher in history to finish at least 13 games above .500 for a team that finished at least 13 below (72-90).
I guess what's so inspiring is that Lincecum goes into every game believing, ready to win, ready to WORK FOR IT. JT had a post the other day about athletes who just 'give up'. These guys are paid millions of dollars a year and they just 'give up?' What a disgrace.
Here's an interesting stat:
Tim Lincecum's 2008 salary was $405,000. The other 5 pitchers' (whom he was up against for the award) average salary for 2008 was $9,433,510. Yes, you read that right.
I'm inspired because Lincecum brings a level of humility to the game and at the same time was always going out there to win, no matter what happened. His first response to finding out he won was "REALLY?"
I think he's a great role model as an athlete for all of us as athletes. He fully demonstrates how to never stop trying even in the face of so much success. How to always be expecting the best out of yourself but to never let it get to your head. How to keep working at it even when you get knocked down (kind of like what you were saying, E!)
Here's another great article from Sports Illustrated on "Tiny Tim": How Tiny Tim Became A Pitching Giant