Had lunch today in Manhattan with an interesting dudeâ€”Tim Lincecum.
Met up with him for a magazine piece. Never spoke with the guy before; actually knew little about him, not having covered the game in several years. Sat down at a restaurant in Manhattanâ€”me, Tim, his girlfriend, his dad, his agent and someone else.
To be honest, toward the end of my baseball writing days at SI I came to dread these sorts of things. The cliches. The blahs. The lack of any sort of radar outside of the game. But I found myself really liking Tim. He has a good head on his shoulders for someone in his mid-20s; doesn’t seem overly consumed with his own fame or, for that matter, overly impressed with it. At the end of our hour together, I actually said to him, “I covered baseball for several years, and it’s refreshing to meet someone like you.” I don’t know why I uttered the words, because I can’t image he cares what some washed-up baseball scribe has to say. But it’s trueâ€”I’ve seen a ton of ballplayers start out one way and, gradually, morph into different people. Hell, it’s hard to blame themâ€”the money, the celebrity, the fans, the women, the awards. I always found Barry Zito to be the most blatant case. When I first met Barry, he was just wonderful. Unassuming … casual … indifferent to attention. We ate fish tacos at Manhattan Beach, and I thought, “If every ballplayer were just like this …”
Then something snapped. Not sure why. Maybe the big contract. Maybe the struggles. But he’s not the same guy. Perhaps that’s just lifeâ€”I’m probably not the same guy I was at 25, either. But I hope I still hold onto the decency and wonderment and empathy from past decades; the stuff my folks taught me.
I hope Lincecum does, too. Because he’s a person worth rooting for.