The Lincecum deal -- what it means


The Lincecum deal -- what it means

EDITOR'S NOTE: We want to know what you think about the Giants and their two-time Cy Young Award winner. Vote in the poll and leave your comments below.

Oh no! Doesnt Timmy like us?

Seriously, that seems to be the prevailing sentiment about the news that the Giants and Tim Lincecum have agreed on a two-year 40.5 million contract that buys out his final two years of arbitration and makes everyones favorite Giant a free agent in 2013.

Why doesnt Timmy want a long-term relationship with San Francisco? Is he flirting with other cities? Is he just dating the Giants, not ready to commit forever?

Grab a paper bag, people. Breath deep. Stop hyperventilating.

In truth, the deal works just fine. For all parties: Lincecum, the Giants and even for the oxygen-deprived fans.

From all accounts, two years was the spot for mutual agreement. They got a deal done. But it doesnt preclude a longer-term deal being done before the contract expires in 2013 and the Yankees and Red Sox come courting.

Lincecum, 27, just became the highest-paid Giant in history. Good for him. He deserves it.

Hes the one taking all the risk. In a two-year contract theres no room for a down season. No time for a let up. He has to stay -- as he has for the first five years of his career -- at the top of his game. If he does, he reaps the benefits in 2013. If he doesnt, then he may have to take a pay cut.

But Lincecum, to his credit, doesnt seem to care about long-term security. Thats interesting for a guy whos been told his whole career that his body wont hold up, that hes too little. But hes already proved all the doubters wrong, a thousand times over.

Hes of a generation that has compressed time into microseconds -- two years might as well be two centuries. And I take his own words at face value. A few months ago, he told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle I just dont know how Im going to feel five years from now, or three years. Thats why Id kind of like to take things step by step.

Lincecum may very well want to be a Giant for life. But I dont blame him at all for taking a wait-and-see approach. The Giants have new leadership -- after the ouster of Bill Neukom -- and no one knows what that means. Are they going to be pinching pennies? Are they going to break up the rotation? Are they going to get some offense or continue to put the burden of winning on the back of Lincecum? All the talk this winter about maxing out on the payroll has to be a red flag.

Lincecum has also had a front-row seat to the horrors of the long-term pitching contract with Barry Zito. Why would he want to put himself in that position?

For the Giants, the deal works because theres no concern about getting into a long-term Zito situation. They showed their good faith to Lincecum by making him the highest-paid Giant ever and they bought time to work on a contract extension.

Yes, theres risk involved. The face of the franchise could walk in 2013. But there would also be risk in a long-term contract, if for some reason Lincecum doesnt perform at the Cy Young level hes been at most of his career.

And, despite the hyperventilating, the deal also works for fans. Lincecum is still a Giant. And now the pressure is on the Giants to make sure he stays: which means not ignoring the offense or the payroll. The Giants need to be competitive and remain the most attractive option to Lincecum, more than the Mariners or any other team.

If they do that, theyll be happy, Lincecum will be happy, the fans will be happy. And if they dont do that itll be pre-Lincecum 2005 all over again. And everyone will be miserable.

Freelance writer Ann Killion is a regular contributor to and Chronicle Live.

MLB becomes whole new ballgame since Cubs last World Series trip


MLB becomes whole new ballgame since Cubs last World Series trip

One way to realize just how long it's been since the Chicago Cubs last reached the World Series is to look at how much the game has changed since then, on and off the field.

The Cubs are making their first appearance since 1945 and chasing their first title since 1908.

Some of the ways the game has changed since the Cubs lost Game 7 to the Detroit Tigers some 71 years ago:

INTEGRATION: Jackie Robinson became the first black player to reach the major leagues in 1947, two years after the Cubs' last World Series appearance. Baseball has turned into a virtual melting pot in the seven decades since. The Cubs' roster includes players from Cuba (reliever Aroldis Chapman and outfielder Jorge Soler), along with Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, as well as the United States.

EXPANSION: There were 16 teams in the majors in 1945, including two in St. Louis, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago, and three in New York. The total is up to 30 now.

GO WEST: There were no major league franchises west of St. Louis in 1945. The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants headed to San Francisco in 1958. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots showed up - they went 64-98 in their first year, then became the Milwaukee Brewers.

DIVISIONAL PLAY: There were no divisions in 1945, just eight teams in both the American League and National League. They split into East and West divisions in 1969. Then a Central was created in 1994, with the Cubs shifting from the NL East to the NL Central.

PLAYOFFS PLUS: Extra teams and divisions resulted in expanded playoffs. The League Championship Series began in 1969, the Division Series started in 1995 and a one-game wild-card playoff came in 2012. A longer postseason pushed the World Series deep into October and beyond. If the Cubs and Cleveland go the distance this year, Game 7 would be on Nov. 2.

FREE AGENCY: When Phil Cavarretta and Peanuts Lowrey helped lead the Cubs to the 1945 Series, they were bound to the team until they were traded or released. Curt Flood tested baseball's reserve clause in the early 1970s and took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, helping pave the way for players to move around as free agents. Jon Lester, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist are among the players the Cubs acquired this way.

DESIGNATED HITTER: The designated hitter joined the American League lineup in 1973. The DH debate is still hot, with the leagues playing by different rules. When this year's World Series opens at the AL park, both teams will use the DH; when the Cubs host, the pitchers will hit.

LIGHTS AT WRIGLEY: The Cubs were the last team in the majors to play only day games. That changed when lights were installed at Wrigley Field in 1988. The games there have always been played outdoors on green grass, never under a dome or on artificial turf, trends that became popular starting with the Astrodome in the mid-1960s.

With NLCS loss, Dodgers' World Series drought reaches 28 years

With NLCS loss, Dodgers' World Series drought reaches 28 years

CHICAGO -- Clayton Kershaw's playoff renaissance is over, at least for this year. The Los Angeles Dodgers ace flopped at a big moment - again.

Kershaw's postseason resume took another hit in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series, finishing off the reeling Dodgers. The Chicago Cubs battered the three-time Cy Young Award winner on their way to a 5-0 victory Saturday night, making it 28 years and counting since the Dodgers last won the World Series.

"This day is never fun, the ending of a season," Kershaw said. "You look back and think about the whole season as a whole. It's tough to swallow tonight, obviously, but I'd rather be in this position and fail than not to get to be in this situation at all."

Kershaw could have started Game 5 on three days' rest, but manager Dave Roberts decided to save him for Saturday night at Wrigley Field. Roberts was hoping a couple more days would help Kershaw duplicate his performance from Game 2, when he pitched seven innings of two-hit ball in a 1-0 victory.

The decision worked out quite well - for the Cubs. After winning a pair of shutouts in Games 2 and 3, the Dodgers dropped the next two by a combined score of 18-6. Even the great Kershaw was unable to slow Chicago's momentum, and Roberts' first season as Dodgers manager ended in disappointment.

The left-hander allowed four earned runs and seven hits while dropping to 4-7 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 playoff games.

"I think that the first thing I saw is the Cubs hitters, they had a great game plan tonight," Roberts said. "And there was a couple mistake sliders that they took advantage of. But they were running counts, they used the whole field, and there was traffic all night for Clayton. And he gave it everything he had, but when they did - when he did make a mistake, they made him pay."

Dexter Fowler hit a ground-rule double on Kershaw's third pitch of the night, and the Cubs were off and running. Kris Bryant followed with an RBI single. Then left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Anthony Rizzo's fly ball to the gap in left-center, setting up Ben Zobrist's sacrifice fly.

It was the first time Kershaw had given up two runs in the first inning all season. He was limited to 21 starts this year due to a back injury.

"You get out of that first inning and you give up two, you feel like you have a chance maybe," Kershaw said. "They just kept tacking on runs. I gave up some two-out hits and some homers and some two-strike hits - just a lot of things that you can't do in a game like this."

Fowler added a two-out RBI single in the second, rookie Willson Contreras hit a leadoff drive in the fourth and Anthony Rizzo connected in the fifth. Rizzo became the first lefty batter to homer against Kershaw since Daniel Murphy for the New York Mets in Game 4 of their 2015 Division Series.

It was the first time Kershaw had allowed two homers in a game since April 9 at San Francisco. That was it for Roberts, who hit for his star pitcher in the sixth.

"We have asked a lot of Clayton all year long, so, again, it's just more of you got to give those hitters credit," Roberts said.

While Kershaw struggled against the Cubs, the Dodgers were shut down by Kyle Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman. Los Angeles managed just two hits and four baserunners, with none of them advancing past first.

Chicago became the first team to face the minimum in a postseason game since Don Larsen's perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series.

"We had a 2-1 lead with two games at home and it didn't go the way we thought it would go," Los Angeles center fielder Joc Pederson said. "We didn't take care of business. We made some mistakes, all of us."

Roberts managed the Dodgers to their fourth straight NL West title after taking over for Don Mattingly. But injuries to Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson and Hyun-Jin Ryu hurt rotation depth.

Kenta Maeda, who won 16 games during his rookie season, struggled in the playoffs, and 20-year-old Julio Urias was knocked out in the fourth inning of his first postseason start in Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Los Angeles went with three starters in the Division Series against Washington and Kershaw pitched three times, including a two-out save in the clinching Game 5. When he stepped up again in his first start in the NLCS, it looked as if he might be on the verge of a postseason breakthrough.

But his turnaround came to a screeching halt on a cool night in the Windy City. He dropped to 1-3 with a 6.28 ERA in five career starts with the Dodgers facing postseason elimination, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's only going to make him stronger for the years coming on," Pederson said. "He's had some trouble with his back and overcame it and came and helped us win the division and get past the NLDS. We wouldn't be here without him. He'll be stronger for next year."