“Timmy was Timmy today.”
At least, that’s what manager Bruce Bochy said after the two-time Cy Young Award winner shut out the Dodgers for seven innings and struck out eight in a 3-0 win.
It was Lincecum’s first victory since April 28. He lowered his ERA from 6.07 to 5.60.
Lincecum’s turnaround actually seemed to begin last week against the A’s. In that one, he overcame a dreadful three-run first to retire 18 of the final 20 hitters he faced.
Along the way, Lincecum apparently picked up a new personal catcher. Bochy said he talked to Buster Posey last night and informed him that Hector Sanchez would do the catching for Lincecum for now. Posey started at first base today and went 1-for-2 with two walks.
Of course, it should be noted that Lincecum’s success in his last two starts has come against two incredibly underwhelming lineups. After the Dodgers lost Andre Ethier in the first inning to a strained oblique today, their best hitter was either A.J. Ellis or Bobby Abreu.
Still, Lincecum is showing both better velocity and command than he started the season with. It’s doubtful he’ll return to Cy Young form, but maybe he’ll resume being an asset as the Giants attempt to win the NL West. After completing a three-game sweep today, they and the Dodgers have identical 43-33 records.
Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.
For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.
So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?
The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.
Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.
But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.
United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.
Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.