Sometimes the world is ugly. No, that doesn’t quite say it. Sometimes the world is an abyss, a black hole, deep and dark and yielding no survivors. There is only one inevitability in life; our time on this earth will come and go. Sometimes we go on our own accords and sometimes we go unfairly without justice and sometimes we go far too young.
This is a grim outlook, of course, and more often than not we would just like to politely ignore this fact. If there is one thing that we are good at it’s creating distractions for ourselves so that we can ignore. Sports are one of those distractions, and on a night where we saw our justice fail a child felled indisputably by the gun of a grown man and a star actor of a popular television show pass at a tragically young age, we needed sports more than ever.
Through the darkness, sandwiched directly between the two mind-numbingly unfair events, there was a light, a beacon of hope shining bright on the west coast. Tim Lincecum had thrown a no-hitter for the San Francisco Giants against the San Diego Padres, and for a second – as short as it may have been – we could breath because darkness didn’t seem quite so overwhelming.
Lately, things have not been so bright for Lincecum, per se. He has only five wins to go along with his nine losses, even after the no-hitter. In fact, he’s only one loss away from his fourth straight season with double digit losses.
When you hear Lincecum’s name called, you think about “The Freak.” The Freak burst onto the scene as a 5-foot-11 23-year-old with the story of the dollar bill that captured the baseball world just as much as his diminutive stature and a little bit more than his boyish charm and long hair. He won back-to-back Cy Young Awards. He anchored a staff on the way to a World Series in 2010, then added another in 2012. He was on top of the baseball world.
When you hear Lincecum’s name called, you may also think about a time when life wasn’t so bright. Caught with marijuana in a traffic stop, Lincecum had to do damage control on his public image. His incident with marijuana wasn’t too long after Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ incident, so the public was not necessarily forgiving. He had to climb out of the darkness.
With the long, hippie-esque hair gone and his pitching a shell of its former self, Lincecum is battling. There are rumors that maybe he is better fit for a long relief role out of the bullpen than in the starting rotation. There are also rumors that he could be dangled as trade bait as the July 31st trade deadline looms. He turned 29 last month. He may still be in his prime even if he isn’t pitching like it.
Lincecum’s no-hitter was the second of the season; Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds threw the first less than two weeks earlier. It took Lincecum 148 pitches to finish off his magical night. Certainly not the most effortless no-hitter in baseball history but a doughnut in the Padres’ hit column nonetheless.
There have now been more than 265 no-hitters in Major League Baseball history. The ever-growing number gives the illusion that throwing one is easy. Sometimes the media glosses over no-hitters in the highlight rundown. Throwing a no-hitter isn’t easy. Each one is just as important and just as impressive as the first. For Lincecum, the no-hitter could reignite a fire that was thought to be dying.
As late Saturday night turned into early Sunday morning, we searched for some good news to ease the confusion and the anger after a jury denied Trayvon Martin his justice by setting George Zimmerman free. We did not yet know how badly some good news would be needed because reports that Glee star Cory Monteith had died alone in his Vancouver hotel room had not yet surfaced. When the news finally broke there would be more confusion, more anger.
Lincecum made history with his no-hitter. He has battled darkness of his own in his life and career, but Saturday night provided a light just bright enough to give hope for a way out. For the rest of us, Tim Lincecum’s no-hitter provided the ultimate distraction from the harsh world we live in. Because no matter how dark the world can be, we always have sports to shine the light that reminds us that the world is not always as bad as it seems.