There are lists that all of us carry, in our hearts if not our heads, like our personal pantheons of favorite offspring or worst U.S. states or flat-out awesomest baseball players. Most times, there’s no need to spell them out.
But GQ, the magazine, is different from you and me. It’s a magazine, and it needs to publish stuff, so it publishes lists, like the February issue’s 25 Coolest Athletes of All Time. Tim Lincecum is on the list, and I am running — not walking — to say I’m on board with that.
GQ has its own perspective on “cool,” and their list is American-centric, but it’s strong list. Lincecum was the only active baseball player cool enough to make the cut, with historical baseball players Bob Gibson and Bo Jackson also appearing.
The San Francisco Sentinel transcribed the Lincecum blurb from the GQ piece. Engage prose overdrive:
“…Don’t get the wrong idea: Baseball was at its coolest in its sinewy past, when it was ruled by the lean boys of summer rather than grisly gods. But still, this tiny Tim? This prepubescent punk whose warp-speed pinwheel throwing motion made Tommy John surgeons drool? But then, pitch by 97-mph pitch, inning after scoreless inning, Cy Young after Cy Young, the Freak did something genuinely freaky: He put all of San Francisco on his narrow back…”
Actually, Tim Lincecum is awesome because of a combination of many awesome things. He’s an elite starting pitcher, a strikeout guy with a wiffle change, and he’d be one of my very favorite baseball players to watch for that alone. On top of that, he’s got a funny motion and he has long hair and he looks like some kid you knew in high school, and not one of the jocks. And he’s a two-time Cy Young winner who wore a bowtie to the ballpark and then won the final game of the World Series, a fact for which future generations will demand photo verification.
Baseball players — and this is coming from an outsider — generally come across as aggressively conventional and conformist. The gold standard for “personality” in the game seems to be some type A guy acting crazy to get press. The Giants have one of those in their ‘pen.
Tim Lincecum is a superstar. He doesn’t need to ham it up, so when he wears bowties he isn’t being gimmicky. He’s just doing his own thing. C’est hyper cool, mes amis.