Sometimes sequels are better than the original. Such was the case with Terminator II: Judgement Day, and The Dark Knight, and The Empire Strikes Back, and Toy Story 3, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This week, when Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants threw his second career no-hitter, nearly a year after his first, it was better than the original as well. Lincecum took 147 pitches to no-hit the San Diego Padres last summer, but only needed 113 to no hit the same team this time around. Lincecum was a walk away from a perfect game. That’s about as good as it gets.
Timmy has had to reinvent himself in recent years. He used to throw harder and used to rack up a lot more strikeouts, but as his velocity has diminished, he’s found different ways to get people out. He’s done a great job of developing his off-speed pitches since he can’t just blow it by everyone anymore. Lincecum turned 30 last week, and has four National League All-Star selections, two Cy Young Awards and two World Series rings to go with his two no-hitters. He may not be the Freak he once was, but that’s a pretty good trophy case and a solid foundation for a Hall of Fame bid.
Last week, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a no-hitter that was a Hanley Ramirez error away from being a perfect game, and since Josh Beckett threw a no-hitter last month, the last three no-hitters in the Majors have come from the forever rival Dodgers and Giants. Since Red Sox vs. Yankees has gone stale over the last decade, Giants vs. Dodgers has become the best rivalry in the sport, in my opinion. For Beckett and Lincecum, it is believed have their better pitching days behind them, while Kershaw is proving why he’s one of the highest paid players in the game. As it currently stands, the Giants have a two game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West, and between the Giants, Dodgers, and Oakland Athletics, some of the best baseball on the planet is being played in California. This October, we could see a rematch of the 1988 World Series where Kirk Gibson and Orel Hershiser and the Dodgers defeated Tony La Russa’s A’s, or we could see a rematch of the 1989 World Series where the A’s defeated the Giants, but the series between the Bay Area rivals was overshadowed by the earthquake in that region that put it on hold. Both potential sequels have the chance to be better than the original, but it’ll take a few months to see how it will shape out.