It was revealed at a press conference on Sunday that Tim Lincecum had passed a random off-season drug test. This is the first out of seven tests in his career that Lincecum has passed, and it prompted swift disciplinary action from the San Francisco Giants organization.
"The San Francisco Giants have worked very hard to cultivate a very specific persona for Tim," explained Martin Huard, Giants Director of Public Relations. "When we drafted him, he was just a regular beer-swilling, collar-popping, Nickelback-listening-to jock. The laid-back stoner image we have tirelessly striven to develop works perfectly with the city - the fans identify with him, they think of him as that nice kid next door who always wants to borrow an apple and some tinfoil."
The Giants fined Lincecum $10,000, a relatively small amount compared to the pitcher's salary, but warned him that, like MLB's drug policy, repeat offenses will carry much more serious consequences. A source within the organization specified the terms of such punishments to Bottom of the Fourth: a second offense will incur a $100,000 fine, a third will prompt the team to assign a personal marijuana assistant to the player, who will ensure that he is "sufficiently blazed" at all times, including during games, and a fourth will result in permanent banishment from the organization and city. In this case, even if Lincecum signs with another MLB team, he will not be allowed in the city, even as a visitor.
Barry Brown, the Giants' Director of Promotions, says the news throws a wrench in his plans for the 2011 season. "We had several promotions planned around Lincecum's identity as a pothead," grumbled Brown. "Tim Lincecum Doobie Night, The 4/20 Pre-Game Drum Circle With Special Guest Tim Lincecum, the Tim Lincecum Bonglehead Giveaway... all those are out the window now."
|10,000 Lincecum Bongleheads have already been produced and are now useless|
For his part, Lincecum regrets that it ever came to this. He met with the press after the news broke to apologize to the fans. Tellingly, he spoke in uncharacteristically clear prose. "I want to say, to the people of San Francisco, that I'm sorry. I've let you down, and I hope you can forgive me. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday."
Lincecum went on, attempting to explain what happened. "I've been training hard for the upcoming season. I lost a few miles on my fastball last year, and I've been working out a lot to try to get it back. Every day I come home so exhausted that I just pass out, totally forgetting to even pack a bowl. I know it's no excuse, I just wanted to shed some light on the situation."
The news has garnered a mixed reaction among Giants fans. Some are angry, including Amy Lagrou, who spoke to Bottom of the Fourth about the incident. "I mean, Tim has come to represent something to us," she said, seemingly enraged, "and now he's thrown that right back in our face. I don't know what to believe anymore. How can I root for a team that doesn't stick to its morals?"
Others are less offended and more concerned, including Marc Tyndel. "I'm just worried he isn't going to be the same pitcher. He might be stronger, he might get that velocity back on his fastball, he might go back to 2008-09 form and win another Cy Young, but all that is meaningless if he stays dry."
Tyndel is more than just concerned, though: he wants to help. "Maybe there's something Tim isn't letting on. I dunno, he didn't say it, but I just have a feeling his well has dried up. It happens to all of us, but it can be embarrassing. Look, I have a Guy. He's a great connection: reliable, fast, doesn't try to fuck with you. Basically anything you could want in a Guy. If Tim sees this, I can hook him up. I want him to know: the people of San Francisco are here for him."
In fact, that last statement is true to a much greater extent than Marc Tyndel realizes. On Tuesday night, San Francisco will hold "Tim Hour", a riff on the global "Earth Hour" event held every March. From 10-11 PM, those participating will switch off all their lights, and use only the luminescence created by their joints, bongs, pipes, and other marijuana-burning devices. The event is meant to show support for Lincecum as he goes through this tough time.
But while some fans are more forgiving than others, it's clear that Lincecum's behaviour must change if he hopes to continue being one of the most popular and beloved players on the Giants. He's on thin bongwater ice and he knows it.