Tim, Joe, Rick linked leaders of champions
They're hobbled way beyond normal, and mostly in vital areas, which has been a major factor in their season-long offensive slump due to the difficult and constant challenges for a team trying to get in sync when a long line of players, including key starters, are caught between rotating doors leading to the disabled list, or in some worst-case scenarios, the end of their season.
But, despite the obstacle-laced road that has claimed too many of their stars and fan-favorites, the World Series champion San Francisco Giants are heading down the stretch run closely on the heels of the front-running Arizona Diamondbacks and, with some of their wounded returning, along with the September call-ups, the Giants' title quest is full-on.
When the playoffs arrive, don't be surprised to see San Francisco there as the NL West's champion due to its pitching staff, with its depth, quality arms and confidence; to its defense stepping up and playing near flawless in the field; and to its offense finally erupting from hibernation and getting into a productive flow of run-support.
While this sounds like the perfect recipe for pennant and World Series title-repeats, there's still one special ingredient needed to complete a champion, and that is the team's go-to player, its ultimate athlete, competitor, leader and winner.
For the Giants, this treasured player, a rare-to-come-along legend, is two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.
Sure I can list all of his impressive pitching numbers, but basically it all comes down to his high-leveled baseball instinct and pitching talent, and his fine-tuned, adaptable, don't-get-him-mad, always-competitive nature and his resolve for the moment - when it's time to deliver the performance that puts your team over the top.
Being a native San Franciscan and longtime Bay Area sports fan, and having received the lifetime pleasure of watching the Warriors, 49ers and Giants become world champions, at the heart of those teams was one significant, special, primetime player who willed a title.
Before Tim took his heroic turn and did it for the Giants in 2010 - and so far he's right on track for a repeat performance - Rick Barry did it for the NBA-champion Warriors in 1975, and Joe Montana did it for the NFL Super Bowl champion 49ers four times.
Now Tim, Joe and Rick are linked forever in San Francisco/Bay Area sports lore after their athletic and competitive drives enabled them to achieve the status of being leaders of champions.