The World Series kicks off tonight with a pitching matchup that carries heavy Northwest connections. Liberty High School graduate and University of Washington star Tim Lincecum takes on former Mariner Cliff Lee in a much-hyped pitching matchup.
For Mariners fans, it's a bittersweet game. Lincecum, a star at Renton's Liberty High and the University of Washington, was passed over by the Mariners in the 2006 MLB draft in favor of Brandon Morrow. Hindsight is always 20/20 and many teams have lamented letting Lincecum slide to the Giants with the 10th pick.
We all know the story with Lee by now. General Manager Jack Zduriencik pulled off a coup by trading prospects to Philadelphia in exchange for the ace last offseason. When it became clear the Mariners had fallen out of contention, Lee was dealt to AL West rival Texas. He went on to lead the Rangers to their first World Series and the Mariners finished a dismal 2010 campaign at the back of the pack.
The Seattle Times' Larry Stone took a look at game one this morning, noting that it was a cruel joke for Seattle fans.
Call them The Two That Got Away. The non-drafting of Lincecum in 2006, when the Mariners eschewed the local boy who made great with the No. 5 overall pick, in favor of Cal's Brandon Morrow, has been lamented for years now. But that doesn't make it any less painful to watch the two-time Cy Young winner reach the ultimate national stage in a Giants uniform (while Morrow is blossoming into stardom himself, with the Toronto Blue Jays; but that's another story).
Sure it's a punch in the gut knowing the Mariners had a chance at Lincecum and passed it up, but the time to second guess is long gone. The Mariners have made so many changes since 2006 that we can't say what life would be like if he was in a Mariners uniform. Would Cliff Lee have ever pitched for Seattle, giving us a few months of fantastic performances? One doesn't know and playing the guessing game is an unnecessary exercise.
Instead of wishing and wondering, sit back and enjoy the show Lee and Lincecum put on tonight. If the two aces live up to the hype surrounding game one, it could be a pitchers' duel for the ages.