In order to be a successful Major League pitcher, you have to have to be able to forget. The last game, the last inning, the last pitch--it all has to be erased in order to execute the next pitch. The past doesn't matter: all that matters is now.
And Lincecum is a successful pitcher, perhaps one of the most successful in the world.
So he forgets.
Forgets the lucky motherfucker hit a homer off of him in last inning. Forgets that his curve has been dropping a little too far and ending up in the dirt. Forgets that his two-seamer hasn't been up to speed over the last few days. Forgets the last time his catcher smiled from above him on a hotel mattress, his hand still on Lincecum's dick.
It doesn't matter: all that matters is now.
Execution. This pitch. Then this one. And this one. Now.
Lincecum is so good at forgetting that sometimes he will look up in the in middle of a game and realize that he doesn't know what the batter did his last time up. That's a great feeling, that absence, because it means that he's in the zone, seeing nothing but the glove and the signs and the ball. He's an excellent forgetter.
So it makes sense, then, that the afternoon that he pitches his first major league no-hitter--the second game in a three game series against Colorado, take that juicers--Lincecum forgets that he and Buster Posey haven't spoken in any meaningful way for almost two weeks, and when Posey jogs out to the mound to hand him the game ball, Lincecum throws his arms around Posey's neck and hangs on like it's the World Series all over again.
He hears Buster's laugh in his ear, feels Buster's hands on his back, and then everyone's there, slapping him and shouting, and his ass is probably going to have bruises for a week in the shape of Huff's hand.
Then they're walking back to the dugout, him and Posey, in step, just like they have dozens of times before, Buster glancing over at him, his smile admiring.
And Tim remembers.
Remembers Buster not answering texts. Remembers him shrugging non-committally, looking embarrassed when Tim cornered him in a hotel hallway. Remembers him pulling away from Tim's outstretched hand. Remembers him lying on the bed almost two weeks ago (twelve days, if you're counting, which Tim isn't, not on purpose anyway), Buster smiling lazily at him as Tim pulled the door closed behind himself, wishing he didn't have to go back to his own room and shower and start the day.
The memories are like a punch in the nose--his eyes water up the same way--and he looks away from Buster, finds Sanchez and Bumgarner in the dugout hopping up and down with excitement, the Boch with his arms folded proudly over his chest.
He accepts the slaps and the hugs and the congratulations--Romo is so excited that Lincecum isn't even sure what he's saying--and does the interview from the field, trying not to say anything stupid or derogatory about the Rockies, which is hard for him. When he waves to the crowd after he pulls the headphones off, their cheer is a roar of approval that fills his chest with pride.
He can hear the celebration has already started as he walks down the dugout steps. Strangely, he's alone. All his teammates are inside, and all the journalists are either on the field finishing up or already in the locker room trying to get interviews with the guys about this milestone.
I wonder what Buster will tell them, he thinks, as a fresh wave of joyous shouting comes from behind the doors. Then he thinks it doesn't matter. All that matters is now.
For a moment Lincecum stands with one hand on the clubhouse door and listens to the sound of his friends being happy for him. Because of him. When he enters, the smile on his face is real.