Happy belated 28th birthday, Tim Lincecum.
Thank you for leading the Giants' post-Bonds revival, for helping the team to which I've been hopelessly devoted since kindergarten win its first World Series championship in my lifetime and for helping me rise from eighth place to second after trading for you in my fantasy league three summers ago.
For your birthday, which was Friday, I did not bake you a cake, nor did I sing you a song. I did, however get you a gift last Sunday night. Check that, I got us both a gift: I set you free.
Loyalty to a favorite team or player can lead one to fantasy ruin, which is exactly where I was headed with Lincecum, whose fastball and mojo have been missing in action all season and whose starts have become more and more unwatchable.
With Lincecum all over the place and my offense in need of a jolt, I set aside personal attachment and did the once unthinkable: I traded him.
While relieved that the Freak Show is no longer playing in my neighborhood, our parting is bittersweet.
I'm still a Lincecum fan and I'm rooting for him to turn things around. I just couldn't let him continue to drive my team into the ground like Toonces on a bender.
For two months I was Tammy Wynette when it came to Lincecum, my second-round pick, standing by my guy as the walks, hits, runs and losses piled up like never before.
I either made or bought into every excuse for his struggles the umps are squeezing him, his defense stinks, the moon is in the seventh sun refusing to admit the obvious: He just doesn't have it.
As an unabashed Lincecum apologist, I tried to convince myself that things weren't as bad as they seemed, but the stats would not lie:
A 2-7 record with a 6.00 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 13 starts.
But wait, there's more, and it gets worse: The Giants are 2-12 in Lincecum's starts this season and 3-17 over his last 20 starts dating back to last season. While I'm no math wizard, even I could see that the numbers add up to a giant slice of limburger.
Still, this is "Timmy," two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, World Series hero, perennial all-star. So my level of denial rivaled that of the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" it's just a flesh wound; he'll snap out of it.
As I slipped from the upper third to the garbage bin in the standings and began prepping for a roster makeover, Lincecum's name never came up in trade talks because: 1) any offer I made was sure to be met with laughter, and 2) most people were eyeing Clayton Kershaw (who is rapidly becoming an issue himself), Josh Johnson and Johan Santana.
When my brother Brendan, unprompted, offered Rockies cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer for Lincecum, I could not refuse. My offense was over the diddly- poo line and Lincecum was dragging my pitching staff into the vortex of doom. The time had come for action.
So far, so good. Cuddyer homered three times this week and had four- and three-hit games, which helped trigger an offense surge that led to a 15-point gain and a very large step back toward respectability.
I could live to regret the deal, especially if Linecum becomes the pitcher Giants fans came to know and love. But Saturday night's trapeze act looked awfully familiar.
Even if Lincecum goes on to win 15 games, I wasn't going anywhere with him or without a bat, so life goes on.
Happy trails, Timmy. I'll be pulling for you.
I'm just happy that I'll now be doing it from a distance.
Bee fantasy sports columnist Stu Rosenberg can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2300.