Halladay, Lincecum set to square off

 Posted by at 4:22 pm
Oct 162010
Phillies ace Roy Halladay

Phillies ace Roy Halladay

October 16 Philadelphia Inquirer:

Maybe the answer has something to do with airplanes.

For all their obvious differences, Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum share top billing for Game 1 of the National League Championship Series because they are arguably the two best pitchers in the NL, if not all of baseball.

At 6-foot-6, with a delivery straight out of a coaching manual, Halladay is the prototype major-league pitcher. He is making his second career postseason start after throwing a no-hitter last week in his first.

At 5-11, the skinny Lincecum throws the ball as if he’s falling off his skateboard, his shaggy hair flying up around his face. He is making his second career postseason start after throwing a two-hitter last week in his first.

They couldn’t look or pitch or, frankly, be more different. Halladay is more likely to have some self-help books-on-tape in his car than the wacky tabacky Lincecum was cited for last year. Halladay’s nickname, “Doc,” suggests the cool, clinical professional who inspires confidence. Lincecum’s, “The Freak,” is self-explanatory.

“It’s a great part about this game,” Halladay said. “You don’t have to be 6-9 and 280 to be a defensive lineman. You can take all different shapes and sizes and do the job.”

So the question is what common thread runs through these two very different pitching aces? And the answer may have to do with airplanes – or at least fathers who understand aerodynamics.

Halladay’s father, Roy Jr., is a commercial pilot. When the family moved to the Denver suburb of Arvada, he built a pitcher’s mound in the basement for his only son to practice on. Roy III was taken to see elite pitching coaches as a teen and never got off that track.

Lincecum’s father, Chris, works for Boeing, which has been credited (or blamed) for the loud, don’t-call-it-grunge rock scene that exploded in Seattle when Tim was in elementary school. Chris famously taught Tim the quirky pitching motion that confounds hitters and pitching coaches alike.

Pushed along by their fathers, Halladay and Lincecum followed the paths that led them to this epic Game 1 showdown. Both have dominated in the major leagues. One of them, however, got desperately lost along the way and needed help to find himself.

Ironically, it wasn’t the kid with the X Games demeanor and crazy windup. It was Halladay. Before he became Doc, he had to spend some time with the doctor.

“When I met him, he was innocent, naive, about the mental part of the game,” Harvey Dorfman said by phone the other day. “Now he gets it. He applies it. He integrates information into behavior. It’s not like in school, where you get high grades for what you know. In baseball, you get high grades for what you do.”

Dorfman isn’t actually a doctor. He has a master’s degree in education. But he is seen as a guru by a lot of major-league players, including Halladay and several other Phillies.

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