11/11/2008 3:45 PM ET
Lincecum nabs MLB 2K9 cover
Cy Young winner also the face of popular video game
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
For Tim Lincecum, winning the National League Cy Young Award was just half of the good news he got Tuesday.
The young San Francisco Giants right-hander did indeed get the prestigious honor as the NL's premier pitcher in the 2008 season, but he also was announced as the cover athlete for the upcoming Major League Baseball 2K9 video game from 2K Sports.
As a video game fanatic, Lincecum said he couldn't be happier.
"Winning the Cy Young Award is truly an amazing honor, and now having the opportunity to be on the cover of Major League Baseball 2K9 is another dream come true and an absolutely surreal experience," said Lincecum, a 2008 All-Star who went 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA, led the Major Leagues with 265 strikeouts (an NL-best 10.51 per nine innings) and limited opponents to an NL-low .221 batting average.
"Whenever I'm hanging out at home or traveling on the road, you can find me playing video games, and I'm definitely the best gamer in the clubhouse by far. I'm incredibly stoked that 2K Sports picked me to represent Major League Baseball 2K9, and I look forward to lending my baseball knowledge to the development process."
Lincecum wasn't the only one "stoked" to be involved in the ongoing creation of MLB 2K9. Chris Snyder, the director of marketing for 2K Sports, and MLB 2K9's senior product manager, Mike Rhinehart, work in Novato, Calif., about a 45-minute drive from AT&T Park, the home of the Giants. They've seen Lincecum pitch plenty of times and are ecstatic that he's the chosen player for 2009.
"Our boy won," Snyder said. "After having Jose Reyes on the cover last year, it was time to show the West Coast some love."
Rhinehart explained that the choice of the cover player is always a political one at 2K Sports, whose corporate offices are in New York City.
"Basically, everybody in the company is a baseball fan and everybody wants to weigh in with their opinion on the cover athlete," Rhinehart said. "It goes all the way to the top, to the CEO and corporate. And the decision this year was that we really wanted to align with somebody that was unique, that was a (video) gamer, and personified our game this year."
Lincecum fit for all those reasons and more, and perhaps the most significant reason he was chosen was because of the "Signature Style" feature that MLB 2K9 is known for and is improving year after year.
"We're pushing hard with our ability to capture the unique motions players have, whether it's a walkup or a delivery on the mound," Rhinehart said. "We mimic them to a point of being spot-on, and a good example is (Detroit left-hander) Dontrelle Willis. He has that unique delivery, and when he came down to our studios and saw how we had captured it, he flipped out.
"So Tim, to us, was perfect. He's so unique with his delivery and mechanics that he personifies that 100 percent. And during some of his interviews, he talked about gaming, which always perks our ears. In fact, in one of his last interviews of the season, he actually said he was going to put down the glove and pick up a controller. That was music to our ears."
And hearing he would grace the cover of a game that will be available in early 2009 for the Xbox 360 entertainment system from Microsoft, the PlayStation3 and PlayStation2 computer entertainment systems, PSP (PlayStation Portable) system and Wii home video game system from Nintendo was music to Lincecum's ears.
"We're always looking for guys that are invested, and Tim very early on seemed invested in the product," Snyder said. "We're bringing him out here in a couple weeks to meet the development team, do a motion-capture session and really get this thing rolling. He's really excited and we are, too."
And according to Rhinehart, Lincecum wouldn't have been chosen if he didn't have the personality to match his pitching ability.
"From the first day he showed up to practice and they wouldn't let him into the park because they thought he was a kid, we've always felt as if he is exactly like our audience," Rhinehart said. "He's a normal kid that plays video games, but when he's on the mound he's a totally different beast throwing crazy heat.
"You look at him and you think, 'How does this guy throw heat like that?' It's perfect for our audience."
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.