Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Pitcher Perfect

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- To paraphrase erstwhile Durham Bull "Nuke" Laloosh, last week 25-year-old Dick Linden of the San Francisco Amoebas announced his presence in San Diego's Petco Park with authority.

While Linden's performance early in his third major league season resembled the dominance implied by the 18 strikeout debut of Tim Robbins' flamethrowing character, the 18 walks that went with them were nowhere to be seen.

And neither were any hits.

In fact, Linden was the epitomy of dominance with an economical 98 pitches to dispatch of every 'Charger batter he faced.

The pride of Becker, MN, the 6'-4" 199 pound Linden has adjsuted slowly to life in NorCal. With an unsteady rookie campaign, followed up by a sophomore season where he showed flashes of brilliance, the righthander seems to be coming into his own after spending his offseason in the San Francisco area training with teammates. That's not to say that Linden, an avid hunter, didn't make it back for big chunks of deer season, but staying in a warmer climate seems to have helped him stay focused on his summertime profession through the long offseason.

"It was great! Me and some of the guys went up through Sausalito, to Santa Rosa one weekend, stopping in a few of the wineries. Now, we're not wine guys, but it was nice to get out and see some parts of the area other than the stadium and the practice facilities, you know?"

It was on this trip that Linden started to appreciate the fanatical nature of many of the fans: "Man, we got to see how much they wanted us to kick ass this season. You get to see how the rivalries with the guys down south [like Los Angeles and San Diego] are big deals around here."

Of course, this made the fact that his Perfect Game was in San Diego against the SuperChargers even sweeter, said Linden, "Yeah, you know a lot of those guys, and with all the talk about LA being the top dog in the state, and the 'Chargers landing Melhuse in the offseason, you start to think: Hey! We've got a pretty good staff up here, too! It was special for me, and I'm sure it was special for the fans, too, to be able to walk in there and throw down the gauntlet.... they can't take games against 'Frisco lightly!"

Youthful exuberance aside, the Amoebas are probably a bat or two from being real contenders for the division with pre-season favourite Los Angeles or current NL West-leading Las Vegas, but with a few more performances like Linden's, it will be very hard to take any future trips to San Francisco lightly at all.

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