Clayton Kershaw is 30 years old today. It’s a little hard to believe. He celebrated a little early, striking out eight in five spring training innings on Sunday. I’ve been on his baseball-reference page more times than I can count in my life. He’s been pitching in the big leagues since he was 20 years old. And I’ve seen him throw live three times. The Dodgers won all three of those games, with Kershaw recording the win in two of them.
This is significant because of course; there aren’t that many inner-circle Hall of Fame players going right now that you can flip on the television and watch any given night. I can probably count them on one hand. Kershaw is one of the few, and turning 30 means he’s headed towards the back-nine of that future Hall of Fame career.
So this year – every opportunity to watch him take the ball should be cherished just a little bit greater. Every humping curveball he bends over the plate should be marveled at a little bit more. Take the time to enjoy the intricacies of Kershaw’s skill while we still can – whether you’re a Dodgers fan or just a fan of the game.
He’s one of the truly ‘good guys’ in baseball too. As long as he’s wearing Dodger blue, it’s his team. The three shining moments before his age-30 date that I’ll remember most, personally:
I was on my couch at my old condo this night. To listen to Vin Scully call this and see it unfold, and know it was going to unfold; it was just one of those perfect moments in the summer as a baseball fan that you owe to yourself.
I got to see Kershaw twirl seven innings from behind home plate with the sun shining in the Los Angeles sky, and I was behind home plate.
My favorite moment of the day was Corey Seager’s home run off the un-hittable Stephen Strasburg to tie the game. But it was an at-bat a few moments before that which softened up Strasburg with the Dodgers running out of outs. Kershaw battled the man like a lion, foul after foul. His competitive fire literally changed the game that day; and it was with his bat. It was my favorite game I’ve ever been to live in my life.
For all the talk of Kershaw not being able to pitch well in the postseason, he was absolutely dominant against the Houston Astros in game one of the 2017 World Series. He struck out 11 and got the win, and it sure gave the feeling that the Dodgers were going to win the series from the forefront.
Pitchers continued to mention in the series how the ball was slick because of the custom logo and they couldn’t get a grip. That means Kershaw was on another planet on this evening. He answered the bell; and many questions about his postseason make-up in this start. He took the ball and dominated the eventual World Champions on the brightest stage to open one of the greatest Fall Classics of all-time.
So happy 30th birthday Clayton Kershaw. I made a point when time was winding down for Vin Scully to enjoy him more, and I did just that.
I’m not writing Kershaw’s eulogy just yet. But I am going to make sure I don’t miss his starts unless I have to work this coming season, and every season going forward. You can’t turn the hands of time back on greatness.