Thursday, June 19, 2014

Clayton Kershaw: A No-No for the Young Prince

I was running Wednesday night with my crew and my phone died. So when I changed batteries afterwards, I got all the updates from ESPN. "Clayton Kershaw has retired the first 15 batters......Clayton Kershaw has retired the first 18 batters."

Naturally, I turned on the game on the radio. All I heard was the roar of Dodger Stadium and silence from Charley Steiner and Rick Monday. I started swelling up with hope and then all a sudden, Steiner started saying Kershaw was being embraced by his teammates as he threw the 12th no-hitter in L.A. Dodgers history.

All I could do was smile. A month ago, he had perhaps the worst game of his career as he was chased in the first inning. Now the Young Prince had the game of his life and it was even more special knowing we've been blessed to see such a wonderful talent grow and blossom into the best pitcher in baseball.

When I covered a few Dodgers games in 08-09 and gave him that nickname, I saw his wicked speed and the rap was once he started lowering his pitch count, he'd be a monster. Then I saw his curveball and wondered if it would be a dominant pitch as much as his fastball. Then it became when would Joe Torre take the kid gloves off and let him go longer than 6-7 innings.

To borrow from Haim, those Days are Gone. Over the last 3 1/2 years, we've been blessed to see an incredible run by him. The best game of his up to now was last year when he a threw a 1-0 shutout and homered the game's only run. Now the $215 million man has added a no-hitter to his resume and the first one at Dodger Stadium since 1995.
15 strikeouts. No walks. A lone error by Hanley Ramirez kept it from being perfect. An amazing play by Miguel Rojas kept it alive. 107 pitches. The Young Prince was efficient, dominant and electrifying and all I could feel was happiness. He's a gift to the city of Los Angeles on and off the field and he's continued to come a long way from that young Texas kid with promise.

Hail to the Young Prince indeed. Don't compare him to Sandy Koufax. Appreciate him as his own man, carving out his mark as one of the finest pitchers to wear a Dodgers uniform.

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