Today officially marks 100 days until opening day for baseball, which also means 100 days until my life becomes full of purpose again. The off-season is dull, just like the weather. Fans lose interest, start to focus on other sports, and forget what it is about those summer months that make baseball so great! This off-season I made it my goal to never forget for one minute why baseball is my favorite sport. Now for all the lucky readers reading this, it is my purpose to make sure you don’t forget either.
This past World Series was great. Two talented and deserving wildcard winners made it all the way to the end. Something I love, and hate, about baseball: post season. Post-season is a completely different ballgame (pun intended) for the players. The pressure and slight changes in rules is enough to completely screw up the mindset of a team. The real winners are those teams that withstood the test of time and clinched their divisions in the most time-consuming and mentally exhausting major league sport. No questions asked, I love that the Giants took the trophy this year, and even more than that I love how Madison Bumgarner stole the headlines. I don’t root for teams, I root for players. Bumgarner is an amazing pitcher and shined in the post season, unlike a lot of his competition. However, what I did not like about the Bumgarner post-world series frenzy was the distraction from a player who deserved the spotlight–Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw is another breed to me. His numbers are absolutely insane, and unlike anyone else’s in the league (even Bumgarner). OK, so Kershaw did not do so hot in the 4 weeks of post-season baseball, BUT what about the other 26 weeks that he completely dominated? Let’s also not forget that Kershaw was out for nearly a month in the beginning of the season due to a back injury and his numbers still blew the others out of the water. Needless to say this is not a rant, but more of praise for Kershaw’s accomplishments. This season was his 3rd NL Cy Young Award in the past four years. No one has accomplished this since Randy Johnson from 1999-2002. Kershaw’s amazing year did not only add up to a Cy Young Award, but he was also the first NL pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1968 to be named MVP. Winning NL MVP and NL Cy Young in the same year…amazing! In case that doesn’t impress you enough, how about these season ending stats: He went 21-3 in just 27 starts because of his injury, finished with a 1.77 ERA and a .857 WHIP.
Kershaw is the real star of the west coast. So he didn’t win the World Series for his team like Bumgarner, who finished the regular season with a 2.98 ERA, but can those numbers really be compared? I have zero doubt in my mind that this 26 year old is going to lighten up anytime soon. Kershaw is the first athlete in a long time that reminds me of that classic baseball hero. As long as he remains healthy, I truly believe he will break records, dominate, and remind fans why we all love baseball!