Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Clayton Kershaw strikes out 15 while throwing no-hitter against Colorado Rockies

Clayton Kershaw threw his first-ever big league no-hitter .
There was only one reason to stay awake until the end of the Colorado Rockies game in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. It had nothing to do with the final score.

Through six innings, the question was whether or not Clayton Kershaw was going to throw a perfect game or not. After a Hanley Ramirez error on a Corey Dickerson ground ball, the question became whether Kershaw would keep the no-hitter. That question was answered when Dickerson returned to the plate with two outs in the 9th inning. Fittingly, on a breaking ball, Kershaw struck out Dickerson, his 15th of the night, to secure the first no-hitter of what is shaping up to be a phenomenal career.

The result of the game had essentially been decided in the bottom of the 1st inning when the Dodgers scored two runs on Jorge De La Rosa. Los Angeles decided to add insult to injury when they put up eight runs, seven earned, against the Rockies ace. Facing Kershaw, there was little margin for error, and on a night like Wednesday, there wasn't any.

De La Rosa didn't have his best stuff. Coming off of a three inning performance in which he had to leave because of stiffness in his lower back, De La Rosa was missing with his pitches up and wasn't getting great break on his slider. Those two facts usually point to one thing, a hurt lower back.

While De La Rosa struggled, the reality is, the only thing the bad outing hurt was his ERA. The Rockies stood no chance against Kershaw. They could have sent anyone to the mound and that guy wouldn't have gotten a win.

Rockies fans during the Jim Tracy era got sick of hearing the Rockies manager talk about tipping his cap to the opposing team's pitcher. It seemed to become an argument two to three times per week. At some point, the below-average pitcher on the other side wasn't dominant, the Rockies offense was taking terrible at-bats and not getting the job done.

That wasn't the case on Wednesday. Kershaw was simply phenomenal. His curveball was untouchable, but also extremely difficult to lay off of. The Rockies looked foolish more times at the plate than they didn't on Wednesday night. It would be easy to blame them for not taking good at-bats, but the reality is that they were overmatched. Kershaw is the game's best. He is extremely difficult to hit any time he is on the mound, but when his curveball is as good as it was on Wednesday night, there is no chance.

Rockies fans hate the Dodgers. Part of it is jealousy. That franchise can spend as much money as they want, and they can afford to deal prospects for good players because they have the financial resources to make up for mistakes in the offseason. They also dislike the Dodgers because of the fact that over the years the Rockies have really struggled against LA, especially at Dodger Stadium.

Despite the love loss, Kershaw is difficult to dislike. In an era in which professional athletes have bloated egos and only worry about how much money is in their own bank account, Clayton Kershaw goes against the norm. The lefty is not only a humble pitcher, someone who is quick to credit his teammates. On top of that, one thing that many aren't aware of with Kershaw is his benevolence. The lefty spends time every offseason in Zambia, Africa helping children with disabilities who are extremely poor. He pays for their needed surgeries and uses the financial resources that he has been blessed with to help out people around the world who live in complete poverty.

When Kershaw does his work, he doesn't do it as a photo opportunity. He isn't flying in, taking some quick pictures and leaving, he is serious about it. His website highlights what they are doing. This past offseason, Kershaw gave $1 million dollars to build an orphanage and take care of the children that it brings in. The children get three meals per day, when they have been used to eating only what they can find in the scraps of the trash. It seems foreign to Americans, who rarely have to deal with such poverty, but the work Kershaw does is beyond remarkable.

His website challenges fans to also donate money, but again, this isn't a situation where Kershaw is doing it for fame or for money. He has enough money that he can fund the projects alone, but he wants to draw attention to the needs that these kids have in Africa, and by asking fans to help out, they get to be a part of what is going on.

In 2014, Kershaw has taken his projects back to America as well. He has started a project in both LA and his hometown of Dallas. In Los Angeles, Kershaw aims to help homeless families get back on their feet and get the help they need through a dream center. In Dallas, Kershaw is helping to fund a baseball complex in the heart of the city where kids can be introduced to a game that will help them have something in their lives that will bring them a sense of purpose.

For Rockies fans, it is easy to dislike the Dodgers. However, beyond baseball, there is a lot to like about Clayton Kershaw. He may have made Wednesday a day to forget for the Rockies and their fans, but the success that he is having couldn't be coming to a better person.

Kershaw threw his first big league no-hitter on Wednesday night, but it hasn't been anywhere close to the biggest accomplishment of his life. What he does off the field is far more of an accomplishment than what anyone can do on a mound.

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2 comments:

  1. Great article David. I had no idea what a great human being Kershaw is until now. As a former pitcher, I marvel every time I get to watch him. He is truly of Hall of Fame caliber. Someday I'm sure my children will ask me about Kershaw the same way I ask my dad about Bob Gibson or Tom Seaver. We are witnessing a legend (on and off the field).

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  2. Very well done. I didn't know about all those charity projects either.

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