Clayton Kershaw did what no creature has done in my 46 years of loathing Dodger Dogs, despising Chavez Ravine and abhorring Los Angeles-Based Baseball Teams Starting With The Letter D.
The pitcher we love to not love left us feeling blue.
Oh, sure, those feelings of empathy didn’t come until we were done screaming our voice box to a charred croak when Washington kicked the 106-win Dodgers to the curb 7-4 in Wednesday’s Loser Kicks Rocks game. We’ve been a Giants fan since Chili H. Davis was a catcher for the Fresno Lil’ Giants, what do you expect?
We expect the Dodgers to lose, because that’s how their story has ended for my entire adult life. Beat L.A. has been the past-tense epithet on this team every October since 1988. The only thing better than seeing the Dodgers miss the playoffs is watching them fail spectacularly in the playoffs, which they have done every year since 2013.
What we didn’t expect was to feel unspeakable care and concern wash over us, one TBS dugout shot after the next of a broken, beaten man.
We see you, Kershaw. Don’t tell my Nino Frankie, who thinks the only good Dodger is a dead Dodger, but we feel you, bro.
You’re no Madison Bumgarner, because all he does is win postseason games, but you’re cut from the same mold – a throwback player who respects the game, recognizes game when it’s on the other side, and is always game for an interview when all else has abjectly failed.
We saw the way you tipped your cap to retiring Giants manager Bruce Bochy in the season finale on your way off the mound two Sundays ago. We noticed the knowing nod you gave to Bumgarner in what may have been his final at-bat as a Giant.
Not going to lie, when you gave up back-to-back jacks in the eighth inning Wednesday, sending that 3-1 lead to the 76 station in deep center field, we thought it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
But, then TBS kept panning the camera your way every time something went wrong after that. It’s as if you were the one and only reason the Dodgers became the first and only 106-win team in MLB history to get bounced in the first round of the playoffs (look it up).
Your face, stunned. Your eyes, dazed. Your shoulders, slumped.
It was a team effort
It all began to feel like overkill. Where were the video check-ins of manager Dave Roberts, who hustled you out there when Kenta Maeda was good to go? How did Joe Kelly get off so easy after actually giving up the Howie Kendrick grand slam in the 10th inning?
What about the upper management guy who let Kendrick get away from the Dodgers in the first place three years ago? Or MVP candidate Cody Bellinger, who had as many RBI as me in the series (that would be zero, for those keeping score)?
Or an offense that struck out 65 times in five games? And who authorized Corey Seager’s apparent leave of absence, because surely the All-Star shortstop wasn’t all there while going 3 for 20 with eight strikeouts?
Blame everyone you want, but stop blaming it all on Kershaw.