So the 2019 postseason has been pretty wild so far. Though my predictions have not come to fruition, I’m not sure many have. Even with the Yankees cruising by the Twins to the American League Championship series, the Rays won twice at home to force a decisive Game 5. Both National League Division Series needed five games as well. The Braves were stunned by the Cardinals at home after a 10-run top of the first and the Dodgers, well, that’s what I’m here to talk about.
The Dodgers sent out their youngest ace, Walker Buehler, to defend Chavez Ravine in a pivotal Game 5 against the Nationals, and he did just that. He gave up one run on four hits through his six and two-thirds innings on the hill while walking three and recording seven punchouts. Manager Dave Roberts turned to Clayton Kershaw to shut the door in the seventh, and he did.
The eighth inning is where things got ugly. Kershaw faced two batters and did not record an out. Instead, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto each took him deep. A pair of solo home runs made a 3-1 Dodgers lead disappear faster than it was created.
From there, Roberts brutally mismanaged his bullpen and let Joe Kelly throw to four batters in the tenth inning after not recording an out. The result was a Howie Kendrick grand slam to seal the Dodgers’ fate, giving the Nationals their first postseason series win since they went by the Expos and played north of the border. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
Following Kershaw’s exit, one fan took it upon himself to throw his number 22 jersey onto the field out of disgust or anger or whatever word he would have used to describe his emotions. And of course, the video went viral, posted all over Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Another fan was a bit more tasteful and waited till after the game ended to show his frustration. In the crammed parking lot with a long line of cars waiting to leave, he took his Kershaw home-white jersey and asked people to run it over. LZ Granderson, an ESPN contributor and LA Times sports writer, took a video of the affair and even said, “You know I’m going to run over this jersey.”
Dodger fans are running over a Kershaw jersey. pic.twitter.com/kDwYOg9xzA
— LZ Granderson (@LZGranderson) October 10, 2019
Why would you destroy the jersey of one of the greatest pitchers to ever toe the rubber? While yes, the man has had his share of postseason woes, he is also a first ballot Hall-of-Famer. In his 12 years in Dodger Blue, Kershaw has won 169 games and lost 74, with a career ERA of 2.44, the best earned run average amongst active pitchers and 37th all-time. He’s won the Cy Young award three times, won the ERA title five, was a league MVP and has gone to the All-Star Game eight times. He’s also won pitching’s version of the Triple Crown in 2011 when he lead the league in wins (21), ERA (2.28) and strikeouts (248).
So now you’re probably wondering what his postseason stats look like. It’s a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. In 158.1 innings, Kershaw is 9-11 with a 4.43 ERA. Totally different pitchers. And yet, for every poor postseason performance, he was a main reason why the team was there in the first place. Out of Kershaw’s seven-consecutive All-Star selections, the Dodgers played October baseball in five of those years, including a World Series appearance in 2017.
This just flat out pisses me off. This is what’s wrong w/ people. ITS A GAME!Everyone involved has poured their hearts out for it, it’s a business, & seems to be more, etc. Baseball is hard, and crazy stuff happens and I think people need to realize that. No one wants to lose. https://t.co/NuQCAl4Moi
— Mason Feole (@feole_21) October 10, 2019
So why the change? I don’t really think I have an answer for you, and Kershaw doesn’t seem to have one either. Maybe it’s because, like many starting pitchers in the postseason, he has had to come out of the bullpen instead of purely starting. He’s made three regular season relief appearances in the Majors and even did so this year. In the playoffs he’s done it seven times since 2009.
All I know is that Kershaw is just as upset as you are, Dodgers fans.
“Everything people say is true right now about the postseason. I understand that,” Kershaw said, as reported by the LA Times. “Nothing I can do about it right now. It’s a terrible feeling. It really is.”
Kershaw has done nothing but pour his heart and soul into L.A. Dodgers baseball and what does he get in response? His jersey thrown and run over. He said he’s not going to hang his head on it and will be back next year to do it all again. His passion is unmatched. He’s arguably the greatest pitcher of our generation, yet all he has is lonely photo of him, by himself, in the dugout.
So Dodgers fans, stop it. You’ve had the best team in the National League for three-straight seasons with nothing to show for it, so yes, your anger is justified. But be angry at the right people. Be angry at your manager or the front office or Joe Kelly (he did beat you guys in 2018). Be angry at the teams that have sent you home or whatever lets you sleep at night but not Kershaw. Not the generational talent who puts your team in a position to win year-in and year-out. I’m not here for the Kershaw slander, and you shouldn’t be either.
Kevin Arnold is the associate sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com. He tweets @karnold98.