I wasn't sure how to work this 1 - 0 angle. Talk about Don Sutton and his 1 - 0 games. Talk about how Clayton is now firmly established as one of the best young pitchers in the game. Talk about how Clayton can finally say he "shook hands with the catcher". Talk about what a joy it is has been to watch this man child grow from a boy to a man, and meet or exceed every heady expectation we ever had. Talk about how in a meaningless season in the dark days of Sept he gave us a game to remember. So I'll try to work them all in a meandering piece of happiness.
Complete game shutouts are an anachronism from a era that some of us experienced first hand. When Sandy Koufax talked about "shaking hands with the catcher" this past spring we nodded our heads. I grew up reading about how important it was for the starting pitcher to finish what he started, and how much pride they took in doing so. The fiery competitive spirit of Koufax, Drysdale, Marichal, and Gibson would sooner fight then get taken out of a game they had a chance to pull a win from.
Once that era was over only Fernando had the same drive to complete games, and that drive came with a price because Fernando was anything but economical with his pitches. I'm not here to debate pitch counts but Fernando might have stared Tommy down one to many times for his own good.
Was it all competitive spirit? Maybe, but a lot had to do with the paycheck because back then you got paid for how many games you won, not your peripherals, and when players barely made more then the Mad Men of the world, those wins were precious.
Did you notice I didn't mention Don Sutton in the above group. I don't think many would, but Don Sutton was the king of the shutout, and especially the king of the 1 - 0 shutout, so he must have had some kind of fire in his belly. Seven times in Don's career he would hurl a 1 - 0 victory and on June 16th, 1970 I was lucky enough that he did it on the very first Dodger game I ever saw at the ravine. By the end of his HOF career Don Sutton had 56 shutouts, yet he's rarely mentioned as a man with the same competitive spirit as those who preceded him in Dodger lore.
I'm not going to say this game from Clayton has established himself as one of the pitching stars of the future. We already knew that, but for some reason we want everyone else to recognize it. Throwing these kind of games gets the notice of the media we like to mock. For whatever reason, no matter how much we don't care about the old media, we still want them to recognize our jewel. This game will get him that recognition.
I noticed that Clayton hugged the catcher and didn't shake his hands. Hugging is the new "shake hands". Everyone is hugging everyone. When we get down on this season we watch a game like this, and if you stay until the end you see something that always brings back hope. Not the just the game, that was special in of itself, but really got me, was how happy everyone was on the team for Clayton, how real smiles were found up and down the congratulation line. Some hugged him, some did glove bumps, but all looked genuinely happy to be part of the game.
At the end of day sometimes all I want is proof that our players still care. Games like this recharge me. Clayton mocking A.J. Ellis going into 3rd base the other day recharged me. I want my players to like each other. It may not make sense and history is full of teams who were great who didn't like each other. So what? I want my team to be pulling for each other through thick and thin.
The core starts with a center, and Clayton Kershaw is now the creamy milky vanilla goodness of the Dodger core. So far in his young career he has only exceed expectations at every turn. If you were planning a trip to Dodger Stadium is there really any other pitcher you'd rather see? The Minotaur is for real, and he's ours. All ours. Enjoy him.