Clayton Kershaw checked off the final box on his Hall of Fame resumé late Wednesday night, when the Dodgers won their first World Series since 1988, closing out the Rays in six games, two of which were won by Kershaw.
His relief and pure joy were evident during postgame interviews, with Kershaw answering questions with a smile on his face that ran ear to ear.
“I’ve been saying ‘World champs’ in my head over and over again, just to see if it will sink in,” Kershaw said.
Though he started in Game 5 — earning the win by allowing two runs in 5⅔ innings — Kershaw was in the bullpen during Game 6, even though Dave Roberts said Monday that Kershaw would be unavailable. Roberts also said Julio Urías would be unavailable on Tuesday, but seven championship-clinching outs later we saw how that went.
Kershaw did not pitch in Game 6, but did have the far-away view of Urías’ final pitch, a 96.7-mph fastball to strike out Willy Adames looking. This is the moment Kershaw realized he and the Dodgers were world champions:
“I was trying to take it all in as best I could. Just looking around, running in from the bullpen, you never really script what you’re going to do, how you’re going to feel,” Kershaw said. “It was a content feeling, just like a job is done. You know, we won, we did it. We won our race, and it’s over. We completed our mission. I think it’s just a feeling of contentment, joy, Then to get to see that group of guys and how happy everybody was. Only one team gets to do it every year, and it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s just a really special thing.”
Kershaw helped make it special with his postseason. He was 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA in five starts, with 37 strikeouts and five walks in 30⅔ innings, including a 2.31 ERA in his two World Series wins.
“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve been with, one of the most fierce competitors when he steps on that mound,” said Mookie Betts. “He’s there to compete, no matter what he has that day. He’s been great for his whole career, obviously for this year, and I’m just happy to be on the same side as him.”
“Clayton, when people talk about him, it’s World Series champion first, then future Hall of Famer,” said manager Dave Roberts.
Kershaw’s Cooperstown credentials are obvious, with three Cy Young Awards, an MVP, and the lowest ERA of the live ball era. This was Kershaw’s 13th major league season with the Dodgers, and 10th trip to the playoffs. After coming up short so many times, now he’s also a World Series champion.
As for what that means to Kershaw, he was asked about how his legacy was affected by the World Series win.
“We won the World Series. I don’t care about legacy. I don’t care about what happened last year. I don’t care about what people think. I don’t care at all, man,” Kershaw said. “The 2020 Dodgers won the World Series. Who cares about all that other stuff? To be a part of that team, all that other stuff is just pointless.”