Wright Thompson of ESPN spent a day with Clayton Kershaw during spring training, and as luck would have it it was March 12, the day Major League Baseball cancelled the remainder of spring training and delayed opening day amid the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic.
After shadowing Kershaw that day, and after subsequent follow ups with Kershaw and his wife Ellen, Thompson wrote an in-depth profile that touches on many topics, including dealing with last year’s NLDS loss, checking into hotel rooms using fake names, how much Kershaw was looking forward to starting on opening day, and a call with Sandy Koufax.
Thompson was also a guest Wednesday morning on the ESPN Daily podcast, discussing this article.
One of the themes of the piece is how Kershaw, one of baseball’s most meticulous players, is handling the chaos and uncertainty of the shutdown. Couple that with Kershaw’s closeness with his wife and three children, which Ellen Kershaw touches on:
So Ellen doesn’t keep a family calendar. Not a physical one, and not one on her computer or phone. On Opening Day, the Dodgers pass out a magnet schedule that she puts on their refrigerator and a folding pocket schedule she can take with her wherever she goes. Any time anyone asks her a question — when the tree guy can come, or the dude who sets traps for moles, or anything — she goes to the fridge or opens her purse. “Every baseball family does it different,” Ellen said. “And I just know that our family would not function without Clayton. We say seven days is our max of what we can spend without each other.”
- Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said in a conference call Monday, “large gatherings such as concerts and sporting events may not be approved in the city for at least 1 year,” according to Dakota Smith and Ben Welsh of the Los Angeles Times.
- Alex Wood was a guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio Wednesday, and offered thoughts on a potential restart: “At the end of the day playing at all will be a win and I’ll be happy with however much baseball we get to play. The good thing is I know that from what I’ve heard through the grapevine is that if we had to start game 1 as late as August 1st you could still get half of a season plus the playoffs in. ... So any baseball with any type of playoffs is going to be electric.”
- Graham Womack at Sports Illustrated examined the Hall of Fame chances for Dodgers speedster Maury Wills, who is eligible to be included this December by the Golden Era Committee. Wills received nine of 16 votes (56.3 percent) in 2014, his last time eligible, three votes shy of induction to Cooperstown.
- Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs wrote about missing out on an annual tradition, checking out the Jackie Robinson plaque in Brooklyn, at the site Robinson signed his first professional contract in 1945.
- L.Z. Granderson at the LA Times reflected on the importance of observing Jackie Robinson Day, even without baseball being played. “The normalcy we long for is his story,” he wrote.
- Alex Coffey at The Athletic wrote about former Dodgers catcher Clyde Sukeforth, who scouted Jackie Robinson for them in 1945, and later scouted then-Dodgers minor leaguer Roberto Clemente for the Pirates in 1954.
Or you can think of the alternate reality, when baseball’s color barrier was broken in 1947 by ... Babe Ruth?