Thursday, March 03, 2011

Clayton Kershaw Hits The Big Time

And not just because Dodgers wunderkind Clayton Kershaw just signed a new contract, with a small raise, for 2011. Clayton Kershaw hit the big time this weekend, when his story, "In Africa, Lessons on Passion and Perspective for Kershaw", was the centerpiece of the front sports page in the Sunday New York Times:

PHOENIX — The Los Angeles left-hander Clayton Kershaw held the audience in his sway from the first pitch. A world removed from the grandeur of Dodger Stadium, the barefoot children stood in awe as they watched Kershaw’s curveball spin and dip.

Kershaw’s trip to Africa last month was well outside his strike zone, which is why he is eager to go back.

“It changes you,” he said after a recent workout at the Dodgers’ Arizona complex, “and that’s good.”

The faces of the Zambian orphans Kershaw met during his visit have stayed with him, a rosin bag of images to help him maintain his grip on what really matters.

“The people, as long as their basic needs are met — they’re not starving and they have shelter — are such a joyful culture,” Kershaw said.

“You come home and you see people striving to get more money, more cars, bigger houses and more possessions, thinking that will make them happier. You go to Zambia, it helps put things in perspective. You realize where happiness comes from, and it’s not from material goods.” [...]

His dedication to baseball is matched by the commitment his wife, Ellen, has made to helping children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. She embraced the cause after her first visit to Zambia as a college student.

“I’ve gotten to live out his passion with him,” Ellen Kershaw said in a telephone interview. “He knew how important it was to go to Zambia with me. Clayton had heard me talk about it so much that it was to the point he kind of couldn’t go any longer without seeing what lights a fire under me.”

She and Kershaw, childhood sweethearts in Dallas, married in December. Within days, they were on a plane bound for Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, on a mission with Arise Africa.

It's a wonderful article highlighting commendable facets of Kershaw: his work ethic, his baseball accomplishments, his bond with his new wife, his support of worthy social causes. Kershaw really sounds like a fine young man on multiple dimensions, and if he is fit to support the weight and expectations of the entire franchise, we as Dodger fans would be honored to rally behind him.

Meanwhile, the other large front-page article, involving hometown player Derek Jeter, was also notable in its juxtaposition with Kershaw's piece. The Jeter article detailed Jeter's 30,875 sq ft castle in Hillsborough Bay, complete with "seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, a pool, two boat lifts, a drive-through portico and a pair of three-car garages flanking the north and south ends of the property". It also had a picture of how people are driving by the property just to take pictures of its excess.

The Los Angeles Dodgers: men of the people. The New York Yankees: men of the gated communities and castles.

Kershaw photo courtesy Arise Africa; Palace of Jeter photo courtesy Michael Egger / Tampa Tribune

11 comments:

Pedro Guerrero said...

How about New York Yankees, men with championship rings and LA dodgers, men with crappy ownership and no chance for rings anytime soon?

Spank said...

C.K. IS THE ORGANIZATION!

Steve Sax said...

@Pedro: You've clearly chosen your side. Thanks for writing from your gated community and telling us how life is up there.

I'm not going to let you rain on Kershaw's parade.

Eric Karros said...

The design and layout of Jeter's house was actually based on Mr Customer's new place.

Fred's Brim said...

It, too, has a smooth-walled, well-like pit in the middle of the living room? Is that where he keeps Minka?

NicJ said...

Hopefully Kershaw remembers that it isn't always about money when Ned offers him a long term contract.

(cries)

Pedro Guerrero said...

www.MLB.com/players/jeter_derek/turn2/index.jsp

Steve, how do my comments rain on Kershaw's parade?

Isn't kind of sophomoric to throw Jeter under the bus in your article to make Kershaw and the Dodgers "look better"?

Mr. Customer said...

EK,

I'm not willing to acknowledge it as an homage if he doesn't expand the seraglio to match mine. (When you have to get by on $22.6m, you just can have everything, Derek).

Mr. Customer said...

@Pedro

Don't think we won't burn you in effigy all over again.

Steve Sax said...

@Pedro: I don't decide article placement on the NYT (they've noted my photoshop skills, I assume). Their juxtaposition; I'm just mentioning it.

As for rain: you're missing the point of the post. Kershaw = good. Not Kershaw = no rings.

Spank said...

Since Pedro is a Yank-me fan I shall now call him Wilton.