Clayton Kershaw might be the greatest pitcher of all-time, and he finally delivered on the biggest stage of his career.
It’s one of the most tired clichés in sports: you wouldn’t believe this if it were made into a movie. Yet, where better than Hollywood for Clayton Kershaw to finally have the storybook ending that always seems to find its way to the cutting room floor?
Truthfully, this is exactly the sort of thing we’d believe if it were made into a movie. Kershaw, someone almost universally accepted as the greatest pitcher of his time, is habitually unable to rise to the occasion when it matters. The most unbelievable part of the story isn’t the fantastical ending, it’s that a mythological character like Kershaw has made an artform out of appearing so decrepit and mortal.
For a proper understanding of how monumental this is, you need to consider the context. Not winning a World Series won’t keep Kershaw from being considered an all-time great. It will, however, take him out of the conversation for being the all-time great. Ty Cobb, Jim Kelly, Allen Iverson, Michelle Kwan: all-time greats with a weight they’ll never shake holding them down. The gold standard is winning, everything else has been made supplementary. Right now Kershaw is Tom Brady without the rings, he’s Dan Marino with a curveball.
His story is in production, though, and there’s plenty of time to make changes to the script.
When Kershaw gave up a game-tying home run to Alex Bregman in the fourth inning, you could see the gears turning. Houston, the most offensively efficient team in baseball, suddenly had Kershaw on the ropes. We had seen this movie before against the Cardinals in 2014, the Mets in 2015, and the Cubs in 2016.
And then, like Morpheus breaking free in that scene in The Matrix, Kershaw rose to the occasion. After years of ethered into an offseason coma, he had finally made someone else flinch.
This was a new twist on an old story. Kershaw had wavered in the past, but he had never come back from it. If anyone is going to author the end of Kershaw’s story, it’s going to be him on the biggest stage of his career. Hollywood is blushing at the mere thought.
It’s a long series, and the narrative that Kershaw can’t overcome his postseason demons isn’t over. But for now, this is his moment to lose and it looks the stars have finally aligned in his favor.