The Kershaw Game

High Drama: WIth the tying and winning runner on base for the Bationals, Clayton Kershaw prepares to come in and close victory for the Dodgers in Game 5 of their NLDS.

High Drama: With the tying and winning runs on base for the Washington Nationals, Clayton Kershaw prepares to come in and close victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of their NLDS.

It was just plain great and exciting baseball – and there was no distraction at our house that Game 5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers-Washington Nationals in their 2016 NLDS action was hurt at all by the fact that it took 4 hours and 32 minutes to play the thing out. We learned later that the big scoring 7th inning alone took over an hour to play, but we were so caught up in the drama that we either didn’t notice – or plain and flat – didn’t care.

It will always be remembered in MLB Playoff History as “The Kershaw Game” for the fact that Dodger ace Clayton Kershaw, then a mere single day’s rest and several thousand miles away removed from a 140-pitch winning start in Game 4 back in LA was now stepping up on his own to whisper into Dodger Manager Dave Roberts’ ear during the 7th inning of Game 5 that he still had enough left in the tank to get the club through the storm for one inning, if it came down to that need in the 7th, 8th, or 9th. At the time, Washington pinch hitter Chris Helsey had just banged a 2-run homer to bring his club back to a 4-3 deficit to the Dodgers in the bottom of the 7th. LA itself had just bombed Washington in the top of the 7th to take their first lead in the game at 4-1. The Nationals had led the game, 1-0, from the bottom of the 2nd until the 7th inning LA rally. Now the Nats were showing signs of their own comeback run at the lead and, as Kershaw noted later, he wanted his manager and then current Dodger reliever Kenley Jansen to know that he had his teammate’s back, if needed.

Jansen got out of the longer-than-one-hour 7th without further damage and he shut the Nats down in the 8th, but things got dicey in the bottom of the 9th. By that time, LA still clung to a 4-3 lead and Jansen was tired and on his way to a personal record 51 pitch game. When Jansen then walked two Nats with one out in the bottom of the 9th, Dodger Manager Roberts brought in Kershaw to pitch to the dangerous lefty hitter, Danny Murphy. Kershaw got Murphy on a high infield pop fly and then struck our pinch hitter Wilmer Difo to end the game and wrap up the NLDS for the Dodgers. The fading smile into sorrow on the face of  Nats Manager Dusty Baker said it all for Washington players and fans. And the jubilant celebration of the Dodger players on the Washington home floor just burned the reality of their elimination into painful quiet consciousness.

They Thrill of Victory. The agony of Defeat. They always play out each year looking pretty close to expected behavioral templates. It’s the electric joy and quiet agony of the specific participants that brings the same scripted play to life at the end of all competitive roads.

The 4-3 Dodger win in Game 5 of the 2016 NLDS set an MLB Payoff Game record time of 4 hours and 32 minutes. The 7th inning alone took up 66 minutes and was long enough time for Washington Manager Dusty Baker to set a new playoff series record for the most pitchers (6) used by one manager in a single playoff game. The game may have been too long for many millennial minds, but those of who are more disposed to the juices of high drama, the enjoyment of arcane record establishment, and unusual player moves like the Kershaw insertion into highest moment of high baseball drama. That is the stuff that dreams are made of – and some us simply love allowing ourselves the splendid opportunity for getting lost in the flow of epic struggle – a struggle that really is – the real heart – of real baseball – from start to finish.  – And that condition, friends, is the purist condition that needs to remain unfettered, from here to eternity.

If we can shorten baseball in ways that do not destroy the opportunity for moments like last night’s Game 5 to unfold as it did, I’m for it. We should also look at ways to shorten the amount of time delay that is now caused by commercial breaks – and not ruin the game for the sake of getting more commercials into each telecast.

For this old baseball dinosaur, “The Kershaw Game” will remain as a reminder of what we are trying to preserve for the love of baseball as high drama. For some of us, it is the game that plays out closest to the dramatic works of William Shakespeare.


 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas


2 Responses to “The Kershaw Game”

  1. Patrick Callahan '56 Says:

    keep at it – great piece of work –

  2. Doug S. Says:

    Great writing Bill – myself I went to bed a Cardinal fan and woke a Dodger for the next 10 days. I guess $279M can buy a trip to the NLCS.

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