He’s emerging as the most dominant pitcher of his generation. He’s renowned for his work ethic, competitiveness, faith and humanitarianism. All at the age of 26.
Now, though, it appears we need to add one more superlative to his resume:
The man can deliver a killer speech.
His acceptance speech over the weekend in New York for capturing the National League Cy Young and MVP awards – the day after his wife Ellen gave birth to their first child – was one to remember. It was at times humorous, poignant and magnanimous, and came complete with an ending sure to warm the hearts of the Dodger faithful.
Maybe he can become a professional speech writer in his next career. Of course, he’s getting a lot of practice at this. It was his third Cy Young award. He came off very human and humble, probably more the Kershaw whom the public expects, and less the sometimes prickly Kershaw who comes across to the media in the clubhouse.
If I tell you the premise of his speech, maybe you’ll think it’s a set-up for boredom, but it was anything but. He thanked everyone by name by going through his typical day at the ballpark. And I mean, he thanked everybody but Dylan Hernandez.
He was again introduced at the dinner by Sandy Koufax -- who said, “His teammates expect to win because of him and want to win for him.” Koufax called him “the best in baseball.”
Up stepped Kershaw, who immediately thanked Koufax before going into his typical day. He thanked the clubhouse attendants “for your effort and selflessness to help a group of people as high-maintenance as ballplayers are.”
He thanked the strength coaches, video coordinator John Pratt, said of Rick Honeycutt, “I never would want a pitching coach other than you.” He said as he’s walking into the weight room he usually sees Manager Don Mattingly and bench coach Tim Wallach coming out after finishing their “old-man workout routines.” He thanked his catching partner Dan Haren for “posting every fifth day no matter what.” He thanked every reliever, “it goes without saying how much of this award goes to you guys.”
He thanked fellow starters Zack Greinke, Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu “for being so different from each other.” He said of catcher A.J. Ellis, “There is no one else I’d rather have back there than you.” He said of Juan Uribe, “Thank you for making me laugh. You are one of the most important people in our clubhouse.”
Then came this: “To Yasiel Puig, thank you for showing me things I’ve never seen on a baseball field before.” That received unexpected laughter, but then Kershaw added: “The most amazing talent I have ever seen.”
He thanked the team owners and front-office personnel for their commitment to winning and said: “Just know I will never take for granted the opportunity to put on a Dodger uniform.”
Kershaw got emotional one time, when he got to the part of his day when he returns home to his wife. “Sorry, I just had a kid.” It was hard not to fight a tear. To his wife he said, “She makes it all worth it.”
He thanked former teammates Skip Shumaker, Nick Punto, Michael Young and Mark Ellis for teaching him not to treat the game like a marathon and to enjoy each victory and that losing hurts. Then he ended with this:
“So my last thank you goes to the St. Louis Cardinals. Thank you for reminding me that you are never as good as you think you are.”