Kershaw’s great, but with World Series title would join the greatest

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher of his generation, because everyone says so, so what’s there to argue?

He’s a Cy Young hoarder, the emperor of strikeouts, conqueror of the midsummer pitcher of the month award, and the captor of many N.L. West flags.

No one is saying he doesn’t have all kinds of awesome going on. We’re just not getting how anyone can be the best of anything when they haven’t bested the pinnacle of their hobby of choice.

For Kershaw, that would be landing a World Series ring without having to visit the pawn shop by Lenny Dykstra’s house.

He’s never pitched his team to a World Series championship. He’s never pitched his team to a World Series, period.

Clayton Kershaw will have every chance to give the Dodgers their first parade since 1988 in the next few weeks. Until then, how can you be the best at anything when you’ve never been the last arm standing?

We’re not saying he won’t, and Kershaw will have every chance to give the Dodgers their first parade since 1988 in the next few weeks. We’re just saying he hasn’t yet, and how can you be the best at anything when you’ve never been the last arm standing?

Think of it in football terms. Dan Marino’s numbers dwarf the work of Joe Montana. So how come Montana is considered the greatest by most? Tom Brady is > Peyton Manning and Brett Favre because rings have more carats than stats.

That’s how it works in a world where people keep score. They’re not playing for orange slices and participation ribbons, people.

Kershaw is Juan Marichal without the high-leg kick, Gaylord Perry without the spit, Roy Halladay without the Canadian anthem. Great pitchers, one and all, who built character when others were building trophy cases.

One world championship, sometimes two, is all it takes to elevate from great to one of the greats (see Manning, Peyton in the NFL aisle). But that is what it takes.

You don’t think Kershaw would swap-meet his three Cy Youngs for Madison Bumgarner’s three world titles?

You don’t think Kershaw would swap-meet his three Cy Youngs for Madison Bumgarner’s three world titles? And if you think it’s too much to ask a pitching ace to carry his team on his own two shoulder blades, did you not see MadBum do just that in the 2014 World Series?

Kershaw’s save to eliminate the Nationals in the NLDS was a great first step toward being more than a great pitcher, and being a pitching great. But, if the peak of your legacy was throwing in relief in the divisional round – well, that’s why we have a problem with calling Kershaw the best of his time.

The time in October carries greater value than the time in June. Consider Don Larsen, whose perfect game in the ’56 World Series made everyone forget his 81-91 career record.

You Dodgers fans will never let Kirk Gibson pay for another drink – because October, that’s why. Are you really going to build a statue for Kershaw because he always took you to the playoffs, when those playoffs always ended with early tee times?

Kershaw doesn’t have to prove anything to you, me or anyone’s Aunt Sally. As far as labels go, being called the best pitcher to never win a World Series game beats most. Nothing typed to this point means he’s a bad guy, and it doesn’t imply that he isn’t crazy good.

Kershaw doesn’t have to prove anything to you, me or anyone’s Aunt Sally. He just has to do more than win regular-season awards and first-round playoff games if you want to call him the greatest of his generation.

He just has to do more than win regular-season awards and first-round playoff games if you want to call him the greatest of his generation.

And, you know what?

That’s exactly what Kershaw is about to do.

He’s going to beat the Cubs in Game 2 or 3, and maybe again in Game 6. He’ll win three starts in the World Series, because he’s tired of reading tired columns like this.

Kershaw is finally going to get the relief found by Michael Jordan of basketball, Phil Mickelson of golf, and Manning of football. He’ll make all you 27-year-old Dodgers fans stop wondering if you’ll ever see a World Series victory in your lifetime.

Then you can crown Kershaw all you want. Until then, call Kershaw what he is: a great pitcher who has conquered everything but the greatest stage.

Three-point stance

1. Sorry, 49ers, but if Colin Kaepernick is the answer, we’re too scared to know the question. What a carpet-bomb of a franchise they have become, with the one and only assist going to team owner Jed York, who couldn’t leave well enough alone when Jim Harbaugh was winning games. May Bill Walsh not have access to the NFL package in the afterlife.

2. As a Giants fan, the only thing that’d be worse than losing to the Cubs in the divisional round? Not being able to get those three lousy outs in the championship series to the Dodgers. Off to chop lumber with Madison Bumgarner we go.

3. New rule: no more calling a postseason game one of the greatest games ever until 20 years have passed. We’ve heard broadcasters drop that superlative three times in the baseball playoffs this month alone. No one will remember any of this two years from now. If Fisk isn’t waving and Gibson isn’t limping, we aren’t buying.

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