The best player on either side of the diamond this week at Wrigley Field is pretty sure he watched the Cubs raise their championship banner Monday night.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Clayton Kershaw said. “Yeah.”
It was not must-see viewing for the Dodgers ace, and Kershaw wasn’t trying to avoid it, either.
He just happened to be in the dugout for the first banner raising in Wrigley Field history — just five months and 21 days after making his final start of 2016 at the same place in a Game 6 loss that eliminated the Dodgers and sent the Cubs to their first World Series since 1945.
“It’s not my first time to lose in the postseason. It’s happened before,” he said. “It’s not fun no matter who it is.”
During Monday’s rain delay and again Wednesday just before the start of the third inning, the Cubs replayed parts of their Game 6 NLCS victory over Kershaw and the Dodgers.
That came just more than an hour after the Cubs received the first World Series championship rings in franchise history (no rings made in 1908) — and what’s believed to be the most expensive in major league history.
Kris Bryant suggested Monday that banner raisings and ring ceremonies might provide motivation for opponents. After all, manager Dale Sveum made it mandatory viewing for the 2012 Cubs to watch the ceremonies in St. Louis before the Cardinals’ home opener.
That was the first Cubs team to lose 100 games in nearly 50 years. And none of those players were on last year’s World Series roster.
“I don’t think we need motivating,” said Kershaw, whose three Cy Young Awards and 2014 MVP make him the most decorated player on either team, albeit without the bling of the ring.
It’s great of the schedule makers for us to get to be here for this,” he added. “But other than that, it’s not like — I mean, we all want to win it, and we’ve got a good team. We’re pretty singular focused on that as a group. Watching all that, I don’t really even let myself think, like man I would like to do that, just because I’d like to be in that spot.”
The Dodgers are the National League favorites this year according to some odds-makers. Kershaw is at the center of those expectations.
Speaking of odds, consider that Kershaw won his first of three Cy Young Awards in 2011, the announcement coming three weeks after Theo Epstein was hired to overhaul the Cubs’ baseball operations.
What are the odds that the Cubs would get rings before Kershaw? What would the odds look like if you throw in the provision that Kershaw would finish in the top five in Cy Young voting each of those next five years?
“From an outsiders perspective, yeah, I can understand how the Cubs winning the World Series is like a big deal,” Kershaw said. “But to us it’s just another team that we lost to, for me personally. I don’t care if the Marlins, the Yankees, whoever wins the World Series. It’s just another team that we lose to.
“We lost last year, and it didn’t feel good then, and it doesn’t feel good now,” Kershaw added. “That’s the great thing about baseball is we get another chance.”
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