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A Humble Kershaw

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DodgerVision congratulating Clayton Kershaw on his Cy Young Award win at Dodger Stadium. (LAist/Jimmy Bramlett)
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It was a warm day at Dodger Stadium. The sun was shining down as season ticketholders, former and current Dodger players and us scum-sucking media folk gathered to celebrate Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw’s National League Cy Young Award.

After a video presentation, Vin Scully narrated the day. Kershaw was there with his wife Ellen by his side stage left of the podium. Fellow Cy Young winners Fernando Valenzuela and the first Cy Young Award winner Don Newcombe sat stage right. Matt Kemp and James Loney were in the chairs front and center.

“Look at these bobbleheads,” Kemp noted the giveaways on every chair.

“They had to do something with the extras,” Kershaw noted.

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If I hadn’t been around the Dodgers the last couple of seasons, I probably would have been shocked at the lack of ego with Kershaw. Here he was at the pinnacle of his profession at the young age of 23, and he spent a lot of the time deflecting the attention.

“It felt like we always had one or two runs in the first or second inning when I was pitching,” Kershaw said of his killer second half where he went 12-1. “A lot can be attributed to Matt. I’m thankful to have him in centerfield hopefully for what it looks like to be a really, really long time.”

Kershaw even did a bit of lobbying for Kemp and the MVP award which will be announced on Tuesday.

“I’m looking forward to Tuesday. I hope they get it right.”

What did surprise me was that a player who is so dominant and so great, Kershaw had no inkling as a kid that he would be holding up a Cy Young Award.

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“I always dreamed about playing baseball as a kid, maybe one day making it to the Big Leagues. But I never dreamed about anything like this. It really is special. I’m just really thankful for it.”

Kershaw described the moment he got the call this morning from Jack O’Connell, secretary-treasurer of the Baseball Writers Association of America:

“I didn’t know how I would react. I didn’t know how badly I wanted to win until he actually called. I choked up. It was a lot of emotion.”

A-ha! Finally a moment of individual pride.

But that was nullified by Kershaw’s eyes looking down throughout the press conference only looking up at moments. It was like in those moments he realized the day was all about him, that he won the Cy Freaking Young.

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“I’m surprised to win. You see the other names you’re associated with - you see the Roy Halladay’s, Cliff Lee’s, Ian Kennedy’s, all those guys that got the recognition of being in contention - just to be a part of that is special. To come out a winner of that is even more special.”

Now that Kershaw is the best pitcher of the National League, I was curious how he would react to the ramped up expectations.

“Expectations are awesome,” he replied. “I expect expectations to be way up there, because when you win an award like this you’re supposed to be good. I know when I see “Cy Young” attached to a guy’s name I expect them to be the best.

“For me, I don’t worry about all of that because all I care about is winning. Starting April it’s win every game you can. That’s my only expectation.”

Kershaw started the year getting married to his high school sweetheart Ellen and has now ended it winning the Cy Young. How does he top that?

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“A second anniversary and a World Series sounds pretty good.”