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Dodger Clayton Kershaw Preparing for Excellence

Tom Buehring - 700 Club Producer

Dodger Stadium is iconic, home to some of baseball’s greatest pitchers since it opened in 1962. And we’ve all been watching another! Clayton Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher of his generation and could finish his career as the game’s greatest ever! The following is a conversation with the Dodgers Ace, who has nearly mastered excellence over his Major League career.

Question: “By the time you reach the stadium and take the mound on a start, what ignites that competitive drive for you?

Clayton: “First of all I know I didn’t do anything to desire the talent, you know, that God gave me.  What a blessing it is to throw a baseball for a living! I know I’m very privileged to get to do that, so – that said I don’t want to take that for granted! You know I want to do everything I possibly can to make it worth my while, make it worth God’s time. With that comes a competitive advantage – I think I’m pitching for a lot more than just winning a baseball game, trying to honor Him in everything I’m doing – and winning’s pretty fun too! So, I like doing that!”    

Question: “Three Cy Young’s, an MVP, 7 All-Star games – it stamps greatness – but how do you, how do you define excellence?”

Clayton: “Yeah, I think when I retire I can look back on that. You know right now I’ve never won a World Series. Our team has been in the playoffs a lot and this year’s no different! I’m on a great team and I think that’s everybody’s goal in there. I think that’s the benefit of getting to the playoffs so many times is that you’ve had that taste and it’s worth playing for and winning that last game of the season is what we’re all here for!”   

Question: “Give me your go-to pitch and describe the grip.”  

Clayton: “I throw a fastball the most I guess, so just like that, 4-seam fastball across the laces like that. And if that’s coming out right and if you’re throwing that where you want to, usually everything works off that?”   

Question: “And the slider?”

Clayton: “Yeah, slider is similar to a fastball. If the horseshoe is on this side for my fastball I just rotate the ball up and put the horseshoe on this side and kind of grip the side of it and just try to throw straight through the baseball. Yeah, I throw that a lot it’s an important pitch for me to get guys off my fastball for sure.”          

Question: “The cool thing to me is that very grip has a ripple effect practically. Kershaw’s Challenge - every strikeout benefits the underprivileged. What is it about the legacy after you leave the game that is far more reaching than baseball.”                   

Clayton: “Think you said it right there! Baseball is going to end some day. I realize that as soon as you retire you know, people forget about you in this game fast!  There’s the next young guy coming up that’s always better than you.  So, for me, it’s just about using baseball as a platform to do a lot of things. My wife really reminds of that every single day. Kershaw’s Challenge started with her and started with a little girl named Hope, over in Africa, just to see where its come from then to where it is now and it’s completely God ordained! We didn’t have any of that planned in our lives. We just wanted to help one girl and its turned into this through the gift of baseball!”  

Question: “That’s the legacy you’re after – being His hands and feet?

Clayton: “Yeah, absolutely! You know, I think we’re all trying to do that in whatever aspect of life we’re in, whatever job we have. I think that’s our calling just to whatever sphere of influence that God gives you to try and make an impact for His Kingdom – He gave me baseball to do that and thankfully a lot of people like baseball!”    

Question: “For a question about excellence – you demonstrate that in the way you pitch – what is it through the church at large do you think we could demonstrate even better excellence?”   

Clayton: (Sigh) “That’s a tough question! You know I think, a lot of things get wrestled around with Christianity in this day and age about what it means, what it stands for and I think it gets the wrong connotation all over the world. So I think for me, using baseball and using Jesus’ name – I really just want to focus on Him. I don’t want to think about Christianity or the religious aspect of it. You just want to focus on Jesus and loving Jesus. And when you do that, there are so many things that come off of that, that people can understand.  Saying you’re a Christian shouldn’t turn people off. You should love people well and that’s Jesus’ first commandment!”  

Question: “What’s most uniquely exceptional about the Christ that you follow?  

Clayton: “That’s a great question! I think first and foremost when you look at every other religion all over the world – its works based – you have to earn your way to the Kingdom. With Jesus, it’s so different because we didn’t do anything to deserve Him.  He literally died for us and saved us! There’s nothing else like that in the world. There is no other God like that! That’s why I believe in Him! And I’m thankful its not up to me, because I fail every single day but He’s there to give us grace – and that’s an amazing thing!” 

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