Talkin’ football with baseball players
Just wanted to pass along a neat Clayton Kershaw experience today. Clayton had a masterful performance against the Reds Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati, striking out 11 and allowing just 2 runs in 7 innings of work. But what really impressed me happened before the game got started.
A couple of hours before first pitch I was in the Dodger clubhouse just hanging out getting a feel for what guys were up to. A handful of guys were watching ESPN SportsCenter, others were reading the paper (George Sherrill), some doing crossword puzzles (Mark Loretta), some working out (Matt Kemp) while others were taking extra BP in the cage (James Loney) … pretty normal stuff. But there was one conversation that really interested me. Orlando Hudson and Juan Pierre were talking college football.
Juan is an LSU fan. Goes to a bunch of games every fall. While Orlando is a South Carolina Gamecock backer. Orlando told me he had a football scholarship offer to play at “the other USC”, but left it on the table to play junior college baseball.
Anyway, the college football talk started to move around the room. I ended up chatting up a number of guys and getting their National Champion predictions and Heisman favorites. Some guys were predictable … Houston-native James Loney likes Texas to win it all and UT’s Colt McCoy to win the Heisman, while James McDonald, whose dad played at USC, likes the Trojans.
Chad Billingsley was one of the few guys thinking outside the box. Chad has a good feeling about Notre Dame’s BCS chances.
The entire time we were talking football … Clayton was standing around looking as if he wanted to get into the conversation. But … there is a major unwritten clubhouse rule that no one talks to that day’s starting pitcher. No one. Everyone who walks into the clubhouse respects that one.
When I was finished in the clubhouse I walked down to the dugout and watched as the grounds crew set up for batting practice. Who followed me to the dugout? Clayton Kershaw. He was dying to talk football.
So Clayton and I sat alone in the dugout and talked pigskin.
Clayton told me about a Texas high school playoff game that he went to where his Highland Park classmate Matthew Stafford (now quarterbacking the Detroit Lions) defeated a Stephenville HS team led by Jevan Snead now at Ole Miss. In the loss Snead impressed Clayton, that’s why he likes Ole Miss this year in the SEC.
He told me that he likes either USC or Ole Miss to win the BCS Title this year.
Surprisingly the Dallas-native is not a big Texas fan. Clayton told me that he will go to a college game every Saturday during the fall once the baseball season is over. He and his buddies make trips to Texas, but also head out to Texas A&M, Baylor and TCU.
Clayton really knew his stuff. He was dialed in and wanted to know my thoughts on the upcoming season. We had a blast.
Eventually I left to head up to the pressbox. I was convinced that Clayton would struggle and I’d get blamed for talking with him before the game. I’d be accused of interrupting his pregame routine if he ran his pitch count up early and started walking guys. I’d be the one to blame.
But no worries. Clayton pitched a fantastic game. The Dodgers won in extra innings. And I got a chance to talk with a 21-year old who’s got his head screwed on straight.
— Eric Collins