Clayton Kershaw has a history of ‘choking’ in the playoffs. It is an undeniable fact at this point in time. We can support him for his body of work, but we cannot defend his consistent poor performance, most recently in the 2019 NLDS. Kenley Jansen has had a better history than Kershaw, but has had his fair share of faltering. Yu Darvish, only a Dodger for half a season, fit the bill that the rest of the team did.
Column: Legacies of Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish irreparably tarnished by Astros' cheating https://t.co/Z4UPyZZ0UK
— L.A. Times Sports (@latimessports) January 15, 2020
With all of this in mind, can we excuse them for their performance, or lack thereof, in the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros now that we know the Astros are guilty cheaters? The answer is yes. Yes, we can.
In a recent column for the Los Angeles Times, Dylan Hernandez analyzed how the legacies of each man was impacted by the cheating scandal produced by the Houston Astros.
The primary thing to analyze when it comes to Yu Darvish is that he was downright un-hittable in the playoffs prior to the World Series. He was absolutely dominant and the trade for him looked to be one of Friedman’s best moves as the president of baseball operations for the Dodgers and honestly, in his career. But then, the Dodgers met the Houston Astros in the playoffs. They cheated and did so in the lowest of fashions. Darvish was blown to smithereens in the series and now we know why — or at least have a big chunk of the reason. He came back in 2018 and pitched poorly for the Chicago Cubs, but he has returned to prominence after a stellar 2019 performance. Maybe, that pitcher was in him the whole time….maybe it was actually there in 2017, but it was stripped from him by Houston. Maybe…
Clayton Kershaw has the most extensive history with choking for any major athlete in recent memory. He might not just be the biggest choke artist in baseball history — American sports history, possibly. However, he can be excused for his blowing of two separate Game 5 leads in 2017. He was at the top of his game and once again, it was stripped from his legacy — a potential World Series win on his resume….gone.
Marwin Gonzalez knew what was coming in 2017. Jansen was at the top of his game and was arguably in the midst of a top-five relief performance for the Dodgers in his prime. It was stripped from him, as well. Another long-tenured Dodger who was stripped of a World Series title on his resume.
There are obviously more Dodgers who were impacted by the Houston Astros. There is a chance that Justin Turner never wins a World Series in Los Angeles. Brandon Morrow and Kenta Maeda put together brilliant bullpen performances and they were…erased. What seemed to be an invincible 2017 Dodgers juggernaut was unlawfully destroyed. We can’t go back. Major League Baseball decided against it. However, we can always re-write the history books to paint the Astros in a bad light and try our best to salvage the reputations and legacies of our Boys in Blue as fans.