Dave Roberts must have had a ski mask on yesterday in Minneapolis.
And it wasn’t because it was cold there.
Roberts, the Los Angeles manager, robbed us. It was brazen. It was bold. He took from Clayton Kershaw’s legacy. And he robbed Baseball America in broad daylight with the Baseball Gods watching, no less.
Kershaw - the three-time Cy Young Award winner and best pitcher of our generation - was painting a masterpiece at Target Field. The veteran lefthander was perfect through seven innings. The Twins were helpless against Kershaw. The first 21 went down with ease, 13 of them strikeout victims. No hits, no walks.
Best of all, Kershaw was economical with just 80 pitches.
The stage was set to see our first perfect game since 2012.
And then, Roberts happened, pulling Kershaw. Just six outs away from immortally, Kershaw never went back out on the bump to pitch the bottom of the eighth.
It was a colossal mistake by Roberts, the wrong thing to do in that situation.
Enter the medical staff fans who have approved it because after all, you don’t want to see Kershaw injured again. We get it. He had an arm injury last season.
That’s the excuse some will hold onto and use to justify an egregious act against the game of baseball.
Sports, in fact.
That’s what fans covet the most. It’s about the moments and memories. It’s about seeing things with their own two eyes. It’s why fans go to games and watch. It’s the reason grown men cry when their teams win a championship.
Without question, Kershaw should have gone back out there to pitch the eighth. And at the first sign of trouble, you pull the plug and take the ball from him.
It was an elementary decision, not one to overthink a situation. The baseball community was outraged. Even Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson chimed in on Twitter. “Clayton Kershaw PERFECT game 80 pitches, take him OUT!!!!! THAT THE! What’s the game coming to?” Mr. October wrote.
“(One) of the era’s best, and you take him out with a perfect game in the 7th, 7-0 Dodgers winning. Take him OUT! THIS IS BASEBALL PLEASE PEOPLE THAT HAVE NEVER PLAYED GET OUT OF ITS WAY.”
Reg-gie is spot on.
You seize the moment. You have him skip his next start if he pitches a complete game. There’s a will. But you can’t just pull the plug for the heck of it.
If managers had the magic formula to prevent pitchers from getting hurt, Jacob deGrom would have made every start for the New York Mets.
Preventing someone from getting hurt just isn’t possible.
If Kershaw got hurt pitching the eighth, he could have gotten hurt pitching in the first inning of his next start. There’s no rhyme or reason to injuries.
Managers have to stop following the script and read the room. Kershaw, 34, was dealing, not pressure pitches. This was a cake walk, a once in a lifetime moment.
And with the sand running out of Kershaw’s Hall-of-Fame career, you can’t afford to take this opportunity away from him. It’s not right, just.
It’s shameful, in fact.
I covered David Wells’ perfect game against the Twins at Yankee Stadium in 1998. It was spectacular, a moment burned in my memory forever. After all, I’ve been covering Major League Baseball for 36 years and that’s the only perfect game I witnessed in person.
It’s not like they happen all the time. There have only been 23 in the history of the game. Sandy Koufax has the only one in Dodgers’ history.
Roberts had no right to deny us a chance to see a great pitcher throw greatness on an afternoon in April.
And please don’t buy into Kershaw’s comments. He’s a great teammate, a soldier. He was helping his manager from drowning in another case of analytics gone wrong.
“I would have loved to have stayed (in the game), but bigger things, man, bigger things,” Kershaw told reporters after his first start of the season. He added that Roberts made “the right decision” to pull him despite the historic situation.
You know the pencil-protecting geeks in the front office had made up their minds how many pitches Kershaw would throw regardless of how things played out.
Because of it, we were all robbed of a possible sports memory to cherish.