Over at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carroll Rogers has a Q&A with Chipper Jones. There’s some stuff in there about how he’s lost a bunch of weight and is eating better, but I can’t in good conscience say that he’s In the Best Shape of His Life. Because Jones — who has always come off as a frank, brass tacks kind of guy in interviews — knows that’s not true. He’s old for a ballplayer and he feels it every day:
I’d be lying if I said the game wasn’t really, really fast for me right now. It seems like everybody is throwing 100 mph. The pitchers’ mound gets closer to home plate whenever you’re hitting, and third base gets farther away from first base. I can remember thinking to myself a couple times running down to first base last year, I’d put my head down and I’d run. When I was 25, when I’d look up the base would be a step and a half away. Now I put my head down and I look up, I’m not even halfway there. And it’s a little deflating and a little depressing.
Jones misses a lot of time now. He’s obviously not the player he was. But he is growing old more gracefully than most guys who are fortunate enough to play baseball at age 39, simply by virtue of knowing that he’s getting up there.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.