Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw already has plenty of awards to fill up a trophy case. The lefty just won his second NL Cy Young award, he took home the NL Gold Glove award for pitchers in 2011, and he won Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award last year. He was given another award last night — the Branch Rickey Award, for service above self, presented by the Rotary Club of Denver.
Patrick Sullivan of the Denver Post summarized some of the many things Kershaw and his wife Ellen do to give back:
So what have the Kershaws done in their early 20s? They started Kershaw’s Challenge, a foundation that seeks to transform the lives of at-risk children and communities.
Their cornerstone charity, “Arise Africa,” has built and sustained an orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia called “Arise Home.” They are leaving for Zambia on Wednesday.
The orphanage is now home to nine children who came from desperate situations. This year, their goal is to rebuild a community school in the heart of Lusaka, adding five additional classrooms and paying salaries for higher educated faculty. They are also drilling a new water well to bring fresh water to the town. Each year, the Kershaws travel to Africa to visit with the children and bring awareness to the issues of diseases and infections related to HIV and AIDS.
Congratulations to Kershaw on the honor. It’s always nice to hear about players using their stature to go above and beyond the call of duty to give back.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.
A couple of weeks ago our president wrote one of his more . . . vexing tweets. He was talking about immigration when he whipped out the phrase . . . “Easy D”:
No one was quite sure what he meant by Easy D. Was it the older brother of N.W.A.’s founder? The third sequel to that Emma Stone movie from a few years back? So many questions!
Baseball Twitter had fun with it, though, with a lot of people wondering how they could work it in casually to their commentary:
It wasn’t a scout who did it, but twelve days after that, a player obliged Mr. McCullough:
I have no more idea what Turner was talking about with that than Trump was. We’ll have to wait for the full story in the L.A. Times. But I am going to assume Turner was doing McCullough a solid with that one rather than commenting on the president’s tweet. Either way, I’m glad he made the effort.
And before you ask: yes, it’s a slow news day.