The Los Angeles Dodgers and left-hander Clayton Kershaw could agree to a record-breaking deal this week.
The Dodgers, according to major league sources, want to sign Kershaw to a contract extension by Friday, when clubs must exchange contract proposals with players who filed for arbitration.
That’s not some hard deadline of course, as there is nothing stopping the sides from talking even after numbers are exchanged. It’s just a reflection of the reality that, once arbitration numbers are out there, it’s another datapoint that goes into the negotiation and makes it harder to do.
Kershaw, the reigning Cy Young Award winner and is, from where I’m sitting at least, the most valuable pitcher in the game today. The Dodgers apparently think so as well, as it was reported in October that they had offered him a $300 million extension during the season or, at the very least, had begun discussions in that direction.
Any deal they do is either going to be in that ballpark or is going to contain incentives and structuring of some sort that will get it close to it.
With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.
Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.
All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.
For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.
But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: